Report on the implementation of the NATO Integration Plan of Latvia in 1999

02.12.2014. 19:09

Report on the implementation of the NATO Integration Plan of Latvia in 1999


On October 14, 1998 the NATO Integration Council of Latvia approved the NATO Integration Plan for 1999. The present report provides a summary of the results achieved in implementing the Integration Plan.

In the course of the past year, Latvia's continued efforts and progress in preparing for membership have been recognised and welcomed by NATO member nations. The decisions of NATO Washington summit were in accordance with the interests and position taken by Latvia. Latvia together with Estonia, Lithuania and other 6 Central and Eastern European countries were named as the NATO candidate states. Latvia has also acquired a practical instrument that would help it to prepare for the membership - the Membership Action Plan. Latvia's Membership Action Plan 2000 has been adopted in September this year and to a great extent presents the continuation of preparation for membership pursued in the framework of the Integration Plan of 1999.

Since the adoption of the Integration Plan, serious attention has been paid to the defence area. This is reflected in the increase of defence budget by 30% in 1999. Consequently greater attention is also paid to the development and strengthening of audit and financial control in the Ministry of Defence and National Armed Forces (NAF).

The increase of the budget has provided for implementation of the tasks defined in the Integration Plan and recommendations of the U.S. Defence Department: implementation of the personnel reforms and essential improvement of the quality of life of the military personnel, further improvement of infrastructure and launch of certain programs for purchasing equipment and armament. The new personnel system provides for more effective career planning and provides more effective incentives to attract qualified personnel to the armed forces.

Latvia has established the defence planning process and Planning, Programming and Budgeting System that corresponds to the NATO defence planning. The system consists of 12 year long-term and 4 year medium-term planning cycles. The 4 year medium-term planning period has been established for the first time. This planning period will co-ordinate the development of the different NAF types and the budget. In June the Cabinet of Ministers has adopted the Defence Concept. The law on National Armed Forces, adopted by the Parliament and the draft law on National Security, prepared for the last reading further consolidates the principles of democratic control in the armed forces.

Structural changes in the Ministry of Defence have allowed to intensify the work on NATO integration and on public information programmes. Opinion polls show increased support for the National Armed Forces in general, as well as Latvia's integration into NATO.

In 1999 the co-operation between Latvia and NATO in the military field has been enhanced. The bilateral military co-operation with a wide range of NATO member states has been facilitated by the strengthening of the Corps of Attaches of the Defence Ministry. In May, the 8 Initial Partnership Goals have been agreed between Latvia and NATO. Their aim is to ensure and enhance the capacity of Latvia to participate in the NATO operations.

During this year the participation of the NAF units in the NATO-led operations in the territory of former Yugoslavia has increased. The Integration Plan envisaged the participation of Latvian military persons in the SFOR mission in the framework of BALTBAT. Since October the 132 persons strong Latvian BALTBAT company has taken the lead within the Baltic contingent in SFOR. The medical team has also participated in the AFOR humanitarian mission in Albania. Latvia has made preparations for participation in the KFOR peace operation in Kosovo.

 (Appendix - more detailed report on implementation of military issues of the Integration plan)

The NATO Integration Council has held 5 meetings during which the implementation of the Integration plan and its further development into a NATO Membership Action Plan has been discussed. The Integration Council has also discussed the support of Latvia to NATO activities in Kosovo, the results of Washington summit and the defence budget of Latvia. The Council has also improved its own mechanisms by setting up a Senior Officials Committee and involving the Minister of Finance in the work of the Council.

Despite the impact of the global economic crisis the economic development of Latvia has remained stable. The forecast of the GDP per annum is expected to be positive in the area of 1-2%. Further GDP growth is expected in the period of next few years.

For the first time a considerable increase of the defence budget was achieved in 1999. These 30% helped to raise the salaries of the militaries, improve the quality of life of soldiers and officers, continue improving the infrastructure and launch certain equipment and armament purchase programs. Consequently the defence budget has reached 0.85% of GDP.

At the same time a Law on Financing the State Defence envisaging a gradual increase of the defence budget up to 2% of GDP till 2003 has been drafted, discussed in the NATO Integration Council and conceptually supported in the Cabinet of Ministers. The state budget adopted by the parliament for the year of 2000 reaches 1.04% of GDP to the defence area.

