Military of Lithuania: Wikis


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Lithuanian Armed Forces
Emblem of Ministry of National Defense Republic of Lithuania.gif
Insignia of the Ministry of National Defence
Founded 23 November 1918
Current form 25 April 1990
Service branches Land forces emblem.jpg Land Force

Naval force emblem.jpg Naval Force
Air force emblem.jpg Air Force
KASP1.jpg Volunteer Forces
SOJ.jpg Special Operations Force

Headquarters Vilnius
Commander-in-Chief President Dalia Grybauskaitė
Minister of National Defence Rasa Juknevičienė
Chief of staff Major General Arvydas Pocius
Military age 19-45
Conscription discontinued
Available for
military service
915,187 males, age 16–49 (2009 est.),
906,097 females, age 16–49 (2009 est.)
Fit for
military service
677,689 males, age 16–49 (2009 est.),
743,468 females, age 16–49 (2009 est.)
Reaching military
age annually
23,556 males (2009 est.),
22,404 females (2009 est.)
Active personnel 15,000
Reserve personnel 100,000
Deployed personnel  Afghanistan - 268

 Kosovo - 5
 Iraq - 4
 Georgia - 2
 Bosnia and Herzegovina - 1

Budget 405 million (FY2008)
Percent of GDP 1.14% (FY2008)

The Lithuanian Armed Forces consist of ~15,000 active personnel (~2,400 of them - civilian)[1] and are supported by 100,000 reserve forces. Conscription has been ended in September 2008. [2]

Lithuania's defence system is based on the concept of "total and unconditional defence" mandated by Lithuania's national Security Strategy. The goal of Lithuania's defence policy is to prepare their society for general defence and to integrate Lithuania into Western security and defence structures. The defence ministry is responsible for combat forces, search and rescue, and intelligence operations.[3]

The 5,400 border guards fall under the Interior Ministry's supervision and are responsible for border protection, passport and customs duties, and share responsibility with the navy for smuggling / drug trafficking interdiction. A special security department handles VIP protection and communications security.



The Lithuanian Armed Forces consist of the Lithuanian Land Force, Lithuanian Air Force, Lithuanian Naval Force, Training Command and Logistics Command. Directly subordinated to the Chief of Defence are the Special Operations Forces and Military Police. The Reserve Forces are under command of the Lithuanian National Defence Volunteer Forces. To ensure that Lithuanian Armed Forces are ready to act in the modern security environment, meet its high requirements and implement its tasks, a review of structure is carried out. Structural overview is a complex and long process, encompassing the reorganisation, merging, or dissolution of military units, personnel downsizing, and disbandment of unnecessary military infrastructure. This process is crucial in order to maintain and improve the effectiveness of the national defence system. In carrying out the defence reform, the emphasis and priorities of defence planning have shifted from large military units designed for territorial defence to the development of capabilities necessary for the collective defence of the NATO Alliance and Lithuania. According to this principle, Lithuania has abandoned plans for building up Land Forces consisting of three infantry brigades prepared for territorial defence. In 2003, after abandoning the doctrine of territorial defence, the Eastern Military District was disbanded, and in 2004, the Western Military District was disbanded. Two infantry battalions were reorganised into logistic battalions. Lithuanian The Grand Duke Kęstutis Motorised Infantry Battalion was moved to the Iron Wolf Mechanised Infantry Brigade. The First and Second Air Force Bases were merged into one Air Force Base in Šiauliai. Upon the completion of these reforms, Lithuania will be able to field armed forces that will be able to react more rapidly, be more mobile, easier to deploy, better equipped, and better trained to be able to contribute to any kind of NATO-led or other operation inside or outside the country.

Current structure of the Lithuanian Armed Forces


Lithuanian Land Force

Soldiers from MIB "Iron Wolf" during trainings

The core of the Lithuanian Land Force structure is the Iron Wolf Mechanised Infantry Brigade (MIB "Iron Wolf") consisting of four Mechanized Infantry battalions, one artillery battalion and logistics and support units. In the future, MIB “Iron Wolf” will also have Air Defence and Anti-tank companies, which will ensure the brigade’s sustainability during operations [3].

The Lithuanian Land forces plan to undertake a major modernization within 2012. New weapons and heavier armor will be acquired. In 2007 the Land forces bought the German Heckler & Koch G36 rifle to replace the older Swedish Ak-4 within the second quarter of 2009 as main weapon. It is planned to buy new armoured personnel carriers / Infantry fighting vehicles before 2010. Possible variants are the Austrian Pandur 8X8, the Finnish Patria AMV or the Swiss Piranha.

Lithuania is determined to restructure the armed forces so that from the end of 2014, one tenth of the Land Forces could at any given time be deployed for international operations, while half of the Land Forces would be prepared to be deployed outside Lithuania’s borders.

