The restoration of the Lithuanian Armed Forces
The Department of National Defense was founded on April 25, 1990, with Audrius Butkevičius, a deputy of the Supreme Council of the Republic of Lithuania as its director. This body was put in charge of the restoration of the military system as well as formulation and implementation of the concept of national defense. A new military entity, the Separate Security Platoon, was established in June of the same year, later to grow into the Motorized Infantry Brigade “Iron Wolf”. The platoon was responsible for the security of the Department and order at public events, at the same time undergoing military training. At the time of the attacks on key state objects perpetrated by the Soviet Army, the Volunteer National Defense Service was formed on January 17, 1991, giving official status to the activities of volunteers prepared to defend the state in the case of necessity. Meanwhile, the Department of National Defense was tasked with establishment of a combat unit, which would assist in managing the situation in areas of a possible conflict. The first Military Training Unit was thus created in February of the same year. It was a group of 300 professional volunteers that became the basis of the future land force. On October 10, the Director of the Department of National Defense was appointed the first Minister of National Defense. On October 16, the Department of National Defense was liquidated, as it had completed all of its tasks. On October 23, about two thousand young people were drafted. In early 1992, the NATO Secretary General, Manfred Wörner, made a visit to Lithuania for the first time. In May, the Lithuanian Border Guard Service already controlled the entire border. On November 19, the Supreme Council approved the Act on the Restoration of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Lithuania. The structure of the Lithuanian Army was formed in 1993. Its regular troops were composed by the Land Forces, the Navy, the Air Force, the National Defense Volunteer Force, training institutions and the Department of Civil Protection. On January 4, 1994, the President of the Republic of Lithuania, Algirdas Brazauskas, sent a letter to the NATO Secretary General, Manfred Wörner, making an official request to accept Lithuania into this military alliance. In pursuit of NATO membership, Lithuania not only participated in various support missions in the Balkans and Georgia, but also organized a number of international training initiatives. On March 29, 2004, Lithuania became a NATO member. First four NATO fighter jets landed at Zokniai air base, from now on taking charge of controlling the airspace of the Baltic States.