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Latvia Plans to Increase Its Armed Forces by Reintroducing Compulsory Military Service

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Written by Francesco Adriani

On 5 July 2022, Latvian Defence Minister Artis Pabriks announced on Twitter that the Baltic country would undergo a programme to reintroduce compulsory military service. The decision came in response to the growing security concerns over possible Russian aggressive conduct. According to Pabkris’ post on the popular social platform, expanding the number of effective will serve as a deterrent against potential threats coming from its eastern neighbour. From 2007, the Latvian armed forces were composed of career soldiers and part-time serving volunteers, plus a limited number of NATO troops, but now, Pabriks stresses that the system has reached “its limit of power growth”.

The measure would be applied within a five-year period, starting from 1 January 2023, and will affect men between 18-27 who will undertake 11 months of military service. The Ministry intends to use existing databases for the drafting process, although the selection criteria of potential recruits have not been completely defined yet. The serving obligation will be articulated in four options, from which conscripts may be able to choose: General military service, service in Zemessardze (National Guard) for 20 days per year for five years, squad leader training and alternative service in the institutions of the Ministries of the Interior, Health, and Welfare.

The goal of the Ministry of Defence is to increase, within the five-year programme, the number of regulars from the current 7500 active-duty soldiers to around 50.000 units, including active units (14.000), National Guard units (16.000) and reserve soldiers (20.000). Pabriks remarked that the reform should not be associated with a permanent compulsory service system and with the end of the professional army, which will continue to exist.

The Ministry’s proposal will now be discussed within the Latvian government and might be subject to amendments.


Latvia to Reinstate Compulsory Military Service (2022, July 6). The Defense Post.

Republic of Latvia Ministry of Defence (2022, July 11). Ministry Of Defence Begins to Work on Gradual Introduction of State Defence Service. Press Division.

Ūgainis K., Kristovskis G. (2022, July 5). The Ministry of Defence Will Propose to Introduce Universal Military Service in Latvia. Latvian National Information Agency (LETA).