Finnish Defence Forces
The Finnish Defence Forces are responsible for the defence of Finland
Finland , officially the Republic of Finland, is a Nordic country situated in the Fennoscandian region of Northern Europe. It is bordered by Sweden in the west, Norway in the north and Russia in the east, while Estonia lies to its south across the Gulf of Finland.Around 5.4 million people reside...

. It is a cadre
En cadre
En cadre or cadre is a French expression originally denoting either the complement of commissioned officers of a regiment or the permanent skeleton establishment of a unit, around which the unit could be built if needed...

 army of 15,000, of which 8,900 are professional soldiers (officers), extended with conscripts and reservists such that the standard readiness strength is 34,700 people in uniform (27,300 Army, 3,000 Navy, and 4,400 Air Force). A universal male conscription
Conscription in Finland
Conscription in Finland is part of a wider, general "national defense duty" defined in the 127§ of the Constitution of Finland.Conscription can take the form of military or of civilian service. Currently, c.66% of males reaching military age do their military service, while a growing number of ...

 is in place, under which all men above 18 years of age serve for 6, 9 or 12 months. Alternative non-military service
Conscientious objector
A conscientious objector is an "individual who has claimed the right to refuse to perform military service" on the grounds of freedom of thought, conscience, and/or religion....

 and volunteer service by women (about 500 chosen annually ) are possible.

Finland is the only non-NATO EU country bordering Russia. Finland's official policy states that the 350,000 reservists with mostly ground weaponry are a sufficient deterrent. The army consists of a highly mobile field army backed up by local defence units. The army defends the national territory and its military strategy employs the use of the heavily forested terrain and numerous lakes to wear down an aggressor, instead of attempting to hold the attacking army on the frontier.

Finland's defence budget equals about 2 billion euro or 1.4-1.6 percent of the GDP
Gross domestic product
Gross domestic product refers to the market value of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period. GDP per capita is often considered an indicator of a country's standard of living....

. The voluntary overseas service is highly popular and troops serve around the world in UN, NATO and EU missions. Homeland defence willingness stands at around 80%, one of the highest rates in Europe.


Although Finland did not achieve full national independence until 1917, its current military traditions goes back more than 300 years. As an integrated part of the kingdom of Sweden, Finland supplied the Swedish armies not only with drafted foot soldiers, but also with highly qualified officers from the Swedish-speaking aristocracy. Contributing as much as one-third of the manpower of the Swedish armed forces, the Finnish infantry and cavalry distinguished themselves at a time when Sweden was playing a decisive role in European power politics. The setbacks that Sweden eventually suffered in Europe were explained by the Finns, with considerable justification, as mistakes that had been made by the Swedish kings on the political level. The performance of the Finns on various battlefields had justified their reputation for bravery and their confidence in their own martial abilities.
With the decline of Swedish power in the eighteenth century, the Finns were called upon to defend the country's borders to the east against the traditional enemy, Russia. On three major occasions, Russian armies occupied parts of the country for a number of years before eventually being driven out by Finnish and Swedish forces. When Finland became the Grand Duchy of Finland in the Russian Empire in 1809 as a consequence of the Finnish War
Finnish War
The Finnish War was fought between Sweden and the Russian Empire from February 1808 to September 1809. As a result of the war, the eastern third of Sweden was established as the autonomous Grand Duchy of Finland within the Russian Empire...

 (1808-1809), the Finnish units of the Swedish army were disbanded.

The first indigenous Finnish military elements of three light infantry regiments were raised at the time of Napoleon's eastward drive in 1812, but during most of the nineteenth century, the only Finnish military force was a guards battalion paid for by the tsar. Finns were specifically exempted from Russian conscription, but more than 3,000 of them, mostly from the aristocracy, served in the tsarist armies between 1809 and 1917.

The Finnish Military Academy at Hamina continued to turn out officers who served with distinction in the Imperial Russian Army, a disproportionate number rising to the rank of general. Among these graduates was Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim, who later became the great hero of Finnish resistance and the struggle for independence.

In 1878 the tsar permitted Finland to raise its own national militia through a conscription law providing for selection of recruits by lot to serve either as regulars or reservists. By the beginning of the twentieth century, the Finnish army consisted of eight provincial battalions of infantry and a regiment of dragoons, together with thirty-two reserve companies. In 1901, as part of the Russification movement, the Russian authorities introduced a military service law obligating Finns to serve in the tsarist army, for four years, anywhere within the Russian Empire. Only one regiment of dragoons and one battalion of guards from the Finnish army were to be retained; the rest were to be incorporated in the imperial army. The new law was met by passive resistance in Finland, and it strengthened the Finnish nationalist movement. In a shift of policy in 1905, the conscription law was suspended, and Finns were never again called upon to serve in Russian uniform. Nevertheless, the Russians dissolved the militia, the military academy, and the guards battalion.

