Finnish fighters during a joint exercise with the USCM
Finland pays great attention to national security issues. Despite the limited size and capabilities of the armed forces, notable measures are being taken to ensure defense capability and maintain peace. To this end, an original and interesting policy is being pursued, which provides for the upholding of one’s interests by various methods, both independently and within the framework of international cooperation.
Due to limited resources, Finland relies not only on the Defense Forces in case of war. Security is based on the concept of so-called total defense. This means that all ministries and departments have plans for emergencies or armed conflicts. Each organization receives certain powers for peacetime and for war. Emergency measures are enforced by a special law - if necessary, it is introduced by the president and approved by parliament.
The key provisions of the defense doctrine are the fundamental refusal to participate in any military or political alliances, the organization of their own defense, as well as providing a flexible response to a wide range of threats. The main threats to security are various pressures from third countries, including blackmail by military force, open attack and regional conflicts that potentially affect Finland.
Ground Defense Forces in exercises
In peacetime, the Defense Forces call in new recruits and train them, as well as conduct defense construction. In the event of a conflict, they must collect reservists and deploy territorial defense. The main task of the army is to keep the enemy near the borders and protect key areas of the country. For this, it is proposed to use tactics and strategies that are optimized for the characteristic geographical and natural conditions.
The defense forces include ground forces, air forces and naval forces, various special forces and also border guards. During the conflict, they must act together to counter the adversary in their environments. Civilian structures and departments must ensure the work of the army by all available means.
Refusal to participate in military alliances does not exclude cooperation with other countries. Moreover, in some areas such cooperation is acquiring very remarkable proportions. Such interaction takes place in peacekeeping operations and in joint security programs.
Reservists and tankers
The defense forces regularly participate in international peacekeeping operations, starting in 1956. Together with the armies of European and American states, they worked in almost all local conflicts of the last decades. The largest operations, such as Afghanistan or Iraq, involved dozens of Finnish troops. In other cases, Finland could send no more than 6-10 observers to the scene.
Defense forces represented by various branches of the armed forces or separate formations regularly participate in international exercises. For obvious reasons, most often in such events, joint work with the armies of NATO countries is practiced. Maneuvers take place at Finnish and foreign land and sea ranges.
Outside of NATO
Finland has a very interesting relationship with the North Atlantic Alliance. The country's top military and political leadership for decades adheres to a policy of neutrality and denies the possibility of joining NATO. At the same time, some political forces, including former state leaders have expressed the view that it is necessary to join the Alliance.
Fighters of the Porian brigade at the parade
Arguments are being made in favor of joining NATO to simplify cooperation with other countries and increase the overall level of security. These advantages are opposed to the principled position of military-political independence. In addition, joining the Alliance could embroil Helsinki with Moscow, and the Finnish leadership is in no hurry to spoil relations with its closest neighbor.
However, refusal of accession does not exclude other options for interaction with NATO and its individual countries. So, the Defense Forces are built, armed and equipped according to the standards of the North Atlantic Alliance. There is extensive experience interacting with NATO armies - according to their methods and strategies.
Joint Expeditionary Force
Of particular interest in this context is the participation of the Defense Forces in the so-called The Joint Expeditionary Force (JEF), formed at the initiative of NATO since 2014. In the event of a crisis or an open conflict, nine JEF member countries, led by the United Kingdom, can create a single army group and solve the problems of restoring peace.
Ragnar - four-legged soldier of the Kainuu brigade
JEF began work just a few years ago, and so far they are limited only to organizational issues and joint exercises. Finnish units, along with units of other countries, are practicing combat on land and at sea. There have also been exercises with other NATO countries that are not members of the JEF.
It is noteworthy that two essentially neutral states, Finland and Sweden, joined the United Expeditionary Force at once. For many decades they have been trying to invite them to NATO; the need to join the organization is defended by some domestic political forces. However, the authorities of the two countries refuse to join NATO - although they have joined the "out-of-NATO" JEF.
Neighborhood and Alliance
In the context of the future Finnish defense doctrine, issues of the notorious Russian aggression and potential entry into NATO are emerging. At the same time, both questions do not have simple and understandable answers, and Helsinki takes a detached-neutral position and tries to seek its own benefits.
Finnish Air Force F / A-18 fighters
Due to its geographic location, Finland is of great interest to NATO. Full access to its territory and bases will give the alliance significant advantages within the framework of relevant strategies to combat Russia. While Finland remains an ally, but not a member of the organization, such benefits cannot be obtained. As a result, external and internal attempts to draw Finland into NATO, so far unsuccessful, have been going on for several years.
Formal neutrality and cooperation with the military bloc lead to certain risks. Being not a member of NATO, Finland cannot count on guaranteed assistance in the event of a conflict with a third party. The "friendly" countries will decide for themselves whether they will defend Finland. These circumstances are simultaneously used as an argument in favor of joining the Alliance and as an argument against it, in view of the specific position of the “allies”.
Participation in JEF can be seen as an attempt to get rid of such problems. A combined expeditionary force is only a temporary alliance, working out of necessity. There are no political or military obligations similar to those in NATO. Accordingly, participation in JEF allows Finland to count on the help of friendly states - at least in deterring potential opponents.
Finnish fleet in exercises
Against the background of the situation around Finland and NATO, the position of the main "aggressor" of the region, Russia, looks interesting. Moscow has repeatedly stated its respect for Finland’s position, regardless of its participation in military blocs. However, it was noted that the entry of a neighboring country into NATO would force Russia to take the necessary measures to ensure its own security.
As we see, Finland has its own defense doctrine, aimed exclusively at ensuring national security, but not excluding military and political cooperation. The geographical position leads to special risks associated with both a possible attack and the special policies of the allies. At the same time, limited capabilities and armed forces do not even allow for regional leadership.
Finland seeks to maintain equal relations with all countries of its region and therefore is in no hurry to respond to NATO invitations, although it has acceded to the new JEF treaty. With all this, the construction of defense is carried out independently, but with the use of foreign developments and products.
It should be expected that in the foreseeable future, Finland will not change its position and remain a neutral country that does not participate in full-fledged alliances or blocs. However, she will have to deal with vigorous attempts to pull her into such an alliance. However, in Helsinki they have long been accustomed to such actions of "friendly" countries and focus on their own security, and not on the interests of other states and unions.