Labour Party MP and Chair of the Seimas’ Committee on National Security and Defence, Arturas Paulauskas, has suggested Lithuania’s recent decision to reintroduce conscription should be in effect for longer than five years.
In March 2015, the Lithuanian Government decided to re-introduce conscription to the country’s armed forces in light of the increased aggression from the Russian military, until 2020.
It will be compulsory for all men fit for military service between the ages of 19 and 26 depending on their marital status, education, employment and financial situation.
In 2015, it is expected that the Lithuanian army will increase by around 3,000 - 3,500 soldiers.
By 2020, the decision to re-introduce conscription is predicted to contribute to the country’s reserve of 16,000-17,000 soldiers, constituting 75 to 90 percent of the total reserve forces required.
Speaking in a debate about Lithuania’s foreign, security and defence policies on June 18, 2015, Paulauskas said, “each year the Seimas will have to approve the number of conscripts and a lot of speculations may arise.
“Therefore, the decision should be extended for more than five years, and we should consider if we need conscripts only for the next 5 years,” continued Paulauskas, who between April to July 2004, acted as Lithuanian President following the impeachment of Rolandas Paskas.
“As the chair of the Seimas Committee on National Security and Defence I can tell you that conscription is needed for a longer time, perhaps even indefinitely.
“Hence, I propose to begin discussing what kind of military we need. This discussion should be organised in the autumn.”
According to Paulauskas, in light of increased Russian aggression, Lithuanian schools should introduce lessons on patriotism and the military, and added the capacities of Lithuania’s intelligence service should be improved.
“We see Russia is actively demonstrating its military might,” he said. “Not only by holding large-scale exercises near Lithuania in Kaliningrad, but also by purposefully militarising the region.”
Former Prime Minister and Leader of the Opposition, Andrius Kubilius, seconded Paulauskas’ idea of indefinite conscription.
“Let us be realistic,” said Kubilius. “Military threats will not subside in 5 years time, [and] on the contrary, they may grow.
“Let’s not deceive ourselves - Lithuania will need conscription 5 years from now in order to have a sufficient and adequately trained military reserve.
“Therefore our political parties must reach an agreement that conscription has been introduced not for a term of 5 years, but indefinitely.”
Kubilius added if its defence funding growth rate is maintained, Lithuania could reach the required 2 percent of its GDP spending for defence in 2018, as opposed to the originally projected 2020.