Soon after Finland gained independence in December 1917, a nationalistic, middle-class militia known as the White Guards, which had been secretly established in 1904 and 1905 and which had remained underground since then disguised as athletic clubs and other groups, was officially proclaimed the army of the Finnish government under General Mannerheim. This so-called White Army was strengthened and trained by 1,100 officers and noncommissioned officers (NCOs) who had traveled clandestinely to Germany during World War I and had formed the Twenty-seventh Royal Prussian Jaeger Battalion. Returning to Finland, they brought back with them urgently needed small arms captured from the Russians. The White forces were swelled by new conscripts, officers of the former Finnish armed forces, Swedish volunteers, and Finnish officers who had served in the Swedish and in the Russian armies, in addition to the jaegers. After three months of bitter civil conflict, the White Army of about 70,000 troops defeated the Red Guards from the radical wing of the Finnish Social Democratic Party, in May 1918. Both sides suffered thousands of casualties. In four months, the White Guards had evolved from a strongly motivated, but ill-trained, militia into a battle-hardened, disciplined national armed force. Although numerically superior and reinforced by the Russian garrisons in Finland, the Red Guards were deficient in equipment, training, and leadership.

During and after the Civil War, conflict emerged between the younger jaeger officers of the Finnish army and the former tsarist officers in its upper ranks. When most of the Finnish officer corps threatened to resign in 1924 over the dominance of the Russian-trained leadership, most of the Russian officers were moved aside and the jaeger officers began to occupy the higher echelons, bringing the influence of German military doctrine and training methods with them.

The new government reinstituted conscription after the Civil War and established a small national army. It also introduced a mobilization system and compulsory refresher courses for reservists. The Finnish Military Academy was reactivated in 1919, and during the 1920s a reserve officers' school was formed, together with NCO schools for various branches and arms of the service. The Civil Guard, a voluntary rightist formation of 100,000 personnel derived from the White Guards, constituted a local auxiliary. Nevertheless, Finland did not succeed in building a strong national army. The requirement of one year of compulsory service was greater than that imposed by any other Scandinavian country in the 1920s and the 1930s, but political opposition to defense spending left the military badly equipped to resist attack by the Soviet Union, the only security threat in Finnish eyes.

When the Soviets invaded in November 1939, they were met by a force of 135,000 Finnish troops organized into 9 divisions. In a matter of a few weeks, the Finnish army destroyed large numbers of invading Soviet soldiers. The initial Red Army contingents were poorly trained, and they were unprepared for combat under severe winter conditions. The Finnish army was able to inflict sharp defeats in battles on the Karelian Isthmus and in northeastern Finland. Momentarily, it looked as if Finland would turn back the aggressor and would inflict an astonishing military defeat on its great and powerful neighbor. When the Soviet commanders reverted to a strategy of wearing down the greatly outnumbered Finns in Karelia by their overwhelming firepower, however, Finland's defeat was inevitable. On March 12, 1940, an armistice yielded slightly more territory to the Soviets than they had initially demanded in 1939. The Soviets regarded this territory as being vital to their preparations for a future showdown with Nazi Germany.

In the Continuation War, fought by Finland as a cobelligerent with Germany from 1941 to 1944, Finnish forces again demonstrated their superior qualities. Thanks to the Germans, the army was now much better equipped, and the period of conscription had been increased to two years, making possible the formation of sixteen infantry divisions. The fully mobilized Finnish army of 400,000 was numerically superior to the opposing Soviet forces, which had been thinned to meet the need for troops to resist the German onslaught on the central front. The Finnish goal was not conquest but regaining territories traditionally Finnish. The Finns refused German pressure to direct the main push of its troops to breaking the siege of Leningrad instead pushing 80 to 160 kilometers into Soviet territory farther north above Lake Ladoga before settling for static defensive operations. The Finnish army continued to occupy this former Finnish area until the major Soviet offensive of June 1944. Confined in the losing Axis coalition, the Finns had to retreat for a second time, and they escaped total Soviet invasion and occupation only by entering into a separate agreement that obligated them to military action against the retreating German armies.

The demobilization and regrouping of the Finnish Defense Forces were carried out in late 1944 under the supervision of the Allied Control Commission. Following the Treaty of Paris in 1947, which imposed restrictions on the size and equipment of the armed forces and required disbandment of the Civil Guard, Finland reorganized its defense forces. The fact that the conditions of the peace treaty did not include prohibitions on reserves or mobilization made it possible to contemplate an adequate defense establishment within the prescribed limits. The reorganization resulted in the abolition of about 15 percent of officer and NCO positions, the adoption of the brigade—in place of the division- -as the basic formation, and the reduction of the term of service for conscripts to 240 days (330 days for NCO and for reserve officer candidates). The organization of the high command was unchanged, but the minister of defense was given slightly more authority in decision making. The completion of this reorganization in 1952 established the structure within which the modern Defense Forces were to evolve.

