The difficult political situation in Europe and unrest in neighbouring Belarus has forced Latvian authorities to make strange decisions.
Though NATO is thankful to the Baltic States for increasing their defence expenditures, the readiness of their armed forces are disputable and the future of their abilities brings questions.
It is no secret, that one of Latvia’s main problems is a lack of young people ready to serve in the armed forces. Probably, this problem made Latvia’s Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Artis Pabriks to initiate a number of amendments to the law “On the National Guard of the Republic of Latvia” (“Par Latvijas Republikas Zemessardzi”), which will be discussed on Wednesday at a government meeting and will soon be sent for approval to the Parliament.
The National Guard is a component of the National Armed Forces, the objective of which is to involve the citizens of Latvia in the defence of the State’s territory and society and which participates in the planning and execution of the State defence tasks.
According to the law on the National Guard, it has the following tasks:
- perform the tasks of the national territorial defence all alone or by supporting the NAF professional units;
- ensure combat and mobilization readiness;
- perform the support tasks of host-nation;
- guard objects of national importance in the event of war or threat;
- clear consequences of emergency situations;
- support the society and the Youth Guard movement;
- provide support to the foreign troops transferring or arriving at the Latvian territory;
- establish combat support and logistics units in the fields of transportation, civil-military cooperation, logistics, engineer and air defence.
Thus, the National Guard has and will have an important role and tasks in the national defence.
That is why Pabriks’ proposals cause doubt and bewilderment.
One of the proposals, that could become even a Trojan horse for NATO, is to raise the upper age limit in the National Guard from 55 to 65 years. This decision could significantly undermine the ability of the National Guard, which is a part of national armed forces and which in turn is a part of NATO collective defence.
It should be noted that the life expectancy in Latvia for men is about 70 years. Is it a good idea to recruit almost aged men? How could they perform their duties which could be associated with using arms and wearing heavy gear? It seems as if Latvia is afraid of repeating the Ukraine and Belarus scenarios, in other words – Riga gets ready to cope with possible unrest by all possible tools, even involving weak elderly persons. That is why it is strange to listen to Latvian authorities who blame Belarus for using its capabilities to stop protests and performing the tasks of the national territorial defence.