Democratic control of armed forces and the education of society on defence issues

In 1999 Latvia has also developed further the legal basis clarifying the responsibilities of the state officials and institutions in the security and defence area:

the Law on National Armed Forces has been adopted by the Parliament on November 4.

the draft Law on National Security is submitted to the Parliament and ready for the third reading.

Law on Mobilisation is currently being amended and its submission to the Parliament is planned to take place in the beginning of 2000.

The Defence Concept has been approved by the Cabinet of Ministers on June 29.

The elaboration of the Operational Defence Plan is planned to take place till November 2000 in accordance with Latvia's MAP 2000.

The Ministry of Defence not only informs the society on the issues of state defence, activities of the NAF and utilisation of allocated funds, but also creates pre-conditions for a successful participation of the MPs from the responsible Committees of the Parliament in development of the state defence policy. Following measures have been taken in the framework of the Plan:

The Ministry of Defence has set up a Public Relations and Press Division that develops and implements public information programmes.

Several brochures have been published: in May on the defence system (in English); in June a brochure by the Minister of Defence "The National Security of Latvia in the Parliamentary Democracy". A booklet "Compulsory Military Service and the Civic Education of the Youth" has also been published.

The Minister of Defence has met with the representatives of different political parties, represented in the Parliament, and discussed the priorities of the defence budget.

The annual report on the work of the Ministry of Defence in 1998 has been published and sent to all higher state authorities. The draft of "White Paper" has been prepared. It is planned to publish it in January 2000.

The home pages of the Ministry of Defence and the NAF have been created. At present they are available in Latvian and the information is continuously supplemented. The information on the news in security policy is also regularly provided by the home page of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

The development of Crisis Management System on the governmental level was started to improve the capabilities of risk assessment and co-ordination of activities of relevant state authorities in a crisis situation. The necessity to create the Crisis Control Centre to develop the crisis management system was discussed during the NATO Integration Council meeting on April 13. Since November 8 the Centre is established and the Head of the Centre appointed. As the Centre is located in the State Chancery, and its staff consists of civil servants, its operation will be permanent and will not depended on the changes of the government. The functions and the setting of the Centre has been discussed with the experts from Sweden and the United Kingdom. The development of the Centre is supported also by the European Union and the United States.

In 1998 representatives from the Ministries of Defence, Foreign Affairs and Interior, the National Armed Forces as well as Latvian Mission to the WEU successfully participated in the WEU Crisis management exercise CRISEX 98. During the exercise the Latvian Mission in Brussels was reinforced by a representative from the NAF. Latvia is preparing for the participation in the joint crisis control exercise of NATO and the WEU CMX/CRISEX 2000. Representatives of the Foreign and Defence Ministries and the NAF have already participated in exercise planning conferences in May, September and November 1999.

Co-operation with NATO

To ensure for Latvia the most favourable result possible at the NATO Washington Summit, intensive political dialogue with NATO and NATO members was developed. In autumn 1998 besides the bilateral meetings with representatives of NATO members, the State President of Latvia delivered a speech the NATO states ambassadors at the North Atlantic Council. Also working level meetings with representatives of NATO Secretariat during which NATO was informed about Latvia's interests regarding the upcoming Summit. In the spring of 1999 the main emphasis was put on promotion of Latvia's interests in bilateral dialogue with NATO member states.

Since the Washington Summit when NATO introduced the Membership Action Plan, bilateral and multilateral co-operation with NATO has been developed mainly through the process of elaboration and evaluation Membership Action Plan. The Integration Council Senior Officials Committee has elaborated Latvia's Membership Action Plan for 2000. During elaboration of the Plan consultations with NATO members and NATO International Secretariat were held. Latvia's MAP was presented to representatives of NATO countries both in Riga and NATO states. In order to introduce with Latvia's approach to the Membership Action Plan process and to get feedback on Latvia's Plan meetings between Latvian delegations and NATO International Secretariat as well as NATO states Deputy Heads of Missions have been held in Brussels.

