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2015.09.08 13:45

Lithuanian armed forces to expand by 450 soldiers annually

The Lithuanian army will expand its forces by 450 troops every year, the country's Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas said on Monday, presenting activity guidelines for the coming six years.

The Lithuanian army will expand its forces by 450 troops every year, the country's Minister of National Defence Juozas Olekas said on Monday, presenting activity guidelines for the coming six years.

"We would like see an increase of at least 450 troops every year," he told journalists.

The Lithuanian army currently has around 8,000 professional servicemen, around 4,500 volunteer troops and around 2,300 civilians working for the army.

The growing number of troops will allow to achieve a 70-90 percent rate of unit formation by 2020, Olekas said.

Lithuania also plans to give a boost to its rapid response force, established last year, and also plans intensive training with internal security services, the minister said, adding that the country is also holding talks with allies on its participation in the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force being established by NATO.

Lithuania's defence budget for 2015 stands at EUR 425 million, or 1.1 percent of GDP, one third above what it was in 2014. The country's political parties have agreed to seek a gradual increase of defence spending for it to reach 2 percent of GDP by 2020.

BNS