The National Guard of the Republic of Latvia – the Zemessardze – is an army made up entirely of volunteers. Today it has a little over 10,000 members. Its history is closely linked to the breakup of Latvia from the former occupying power of the Soviet Union. The Republic of Latvia, which had declared itself independent, saw the need for a militarily organized force for protection within the country in 1991 after the fighting over the barricades in Rīga and the Soviet OMON’s command of the Latvian border stations with several border guards killed. Today the Zemessardze also takes on general disaster control tasks.
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