In 1999 several high level Latvian-NATO meetings were held, during which Latvia's preparation for NATO membership was discussed. Latvian President Vaira Vike-Freiberga met with NATO Secretary General Lord Robertson at NATO Headquarters in Brussels. NATO Assistant Secretary General on Political Affairs Mr. Klaiber, Supreme Allied Commander of Allied Forces Europe General Wesley Clarke and DSACEUR General Rupert Smith, as well as the President of North Atlantic Assembly Mr. Javier Ruperez have visited Latvia.

Political dialogue with NATO was continued within Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council through biannual meetings of Foreign and Defence Ministers as well as the monthly meetings of Ambassadors. Regular work is held in Political, Military and other EAPC Committees and expert level working groups.

Within the framework of the EAPC on October 3-5 in Riga and Liepaja the seminar "Economic Aspects of Military Base Management" was held by Latvian Ministry of Defence and NATO Economic Committee.

In 1999 co-operation between Latvia and NATO in military field has expanded. In May of this year Latvia adopted 8 Initial Partnership Goals with the aim of fostering Latvia's capabilities to participate in NATO-led operations.

Participation of Latvia in NATO-led international peace operations has also expanded. Participation of Latvian unit in SFOR forces in Bosnia-Herzegovina within BALTBAT is continuing. Presently Latvia is the leading country of the contingent and has sent for the mission a company of 132 soldiers.

A Latvian medical unit participated in the NATO-led operation in Albania to provide assistance for Kosovo refugees. Humanitarian aid was sent to Kosovo refugees camps.

Participation of a Latvian unit in NATO KFOR forces in Kosovo has been prepared.

The corps of Latvian military attachés in NATO member and candidate states has been increased: military attachés in Denmark, Norway, Germany, Estonia, as well as a civil representative of the Ministry of Defence at the NATO Headquarters in Brussels have started their work. Further strengthening of Latvian Mission to NATO in 2000 has been planned by appointment of a separate ambassador responsible only for NATO and envisaging additional posts of a diplomat and a deputy military representative.

In 1999 Latvia participated in the Partnership for Peace (PfP) exercises in accordance with Latvian-NATO individual partnership programme (IPP) for 1999 (in total 13 PfP exercises, including 4 PfP exercises where Latvian armed forces participated with units, 11 exercises in the spirit of PfP).

Baltic Cooperation

Among the issues discussed by the Baltic Prime Ministers during their 5 February 1999 meeting were Baltic defence cooperation, participation in NATO-led SFOR operation, development of joint military projects and the enhancement of efforts aimed at integration in NATO. During their meeting on July 9th, 1999 the Prime Ministers agreed on the Work Plan of the Defence and Peacekeeping Committee of the Baltic Council of Ministers, that calls for co-operation in development of interoperability with NATO, further development of joint Baltic projects, joint military exercises, coordination of defence procurement, and consultations on development and implementation of the Membership Action Plan.

The Presidents of the Baltic Sates met on February 8th in Tallinn, and adopted a joint declaration on the NATO 50th anniversary and Washington Summit, and expressed a common position regarding the expected decisions of the NATO Summit.

The Baltic Defence Ministers meetings take place regularly, three times a year, however the final one planned for this year has been postponed until Jan. 2000. The last one took place in May 7th, 1999. The Joint Communiqué signed during the last Baltic Defence Ministers meeting contains an agreement to coordinate the implementation of the NATO Membership Action Plans and recognizes the need to sign an agreement on classified information exchange among the Baltic States. The Ministers also discussed the Baltic co-operation in joint military projects and supported further participation in SFOR operation.

Latvia took an initiative of organizing a working level meeting of MFA and MoD experts of the Baltic states. During this meeting on August 18th in Riga, preparation of NATO Membership Action Plans was discussed.

The issues of integration into NATO were also discussed during the Baltic States meetings with the USA and with Germany. These meetings included the USA-Baltic Partnership Commission meeting on 16 July, and the Baltic States / Germany Foreign Ministers meeting on 3 September in Tallinn. Immediately after the Washington Summit the Presidents of the three Baltic States, along with the US Secretary of State gave a joint evaluation on the results of the Summit.

