Latvian National Guard

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National Guard of the Republic of Latvia
Latvijas Republikas Zemessardze
Latvian National Guard emblem.svg
Latvian National Guard emblem
FoundedAugust 23, 1991; 27 years ago (1991-08-23)
Country Latvia
TypeLight Infantry volunteer force
Size8,280 personnel[1]
Part ofLatvian National Armed Forces
Garrison/HQMaiznīcas iela 5, Rīga, LV-1001
AnniversariesAugust 23, 1991
Websitehttps://www.zs.mil.lv
Commanders
Current
commander
Colonel Egils Leščinskis

The Latvian National Guard or NG (Latvian: Latvijas Republikas Zemessardze or ZS) is a part of the Latvian National Armed Forces. The National Guard is a basic land component, consisting of volunteers who perform traditional national guard duties such as crisis response and support for military operations. It consists of the Staff Headquarters and 4 brigades (formally - regions or novadi), which are divided into 18 battalions. The National Guard continued its development also after Latvia joined NATO.

History[edit]

National Guard troops firing artillery

The National Guard was established in August 23, 1991 by the Supreme Council of the Republic of Latvia as a voluntary public military self-defense organization.[2] Its roots can be traced to the pre-World War II Aizsargi organization. It is the largest NAF structure in terms of numbers. The National Guard has always played an essential role in the national defense system by allowing the public to be involved in national defense. A number of National Guard battalions have been transformed into high-readiness reserve forces, which can be deployed immediately on international military operations.

The youth organization of the National Guard, the Youth Guard (Latvian: Latvijas Republikas Jaunsardze, JS), was established in 1992. It is the largest youth movement in Latvia, bringing together young people from the age of 10 to 21.[3]

An aviation component of the National Guard was introduced in 1993, with a fleet of ex-Soviet DOSAAF light aircraft and gliders. In 2000 the aviation component became part of the Air Force.

Mission[edit]

The main task of the National Guard is to support the regular Land Force units by defending the national territory during military threat and to perform NAF combat support and combat logistics functions. At the same time, the National Guard will continue providing assistance to the public regarding crisis control, as well as to the Latvian State Police regarding provision of public law and order, and continue the safeguarding of sites of national security importance.[4]

Structure[edit]

Members of the Latvian Zemessardze 45th Logistics Battalion remove a volunteer patient from a military ambulance in a field at Kuldīga Hospital during a training exercise.
Soldiers from the Latvian National Guard having a conversation with an American soldier from the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade during a training exercise on August 21, 2017.

(as of December 22, 2018:)[5]

National Guard (NG) Headquarters (Rīga)

  • NG Cyber Defense Unit (Rīga)
  • NG special task force
  • NG Special PSYOPS Support Platoon (Valmiera)
  • NG Veterans' Union (Rīga)
  • Central Band of the National Guard (Rīga)

National Guard 1st Brigade (Rīga HQ):

  • NG Student Infantry Battalion (Rīga)
  • NG 13th Infantry Battalion (Rīga)
  • NG 17th Combat Support Battalion (Mārupe)
  • NG 19th Combat Service Support Battalion (Stopiņi)
  • NG 53rd Infantry Battalion (Iecava)
  • NG CBRN Defense Company (Rīga)

National Guard 2nd Brigade (Valmiera HQ):

  • NG 22nd Infantry Battalion (Valmiera)
  • NG 25th Infantry Battalion (Gulbene)
  • NG 27th Infantry Battalion (Cēsis)
  • NG 31st Infantry Battalion (Alūksne)
  • NG 54th Engineer Battalion (Ogre)

National Guard 3rd Brigade (Rēzekne HQ):

National Guard 4th Brigade (Liepāja HQ):

  • NG 44th Infantry Battalion (Liepāja)
  • NG 45th Combat Service Support Battalion (Kuldīga)
  • NG 46th Infantry Battalion (Ventspils)
  • NG 51st Infantry Battalion (Dobele)
  • NG 52nd Combat Support Battalion (Jelgava)

Equipment[edit]

Military vehicles[edit]

Name Image Origin Type Variants Quantity Notes
Trucks
Scania Scania 93M Norwegian military.jpg  Sweden Truck
P93
Mercedes-Benz Uroczystość przekazania WP pierwszej partii niemieckich czołgów Leopard 2 A6.jpg  Germany Truck
MB1017
Unimog Latvian Army Unimog.jpg  Germany Truck
MB406
Volvo FMB.001821 (01).jpg  Sweden Truck
VOLVO Viking 939
Phasing out
Light vehicles
Mercedes-Benz Puch G Bundesheer.jpg  Germany SUV
MB G-Class 240GD
HMMWV Ministru prezidents Valdis Dombrovskis vēro Nacionālo bruņoto spēku vienību militāro parādi 11.novembra krastmalā (6357918105).jpg  United States SUV
CUCV Ministru prezidents Valdis Dombrovskis vēro Nacionālo bruņoto spēku vienību militāro parādi 11.novembra krastmalā (8195453677).jpg  United States SUV
Jeep Jeep Rubicon Green.JPG  United States SUV
Volvo Tgb20.jpg  Sweden SUV
C303
C304
C306
Special vehicles
Bv 206 Hagglunds Bv206 25th US Marines 2.jpg  Sweden Amphibious tracked vehicle
Bv 206A
Bv 206F

