Lithuanian Defense Minister Raimundas Karoblis has nominated Colonel Albertas Dapkus to lead the Lithuanian Riflemen's Union, a state-supported civilian paramilitary organisation.
Founded in 1919, Lithuanian Riflemen’s Union was active in the wars of independence and the anti-Soviet partisan movement. Its membership has grown since Russia’s annexation of Crimea in 2014 and the war in Ukraine.
The number of riflemen now stands at around 12,000, according to the minister. The average age of the organisation members is around 40, he said, with the proportion of young and adult members being fairly equal.
Read more: Lithuanian paramilitary group marks its 100-year anniversary – video
"Undoubtedly, it is providing more opportunities for riflemen to more actively contribute to providing assistance to institutions, which has been shown by their contribution in containing the coronavirus crisis,” said Karoblis.
“From being on watch at mobile checkpoints and patrolling with police officers to ensure public order, to the delivery of medicines or transportation of patients and medical reagents," Karoblis told BNS.
The minister presented the candidate to the parliamentary Committee on National Security and Defence. Dapkus would replace the organisation’s outgoing chief Lieutenant Colonel Gintaras Koryzna who has led the Union for the past three years.
Dapkus, 53, has served within the Lithuanian army since 1991 and has in recent years worked as the director of the Senior Leader’s Course and Higher Command Studies Course at the Baltic Defense College in Estonia. The officer served in Afghanistan in 2013-2014.
Under the law, the commander of the Lithuanian Riflemen's Union is appointed by the defence minister upon the approval of the parliamentary committee and the Lithuanian Riflemen's Union's convention.
"The new commander of the Lithuanian Riflemen's Union should ensure further development of the area where we’ve had the qualitative and quantitative jump in recent years,” he said, “including the patriotic training of the young riflemen and the formation of combat units and their integration into the Lithuanian military”.
Read more: Lithuanian civilian paramilitary hosts camp for Donbass children