The Baltic Battalion (BALTBAT)

The Latvian contingent of BALTBAT is successfully participating in the SFOR mission in Bosnia-Herzegovina in accordance with the Rotation Plan for the years 1998/2000, adopted by the Baltic Battalion Steering Group.

Since October 1999 the Latvian Company of BALTBAT (132 solders) constitutes the core of the Baltic SFOR contribution.

In April the Baltic Ministers of Defence adopted Political Guidelines for the future development of BALTBAT, BALTRON and BALTNET.

In October 1999 the BALTBAT Military Working Group adopted the plan for participation of BALTBAT in the SFOR mission from April 2000 to October 2001.

Two NATO Initial Partnership Goals approved by Latvia are related to common Baltic military projects -BALTBAT and BALTRON.

Baltic Air Surveillance System (BALTNET)

Preparation of and equipment installation in the Latvian Air Sovereignty Operations Center (ASOC) was finished on March 29, 1999, as was the National ASOC building. The Official opening took place on April 20. Installation of the US donated equipment is planned to take place during September 1999 - January 2000.

The Cabinet of Ministers has approved the Latvian Airspace Surveillance Concept, covering also the installation of radars.

The setting up of the communications network with the Regional Air Surveillance Co-ordination Center in Kaunas and the Air Sovereignty Operations Center in Tallinn is completed. The equipment delivery plan was coordinated with Norway.

The formation of the Radio Technical Battalion (the Radar operators) has begun. The radar site at Lielvarde has been activated, the Gulbene radar site is scheduled for opening in 2000, but the Ventspils radar site is planned to open by 2002. The completion of the Battalion is scheduled for 2003.

The training of the Airspace Control personnel has been started and is proceeding in accordance with the plans.

The agreement with the Latvian Civil Air Traffic Control Service on use of the Air Traffic Control Center (CATC) workstations was signed in 1998. An air traffic management dispatcher workstation has been purchased from the Civil Air Traffic Control Center.

The use of the CATC capabilities started on 20th April 1999.

The Baltic Naval Squadron (BALTRON)

In 1999, BALTRON has carried out an intensive programme of international excercises in Germany, Denmark, Sweden, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia, practicing ship damage control, mine sweeping and ship de-magnetization.

The Squadron has taken part in counter-mine operations in the Baltic Sea, including with the NATO Northwest Mine-countermeasures Squadron.

An agreement has been worked out on a common Baltic Dive Training Center to be established at the Naval Training Center in Liepaja.

The Baltic Defence College (BALTDEFCOL)

BALTDEFCOL has started its first academic year in August 1999. Eight officers from Latvia are currently studying there. Since February 1 one lecturer sent by Latvia is working at the BALTDEFCOL. The BALTDEFCOL Education Board has approved the curriculum.

Latvia has also started preliminary selection of applicants for BALTDEFCOL for the next year.

National Armed forces (NAF) development plans

Development of planning, programming and budgeting system (PPBS) has begun. The Defence planning process, which includes a long term (12 year) and middle term (4 year) planning cycle, has been developed. The NAF has declared interoperability with NATO as the top priority of the 12-year long-term development plan. This year for the first time, the middle term (4-year) planning cycle has been defined. The 4-year plan takes account of development plans of Land, Air and Naval Forces, as well as financial planning. 4-year plan is based on the long-term NAF development plan, and also serves as feedback influencing the long-term planning.

The following schedule is approved for drafting and adoption of various NAF development plans:

May 1999 -annual updated National Potential Military Threat Analysis, approved.

June 1999 -annual updated National Defence Concept, approved.

January 2000 - NAF long-term (12-year) development plan.

January 2000 - NAF Operational Concept.

April 2000 - NAF middle term (4 year) development plan.

April 2000 - NAF short term (1 year) development plan.

In 1999, the reform of the personnel system and the overall structure of the NAF has been completed.

The Latvian professional battalion (LATBAT)

The development of the Latvian professional battalion (LATBAT) in accordance with NATO standards has begun. The LATBAT will provide the NAF with a Rapid Reaction Force able to act in case of crises both in and outside of Latvia (international operations and provision of a rotation unit for the BALTBAT Latvian Company). The new LATBAT development concept is currently being worked out. The first professional Infantry Company of LATBAT will be completely operational by the end of 2000, and development of the complete battalion is scheduled to be completed by 2003. 100 new full-time slots for LATBAT are planned for the year 2000. Because of the changes in the unit's development schedule, unit training plans have also changed. At this time 11 officers and NCOs are taking English classes. It is planned to send 2 soldiers to military training courses in the USA. The current LATBAT Commander has completed courses in the USA.

