National Defence Strategy aims to strengthen the defence of Latvia to a level where any aggression against Latvia would make aggressor pay significantly higher price compared to potential gains and thus deter any possible confrontations.
Here are the four key priorities of the Strategy:
NATIONAL ARMED FORCES. National Armed Forces ensure continuity of essential state functions, decision-making and immediate response to unforeseen attacks, rapid neutralisation of covert attacks, threat identification, assessment and aversion. National Armed Forces must weaken and slow down any progress of enemy by causing most possible damage to attacker in case of large-scale military aggression. National Armed Forces coordinate civil resistance in case of Latvia’s occupation.
COMPREHENSIVE DEFENCE. The aim of the comprehensive national defence is to prepare government bodies, non-governmental actors and citizens for assisting National Armed Forces and maintaining vital socio-economic and civil defence functions during the war. Psychological resilience against external pressures and constant preparedness are essential elements of societal resilience. Each citizen must know, understand and be ready to implement necessary actions and measures in case of emergency or war.
NATO COLLECTIVE DEFENCE. Unity of NATO, presence of allied troops in Latvia and safeguards of Article 5 of NATO Treaty are the main elements NATO’s collective defence, which contribute to Latvia’s deterrence posture.
INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION. Efficient national deterrence and conflict preparedness framework relies on strong bilateral defence cooperation, mainly at the US-Baltic level. European Union should also have more active security policy and cooperation with NATO. Such cooperation should promote exchange of information, defence partnership between countries in the region, joint participation in international missions and support to other partner countries like Georgia and Ukraine who have already been exposed to attacks from outside.
Although there are regional military powers with far greater resources, Latvia is member of NATO, which is the strongest military alliance in the world ever created, and thus has access to far superior defence and deterrence assets. Latvia’s security, like peace in Europe, is therefore very much based on NATO’s collective defence framework.
The main principle of NATO’s deterrence policy is that an attack on one ally is an attack on all organisation’s member states. The main elements of credible NATO deterrence policy are:
• readiness to provide political and military support in case of aggression
• presence of NATO forces in member states facing increased threats
• capacity to deploy additional troops
• member state capability development with defence expenditure at the rate of at least 2% of GDP
All NATO enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) Battle Group Latvia countries – Canada, Albania Czech Republic, Iceland, Italy, Montenegro, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia and Spain play significant role in Latvia’s deterrence and defence posture. Latvia is grateful to all eFP countries for their support, which requires further deepening of bilateral relations. Latvia is committed to deterrence policies of this countries in all regions from the southern flank to Arctic and Central Europe.
Presence of allied troops in Latvia shows their firm commitment to Latvia. It sends a clear signal of deterrence to potential aggressors. Presence of NATO troops is strategically important, and it is crucial to ensure that allied troops remain in Latvia on permanent basis. Allied units provide vital support to NAF during military operations. NATO units are integrated into NAF command and control system and possess the capabilities required to fulfil various tasks. Allied presence can also be ensured outside formal NATO defence cooperation framework, based on bilateral or multilateral agreements with Latvia.
Presence of troops does not automatically imply they are ready to react. NATO response times should prevent attackers from accomplishing their fait accompli or causing irreversible damage. NATO must be capable to de-escalate any military tensions by sending reinforcement to prevent attacks. Modern warfare is significantly faster and early warning systems may become useless; NATO must be able to react on short notice or without any notice at all. Here are the key elements of rapid response:
• preventive presence of allied troops in countries exposed to increased risks
• readily available, powerful, well-equipped and easily deployable units
• precise defence operation plans detailing deployment of reinforcements
• efficient political and military leadership
• rapid mobility of military units
United States of America (US) are Latvia’s strategic partner. US began supporting Latvia shortly after regaining of independence and continues to make significant contribution to our national defence to this day. Latvia highly appreciates US support, especially the presence of its troops in Latvia, support to NAF in scope of capability-building initiatives and join training. Latvia is committed to provide US continues support during international missions.
Estonia and Lithuania have traditionally, politically and geographically been the closest allies of Latvia. Well-coordinated defence cooperation between the Baltics is key for regional security, stability and threat management. Latvia is fully dedicated to building closer unity between Baltic States in existing military cooperation frameworks. We also support common Baltic security and defence policy position within international frameworks and platforms.
Latvia supports peaceful conflict resolution between countries based on international agreements and mutual trust. Arms control is a crucial tool for assuring transparency with regard to military capabilities and more stable relations between countries.
Closer and more permanent cooperation with civilian sector is the way to ensure war-time functioning of NAF and society.
NAF needs to continue upgrading its military medicine capabilities, enhance cooperation with local universities to integrate military medicine into university programmes. NAF should also involve healthcare providers and professionals in emergency management and response training to meet various threat scenarios.
Cybersecurity and resilience of IT systems is one of the core elements of comprehensive national defence. Cybersecurity training (cyber hygiene) and introduction of minimum safety requirements is important for managing risks to government bodies, society and business entities (vulnerabilities) and ensuring their uninterrupted operations. Continued efforts should also be made to reduce Latvia’s technological dependence on third countries outside NATO or EU and their official partners.