Latvia’s safety cur­rently en­sured by ap­prox­i­mately 1,400 NATO troops

Baltic News Network - - News -

There are ap­prox­i­mately 1,400 NATO troops cur­rently sta­tioned in Latvia. There are plans to in­crease this num­ber, as con­firmed by De­fence Min­istry.

1,300 of those troops – the largest por­tion of this con­tin­gent of for­eign troops – be­long to the multi­na­tional com­bat group led by Canada. The bat­tal­ion sta­tioned at Ādaži base in­cludes sol­diers from Canada, Al­ba­nia, Czech Repub­lic, Italy, Poland, Slo­vakia, Slove­nia, and Spain. The bat­tal­ion has at its dis­posal dif­fer­ent mil­i­tary ve­hi­cles, in­clud­ing com­bat cars and tanks.

The goal be­hind NATO’s ex­panded pres­ence is in­creas­ing the al­liance’s de­ter­rence pol­icy and demon­strat­ing its de­fen­sive ca­pa­bil­i­ties, along with sol­i­dar­ity and readi­ness to pro­tect mem­ber states from all forms of ag­gres­sion. A fes­tive wel­com­ing cer­e­mony was or­ga­nized for the ar­rival of NATO forces in June 2017.

Fol­low­ing Rus­sia’s per­formed an­nex­a­tion of Crimea in 2014, USA de­cided to send mul­ti­ple dif­fer­ent-level units to Latvia as part of At­lantic Re­solve op­er­a­tion. Af­ter the ar­rival of NATO’s bat­tal­ion, USA re­duced their pres­ence to 70 sol­diers with five Black Hawn he­li­copters at Lielvārde Air Force base, De­fence Min­istry adds.

NATO’s integration unit has been sta­tioned in Latvia since 2015. This unit rep­re­sents 12 NATO mem­ber states – Bel­gium, Canada, Den­mark, Ger­many, Nether­lands, Nor­way, Poland, Spain, Turkey, Bri­tain, USA and Latvia.

It is ex­pected that the num­ber of al­lied troops sta­tioned in Latvia will in­crease in the fu­ture. At the be­gin­ning of July, Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau an­nounced dur­ing his visit to Latvia that his coun­try plans to ex­tend its rule over NATO’s multi­na­tional bat­tal­ion un­til 2023.

It was men­tioned in the an­nounce­ment that Canada will re­main in charge of the multi­na­tional com­bat group in Latvia and will in­crease the pres­ence of Cana­dian troops in Latvia from 455 to 540. Dur­ing NATO sum­mit in July, Latvia’s De­fence Min­is­ter Rai­monds Bergma­nis and his col­leagues from Den­mark, Es­to­nia, Canada, Bri­tain and Lithua­nian signed a let­ter of in­tent in favour of for­ma­tion of Multi­na­tional Di­vi­sion North. Head­quar­ters of this di­vi­sion will be lo­cated at Ādaži base in Latvia. Ob­jec­tives of multi­na­tional di­vi­sion North will in­crease de­fence plan­ning, or­ga­ni­za­tion and re­al­iza­tion of mil­i­tary drills and ac­tiv­i­ties to in­crease com­pat­i­bil­ity and co­op­er­a­tion among mil­i­tary per­son­nel from dif­fer­ent coun­tries. The newly formed head­quar­ters meet NATO’s op­er­a­tional anal­y­sis re­quire­ments and will be part of the ex­ist­ing com­mand struc­ture of the al­liance re­spon­si­ble for en­sur­ing se­cu­rity in the Baltic re­gion. The head­quar­ters will be an ef­fi­cient and mil­i­tary ca­pa­ble struc­ture that will pro­vide uni­fied com­mand for di­vi­sion-sized armed forces and NATO com­bat groups sta­tioned in Baltic States. Of­fi­cers from par­tic­i­pat­ing coun­tries – Den­mark, Latvia and Es­to­nia – will be serv­ing in head­quar­ters.

The head­quar­ters will an­swer to the Multi­na­tional Corps North­east, which is lo­cated in Szczecin, Poland. The head­quar­ters will com­mence work in Septem­ber. The ini­tial op­er­a­tional po­ten­tial is planned to have been reached by the first half of next year, and full op­er­a­tional po­ten­tial – by mid-2020.

Edijs Pālens/LETA

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