State Defence Service
State defence service (SDS) gives population access to knowledge and understanding about national defence. It also enhances individual skills and ability to contribute to better national defence.
According to State Defence Service Law, all Latvian nationals – men aged 18 and full-aged men who have not completed their primary or secondary education – shall be drafted within 12 months of reaching the age of 18 or graduation in the case of those still in education system until the age of 24. Law also allows male and female Latvian nationals aged 18-27 to voluntarily apply for draft into state defence service.
First state defence service draft, which is voluntary, was announced on 1 July 2023. It will become mandatory on 1 January 2024. Other enlistment rounds will also be voluntary for Latvian nationals. However, should recruitment fail to draft the necessary number of 18-19 years old conscripts, candidates will be chosen randomly to fill the ranks. Draft notice will be sent to SDS recruits via e-mail, delivered to registered address via post or in person.
Second round of voluntary enlistment for SDS completed on 21 July 2023. 236 Latvian nationals applied for the second 11-month term in SDS by the end of business on 21 July 2023. Necessary number of voluntary recruits was reached, so there was no need for randomised mandatory draft.
One of the three types of SDS is 11-month service in the National Armed Forces (NAF). 600 young Latvians – 120 in January and 480 in July – will join army ranks in 2024. There will be 3 locations for 11-month SDS with NAF that will start in January of 2024: National Armed Force Joint Headquarters in Riga, Latvian Air Force Lielvārde Air Defence Division and 25th Combat Support Battalion of National Giard in Stāmeriena, Gulbene region. 11-month SDS with NAF that will start in July of 2024 will mostly take place in Ādaži under the supervision of Mechanised Infantry Brigade of Land Forces.
Volunteers will also have the option of completing service at the National Guard. This will be available to 200 young volunteers. This type of service will be stretched over a 5-year period and recruits will have to take 28-day active duty training each year. 50 young Latvians will be offered to undergo State Defence Service with National Guard at one of its brigades: Riga 1st Brigade, Riga 2nd Vidzeme Brigade, 3rd Latgale Brigade and 4th Kurzeme Brigade. Recruits will be offered to serve near their registered address as much as possible. 50 young men who are enrolled in higher education establishments will also have the option to volunteer for state defence service reserve officer training that will also last 5 years.
On 1 December 2023, the application period for the third State Defence Service ended with 515 Latvian citizens volunteering.
In case the required number of volunteers for the 11-month State Defence Service in the National Armed Forces is not reached, the shortfall will be provided by a random selection, which is planned on 23 January 2024.
State Defence Service Law was adopted by the Parliament of Latvia, Saeima, on 5 April 2023.