Smart Civic Engagement in Latvia
On Monday, Judy Garber, U.S. Ambassador to Latvia; members of the U.S. Embassy in Riga and EUCOM; the Latvian Ministry of Interior (State Fire and Rescue Service) and National Guard members; and local government officials broke ground on a EUCOM Humanitarian Assistance project modernizing eight fire and rescue stations in Latvia.
This project is a sterling example of the whole of government approach taken by both of our countries to build essential service capabilities that Latvia can employ not just within its own borders, but to benefit Europe as a whole. As we saw from the recent spate of natural disasters across Europe in the last two years -- wildfires in Russia, flooding in the Balkans, earthquakes in Turkey, extreme winter weather in central and eastern Europe -- there’s certainly a need for robust emergency response services in the region. Effective essential services help contain and mitigate the impact of disasters and thereby contribute to maintaining security and stability in the affected areas -- a EUCOM core mission.
This groundbreaking was part of a multi-year EUCOM HA effort that started in 2010 to renovate Latvia’s national fire and rescue stations and enhance their emergency response capability. Latvia leveraged these renovated stations by reaching out to the European Union for new fire trucks, which, combined with updated emergency facilities, enabling a speedier response to emergencies. As a result of this improved capability, Latvia was able to send firefighters and equipment outside the country to tackle catastrophic forest fires in Russia and severe flooding in Poland and Moldova. Thanks to innovative thinking by EUCOM and Latvian project team members, this project delivered a “bigger bang for the buck”.
Much like NATO’s “Smart Defense” concept, EUCOM’s HA effort with Latvia is “Smart Civic Engagement”--a joint project with one of our smallest NATO allies and one of the poorest countries in the European Union precisely crafted to deliver significant security benefits. We are truly Stronger Together!
Ambassador Lawrence Butler
Civilian Deputy to the Commander
US European Command
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