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Latvian National Armed Forces
Coat of Arms of Latvian National Armed Forces.svg
Latvian National Armed Forces emblem
Service branches NAF LF.jpg Land Forces

NAF NF.JPG Naval Forces
NAF AF.JPG Air Force
NAF NG.JPG National Guard

Headquarters Riga
Leadership
Commander-in-Chief Valdis Zatlers
Minister of Defence Imants Lieģis
Manpower
Military age 18
Conscription Professional
Active personnel 4,283
Expenditures
Percent of GDP 1.9% (2007)

National Armed Forces (Latvian: Nacionālie Bruņotie Spēki (NAF)) are the unified armed forces of the Republic of Latvia. Latvia's defense concept is based upon the Swedish - Finnish model of a rapid response force composed of a mobilization base and a small group of career professionals. The National Armed Forces consists of Land Forces, Naval Forces, Air Force, National Guard and other. Latvia has switched to a professional army, the last draft was in 2005. From January 1, 2007, the Latvian army is fully contract-based.

Contents

Mission

A Latvian soldier during a training exercise

The mission of the National Armed Forces (NAF) is to guarantee the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the nation and to defend its population against aggression. In order to implement these tasks, the NAF provide for the defense of the nation, its air space and national territorial waters, participate in large scale crisis response operations, perform emergency rescue operations, and participate in international peacekeeping operations.

The main mission of the National Armed Forces is to:

  • Provide for the inviolability of all national territory, its waters and air space;
  • Participate in international operations;
  • Participate in national threat elimination;
  • Provide for the training of personnel and military reserves.
  • Ensure modernization and enhancement of professional combat training;

Structure

Troops of the 2nd Infantry Battalion

National Armed Forces consist of:

Personnel

There are 5052 soldiers of professional military service in the NAF. 952 soldiers are in the Latvian Land Forces, 552 - in the Latvian Naval Forces, 291 - in the Latvian Air Force and 550 soldiers of professional military service and 10 642 national guardsmen in the Latvian National Guard. There are 1380 civil and military employees serving in the NAF.

There are 1284 officers, 1945 non-commissioned officers and 1817 privates or privates first class serving in the NAF.

Cooperation

Along with providing for national defense, the NAF will also react immediately to threats to other allies and to international crises.

Latvia cooperates with Estonia and Lithuania in the joint infantry battalion BALTBAT and naval squadron BALTRON which are available for peacekeeping operations.

Currently, NATO is involved in the patrolling and protection of the Latvian air space as the Latvian army does not have the means to do so effectively. For this goal a rotating force of four NATO fighters, which comes from different nations and switches at two or three month intervals, is based in Lithuania to cover all three Baltic states (see Baltic Air Policing).

Modernization

Latvian soldier in Iraq

After joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Latvia has undertaken obligations to strengthen common defense within the scope of its capabilities. For this purpose, every NATO member state delegates its military formations — fast response, well-armed and well-equipped units capable to operate beyond the NATO’s borders.

After joining NATO, the foundation of the Latvian defense system has shift from total territorial defense to collective defense. Latvia has acquired small but highly professional troops that have been fully integrated into NATO structures. NAF soldiers have participated in international operations since 1996. Specialized units (e.g. units of military medics, military police, unexploded ordnance neutralizers, military divers and special forces) have been established in order to facilitate and enhance NAF participation in international operations. Special attention has been paid to establishing a unit to deal with the identification and clearance of nuclear pollution. The successful participation of Latvian soldiers in international exercises, operations and missions demonstrates that their professional skills already comply with the performance requirements set by the Alliance.

References

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