Lithuania's would-be chief of defence, Major General Valdemaras Rupšys says he will not support initiatives to introduce compulsory military service for women.
The Lithuanian military conscripts some 3,800 servicemen each year from a pool of men aged 18 to 26 and volunteers. Compulsory military service was reintroduced in the country in 2015.
Rupšys says that women can serve as volunteers, but the military does not have adequate housing and training conditions for a large number of women conscripts. He also suggested that the training programme may be too physically demanding for women.
“Let's look at the infantry – we have machine-gunners, grenade launchers. I think that demands significantly more stamina and physical strength. Sure, there are strong women, but what you need here is manly force,” Rupšys said.
The Lithuanian parliament, Seimas, voted this week to support Rupšys' candidacy to replace Lieutenant General Vytautas Žukas as the country's chief of defence.
Rupšys said that, during his five-year tenure, he would like to see at least one female colonel, but added he would not push it “artificially”.
At the moment, the highest rank achieved by 13 women in the Lithuanian military is lieutenant colonel.