The Lithuanian Armed Forces assigns more troops to support other institutions in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. As of December 17, up to 25 crews of the Lithuanian Armed Forces Military Police will be patrolling public spaces together with the Lithuanian Police every day. The MP officers assigned to the task will assist police officers in patrolling Lithuania's cities and making sure Lithuanian residents respect the lockdown requirements. Up to 50 MP officers will be working together with the civilian police on a daily basis.
The support to the law enforcement has been commissioned as requested by the Ministry of Health and in line with Article 18 ("Assistance rendered by the Armed Forces to other state and municipal institutions") of the Law on the Organisation of the National Defence System and Military Service. It means that the Military Police will operate just like any other Lithuanian Armed Forces unit would while rendering support to civilian institutions, the MP was chosen for the task simply because of its inherent experience in ensuring public order. According to the Lithuanian Armed Forces Military Police Commander Lt Col Laimis Baliūnas, MP officers have an interest in helping to get the pandemic in control as quickly as possible, their support will not overlap with civilian police functions, and when violations are found, the investigation will be delegated to the civilian law enforcement.
The Lithuanian Armed Forces has been in the fight against COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. Aside from the new appoint of MP officers, 70 National Defence Volunteer Force members are helping the National Public Health Centre in Vilnius, Alytus and Panevėžys, and 25 soldiers are working at the 1808 hotline in Kaunas until December 18.
The Lithuanian Are Forces has assigned capabilities and resources requested by the Ministry of Health during the first and the second wave of COVID-19. In total, over 4 thousand volunteer and career servicemembers have been involved in the efforts to manage the second wave of the pandemic so far.
Illustrative image (credit: Sgt Spc 1st Class Ieva Budzeikaitė)