No general conscription for Lithuania before 2020

Lithuanian solder
DELFI / Mindaugas Ažušilis

Lithuania’s Armed Forces currently does not have sufficient accommodation facilities for thousands of conscripts, also lacking money for accoutrements and instructors for training them.

“With today’s infrastructure and financing, we wouldn’t be able to do this,” Captain Mindaugas Neimontas, spokesman for the Lithuanian chief of defence, told BNS.

Military expert Deividas Šlekys said that preparation for general conscription would require at least a parliamentary term, which lasts four years in Lithuania.

“I would be honestly surprised, if politicians started doing anything and change before the end of this term,” said Šlekys, political scientist at the Vilnius University’s International Relations and Political Science Institute.

Partial conscription to Lithuania’s Armed Forces was reintroduced last year in response to Russian actions in Ukraine and the Baltic Sea region.

However, Saulius Skvernelis, candidate for prime minister nominated by the ruling Lithuanian Peasant and Green Union, says that the long-term goal of universal conscription was a “clear and unambiguous message.”

“This requires very specific preparation: investment in infrastructure, munitions and equipment, creation of efficient mechanisms for promotion and motivation. Clearly, strategic communication is a task of utmost importance in the process,” Skvernelis said in his presentation at the parliament earlier this week.

Lithuania’s parliament has decided to recruit an annual of about 3,500-4,000 young people to the Armed Forces within the next five years, while universal conscription could expand the number at least a few times. More than 26,000 school graduates currently exist in Lithuania.

In preparation to general conscription, the army would first of all face the challenge of finding them room in military units, as they have lately been at least 70 percent full. Furthermore, Lithuania is still looking for accommodation for an international Allied battalion of about 1,000 troops expected to arrive next year.

If general conscription is introduced, Lithuania would need more petty officers to train recruits. According to information provided by the Armed Forces, the Land Forces are currently about 400 petty officers short.

The Armed Forces have been calculating their spending based on the provision that the defense funding would reach 2 percent of the gross domestic product (GDP) in 2018.

However, Šlekys, the military expert, says that the funding would not be enough for the planned fast modernization of the Land Forces and simultaneous reintroduction of general conscription, while sticking to the NATO recommendations on budget distribution.

“I believe the 2 percent would not be enough, as equipment is aging, the military is advancing, therefore, Lithuania will have to spend big money on acquisitions for years in order to modernize,” he added.

Skvernelis’ idea of general conscription was supported by the opposition conservative Homeland Union – Lithuanian Christian Democrats who have raised questions about implementation of the decision.

Irena Šiauliene, the head of the political group of the ruling Social Democratic Party group, said the party would discuss the idea later after the governmental program of LPGU and the Social Democrats has been finalized.

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