After the second world war, the Finnish Defence Forces relied largely on war-time material. The defence spending was minimal until the early 1960s. During the peak of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

, the Finnish government made a conscious effort to increase defence capability. This resulted in the commissioning of several new weapons systems and strengthening the defence of Finnish Lapland by establishing new garrisons there. From 1968 onwards, the Finnish government adopted the doctrine of territorial defence, which require the use of large land areas to slow down and wear out a potential aggressor. The doctrine was complemented by the concept of total defence
Total Defence
Total Defence is the name of Singapore's comprehensive defence strategy, adapted from countries like Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland and Austria...

 which calls for the use of society's all resources for national defence in case of a crisis. One of the aims of the new doctrines was to prevent a strategic strike which Soviet Union employed successfully to topple the government of Czechoslovakia
Czechoslovakia or Czecho-Slovakia was a sovereign state in Central Europe which existed from October 1918, when it declared its independence from the Austro-Hungarian Empire, until 1992...

 in 1968. During the 1970s and 1980s, the Defence Forces capabilities were developed from this basis. In an all-out confrontation between the two major blocs, Finnish objective would have been to prevent any military incursions inside the borders and, in this way, to keep Finland outside the war.

The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 did not annihilate the military threat perceived by the government, but the nature of the threat has changed. While the concept of total, territorial defence was not dropped, the military planning has moved towards the capability to prevent and frustrate a strategic attack toward the vital regions of the country.


The Finnish Defence Forces are under the command of the Chief of Defence
Chief of Defence (Finland)
The Chief of Defence is the Chief of Defence and commander of the Finnish Defence Forces, under the authority of the Commander in Chief, President of Finland. He commands the Finnish Army, the Finnish Air Force, the Finnish Navy and is assisted by the Defence Command...

 (currently General Ari Puheloinen
Ari Puheloinen
Ari Tapani Puheloinen is a Finnish General and Chief of Defence of the Finnish Defence Forces....

), who is directly subordinate to the President of the Republic
President of Finland
The President of the Republic of Finland is the nation's head of state. Under the Finnish constitution, executive power is vested in the President and the government, with the President possessing extensive powers. The President is elected directly by the people of Finland for a term of six years....

 in matters related to the military command. Apart from the General Staff, the military branches are the Finnish Army
Finnish Army
The Finnish Army is the land forces branch of the Finnish Defence Forces.Today's Army is divided into six branches: the infantry , field artillery, anti-aircraft artillery, engineers, signals, and materiel troops.-History of the Finnish Army:Between 1809 and 1917 Finland was an autonomous part of...

 (Maavoimat), the Finnish Navy
Finnish Navy
The Finnish Navy is one of the branches of the Finnish Defence Forces. The Navy employs 2,300 people and about 4,300 conscripts are trained each year. Finnish Navy vessels are given the ship prefix "FNS" simply short for "Finnish Navy Ship"...

 (Merivoimat) and the Finnish Air Force
Finnish Air Force
The Finnish Air Force is one of the branches of the Finnish Defence Forces. Its peacetime tasks are airspace surveillance, identification flights, and production of readiness formations for wartime conditions...

 (Ilmavoimat). The Border Guard
Finnish Border Guard
The Finnish Border guard is the national security agency responsible for enforcing the security of Finland's borders...

 (Rajavartiolaitos) (including the coast guard
Coast guard
A coast guard or coastguard is a national organization responsible for various services at sea. However the term implies widely different responsibilities in different countries, from being a heavily armed military force with customs and security duties to being a volunteer organization tasked with...

) is under the Ministry of the Interior but can be incorporated fully or in part into the defence forces when required by defence readiness.

The Army is divided into four military provinces (Southern, Western, Eastern and Northern) which bear the command responsibility for all brigade-level units and military districts. Subordinated to the military provinces, there are 19 military districts , which are responsible for carrying out conscription, training and activating of reservists and planning and executing territorial defence of their areas. All logistical duties of the Army are carried out by the Army Materiel Command , which has one Logistics Regiment for each military province.

The Navy consists of headquarters, supporting elements and two maritime commands : Archipelago Sea and Gulf of Finland maritime commands. These commands are brigade-level units responsible for conscript training and the integrity of Finland's territorial waters. They include both ship and coastal units.

The Air Force consists of headquarters, supporting elements and three air commands : Satakunta
Satakunta Air Command
The Satakunta Air Command is the peace-time Finnish Air Force unit, responsible for the protection of the airspace of western and western part of southern Finland...

