His opinion echoes the statements of defence specialists who say that the number is needed to complete all units and start training of the necessary reserve.
Chief of Defence Major General Jonas Vytautas Žukas says efforts to achieve the goal will include gradual increase of the number of persons accepted to professional service. An increase by 450 soldiers is planned for 2015, with further rise of 350 in later years. Up until now, 200-300 new soldiers would join the forces, i.e., just enough to replace those who retired.
Žukas also emphasized it would be optimal to ensure that the number of reserve soldiers was at least three times bigger than that of active servicemen. In his words, about 80,000 people have served in the Lithuanian army throughout its nearly 25 years of independence.
The Lithuanian parliament’s National Security and Defence Committee on Friday held a discussion on implementation of the agreement signed by political parties to increase defence spending.
This year, Lithuania’s defence spending stands at 0.89 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP), with plans to increase the 2015 defence budget by a third, pulling up the GDP share to 1.11 percent. The defense budget is being increased in response to Russia’s actions in Ukraine.