SWEDISH TEAMS OF FINNISH DEFENSE FORCES
Training ground of the Egersky brigade of coastal defense "Uusimaa" (marines in our opinion) is similar to all army polygons of the world. The same deserted space, with the same for the military one-story wooden-plywood buildings of barracks, canteens, staffs and warehouses with weapons and ammunition. With the same asceticism for all - nothing superfluous that distracts from military training.
True, unlike the polygons “Uusimaa” known to me, it is not fenced with either a high fence or barbed wire - only the inscription at the entrance in four languages - Finnish, Swedish (it is the second state in Suomi Country), English and ... in Russian: “Military territory . Entrance without a permit is prohibited under the threat of punishment. ” We have such a warning a few people stop, and here in the pine forest with islands of young trees, through the warm autumn sun, not a single soul.
Only soldiers in full field ammunition - in helmets with glasses, headphones and microphones, in bulletproof vests, with machine guns and machine guns and their mentors - instructor officers in orange vests, like Moscow’s street cleaners. Probably, in order to immediately catch the eye.
The Uusimaa Brigade, like almost all the brigades of the Ground Forces of the Finnish Defense Forces, is a training brigade. Young men and women come here to serve (for young men, conscription is obligatory, for girls it is optional) for 5,5 and 11 months. The difference is in what specialty is recruiting. If he wants to be the commander of a squad, crew, crew, a combat vehicle driver, or an ATGM operator, a radio station technician or a specialist in another high-tech system, then he has been serving for a year. If he does not pretend to anything - he is ready to remain a machine gunner or a machine gunner, the number of artillery crews, then his life will be half a year. And here, in Syundalen, there are only Swedes by nationality or those young men who live in those areas of the country where the second state language predominates. For the convenience of their training, all the "Swedes" are assembled into one brigade. In this case, in Uusimaa.
- Is it possible in such a short time - 5 and 11 months - to teach the future huntsman something? - We ask the deputy commander of the brigade, Lieutenant Colonel Torkelli, more like a professor of philosophy than a professional military.
- You can - he says. “Our soldiers are engaged in theory for three months, and then they are coordinated as part of units, platoons and companies, and after five and a half months they go home.” But those who serve the 11 months first master the techniques and methods of leading people, then put their knowledge and skills into practice, commanding those who came to serve for five months.
An entire battalion immediately goes to the reserve at the end of its service life. Then a new one is recruited, and the process of preparing soldiers for the Country of Suomi begins in a new way. In fact, the officers of the Ground Forces prepare not a regular army, but a combat reserve, or, in other words, partisans. After all, the main task of the Finnish Defense Forces is to protect their country or to protect the territory of their country. And for this, as in Switzerland, all men must pass through the crucible of military training and education, except for those who are hopelessly ill. Although for the disabled in the army can be used - for example, in repair or service units. But only for those who want to serve themselves.
From time to time, reservists are called for military training. Basically on tactical exercises. This happens once every two or three years, not more often. And fees last from two to three weeks. Forgetting the skills acquired in the army under the action “squad-platoon in attack or defense” for a year or two is quite difficult. Especially if during science, this science is brought to automatism.
We were shown how the huntsmen train. The platoon received ammunition (by the way, the caliber of cartridges 7,62 mm, and machine guns and machine guns from the Finnish army - Kalashnikov, only slightly modified). Crashed into offices and "troika of three", lined up in battle formations and under the supervision of instructors in orange vests (on the branch, "three" - one by one), with the support of mortar fire (explosions 82-mm min were heard in the depths of the forest) went on the attack . First, on foot, then in short dashes. Moreover, fitting into a tactical background given by the teachers, during which one squad attacked the “enemy” from the flank, and was supported by a short automatic with machine-gun fire that operated in the center. After some time, the flank squads lay behind the trees and, in turn, covering their comrades with fire, made it possible for the squad in the center of the battle formations to attack.
So, changing the order of actions, striking real targets with fire, which rose to full height before the attackers, the separation after separation moved between the pines forward to the sandy height beyond which the open space began and the tank advanced from the trench (old Soviet T-62) could be seen. By fire from grenade launchers similar to the Russian “Fly”, he was amazed.
It is interesting that in the course of the battle all the growth targets were struck, although, as Lt. Col. Torkelli assured us, his subordinates had fired their live ammunition for the first time that day.
NEUTRAL STATE ARMY
In Finnish society there is no discussion about which army and why the Country of Suomi is needed. All these disputes usually take place on the eve of parliamentary elections, but new ones will not be soon, and all major parliamentary parties, as we already wrote in NVO No. 39, agreed on the problem of building the Finnish Defense Forces. Defense Minister Policy Advisor Pete Piirainen told us in detail how this agreement was reached.
In January, the Government of Finland submitted to the Parliament the Report on Defense and Security Policies, which is prepared every four years. It was run-in in all parliamentary committees, during which deputies heard more than 100 military experts. Among them were not only officials and generals, but also specialists independent of the authorities. It was only after the approval of the report by the parliament that it was transferred to the military department for execution.
Key points of the report: The country of Suomi does not join any military alliances, but will actively cooperate with NATO and other not very large military associations. Together with its northern neighbors, with the European Union and the Benelux countries. And although Finland, Mr. Piirainen said, regards its environment from a security point of view as stable, today no country in the world can alone withstand military crises if they affect it. So, Helsinki should strengthen its military cooperation primarily with European countries and, despite the difficult economic situation, increase the effectiveness of its armed forces.