In 1998, the 1st Company was completely equipped with items donated by the US. The Battalion has also been equipped with basic communications gear. Provision of a complete communications net down to squad level will be completed by 2005.

The development of LATBAT is one of the Initial Partnership Goals agreed between Latvia and NATO.

Education and training of military personnel

The preparation of competent military personnel is a necessary pre-condition for effective integration into and interoperability with NATO military structures. The following activities are taking place in this field:

A draft document, "Military training in the Latvian National Armed Forces" has been developed. This document will be approved after approval of the National Armed Forces development plan guidelines that include sections on military education and training.

A plan has been developed for the establishment of a professional NCO corps.

The new 8-week recruit-training program at Aluksne Training Center was implemented starting in January 29, 1999. From Jan 29 to May 15, 1999, already 815 conscripts were trained at the Aluksne Training Center using this program.

In 1999 preliminary work has been started to provide specialization training of Land Forces personnel.

The draft Military education program for NAF officers has been developed and submitted to the Minister of Defence for approval.

In October 30, the Individual Partnership Program (IPP) for Latvia (executive summary and activities derived from the PWP) for 2000-2001 has been submitted to NATO. Latvia is planning to participate in 251 PfP activities, including 14 PfP exercises.

Implementation of NATO language requirements

Effective education in the main languages used by NATO is an essential aspect of military personnel professional education and training aimed at achieving interoperability with NATO. Therefore as part of Latvia's NATO integration plan, the following efforts has been done in area of language training:

In January 6, 1999, the "Foreign language training plan for the Defence system" was approved.

Starting with year 2000, English language training will be obligatory in National Defence Academy's Unit Commanders Course (including for the German and French language groups).

Starting with the year 2000, the level of English language knowledge necessary to graduate from the National Defence Academy's Unit Commanders Course will be 2222 (STANAG 6001).

Development of Logistics

The Latvian Government in August approved the co-operation agreement between Latvia and the NATO Technical Maintenance and Supply Agency (NAMSA). However, due to new NATO legal objections, the co-ordination and approval process on this has been started all over again.

The NATO codification system BASELOG project's experts visit to Latvia took place in October 1999. It is planned to sign a co-operation agreement with NATO on the BASELOG project in the 1st Quarter of 2000.

Latvia has gained NATO logistics and procurement system experience from participation in relevant NATO committees and working groups. In 1999, MoD and NAF representatives participated in the Conference of National Armament Directors, the Senior NATO Logisticians Conference, this conference's sub-groups and other related Experts Meetings on NATO interoperability standards and requirements on procurement and logistics, Defence Industry, and codification.

A database for the NATO standards (STANAG) and Allied publications registration and storage system has been established in the NAF HQ Operations Management and Planning Department (J-3).

A working group tasked to elaborate a long-term development concept of logistics and procurement system (including codification and standardization) has been established. It is planned to approve this concept in autumn of the year 2000.

Environmental protection in military areas

In the 1st Quarter of 1999, a Meteorology and Ecology Supervision Service has been established at NAF HQ.

An environment protection plan for the Adazi military base, as well as special training for officers on environment protection issues has been provided in co-operation with U.S. and Sweden.

The Environmental Protection Strategy of the MoD and NAF has been approved.

A number of military personnel have been trained on environmental protection issues at the Training Centre in Lithuania.

A specially organized MoD and NAF working group has been tasked to create an NAF Environmental Protection Action Plan.

The MoD is working on necessary governmental regulations on clearance of territory contaminated by unexploded ordnance.

Within the PfP program, the Latvian Navy participated in international mine clearance exercises in the Baltic Sea economic zone.

Environmental subjects have been introduced into the National Defence Academy curricula.

In the year 2000, an officer position responsible for environmental protection issues will be established in each NAF unit. The main task of the responsible officer will be to supervise implementation of environmental protection regulations.