Latvia's Contribution to the International Peace Missions
On the threshold of membership in NATO, Latvia has become a "security donor", demonstrating through participation in international missions and initiatives its commitment to international peace, security and the common values of the Euro-Atlantic family. In its contribution to Alliance operations, Latvia is focussing on areas in which it can add value to NATO-s overall capabilities.
Latvia has participated in all NATO-led operations in the Balkans since 1996
Latvia has made a noteworthy contribution to stabilisation efforts in the Balkans, participating in all NATO-led peace operations in the region since IFOR in 1996: the SFOR mission in Bosnia, AFOR mission in Albania (during the Kosovo crisis), and the KFOR mission in Kosovo.
Latvia initially contributed an infantry platoon as part of the Swedish and Danish Battalions. From 1997-8, five Latvian platoons, consisting of 40 soldiers each, took part in the Multinational Stabilisation Forces (SFOR) mission as part of the Danish Battalion.
Since 1998, however, the Baltic Battalion (BALTBAT) has had its own contingent in Bosnia and Herzegovina: Latvian Company BALTSQN-6 was deployed in Bosnia and Herzegovina as part of this contingent in August 2002. In January 2003 it was transferred to Kosovo and replaced by an Estonian company in February 2003.
Eight members of the Latvian National Armed Forces Medical Liaison Team took part in operations in Albania as part of the Belgian contingent from April to July 1999.
An explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) team, as well as military police and medics have been deployed at several posts in Kosovo as part of Norwegian and British contingents. A new rotation of medical personnel replaced their colleagues on February 8, 2003. The Latvian EOD team has received high praise from the commanders of the contingent.
In January 1999, Latvia sent six observers to Kosovo as part of the Kosovo Verification Mission (KVM). Owing to the commencement of NATO air strikes, the mission had to conclude its work in the spring of that year.
A Latvian representative also took part in a border observation mission in FYROM until May 2002.
Latvia-s involvement in international missions continues
Latvia continues to take part in the OSCE border observation mission in Georgia, as it has done since 2001.
Since February 2003, a unit of military medics has been serving in the International Stabilization Force (ISAF II) mission in Afghanistan as part of the Dutch contingent.
In 2003, Latvia sent troops to Iraq as a contribution to post-war stabilisation in that country. A logistics support platoon and an EOD unit arrived in the region in May. An infantry company of 105 soldiers and officers was deployed in the Polish sector in August.
Latvia is developing specialized capabilities to support international operations
Increasing Latvia-s defence capabilities involves enhancing Latvia-s capacity to participate in international operations. Latvia is working on the further development and special training of forces to effectively complement NATO-s collective capabilities, such as:
- an infantry battalion for peace operations
- specialized units of military medics
- explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) units
- military police.
A decision has been taken by the Ministry of Defence to develop capabilities to counter nuclear, biological and chemical (NBC) threats, carry out special operations, and train mine-clearing divers.
Latvia stands ready to participate in EU-led missions
Latvia is contributing to stabilization processes in the Balkans, as well as the further development of the civilian crisis management initiative under the European Security and Defence Policy. Four members of the State Police of Latvia are currently serving in the EU-led civilian Police Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Latvia's National Armed Forces have seconded two staff officers for the EU mission Concordia in Macedonia.
Latvia has also been involved in the WEU-led Multinational Advisory Police Element (MAPE) mission in Albania.