, Lapland
Lapland Air Command
The Lapland Air Command is the peace-time Finnish Air Force unit, responsible for the protection of the airspace of northern Finland. The headquarters of the air command is located in the present-day province of Lapland, at the airport of Rovaniemi....

 and Karelian
Karelian Air Command
The Karelian Air Command is the peace-time Finnish Air Force unit, responsible for the protection of the airspace of eastern and southeastern Finland...

 Air Commands. They are responsible for securing the integrity of the Finnish airspace during peace and for conducting aerial warfare independently during a crisis.

In the beginning of January 2008, the Finnish Army organization was overhauled. The three Army commands and the 12 military provinces were replaced by four new operative military provinces, 3 territorial military provinces and 18 military districts. In the new system, the operative military provinces form the operative regional headquarters, each consisting of several brigades, while the territorial military provinces and military districts conduct conscription, train and manage the reserve, found the bulk of crisis-time units, and take care of the local defence. Each military district has its civilian counterpart among the regions of Finland
Regions of Finland
Finland consists of 19 regions called in Finnish and in Swedish. The regions are governed by regional councils, which serve as forums of cooperation for the municipalities of a region. The main tasks of the regions are regional planning and development of enterprise and education. In addition,...

, which facilitates the civilian-military cooperation in total defence.

The military training of the reservists is primarily the duty of the Defence Forces, but it is assisted by the National Defence Training Association of Finland
National Defence Training Association of Finland
National Defence Training Association of Finland is a voluntary organization providing safety and security training to all Finnish residents over the age of 15 and supplemental military training for all Finnish citizens over the age of 18.-Organization:...

 . The association provides reservists with personal, squad and platoon level military training. In the training, most of the instructors are volunteers, but when Defence Forces materiel is used, the training always takes place under the direct supervision of career military personnel. In addition, the Defence Forces support the voluntary training by providing instructors and giving logistical support. On the other hand, the Defence Forces may request the association to run specialized courses for personnel placed in reserve units. From the beginning of year 2008, the legislation concerning the association will require that the chairman and the majority of the members of its board are chosen by the Finnish Council of State
Finnish Council of State
The Cabinet of Finland is the body that directs the Government of Finland. However, in governmental translations to English, the distinction is often blurred between cabinet and government in the wider sense...

. The other board members are chosen by NGOs active in the national defence.

Military service

The Finnish defence forces is based on a universal male conscription
Conscription is the compulsory enlistment of people in some sort of national service, most often military service. Conscription dates back to antiquity and continues in some countries to the present day under various names...

. All men above 18 years of age are liable to serve either 6, 9 or 12 months. Yearly about 27,000 conscripts are trained. 80% of the males complete the service. The conscripts first receive basic training, after which they are assigned to various units for special training. Privates who are trained for tasks not requiring special skills serve for 6 months. In technically demanding tasks the time of service is 9, or in some cases 12 months. Those selected for NCO (non-commissioned officer) or officer training serve 12 months. At the completion of the service, the conscripts receive a reserve military rank of private
Private (rank)
A Private is a soldier of the lowest military rank .In modern military parlance, 'Private' is shortened to 'Pte' in the United Kingdom and other Commonwealth countries and to 'Pvt.' in the United States.Notably both Sir Fitzroy MacLean and Enoch Powell are examples of, rare, rapid career...

, lance corporal
Lance Corporal
Lance corporal is a military rank, used by many armed forces worldwide, and also by some police forces and other uniformed organizations. It is below the rank of corporal, and is typically the lowest non-commissioned officer, usually equivalent to the NATO Rank Grade OR-3.- Etymology :The presumed...

, corporal
Corporal is a rank in use in some form by most militaries and by some police forces or other uniformed organizations. It is usually equivalent to NATO Rank Code OR-4....

, sergeant
Sergeant is a rank used in some form by most militaries, police forces, and other uniformed organizations around the world. Its origins are the Latin serviens, "one who serves", through the French term Sergent....

 or second lieutenant
Second Lieutenant
Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces.- United Kingdom and Commonwealth :The rank second lieutenant was introduced throughout the British Army in 1871 to replace the rank of ensign , although it had long been used in the Royal Artillery, Royal...

, depending on their training and accomplishments. After their military service, the conscripts are placed in reserve until the end of their 50th or 60th living year, depending on their military rank. During their time in reserve, the reservists are liable to participate in military refresher exercises for a total of 40, 75 or 100 days, depending on their military rank. In addition, all reservists are liable for activation in a situation where the military threat against Finland has seriously increased, in full or partial mobilization or in a large-scale disaster or a virulent epidemic. The males who do not belong to the reserve may only be activated in case of full mobilization, and those rank-and-file personnel who have fulfilled 50 years of age only with a specific parliamentary decision.

