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Latvia – Armed Forces Conscripts men, women and nationals living abroad

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Citizens living in foreign countries will also be conscripted into the National Defence Service (SAD), and if appropriate funding is allocated, the service could also be compulsory for women, says Kaspars Galkins, spokesman for the Ministry of Defence (MOD).

Galkin explained that the service offered by the MoD is a new social contract between the state and society, which means that every citizen must be involved in the defence of the state. This involvement is one of the most important guarantees so that Latvia does not experience Russian military aggression, therefore the SAD will also apply to citizens living abroad who are of conscription age.

‘This is also critically important, so that the conditional segregation allowed in the compulsory military service in Soviet times and in the 1990s, that those who did not learn or did not know how to avoid it, were conscripted into the service. Latvian society must change its thinking and accept that that service in the national army is a matter of honour and everyone’s duty,’ explained Galkin.

In addition, experience so far shows that citizens living abroad who have joined the National Guard also return from their home country to train and participate in it regularly.

Although currently, the Ministry of Health has suggested that SAD be introduced only for men and women will be able to apply voluntarily, the ministry is content that this service is mandatory for young women. The Ministry stands for gender equality, and if, during the consideration of the SAD issue, the government and the Saeima are ready to provide the additional funding necessary to recruit and train twice the number of citizens at once, then it would be possible to change this setting.

Galkin confirmed that before announcing the SAD proposal, the MoD conducted in-depth research by interviewing young people, including women. The study concluded that the attitude of the overwhelming majority of female respondents was negative about joining SAD. It is also planned potential candidates are approached individually.

Currently, it is also not known what penalties, fines and terms of imprisonment the MoD will initiate for deliberate evasion of SAD and whether it will be administrative or criminal responsibility.

The Mechanized Infantry Brigade of the Ground Forces will be the leading unit of the armed forces in the implementation of the training. During the service, citizens will receive basic military training, training in a military speciality, and will be integrated into units for service duties and collective training for half a year.

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The total duration of the service will be one year, including one month of vacation. Soldier training is planned for three months, training in a speciality for another three months, and integration of trainees into units and collective training will take place during the last five months.

The trainees will be provided with social guarantees. It is planned that they will receive compensation of up to €400 per month, food and living in the barracks. For the implementation of the reform, the MoD will soon forward to the government the amendments to the regulatory acts and a special draft law. The final decision on the reform will have to be taken by the Saeima (parliament). Source

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