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  Lithuania’s first military doctrine

Vadim Volovoj, Doctor in Political Sciences
2010 05 17

On 10 March Lithuania’s Chief of Defense Major General Arvydas Pocius adopted Lithuania‘s first military doctrine.

At first sight its content and separate provisions may seem surprising. For instance, the Doctrine reads that „it is a document designed for the military community, but should be applied mostly for training the officers in order to develop the military science and art in Lithuania“; and that „provisions and principles stipulated in the Doctrine shall be applied flexibly, pragmatically and not to become the dogmas. [...] The Doctrine includes theory, history, experimentation and practice, it fosters the initiative and creative thinking“.

Such a solution of authors of the Doctrine has a logical background. The military doctrine is a strategic explanatory document defining the principles for the establishment, operations and training of Lithuanian Armed Forces. Lieutenant Colonel V.Bernotas, commander of the Defense Staff Transformation Division, said: "The doctrine is not a law or a national security strategy. It is a moral foundation for training soldiers; it identifies our values that are most important to us from command and management to planning and operations“. He highlights that Lithuania‘s military doctrine cannot be considered a military strategy: the strategy defines the way the states realize the defense of their national security interests, whereas a military doctrine is a theoretical foundation for training officers and using the Armed Forces.

Maybe it would be expedient to apply the military Doctrine’s theory in more detail to the specific Lithuania‘s situation. On the other hand, the operational doctrine of joint Lithuanian Armed Forces as well as functional doctrines of military units are already under preparation on the background of Doctrine.

In terms of threats to Lithuania‘s security, the doctrine mentions „unstable states“ and the states „which in their security and defense policy documents project or can execute military activities directly or indirectly targeted against Lithuania or its allies“. It maybe worthwhile to identify these states. It is obvious that here Russia is in mind. This wouldn‘t be something special, since military doctrine is not an ideological program, but a realistic document.

The doctrine emphasizes that the Lithuania’s armed forces should be ready to defend the country by collective (together with allies) or individual defense actions. In case of independent defense, the major goal is „to stop the enemy in order to win time, to retain the territory/objects, to demoralize the enemy, and to evoke him the feeling of chaos and constant unexpectedness“. This result is sought through coordinated actions of all units in the entire country‘s territory at one time. While pursuing collective defense together with the allies Lithuania‘s Armed Forces are under the operational management of NATO and takes part in joint national defense actions as it is designed in the collective defense plan.

Such a „time winning“ and „waiting for allies“ strategy is quite realistic and justified. However, it is necessary to understand that the task „to demoralize the enemy and to evoke him the feeling of chaos and constant unexpectedness“ is too difficult task for an under armed and small Lithuania‘s army.

It is worth highlighting another provision of the doctrine. It says that „Lithuania‘s army can be used in providing support (through military measures) to citizens of the Republic of Lithuania residing abroad.“ This is a politically sensitive and complex issue, therefore it should contain all possible details and has to be regulated specifically and clearly so that nobody could charge Lithuania for unjustified aggressiveness.

In general, we could state that the first military doctrine is a significant achievement of Lithuania‘s practical and academic military thought. In principle it is a mater-of-fact and adequate document and it should play a crucial role in strengthening the Lithuanian national security system.

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