Military service can be started after turning 18. The service can be delayed due to studies, work or other personal reasons until the 28th birthday, but these reasons do not result in exemptions. In addition to lodging, food, clothes and health care the conscripts receive between 4.7 and 11.2 euro
The euro is the official currency of the eurozone: 17 of the 27 member states of the European Union. It is also the currency used by the Institutions of the European Union. The eurozone consists of Austria, Belgium, Cyprus, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg,...

s per day, depending on the time they have served. The state also pays for their rent and electricity bills. If the conscripts have families, they are entitled to benefits as well. It is illegal to fire an employee due to military service or due to a refresher exercise or activation. Voluntary females in military service receive a small additional benefit, because they are expected to provide their own underwear and other personal items.

The military service consists of lessons, practical training, various cleaning and maintenance duties and field exercises. The wake-up call is usually at 6 o'clock and the day's service lasts for 12 hours, including meals and some breaks. In the evening there are a few hours of free time. Roll call is at 9 o'clock in the evening, and at 10 o'clock silence is announced, after which no noise can be made. Most weekends conscripts can leave the barracks on Friday and are expected to return by midnight on Sunday. A small force of conscripts are kept in readiness on weekends to aid civil agencies in various types of emergency situations, to guard the premises and to maintain defence in case of a sudden military emergency. Field exercises can go on regardless of the time of day or week.

The training of conscripts is based on joukkotuotanto-principle (lit. English troop production). In this system, 80% of the conscripts train to fulfill a specific role in a specific war-time military unit. Each brigade-level unit has a responsibility of producing specified reserve units from the conscripts it has been allocated. As the reservists are discharged, they receive a specific war-time placement in the unit with which they have trained during their conscription. As the conscripts age, their unit is given new, different tasks and materiel. Typically, reservists are placed for the first five years in first-line units, then moved to military formations with less demanding tasks, while the reservists unable to serve in the unit are substituted with reservists from the reserve without specific placement. In refresher exercises, the unit is then given a new training for these duties, if the defence funding permits this.

The inhabitants of the demilitarized Åland islands are exempt from military service. By the Conscription act of 1950, they are however required to serve a time at a local institution, like the coast guard instead. However, until such service has been arranged, they are freed from service obligation. The non-military service of Åland islands has not been arranged since the introduction of the act, and there are no plans to institute it. The inhabitants of Åland islands can also volunteer for military service on the mainland. Also exempt from military service are the Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses
Jehovah's Witnesses is a millenarian restorationist Christian denomination with nontrinitarian beliefs distinct from mainstream Christianity. The religion reports worldwide membership of over 7 million adherents involved in evangelism, convention attendance of over 12 million, and annual...

. It is also possible to serve either weapon-free military service of 270 or 362 days or undergo a 12-month-long non-military service. Finnish law requires that men, who do not want to serve the defense of the country in any capacity (so-called total objectors) be sentenced to a prison term of 197 days. As of 1995, women were permitted to serve on a voluntary basis and pursue careers as officers. In conscription, women have consideration time of six weeks, during which they have the choice to halt their service without any other specific reason. After the said six weeks, all the same laws and jurisdictions apply to them as to men. Unlike in many other countries women are allowed to serve in all combat arms including front-line infantry and special forces. The number of women who pass the rigorous special forces fitness tests remains extremely low.

Military ranks

The Finnish military ranks follow the Western usage in the officer ranks. As a Finnish peculiarity, the rank of lieutenant has three grades: 2nd lieutenant, lieutenant and senior lieutenant. The 2nd lieutenant is a reserve officer rank, active personnel beginning their service as 1st lieutenants.

The basic structure of the NCO ranks is a variant of the German rank structure, but the rank system has some peculiarities due to different personnel groups. The duties carried out by NCOs in most Western armed forces are carried out by
  • warrant officers serving in the ranks from lieutenant to captain
  • career NCOs serving in the ranks from enlistee (sotilasammattihenkilö), staff sergeant, sergeant first class (gunnery sergeant is same-o'-same), master sergeant and sergeant major (sotilasmestari)
  • contractual military personnel (sopimussotilas) serving in the ranks of lance corporal, corporal, sergeant and 2nd lieutenant (reserve officers)
  • conscripts in the ranks of corporal, officer student, sergeant and officer cadet.

In a case of war, most of the NCO duties would be carried out by reserve NCOs who have received their training during conscription.

The rank and file of the Finnish Defence Forces is composed of conscripts serving in the ranks of private, lance corporal and NCO student.


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|main battle tank
Main battle tank
A main battle tank , also known as a battle tank or universal tank, is a tank that fills the heavy direct fire role of many modern armies. They were originally conceived to replace the light, medium, heavy and super-heavy tanks. Development was spurred onwards in the Cold War with the development...

