LSM: Latvia considering second international military base

Military exercise in progress at Adaži, home of Latvia's current NATO base.
Military exercise in progress at Adaži, home of Latvia's current NATO base. Source: Marina Loštšina

Latvia's defense ministry is mulling options for a second international military base in the country, public broadcaster LSM reports, following a pledge by Denmark to send a battalion-sized there.

Latvian Minister of Defense Artis Pabriks said Monday that a second base – the existing NATO base is at Adaži, just outside Riga – is under consideration, though could not comment on its likely location, LSM's English-language portal writes.

Pabriks added that the most economically viable site will be chosen out of several options.

Pabriks also noted that up to 800 Danish military personnel are due to arrive in Latvia, meaning more infrastructure, including training facilities, are needed – effectively amounting to a new base.

A statement by the prime ministers of all three Baltic States last week said that a divisional-level deployment was needed in each of the three countries, to ensure their security.

Pabriks added that he hoped progress will be made at this summer's Madrid summit, while more U.S. forces and investment are something which Latvia is pursuing bilaterally.

NATO has had enhanced Forward Presence (eFP) battlegroups in all three Baltic States for five years now, though these are battalion strength, i.e. in the hundreds, and far below divisional strength (thousands of personnel).

Latvia's eFP battlegroup consists of around 10 participating NATO states, and is Canadian-led.

The Estonian analogue, based at Tapa, is U.K.-led, with French and Danish personnel contributing, generally on alternate years.

At present, the U.K. presence is around twice its regular size, as the recently-arrived 1st Battalion, The Royal Welsh deployment has overlapped with that of the Royal Tank Regiment unit which preceded it.

The eFP in Estonia is distinct from the NATO Baltic Air Policing mission, which flies out of Ämari, west of the capital.

Lithuania's eFP is German-led, while Poland is home to a U.S.-led battlegroup.

One step up from even a division's size is NATO's Multinational Corps Northeast - a corps is usually tens of thousands of people strong - which predates the formation of the eFPs, having been founded in 1999, and is headquartered at Szczecin, in the far west of Poland.

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Editor: Andrew Whyte

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