President Gitanas Nausėda called a meeting of the National Defence Council (NDC) on Monday. At the end of the meeting, Presidential Adviser Kęstutis Budrys and Minister of National Defence Arvydas Anušauskas commented on what was decided. According to the politicians, the aim is to increase the size of the Lithuanian army, and there is talk of division. Currently, the Lithuanian Armed Forces have 11.5 thousand professional military service personnel, 5.2 thousand volunteers and 3.8 thousand conscripts, Jūratė Važgauskaitė is writing at the tv3.lt news portal.
The PSC first heard intelligence information, reports, military threat assessments, developments and scenarios. It also looked at the homework to be done.
“On the first issue, on the intelligence agency’s work, the NDC members listened to the reports, endorsed them, and positively assessed the intelligence agency’s work and the information gathered. All agreed that the past year was special for the intelligence institutions. Because it was intense. The intelligence authorities did their job to warn of imminent military action. <…> One of the lessons that are relevant not only for Lithuania is that the role of intelligence is critical, both in terms of warning of threats and in terms of having time to respond to them,” Presidential Adviser K. Budrys said.
On another issue, the military threat assessment, the NDC also heard an intelligence assessment.
“The restoration and development of military power will be Moscow’s priority, and how quickly it will be able to do so, the plans already announced or those it does not want to announce will depend on the outcome of the war in Ukraine, the imposition of sanctions, the continuity of sanctions, and the role of NATO. NATO is adapting to the security situation in the region. Regional defence plans, the structure of NATO forces, the command headquarters, and the model are being revised, and all these changes will require changes in Lithuania.
Thus, the NDC instructed the Chief of Defence Staff and the Minister of National Defence to prepare an assessment of what structural changes in the armed forces, in terms of acquisitions, should be made to meet the needs of collective defence and the risks. How the Lithuanian Armed Forces should adapt will be discussed by the members of the PSC at the next meeting”, – said K. Budrys.
For his part, the Minister of National Defence said that the PSC discussed the future development of the Lithuanian Armed Forces.
“We need to make plans for that. We are talking about a division, a Lithuanian division, based on the existing land army and based on other capabilities, but we still need to prepare for that, calculate how much it will cost, and what additional capabilities we could develop, also, what the Allies could compensate until this long-term project is realised because I would stress that this would be a long-term project. The division, which is not the heaviest, has 17 500 troops.
We are going to expand the army, and we have to draw up specific plans for that and present them at the next IGC meeting. We need to see everything and count everything, and then we will be able to talk more concretely. The Seimas approved the development plans. Taking into account the threats and future regional defence plans, as more than one division is being established in this region,” Anušauskas said.
He added that in Lithuania, threats are always measured in terms of worst-case scenarios, which means that much depends on the situation in Ukraine.
“If Ukraine continues to counter-attack successfully, the situation changes. This is one situation, but we always look at the threats and assess that Russia has the potential to rebuild its military capability”, the Defence Minister said.
Laurynas Kasčiūnas, Chairman of the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence (NSDK), also pointed out that Russia has announced an ambitious plan to reinforce its Western District and that it is, therefore, necessary to react to this.
“Now the idea is that we will review the defence strategy of the whole country, and there may be some innovations there. Yes, there are very serious ideas that we will strengthen our capabilities, push very hard, and move forward to have a very high deterrent effect. (….) The priority is on acquisitions and armaments”, he said.
The head of the NSGC announced that he had drafted and submitted a bill on Lithuanian border fortification and counter-mobility measures to the President’s advisers.
“We have not talked about it, but I have prepared a draft law on Lithuanian border fortification and counter-mobility measures, which foresees that the Government and the Ministry of National Defence should assess the measures needed. I have it for the time being, I will hold a discussion about it, and if I see that we do not agree with each other, I will register this draft”, Kasčiūnas said.
The strengthening of both national and collective defence was launched after Russia invaded Ukraine last February.
The Council for the Defence of the State of Lithuania comprises the President, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Seimas, the Minister of National Defence and the Chief of Defence. The NDC is headed by the President.
The Council discusses and coordinates the most important national security and defence issues.