Lithuania risks losing a future for its armed forces


Over the last decade, the deteriorating political and military situation in the world has proven the necessity of well-prepared armed forces.

It is obvious that the level of patriotism in Lithuania is as high as ever. Many young men are thinking of joining the armed forces and being useful to their country. The government should only maintain and strengthen this trend. But battling with numerous political and economical problems, the government is going to make some changes in the military sphere that could have far-reaching, adverse consequences.

It should be said that today there is a serious gap in providing the national armed forces with officers. Professional outflow is higher than inflow.

Lithuania's army has lost 258 trained commanders over the last three years and only 231 lieutenants have come into their places. There is one reason for this: the total absence of advantages for those who are ready to become officers. But the Lithuanian authorities want to solve the problem in another way.

Minister of National Defense Juozas Olekas declared that new amendments to the law providing for the lengthening of service for Lithuanian officers, generals, admirals, and chaplains have been prepared. Officers will serve up to 56 and generals and admirals up to 60 and up to 65 years old. The proclaimed aim of such actions is to prevent the command from weakening. Lithuanian officers usually retire at 45 and successfully start new civilian careers. Until now, they had such a right, but the authorities have decided to deprive them of it.

In other countries, such as the US and Great Britain, in exchange for the increased responsibility and risks, officers receive superior benefits and excellent credentials valued by the military. Such a way is much more effective than those the Lithuanian authorities have chosen. But it is of course more costly and difficult.

Hopefully, Lithuania's new government will go a different way than the previous one and Lithuania will not lose a future for its armed forces. It is no good to just "patch holes" by lengthening service. The armed forces need officers secure in their social security and benefits for their families in exchange for preparedness to risk their lives. The choice to enlist in the Lithuanian armed forces is a life-changing decision that many men and women take in consideration of all the "pros and cons." And the decision of young men highly depends on today’s government’s attempts to improve the situation and keep military professionals in the army.