150 estimate including reserved T-55M tanks.

|armoured personnel carrier
Armoured personnel carrier
An armoured personnel carrier is an armoured fighting vehicle designed to transport infantry to the battlefield.APCs are usually armed with only a machine gun although variants carry recoilless rifles, anti-tank guided missiles , or mortars...

armoured fighting vehicle
Armoured fighting vehicle
An armoured fighting vehicle is a combat vehicle, protected by strong armour and armed with weapons. AFVs can be wheeled or tracked....

armoured recovery vehicle
Armoured recovery vehicle
An armoured recovery vehicle is a type of armoured fighting vehicle used to repair battle- or mine-damaged as well as broken-down armoured vehicles during combat, or to tow them out of the danger zone for more extensive repairs...

armoured cars|||

|self-propelled artillery
Self-propelled artillery
Self-propelled artillery vehicles are combat vehicles armed with artillery. Within the term are covered self-propelled guns and rocket artillery...

Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...


|mobile anti-aircraft missile launchers
anti-aircraft artillery||

| anti-tank missile launchers
anti-tank artillery
Recoilless rifle
A recoilless rifle or recoilless gun is a lightweight weapon that fires a heavier projectile than would be practical to fire from a recoiling weapon of comparable size. Technically, only devices that use a rifled barrel are recoilless rifles. Smoothbore variants are recoilless guns...


| short-range ballistic
Short-range ballistic missile
A short-range ballistic missile is a ballistic missile with a range of about 1,000 km or less. They are usually capable of carrying nuclear weapons. In potential regional conflicts, these missiles would be used because of the short distances between some countries and their relative low cost...


| multiple rocket
Multiple rocket launcher
A multiple rocket launcher is a type of unguided rocket artillery system. Like other rocket artillery, multiple rocket launchers are less accurate and have a much lower rate of fire than batteries of traditional artillery guns...


| recoilless rifle
Recoilless rifle
A recoilless rifle or recoilless gun is a lightweight weapon that fires a heavier projectile than would be practical to fire from a recoiling weapon of comparable size. Technically, only devices that use a rifled barrel are recoilless rifles. Smoothbore variants are recoilless guns...

assault rifle
Assault rifle
An assault rifle is a selective fire rifle that uses an intermediate cartridge and a detachable magazine. Assault rifles are the standard infantry weapons in most modern armies...

350,000+ Rk 62
Rk 62
The Rk 62 is an assault rifle manufactured by Valmet and Sako. It is the standard issue infantry weapon of the Finnish Defence Forces....

, probably hundreds of thousands more of Rk 56 Tp, Rk 72 and Rk 95 Tp
Rk 95 TP
The Rk 95 Tp is a 7.62 mm Finnish assault rifle adopted by the Finnish Defence Forces in the 1990s in relatively small numbers.-History:...

| mortars
Mortar (weapon)
A mortar is an indirect fire weapon that fires explosive projectiles known as bombs at low velocities, short ranges, and high-arcing ballistic trajectories. It is typically muzzle-loading and has a barrel length less than 15 times its caliber....


| fighter aircraft
Fighter aircraft
A fighter aircraft is a military aircraft designed primarily for air-to-air combat with other aircraft, as opposed to a bomber, which is designed primarily to attack ground targets...

helicopters and UAV
Unmanned aerial vehicle
An unmanned aerial vehicle , also known as a unmanned aircraft system , remotely piloted aircraft or unmanned aircraft, is a machine which functions either by the remote control of a navigator or pilot or autonomously, that is, as a self-directing entity...

Transport or transportation is the movement of people, cattle, animals and goods from one location to another. Modes of transport include air, rail, road, water, cable, pipeline, and space. The field can be divided into infrastructure, vehicles, and operations...

30 / 11

Finland does not have attack helicopters, submarines, long-range ballistic missiles or nuclear weapons. Legistlation forbids nuclear weapons entirely.

Peacekeeping operations

Finland has taken part in peacekeeping
Peacekeeping is an activity that aims to create the conditions for lasting peace. It is distinguished from both peacebuilding and peacemaking....

 operations since 1956 (the number of Finnish peacekeepers who have served since 1956 amounts to 43,000). In 2003 over a thousand Finnish peacekeepers were involved in peacekeeping operations, including UN and NATO led missions. According to the Finnish law the maximum simultaneous strength of the peacekeeping forces is limited to 2,000 soldiers.

Since 1956, 39 Finnish soldiers have died while serving in peacekeeping operations

Since 1996 the Pori Brigade
Pori Brigade
The Pori Brigade , based in Huovinrinne, Säkylä, is a Finnish Army unit, part of the Western Command of Finland. It comprises the Satakunta Jaeger Battalion, the West Finland Signals Battalion, and the Satakunta Engineer Battalion...

 has trained parts of the Finnish Rapid Deployment Force
Finnish Rapid Deployment Force
The Finnish Rapid Deployment Force is the spearhead international force of the Finnish Defence Forces . It can also be used for national defence....

