Latvias Road To NATO
1991 - 1994
- The formation of national defense structures and system begins in 1991 together with regaining of state independence. Already in January 1991 the Public Security Department is established. In August the same year also the National Guard is formed. In November 1991 by a decision of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia the Ministry of Defense (MoD) is established based on the Public Security Department. In the beginning of 1992 also formations of Defense Forces begins to develop.
- By uniting the Defense Forces and the National Guard, the National Armed Forces are formed;
- Military co-operation between Baltic states begins;
- Relevant support and help from foreign partners is received contributing to the development of armed forces.
1995 - 1997
- National security and defense policy aims - membership of NATO and the EU - are clearly defined;
- Defense concept based on principles of total territorial defense is elaborated;
- Duties between the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Interior are shared (Border Guard is subordinated to the Ministry of the Interior);
- Latvia actively participates in NATO Partnership for peace programme.
1998 - March 29, 2004
- In April 1999 at the Meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government in Washington Latvia together with 6 other candidate states begins the "Action Plan for NATO membership" process that finalizes with invitation to join the Alliance received at the Meeting of NATO Heads of State and Government in Prague, in November 2002;
- In April 2001 Saeima passes the State Defense Financing Law with the purpose to determine the amount of financing allocated for national defense, safety and integration in NATO in order to ensure a long-term development planning system of the National Armed Forces and promote a purposeful increase of the national defense capabilities of Latvia;
- In March 29, 2004 Latvia becomes a full-fledged member of NATO.
Since March, 2004
- After invitation to join NATO, the Ministry of Defense makes a strategic assessment of defense system, according to which a new State Defense Concept is developed and approved in Saeima in November, 2003;
- Latvia undertakes transition process from forces appropriate for total territorial defense system towards mobile, rapid reaction units appropriate for tasks of collective defense;
- Gradual reduction of number of soldiers in mandatory military service and transition to professional military service is introduced (starting from January 1, 2007 only soldiers of professional military service will serve in the NAF);
- The role of the National Guard is altered, battalions of the National Guard become specialized in the fields of combat support and combat support logistics, in 2005 the National Guard company for the first time takes part in NATO international operation in Kosovo (KFOR);
- The Youth Guard Centre - a direct administration institution subordinated to the Ministry of Defense - is established with the aim to provide youths' education in the field of national defense, as well as to facilitate youths' civic awareness, patriotism, physical abilities and discipline. At the same time, the mission of the Youth Guard is to rouse interest in youths about the military service thus increasing the possibility of selecting motivated personnel for the professional military service. Every pupil aged 12 - 18 may engage in the Youth Guard. The academic work of the Youth Guard is arranged at schools based on the agreement signed between the Youth Guard Centre and a respective education establishment. According to data from June 1, 2006 the Youth Guard co-operates with 69 schools all over the country. Almost 6800 young people from all regions of Latvia are engaged in the Youth Guard.