Ability to guarantee the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Latvia and safety of its population must be seen in context with common environment of science, research, innovations, and technology development. The Ministry of Defence prepares a medium-term plan for the development of scientific research and long-term guidelines for the development of science, research, and technologies.
The development strands in the area of the science, research and technology are:
- to ensure necessary capabilities of/for the National Armed Forces (capability development, enhancement and maintenance);
- to enhance and maintain the capacity of the defence industry;
- to improve the efficiency of procurement process (smart customer);
- to ensure risk management and reduction within the process of policy formation and decision-making;
- to promote application of interdisciplinary and inter-institutional solutions;
- to foster integration within NATO and the EU, and international cooperation.
Timely and clearly formulated medium and long-term priorities provide necessary information for scientists to perform research in order to develop innovations and new technologies, whereas entrepreneurs are provided with a possibility to implement appropriate products or services. Identification of common needs in the defence and civilian areas improves involvement of scientists and entrepreneurs to implement various projects (dual use). At the same time gradual shift to smart defence is being implemented: increased efficiency of the defence system that is based on innovations; new approaches for problem solving; development of mutual collaboration and coordinated defence capabilities. Ministry of Defence collaborates with Latvian scientific institutions and centres on the basis of memorandums of understanding. Currently there is a Memorandum of understanding between Latvian Academy of Sciences and the Ministry of Defence for performance of scientific research expert examinations. In the field of education, science, and technologies there are a memorandums of understanding with the leading higher education institutions of Latvia — Riga Technical University, University of Latvia, Latvia University of Agriculture, and Riga Stradiņš University. The Ministry of Defence cooperates closely with the defence industry — by working with Federation of Security and Defence Industries of Latvia.
At a national level it is difficult to maintain extensive and diverse resources (scientific potential, research and production infrastructure, production technologies, finances, materials, personnel, etc.) for development of innovations, scientific research, and technology. Therefore the need for cooperation in the field of science, research, and technology development increases. The Ministry of Defence cooperates with NATO — NATO Science and Technology Organisation — and the European Union (EU) — The European Defence Agency. The Ministry of Defence ensures participation of the representatives of Latvia in the panels of NATO Science and Technology Organisation (database of scientific publications of NATO Science and Technology Organisation are available here) and Capability Technology Group of the European Defence Agency. Participation of scientists in research activities in these organizations improve national research capacity, science and experience exchange, and elaboration of competitive technological solutions for the military industry. The Ministry of Defence also organises cooperation on scientific research at a regional level. To ensure more rational use of academic, technical and financial resources and to coordinate scientific research related to defence, collaboration between the Baltic States is being implemented.
The Centre for Security and Strategic Research has been established as a structural unit at the National Defence Academy of Latvia. The Centre mainly conducts theoretical research in the military sector that is required in the field of national defence and security. Main research areas of the Centre are: general theoretical research on development trends in the field of defence, security, and technologies; profound research in the relevant time period in priority sectors; feasibility studies for project implementation; research in the development of defence policy, history of the warfare, medicine, psychology, management, and individual battle capabilities.
The Military Education and Science Section of the Personnel Development Department of the Ministry of Defence elaborates the research policy required for national defence, as well as plans, organises, and coordinates scientific research activities. The Military Education and Science Section organises and coordinates collaboration with scientific institutions of Latvia, scientists, and professional associations thereby ensuring coordinated performance of research work in fields crucial for national defence.