 (FRDF), which can take part in international crisis management/peacekeeping operations at short notice. The Nyland/Uusimaa Brigade has started training the Amphibious Task Unit (ATU) in recent years, a joint Swedish-Finnish international task unit.

Since 2006, Finland has participated in the formation of European Union Battlegroups
European Union Battlegroups
An EU Battlegroup is a military unit adhering to the Common Security and Defence Policy of the European Union . Often based on contributions from a coalition of member states, each of the eighteen Battlegroups consists of a battalion-sized force reinforced with combat support elements...

. Finland will be participating to two European Union Battlegroups in 2011.

International operations Finland is participating by deploying military units:
  • SKJK KFOR in Kosovo
    Kosovo is a region in southeastern Europe. Part of the Ottoman Empire for more than five centuries, later the Autonomous Province of Kosovo and Metohija within Serbia...

     (250, is to be lowered to less than 50 by the end of 2010)
    International Security Assistance Force
    The International Security Assistance Force is a NATO-led security mission in Afghanistan established by the United Nations Security Council on 20 December 2001 by Resolution 1386 as envisaged by the Bonn Agreement...

     in Afghanistan
    Afghanistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, is a landlocked country located in the centre of Asia, forming South Asia, Central Asia and the Middle East. With a population of about 29 million, it has an area of , making it the 42nd most populous and 41st largest nation in the world...

     (165 )

International operations Finland is participating by deploying staff officers:
  • EUFOR in Bosnia and Herzegovina
    Bosnia and Herzegovina
    Bosnia and Herzegovina , sometimes called Bosnia-Herzegovina or simply Bosnia, is a country in Southern Europe, on the Balkan Peninsula. Bordered by Croatia to the north, west and south, Serbia to the east, and Montenegro to the southeast, Bosnia and Herzegovina is almost landlocked, except for the...

     (5 staff officer)
  • EUTM in Uganda
    Uganda , officially the Republic of Uganda, is a landlocked country in East Africa. Uganda is also known as the "Pearl of Africa". It is bordered on the east by Kenya, on the north by South Sudan, on the west by the Democratic Republic of the Congo, on the southwest by Rwanda, and on the south by...

     (4 staff officers and mentors)
    Operation Atalanta
    Operation Atalanta is a current military operation undertaken by the European Union and the European Union Naval Force. It is part of a larger global action by the EU in the Horn of Africa to deal with the Somali crisis; for example World Food Programme ships food aid to ports in Somalia and...

     in Gulf of Aden
    Gulf of Aden
    The Gulf of Aden is located in the Arabian Sea between Yemen, on the south coast of the Arabian Peninsula, and Somalia in the Horn of Africa. In the northwest, it connects with the Red Sea through the Bab-el-Mandeb strait, which is about 20 miles wide....

    Somalia , officially the Somali Republic and formerly known as the Somali Democratic Republic under Socialist rule, is a country located in the Horn of Africa. Since the outbreak of the Somali Civil War in 1991 there has been no central government control over most of the country's territory...

     coast (3 staff officers)
    United Nations Mission in Liberia
    The United Nations Mission in Liberia is a peace-keeping force established in September 2003 to monitor a ceasefire agreement in Liberia following the resignation of President Charles Taylor and the conclusion of the Second Liberian Civil War....

     in Liberia
    Liberia , officially the Republic of Liberia, is a country in West Africa. It is bordered by Sierra Leone on the west, Guinea on the north and Côte d'Ivoire on the east. Liberia's coastline is composed of mostly mangrove forests while the more sparsely populated inland consists of forests that open...

    United Nations Mission in Sudan
    The United Nations Mission in the Sudan was established by the UN Security Council under Resolution 1590 of 24 March 2005, in response to the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the government of the Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement on January 9, 2005 in Nairobi,...

     in Sudan
    Sudan , officially the Republic of the Sudan , is a country in North Africa, sometimes considered part of the Middle East politically. It is bordered by Egypt to the north, the Red Sea to the northeast, Eritrea and Ethiopia to the east, South Sudan to the south, the Central African Republic to the...


International operations Finland is participating by deploying military obervers
  • UNMOGIP in India
    India , officially the Republic of India , is a country in South Asia. It is the seventh-largest country by geographical area, the second-most populous country with over 1.2 billion people, and the most populous democracy in the world...

     and Pakistan
    Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

    United Nations Truce Supervision Organization
    The United Nations Truce Supervision Organization is an organization founded on 29 May 1948 for peacekeeping in the Middle East. Its primary task was providing the military command structure to the peace keeping forces in the Middle East to enable the peace keepers to observe and maintain the...

     in Egypt
    Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

    , Israel
    The State of Israel is a parliamentary republic located in the Middle East, along the eastern shore of the Mediterranean Sea...