Lithuanian Navy

Lithuanian Naval Force Vidar class ship N42 Jotvingis

The Navy has 700 personnel. The Navy consists of naval headquarters, Sea Coastal Surveillance System (SCSS), mine countermeasures, corvettes, fast patrol boats and small boat squadrons. The current Commander in Chief of the Lithuanian Navy is Captain (N) Olegas Mariničius. The Naval base and Headquarters are located in the city of Klaipėda. The Navy uses fast patrol boats and former Russian corvettes for coastal surveillance. The ships are organized into a Combat Ship Squadron (F), Patrol Boat Squadron (P) and Mine Countermeasures Squadron (M).
On November 28, 2008 the British Ministry of Defence (MoD) and the Lithuanian Ministry of National Defence signed a sales agreement on board HMS Victory in Portsmouth, UK, for the acquisition and reactivation of two former Royal Navy "Hunt"-class Mine countermeasure vessels - HMS Cottesmore and Dulverton. The ships are expected to enter service with the Lithuanian Navy by 2011 and will replace the M51 and M52 minesweepers.[4] The three new Flyvenfisken-class multi-purpose patrol ships will replace the older Storm class patrol boats.

Lithuanian Air Force

C-27J Spartan in Lithuanian air force

The military command center is located in Šiauliai (Zokniai Airport), and known as the Aviation base. Lithuanian Air Force has started a modernization program to bring their hardware closer to NATO standards and therefore are gradually withdrawing from use a number of former Russian aircraft and helicopters, the replacement of which is now starting. It is also planned that by the 2012 time frame the Baltic States will be able to provide their own air-cover with a fighter type yet to be selected and acquired. Other bases used by the Lithuanian Air Force (LAF) are[5]:

  • Klaipėda (providing basing for sea search and rescue detachment);
  • Kaunas (LTAF Headquarters and the Air Space Surveillance and Control Command);
  • Karmėlava (Air Space Control Centre);
  • Šiauliai (LATF Air Base and Air Force Armament and Equipment Repair Depot).

The initial formation of the LAF was the 2nd transport squadron with the transfer of 20 An-2 aircraft from civilian to military use, with initial basing at the Barushai air base on the 27 April 1992. These were joined by four L-39C Albatros aircraft purchased from Kazakhstan as part of the intended 16 to be used by the 1st fighter (training) squadron. The aircraft stationed at Zokniai belong to the 11th and 12th aviation squadrons, while that at the Payustis is known as the 22nd squadron. New Lithuanian aircraft arrived on 22 December 2006 when the first of three state of the art Alenia Aeronautica C-27J Spartan tactical transport was delivered at Siauliai airbase ensuring interoperability with its NATO partners. Two out of the three Antonov An-26 transport aircraft will be kept in service during the transition period. Helicopters Mi-8's were modernised by LAF (extended fuel tanks and avionics). Air space will be patrolled by jet fighters from other NATO members, which are based out of the Šiauliai air base. In 2008 2 medium-range radars were acquired for the Air Forces Airspace Surveillance and Control Command. A very interesting part of the Lithuanian Air Arms is the Aviation Unit of the Lithuanian State Border Guard Service. It has received new helicopters to patrol the EU external border (with Kaliningrad and Belarus).

National Defence Volunteer Forces

Lithuanian NDVF soldiers in the international mission in Afghanistan

The Lithuanian National Defence Volunteer Forces (NDVF) is an important part of Lithuanian Armed Forces. The Commander of the NDVF is appointed by the Minister of National Defence and is subordinate to the Commander of the Armed Forces. The NDVF is organised along administrative boundaries. It is composed of companies organised into battalions within territorial defence brigades. Each NDVF unit down to battalion level contains regular army officers and a skeletal cadre that directs training and administrative functions. The rest of the NDVF personnel are volunteers who serve with no pay. The volunteers have already successfully participated in international operations in the Balkans, Afghanistan and Iraq.
The NDVF consists of five territorial units, Lithuanian Grand Duke Butigeidis Dragoon Training Battalion and aviation unit. The NDVF Aviation Unit is operating from two main avia bases: Šilutė in the southwest and Kyviškės in the eastern part of the country. NDVF use YAK-52's, AN-2's, Wilga's and other aircraft.

Special Operations Force

Lithuanian Special Operations Force soldiers during trainings

Lithuanian Special Operations Force (SOF) of Lithuanian Armed Forces has been in operation de facto since 2002 and it was estbalished de jure in April 3, 2008, when amendments of National Defence System organisation and military service law came into force [6]. SOF is formed from the Special Operations Unit. Since Fall 2005, conscripts do not serve in the SOF. The force is formed exclusively of carefully selected, motivated and specially trained professionals.
The core of the SOF is based on the Special Purpose Service, Vytautas the Great Jaeger Battalion and Combat Divers Service (CDS). Lithuanian Air Force Special Operations Element is subordinate to the Unit at the level of operations management. Structure of the SOF is flexible which makes it easy to form squadrons intended for concrete operations and missions from its elements. The SOF can be called upon inside the territory of Lithuania when law enforcement agencies lack or do not have necessary capabilities to react to terrorist attacks.