Weapons[edit]

Name Image Origin Type Variants Quantity Notes
Artillery
vsor 53 Škoda A20 100808 ZS lielgabali 06.jpg  Czechoslovakia Field gun
100mm caliber
Can be used as anti-tank or light field gun.
Mortars
2B11 120 mm mortar 2B11.jpg  Soviet Union Mortar
120 mm caliber
NM 95 81mmMORT L16.png  United Kingdom
 Norway
Mortar
81 mm caliber
Anti-tank weapons
Pvpj 1110 LT PV1110.jpg  Sweden Recoilless rifle
90 mm caliber
A number were donated by Sweden after restoration of independence.
Carl Gustav recoilless rifle Carl Gustav recoilless rifle.jpg  Sweden Recoilless rifle
84 mm caliber
Some are Swedish donation from 1990's, some were bought later by the Latvian military as official state purchases.
Anti-aircraft gun
Bofors 40mm gun Ministru prezidents Valdis Dombrovskis vēro Nacionālo bruņoto spēku vienību militāro parādi 11.novembra krastmalā (8196546880).jpg  Sweden
Bofors 40mm L/70
Submachine guns
Carl Gustav Carl Gustav M45-b.jpg  Sweden
M45
Donations by Sweden. Used mostly for secondary tasks such as training and guard duty.[citation needed]
Service rifles
Heckler & Koch G36 Latvian G36KV.JPG  Germany
Heckler & Koch G36KV
Expected to replace the Ak 4 in the future, contract signed in February 2018.[6]
Heckler & Koch G3 Automatic rifle AG-3 right.jpg  Sweden
Ak 4
Large number of rifles were donated by Sweden along with other military aid after restoration of independence. Replaced Soviet block service rifles in front line service. Currently standard issue rifle for most of national guard units; will be replaced by the H&K G36, contract signed in February 2018.[6]
Machine guns
FN MAG Ksp58.jpg  Belgium

 Sweden

Ksp 58B
Standard general purpose machine gun in 7.62mm NATO caliber. Some are Swedish donation from 1990's, some were bought later by the Latvian military as official state purchases.
FN Minimi FN MINIMI Standard Right.jpg  Belgium
FN Minimi
Light machine gun in 5.56mm caliber. Has been seen in use by certain national guard units during the military exercises. Not widespread usage.
M2 Browning M2 Browning, Musée de l'Armée.jpg  United States
M2
Heavy machine gun in .50 BMG caliber.
Heckler & Koch HK21 HK21.JPG  Germany
HK 21
General purpose machine gun in 7.62mm NATO caliber.
RPK Soviet RPK.JPEG  Soviet Union
RPK
Light machine gun in 7.62×39mm Soviet caliber. Being phased out.
Sniper rifles
PGM Hécate II PGM Hecate.jpg  France
Hecate2
.50 BMG caliber heavy sniper rifle.
Accuracy International Arctic Warfare 2016 European Best Sniper Squad Competition 161027-A-VL797-049.jpg  United Kingdom
AW
Used both by the Latvian land forces, as well as national guard sniper teams.
M14 M14 Stand-off Munitions Disruptor (SMUD) (7414626342).jpg  United States
M14
Semi-automatic rifle in 7.62mm NATO caliber. Large number of unmodified rifles were donated by USA after restoration of independence [7]. They were first used as standard infantry service rifles with iron sights, however they were soon replaced in that role by the Swedish Ak4 and put into storage. A small number of modified M14 rifles with optical sights have been seen used as sniper rifles by the national guard units.

Cooperation[edit]

The National Guard has established close co-operation with similar organizations abroad – the US Michigan Army National Guard, the Australian Army Reserve, the UK Territorial Army, and the Home Guard organizations of Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Lithuania and Estonia.[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Par Zemessardzi". www.zs.mil.lv.
  2. ^ Baltiņa, Sarmīte (2014). "Dawn of the Restored Latvian National Armed Forces". Eesti Sõjaajaloo Aastaraamat / Estonian Yearbook of Military History. 4 (0): 62–79. ISSN 2228-0669.
  3. ^ "Par iestādi". Jaunsardzes un informācijas centrs (in Latvian). Retrieved 2019-06-06.
  4. ^ Pike, John. "Latvian National Guard - Zemessardze". www.globalsecurity.org. Retrieved 2018-09-17.
  5. ^ "ZS vienības" (in Latvian). LR Zemessardze. Retrieved December 22, 2018.
  6. ^ a b Jones, Bruce (6 February 2018). "Latvia orders infantry small arms". IHS Jane's 360. London. Archived from the original on 7 February 2018. Retrieved 7 February 2018.
  7. ^ Emerson, Lee. "M14 Rifle History and Development" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 2019-02-22. Retrieved 2019-05-09.
  8. ^ "Michigan Guard and Latvia celebrate 25-year partnership". www.army.mil. Retrieved 2018-09-17.

External links[edit]