Saeima approves the National Defence Concept
On 24 September Saeima approved the National Defence Concept 2020-2024 developed by the Ministry of Defence. The Concept outlines various activities aimed at ensuring national defence in times of peace, cases of national security threats or war. Concept defines strategic framework and main steps for strengthening national defence and improving national capabilities.
‘Comprehensive national defence system is the core element of the Concept. I cannot underline enough how important it is for us to continue building on past successes together with civic society. Together we can strengthen our people’s sense of belonging, bring government closer to the people and foster resilience to all kinds of potential emergencies and aggressions,’ underlined the Defence Minister Artis Pabriks.
National Defence Concept 2020-2024 is a clear signal to our allies that we are highly interoperable and ready to defend our country in case of crisis. New concept is designed to support a comprehensive national defence system. It also recommends strengthening the National Armed Forces by encouraging greater voluntary participation in National Guard.
National Defence Concept indicates that current international order is driven by politics of force. It is becoming increasingly difficult to predict how that might change international security context. While global security challenges remain relevant for Latvia, our biggest national security challenge continues to be Russia with its ambitions and interests with respect to border regions.
The new concept envisages the use of 4 deterrence and defence policy strategies: strengthening of the National Armed Force, setting up comprehensive national defence system, NATO collective defence and international cooperation.
Regular military training simulating real war-time operations on all levels and across all units of army is a crucial for maintaining and developing the combat capabilities and readiness of the armed forces in a long run. Latvian army must also provide peace-time and early crisis host nation support to allied troops deployed to Latvia. National Armed Forces, national security services and other responsible authorities must continue to develop their capabilities to identify hostile hybrid war operations to be able to withstand the heavy hybrid threats Latvia is exposed to.
By sending their troops to Latvia, NATO member states have confirmed their commitment to support Latvia and are sending a clear deterrence signal. To further boost the defence and deterrence capabilities of NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia, battle group must be made even stronger. It is extremely important to strengthen allied presence with long-range components, such as fire support, air defence support and on-shore (port)/off-shore components. Regular international training held in Latvia, different NATO command structures operating in Latvia, especially the Headquarters Multinational Division North, armoured vehicles and strategic military supplies, are crucial part of these deterrence efforts.
Latvia needs to continue deepening international military cooperation with the United States and other countries like Canada, the United Kingdom, other Baltic countries, Poland, France, Germany, Nordic countries, Ukraine and Georgia, and all nine countries that currently comprise the NATO enhanced Forward Presence Battle Group Latvia. Latvia must also continue to contribute its troops to international missions and military formations, and thus help boost collective defence and response management, as well as maintaining and enhancing combat readiness of its armed force.
Aim of the comprehensive national defence strategy is to create a culture of readiness in Latvia, ensuring that population is efficiently trained to face potential crisis. It also strives to expand cooperation between state institutions and strengthen public, non-governmental and private partnerships. Concept also seeks to deepen public awareness about how to protect yourself, your family members and Latvia because the ability to self-organise may be decisive in case of military threat or crisis. Comprehensive national defence system also requires continuous efforts in strengthening National Guard and Youth Guard, as these units are open to volunteers who are interested in engaging in threat response without leaving their civilian life. Another integral element of comprehensive national defence framework is cyber security and resilience of IT systems.
Latvia’s defence spending must remain at 2% of the GDP to enable defence sector to reach its goals and continue its development. No cuts should be allowed.
National Guard are indispensable to protection of the territory of Latvia. According to the National Defence Concept, National Guard must reach at least 10,000-men mark by 2024.
Development and strengthening of national defence industry are also crucial factors for long-term protection of Latvia. Current priorities include development of unmanned systems, weapons, army support and combat vehicle maintenance, personal equipment systems and elements, cyber security, information and communication technologies.
National Defence Concept is the key defence policy planning document, which is strongly linked to National Security Concept and Military Threat Analysis.
According to Article 29 of the National Security Law, parliament must review the National Defence Concept at least once every election cycle but no later than 1 October of the second year of current cycle.
In an effort to involve the public in development of the National Defence Concept, Centre for Security and Strategic Research Mission Statement of the Latvian National Defence Academy and Ministry of Defence organised a round of public consultations
Towards the new National Defence Concept in 2019. Latvian War Museum hosted discussion on 5 June, Liepāja University on 19 September, Rēzekne Academy of Technologies on 26 September, Ministry of Defence on 28 October, Vidzeme University of Applied Sciences in Valmiera on 1 November, and Latvian University of Life Sciences and Technologies in Jelgava on 6 November.