Latvian Defense Minister Ināra Mūrniece said the country’s military spending could reach 3% of its gross domestic product (GDP) earlier than planned. Mūrniece also announced that it aims to sign a contract this spring for the purchase of Naval Assault Missile anti-ship systems and six M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems (HIMARS).
Speaking at a meeting of the Parliament’s Committee on Defense, Home Affairs and Corruption Prevention, Mūrniece said his ministry has three programs that need to be stepped up to strengthen Latvia’s defence capacity. According to the local news agency, Mūrniece stated that these are coastal defence, artillery systems and medium-range air defense systems against enemy ships.
“We are expected to reach 3 percent of GDP [defence spending] by 2027, but with these projects moving faster, I think we will reach 3 percent of GDP before 2027,” Mūrniece said.
At the same time, Latvia is advancing the project of resuming conscription after ending conscription in 2007, and the relevant bill is pending parliamentary vote. The Latvian National Armed Forces will enlist the first group of volunteers this year, and in 2027 all male citizens aged 18-27 will have to choose one of the available military services.
In the statement made by the ministry of defence, it was stated that the new soldiers will undergo three months of basic training and three months of specialization course, while the remaining five months will be devoted to integration into the troops and collective training.
The country’s government aims to increase Latvia’s war-ready population to 50,000 by 2027. According to the statement, 14,000 of these will serve in the active service units, 16,000 in the National Guard and 20,000 in the reserve forces.