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Who really defends the Baltic States?
Home News & Society Politics
By: Viktors Domburs Email Article
Word Count: 472 Digg it | Del.icio.us it | Google it | StumbleUpon it

  

About 500 U.S. troops arrived in Lithuania in October. This news is widely discussed all over the Baltic States and Europe.

The issue of permanent NATO presence in Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia has been discussed for a decade. There is still no legal basis for this step, but NATO and Baltic authorities found the possibility to deploy troops on a long-term basis. The justification for such long deployment becomes participating in military exercises that take place almost continuously on the territory of the Baltic countries.

The U.S. armed forces are among the most powerful in the world. American soldiers participated in numerous wars, operations, missions and exercises. In the U.S. military persons have a lot of preferences and substantial allowances.

The occupation of a military person attracts a lot of young men, even those who have criminal records. Unfortunately, the need of military personnel enforces the authorities to turn a blind eye to the criminal history of applicants.
Though some types of criminal activity are clearly disqualifying; other cases require a waiver, wherein the each service examines the circumstances surrounding the violation and makes a determination on qualification.

Applicants require a waiver for enlistment.
Applicants with six or more minor traffic offenses, where the fine was $100 or more per offense are required to obtain a waiver.
Applicants who have three or more civil conviction or other adverse dispositions for minor non-traffic offenses are required to obtain a waiver.

Felonies are the most arguable of recruitment offenses.
The problem is the U.S. Armed Forces utilize their own definitions of what constitutes, for example, a felony. Examples of felony offenses include aggravated assault, arson, burglary, manslaughter, robbery, and narcotics possession. Many states allow a felony conviction to be expunged and reduced to a misdemeanor.

All military branches consider felony as a disqualification, but they do make some exceptions. In recent years, it appears that the US Army has issued more waivers when we talk about percentages. Bad conduct and drug waivers in the US Army accounted for 19% of waivers issued in 2016, 25% in 2017, and over 30% in the first half of 2018.

Thus, if a person receives a waiver for such cases of antisocial behavior he could be enlisted regardless of his or her criminal records.
When the authorities of the Baltic States allow U.S. troops to deploy on the national territory, they even cannot imagine the possible consequences.

Locals can face alcoholics, traffic offenders, brawlers and other criminals in the U.S. uniform, who even cannot be judged by national courts. And itís a very complicated question if foreign criminals are worthy of being called defenders of the Baltic States.

viktorsdomburs@inbox.lv author for The Baltic Word, journalist, born in Latvia

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