On the one hand, the military reform of the Defense Forces implies a reduction in personnel and military structures, on the other, a small but increased defense expenditure. In the "NVO" number 39 we already called the abbreviation numbers. But I consider it necessary to repeat them again (not everyone read that number of the newspaper). The number of reservists who are called up to troops in the event of a critical situation should be reduced to 2015 from 540 thousand to 250 thousand, and the number of peacetime reservists will be only 18 thousand. Moreover, only 25 thousand draftees will remain in battle. At the same time, the headquarters of the military districts will be reduced and eliminated (there are four of them in Finland today, just like in our country - in parts of the world - Zapadny, Severny, Vostochny, and Yuzhny), regional commands of types of defense will become a thing of the past - The Ground Forces, Navy and Air Force, many other headquarters will be reduced. For example, the headquarters of the defense territory of the Turku Archipelago or the headquarters of the naval defense of the Gulf of Finland in Kirkkonummi. The main headquarters of the defense forces will have 2300 people, 4500 Ground Forces, 1400 in the Navy, 2050 in the Air Force, the Defense Academy, which includes two more training units - the Egersky Regiment (we were told about it in 19 No. 7– 13 Jun) and the Land Defense School, - 250 man.
These numbers we called Colonel Kim Mattssson, deputy head of the strategic planning of the Ministry of Defense of Finland. According to him, despite the reduction in personnel, the country's defense spending will rise to the level of 2009 of the year, when the military’s annual budget amounted to 110 million euros, to 130 million euros in 2015 year. At the same time, three principles of Suomi’s defense policy remain unchanged: ensuring state defense, universal military duty and non-alignment with military alliances. Although Helsinki participates in the NATO operation in Afghanistan as part of the Partnership for Peace, there is now a contingent of 156 troops, as part of the commitments of the European Union, Finnish boys and girls are present in Kosovo - 21 people, and participate in peacekeeping operations under the auspices UN. In Lebanon today there are 182 Finnish military observers. (In more detail the participation of Finnish military and police in peacekeeping operations under the flag of NATO, OSCE and the United Nations - on the map presented to us by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Finland).
And although the priority for the Finnish army, of course, is to defend their own country, helping various authorities in various crisis situations, participation in the international military crisis management is the most important task for the military Suomi. And it is clear why. No army can exist without combat experience. And the soldiers and officers of Finland today can get this experience only in international peacekeeping operations. Colonel Mattssson showed us slides on the main areas of military reform in Finnish. They began with a kind of “diamond”, in the center of which were the main tasks of ensuring the safety of the population, society and the sovereignty of the state. Only one of the facets of this “diamond” belonged to the National Defense Forces. The rest entrusted this task to the state leadership, the department of foreign affairs, ensuring internal security, the existence and viability of the population, the psychological stability of society to crises, economic development and improvement of infrastructure. “Our ministry,” said the colonel, “is the smallest in this series, but the tasks before us are very serious.”
Non-accession to military alliances, including NATO, until 2015, remains one of the priorities of military construction in Finland, they assured us in parliament. Nevertheless, there is a serious discussion about joining the North Atlantic alliance in Finnish society. Not because Helsinki fears Russia, as it is obsessively heard in the speeches of certain politicians of the Baltic countries, but because, as they say here, Suomi is part of Europe, but almost all European states are members of NATO. Why should we be out of this company? On the other hand, for the Finns, as we were told at the Foreign Policy Institute, the experience and example of neutral Sweden is very important. If Stockholm joins Brussels, Helsinki will follow. So it will be or not, time will tell.
SERIES WITH FOUNTAINS
In the brigade of the "Swedish" sea rangers "Uusimaa" we were introduced to the "Russian-speaking mortar" Sergei Zagora. Sergey lives with his mother in a small town in the west of Finland, in the Swedish district. Therefore, besides Finnish, he speaks fluently Swedish, English and, of course, his native Russian.
True, which of the four languages he speaks is native is a question. Seryozhin's family came to Finland from St. Petersburg, from Fontanka, where they had lived before when he was 14. Here he graduated from school, gymnasium, is going to enroll in medical school. Education in the Suomi Country is free at all levels, and Zagora is confident that he will definitely become a dentist. Moreover, service in the army provides students with certain benefits when entering a university.
Serve mortar going only five and a half months. This period is enough for him. The only thing that grieves - those who serve six months, are paid on 5 euros per month, those who "signed up" for 11 - 10 euros. The difference in output is decent. But, truth, travel to the house and back to the unit during the dismissal on public transport for the soldier is free. They are released on dismissal for two days, at least once a month, so that Sergey endures the “service and deprivation” of military service quite easily.
I remember that during my last visit to Finland I met two more Russian guys who serve in the local Defense Forces — private soldiers Sergei Ilyukhin and Ilya Tiito. It was in the training chasseur regiment at the Academy of Defense ("NVO" number 19). I then, as now in a conversation with Sergey Zagora, it seemed that the Russian people feel quite comfortable in the Suomi Country. Probably, we can easily make it so that this country feels quite comfortable near Russia. Maybe then NATO will be forgotten after 2015 of the year?