    , Lebanon
    Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

     and Syria
    Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....


Total defence

The Finnish military doctrine is based on the concept of total defence. The term total means that all sectors of the government and economy are involved in the defence planning. In principle, each ministry has the responsibility for planning its operations during a crisis. There are no special emergency authorities, such as the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency
Federal Emergency Management Agency
The Federal Emergency Management Agency is an agency of the United States Department of Homeland Security, initially created by Presidential Reorganization Plan No. 1 of 1978 and implemented by two Executive Orders...

 (FEMA) or Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations. Instead, each authority regularly trains for crises and has been allocated a combination of normal and emergency powers it needs to keep functioning in any conceivable situation. In a war, all resources of the society may be diverted to serve the national survival. The legal basis for such measures is found in the Readiness Act and in the State of Defence Act, which would come into force through a parliamentary decision in a case of a crisis.

The main objective of the doctrine is to establish and maintain a military force capable of deterring any potential aggressor from using Finnish territory or applying military pressure against Finland. To accomplish this, the defence is organised on the doctrine of territorial defence. The stated main principles of the territorial defence are
  • military non-alliance,
  • general conscription,
  • territorial defence,
  • training of conscripts for wartime units,
  • dispersed mobilisation, and
  • flexible readiness responding to military threats of various degree.

The defence planning is organised to counteract three threat situations:
  • A regional crisis that may have effects on Finland.
  • Political, economic and military pressure, which may include a threat of using military force and its restricted use.
  • Use of military force in the form of a strategic strike or an attack beginning with a strategic strike aimed at seizing territory.

In all cases, the national objective is to keep the vital areas, especially the capital area
Greater Helsinki
Greater Helsinki and the smaller Helsinki Metropolitan Area or Capital Region refer to two regions of different size surrounding Helsinki, the capital of Finland...

 in Finnish possession. In other areas, the size of the country is used to delay and wear down the invader, until the enemy may be defeated in an area of Finnish choosing. The Army carries most of the responsibility for this task. The war-time army is combined of
  • two mechanized battle groups
  • three readiness brigades
  • two jaeger brigades
  • two motorized battle groups
  • six infantry brigades (territorial troops)
  • special jaeger battalion
  • helicopter battalion
  • specialized units under general staff
  • local defence units

The army units are mostly composed of reservists, the career soldiers manning the command and specialty positions.

The role of the Navy is to repel all attacks carried out against Finnish coasts and to safeguard the territorial integrity during peace time and the "gray" phase of the conflict. The maritime defence relies on combined use of coastal artillery, missile systems and naval mine
Naval mine
A naval mine is a self-contained explosive device placed in water to destroy surface ships or submarines. Unlike depth charges, mines are deposited and left to wait until they are triggered by the approach of, or contact with, an enemy vessel...

s to wear down the attacker. The Air Force is used to deny the invader the air superiority and to protect most important troops and objects of national importance in conjunction with the ground-based air defence. As the readiness of the Air Force and the Navy is high even during the peace-time, the career personnel have a much more visible role in the war-time duties of these defence branches.

The Border Guard has the responsibility for border security in all situations. During a war, it will contribute to the national defence partially integrated into the army, its total mobilized strength being some 11,600 troops. One of the projected uses for the Border Guard is guerrilla warfare in areas temporarily occupied by enemy.

Defence White Paper 2009

The material goals for decade starting from 2010 are to equip following forces:
  • Army Corps Headquarters
  • Three Readiness Brigades
  • Two mechanized battle groups
  • Helicopter battalion
  • Special Jaegers battalion
  • Five (Regional) battle groups
  • Three fighter squadrons
  • Six main air force bases
  • Two missile fast attack craft squadrons
  • Two minelayers
  • Two MCM squadrons
  • Four ASM
    Anti-ship missile
    Anti-ship missiles are guided missiles that are designed for use against ships and large boats. Most anti-ship missiles are of the sea-skimming type, many use a combination of inertial guidance and radar homing...

  • Two coastal infantry battalions

See also

  • Finnish Jäger troops
    Finnish Jäger troops
    The Jäger Movement were volunteers from Finland trained in Germany as Jägers during World War I. Supported by Germany to enable a Finnish sovereign state, it was one of many means by which Germany intended to weaken Russia and to cause Russia's loss of western provinces and...

  • Nordic Battlegroup
    Nordic Battlegroup
    The Nordic Battlegroup is one of eighteen European Union battlegroups. It consists of around 2,200 soldiers including officers, with manpower contributed from the five participating countries...

  • Finnish Rapid Deployment Force
    Finnish Rapid Deployment Force
    The Finnish Rapid Deployment Force is the spearhead international force of the Finnish Defence Forces . It can also be used for national defence....

  • List of senior officers of the Finnish Defence Forces

External links

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