Lithuanian soldiers introducing the Air Defence Missile System - FIM-92 Stinger

In line with the set priorities, the Lithuanian Armed Forces are implementing modernisation plans. The Lithuanian Armed Forces, armed with modern weapons will be able to operate more efficiently together with allies inside and outside Lithuania. The Armed Forces will continue to be equipped with reliable and modern armament and military equipment corresponding to the NATO requirements, which will be procured in line with the set priorities with most attention focused on the projects related to implementation of the NATO Force goals. Efforts will be made to achieve that the funds allocated to procurement of new armaments and equipment and modernisation of the existing equipment make up one fourth of all the expenses of the National Defence System. The funds saved during the defence reform will be allocated to the needs of modernisation of the Lithuanian Armed Forces.

International cooperation

Lithuanian Air Force L-39ZA with two Royal Netherlands Air Force F-16AM Fighting Falcon

Lithuania and NATO

Lithuania and another six Middle and Eastern Europe countries were invited to join the Alliance in NATO Summit in Prague 2002. Lithuania implemented its strategic goals and acquired the most reliable security assurance throughout the history of a millennium as it became a member of Euro-Atlantic society in March 2004. Lithuania entered NATO on full-fledged rights immediately after the procedures of joining the North Atlantic Treaty were completed and Lithuania was able to participate in the political decision-making process of the Alliance. In comparison, integration into the military structures of NATO is a long-term task of Lithuanian Armed Forces. Mechanised Infantry Brigade “Iron Wolf” was affiliated to the Danish Division on the basis of agreements signed by Denmark and Lithuania in August 2006. The mentioned long-term engagement is perhaps the central cooperation project of Lithuanian Armed Forces boosting ability of the Brigade to work hand-in-hand with forces of NATO. NATO enlargement wiped out the lines dividing Europe and provided equal security assurance for all the member states. Fighter jets of NATO members deployed in Zokniai airport as soon as Lithuania acquired membership in the Alliance provide safety for the Baltic airspace – and inseparable part of NATO airspace. NATO fighter aircraft are involved in the patrolling and protection of Lithuanian, Latvian and Estonian air space (see Baltic Air Policing). No threat is perceived, however the NATO treaty requires air defence patrols of partner countries' airspace. Each contributing nation deploys (usually four) aircraft for a period of four months to the air base Zokniai near the city Šiauliai.

Foreign missions and operations

Lithuanian soldiers take part in international operations since 1994. Currently there are about 300 soldiers sent to international operations and missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kosovo, Bosnia and Herzegovina and Georgia. Lithuanian officers work in NATO and the EU staffs.
Since the summer of 2005 Lithuania has been part of the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan (ISAF), leading a Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in the town of Chaghcharan in the province of Ghor. The PRT includes personnel from Denmark, Iceland and USA. There are also special operation forces units in Afghanistan. They are placed in Kandahar province.
Since joining international operations in 1994 Lithuania has lost two soldiers. 1st Lt. Normundas Valteris fell in Bosnia, Sgt. Arūnas Jarmalavičius made the supreme sacrifice while on international mission in Afghanistan.

Baltic military cooperation

History has shown that the Baltic States cannot view their security in isolation from each other. Having learned this lesson Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia along with building up their national armed forces, have extended and deepened their cooperation in defence matters. The main projects are:

  • BALTNET (Baltic Air Surveillance Network);
  • BALTRON (Baltic Naval Squadron);
  • BALTDEFCOL (Baltic Defence College);
  • BALTBAT (Baltic Battalion).


Officer Ranks of the Lithuanian Land Forces

NATO Code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student Officer
 Lithuania (Edit) No Equivalent No Equivalent LT-Army-OF8.jpg LT-Army-OF7.jpg LT-Army-OF6.jpg LT-Army-OF5.jpg LT-Army-OF4.jpg LT-Army-OF3.jpg LT-Army-OF2.jpg LT-Army-OF1a.jpg LT-Army-OF1b.jpg No Equivalent LT-Army-OF1d.jpg
Generolas leitenantas Generolas majoras Brigados generolas Pulkininkas Pulkininkas leitenantas Majoras Kapitonas Vyresnysis leitenantas Leitenantas Kariūnas

See also

External links and Further Reading



  • Stefan Marx, 'Lithuania's Defence Structure,' Jane's Intelligence Review, September 1993, p. 407-409



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