Reserve Colonel: “If day x comes, people, we don’t know today will volunteer”

Lithuanian Riflemen's Unions
Riflemen Union DELFI / Tomas Vinickas

Laurynas Kasčiūnas, Chairman of the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence (NSDK), proposes to appoint a Deputy Minister of National Defence, who would be responsible only for the organisation of civil resistance. During the conference in the Seimas, it was also stated that at the moment, we do not fully know the potential of the resistance and that the people who would come to fight for freedom at the dawn of the hour X would be people that we do not even think about today Jūratė Važgauskaitė writes in

Kasčiūnas proposed the appointment of a Vice-Minister for Resistance at an international conference at the Seimas dedicated to reviewing the training of citizens for armed and unarmed civil resistance.

According to Mr Kasčiūnas, to organise possible civil resistance more effectively, it is necessary to designate an institution or organisation responsible for organising resistance and for providing resources for this purpose.

A separate institution is needed

“In my opinion, it is worth considering whether it would be necessary to appoint a vice-minister in the Ministry of National Defence or to keep a vice-minister with a single portfolio responsible for civil resistance, unconventional warfare and organising resistance. <…> Perhaps it would even be necessary to legislate for such a need, using the example of Ukraine, to put a question mark on whether such an activity is necessary,” the NSGK chairman argued.

He recalled that the agreement on defence and national security signed by the political parties in July last year contains a provision that preparing for resistance is also one of the strategic directions of Lithuania’s national security and defence.

“And what is even more important, if we involve as much of the public as possible in resistance networks, this is a very important factor in deterring the enemy,” Kasčiūnas said.

According to him, if 200-300,000 citizens had their own place in the security-defence architecture and had the skills and the will to resist, we would be much stronger. Currently, there are tens of thousands of people in Lithuania who are ready for active resistance.

Currently, courses in civil resistance are being held at the Special Operations Forces Training Centre, the Military Academy, the National Defence Volunteer Forces and the Riflemen‘s Union, but I wonder if this is enough.

“The crucial question is how these courses – we see that they are more courses within the national defence system – how they are integrated into our overall defence planning,” said the chairman of the NSGK.

The ones we don’t know about will come

Former Special Operations Commander, Retired Colonel Saulius Guzevičius, speaking about possible resistance to the enemy and public involvement, said that “If day x comes, we see from experience, from the history of warfare, that people are coming to the volunteer who we don’t know today. This happened in 1940, before that in 1918 and then in 1991.

You have to be prepared for that, and you have to know how to recruit, train and lead them. That is the experience of the special operations forces, who have had that experience in Afghanistan. This needs to be exploited,” said the retired colonel.

He added that public support is also very important. “This is a golden bridge. Any army without support is doomed to fail if the partisans had not had support, they could have held out for a few months, but they held out for ten years, and in 1991 it was the public that made the crucial moment of victory,” said Guzevičius.

He added that back in 2012, President Dalia Grybauskaitė declared that we were living in an information war, and today this is evident. According to the retired colonel, the most important thing is to be ready to fight back and be resilient to potential challenges.

“The two per cent of the army and the 98 per cent of the public that the previous speakers spoke about reflect reality. It is important that there is public information about the processes and discussions about possible resistance.

It is said in the army that if there is a problem, you have to talk about it. The more we talk, the more answers we will get, the more people will know, and the more resistance there will be. If we prepare for resistance, it is as if we acknowledge that part of the territory may be occupied, but not necessarily, because resistance must be continuous. We are already doing this. We are quite resilient. Our methodology for identifying propaganda and exercising resilience is used at NATO headquarters”, said the former Special Operations Commander.

We can not measure the potential yet

Žilvinas Tomkus, Deputy Minister of the Ministry of Defence, who works on issues of public resistance, acknowledged that it is not possible to have a naïve belief that we can feel safe when we are near Russia. We have to prepare, he said.

According to Ž. Tomkus, the issue of resistance has become an almost daily discussion today, which shows its importance. He did not want to accept that we do not pay enough attention to the possibility of armed resistance in society and that we are not too late to prepare for it.

“Sometimes you hear that maybe we are not paying enough attention or we are already late. <…> “We have to prepare not only 2% (to develop the army) but 100% (to prepare the society). <…> The first saying is that defence starts with the citizens.

It is no secret that after independence, there was a debate on what to pay more attention to, the army or the training of the public, and the answer then was the army, but today there is no distinction. We have the capacity and the resources, so we need to train the army and the society in parallel,” the expert said.

He also asked an uncomfortable question that worries many: is it necessary to assess all scenarios?

“Should the occupation scenario be included in the possible scenarios? We have to do everything we can to deter not only an occupation but also an attack, which is why we need to invest in the army and in society. But everyone who is involved in military planning says that the worst-case scenario must also be kept in mind. We have a long history of organising courses on these issues with our colleagues from the US, and we can talk not only about our society but also share our experience,” said Ž. Tomkus.

According to him, Lithuanian decision-makers tend to say that everyone has a role to play in society regarding civil resistance.

“The role of citizens? <…> More and more often, organisations are coming to us, not only to ask what their role is but also to offer suggestions, to say that they can do this or that job, that they can do this or that task. It is almost impossible to measure willpower (to defend oneself) and resilience. We can only see it in critical situations, but strengthening that willpower is the first job. It can be even more rewarding than providing skills. Without trained citizens, it is difficult to defend, but without citizens who are willing to defend, defence is not possible at all,” said the Deputy Minister of National Defence.

For his part, Jonas Ohman, founder of Blue/Yellow, said that when it comes to global resistance, it is important to bring together as many different people as possible, to bring together different sectors of society.

“When the fighting started in Mykolaiv, there were no Ukrainian soldiers there yet, so people took their hunting guns and resisted. When the soldiers arrived, they saw that the partisans were already there. <…> It is impossible to plan everything, and resistance cannot be done only on a formal level, but on an informal level, you have to think about the informal level, you have to connect with people in certain places,” Ohman reflected.

The war in Ukraine, he said, has shown the importance of community, of having friends, of having people who can help because then any action is much easier, and so is resistance.

He added that it is never clear in advance who will take the helm of the resistance, as the Lithuanian experience has shown.

Plans are underway to set up a civil resistance council

Last May, the Seimas approved a strategy for training Lithuanian citizens for civil resistance. The Government plans to establish a Council for Civil Resistance, headed by the Chancellor of the Government.

The strategy aims to build resilience, civic will and skills to ensure that citizens are prepared and involved in responding to threats to national security and resisting aggression and occupation.

The Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union is given a prominent role in civil resistance and is identified as preparing for and organising a resistance movement in the context of occupation.

The document states that the proportion of citizens willing to defend the country with arms should rise from 44% in 2020, according to a survey commissioned by the Ministry of National Defence, to 60% in 2035.

Accordingly, the share of citizens willing to participate in unarmed civil resistance will increase from 54% in 2020 to 70% in 2035, while the share of citizens participating in events to commemorate historical memory will increase from 37.6% to 46%.

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