U.S., Latvia Reaffirm Relationship in Bilateral Meeting

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Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan met with Latvian Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Artis Pabriks at the Pentagon to reaffirm the relationship between the two nations.

During the bilateral meeting today, Shanahan thanked Pabriks for Latvia’s support of NATO’s enhanced forward presence mission, hosting the NATO Center of Excellence for Strategic Communications and meeting NATO burden-sharing commitments.

The leaders discussed a broad range of defense issues, including efforts to improve interoperability and regional command and control measures, and agreed to continue working on shared security goals resulting from the U.S.-Baltic Summit in 2018.

During the visit, U.S. and Latvian defense officials signed a five-year Defense Cooperation Strategic Roadmap. It identifies specific security cooperation priorities the United States and Latvia agreed to focus on from 2019 to 2024. 

Latvia is the second Baltic nation to sign such an agreement. Lithuania signed a similar agreement April 2, 2019.

What You Need to Know About the United States-Latvia Defense Relationship:

  • Defense officials said that Latvia is a strong and reliable ally of the United States in the collective global effort to deter violence and extremism. It is present in the crucial conflict areas around the world, including the Middle East, Afghanistan and Africa.
  • Latvia is a committed partner within NATO and works extensively to promote strengthening its security and defense abilities, defense officials said. Latvia achieved NATO’s 2% gross domestic product spending commitment in 2018 and its officials have voiced their commitment to sustaining those spending rates.
  • The relationship between Latvia and the Michigan National Guard is one of the most successful examples of the State Partnership Program, defense officials said. Spanning more than 25 years, the partnership continuously explores and expands into new areas of cooperation, the officials said.
  • Latvia has provided host-nation support to Operation Atlantic Resolve since 2014, and has hosted a U.S. rotary wing aviation detachment at Lielvarde Air Base since 2014.
  • Latvia is one of only seven countries certified to call in U.S. airstrikes, defense officials noted. The Baltic nation has its own trained joint terminal attack controllers and trains other NATO-nation JTACs.
  • In 2018, Latvia signed a $173-million agreement with the United States to acquire four UH-60M Black Hawk helicopters, effectively doubling their nationally funded foreign military sales purchases from the United States.

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