Since 2002, Finnish soldiers have been working alongside Allied forces as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. Currently, some 136 Finnish personnel are deployed in the country, primarily with a Provincial Reconstruction Team in the north of the country. The focus of the Finnish contribution is gradually shifting towards training and capacity-building of Afghan security forces. Since 2007, Finland has contributed 1.7 million euro to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund. Finland also contributes to a project conducted under the NATO-Russia Council aimed at training counternarcotics personnel from Afghanistan and other Central Asian partner countries.
Finnish forces have also played significant roles in securing peace in the former Yugoslavia. Some 22 soldiers are now operating with the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR). In the past, Finland contributed a battalion to the NATO-led peacekeeping force in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Finland started participating in the NATO Response Force (NRF) in 2012. Specific participation or involvement in any particular NRF operation would require a sovereign decision by Finland.
Finland’s role in training the forces of partner countries, particularly in peacekeeping, is greatly valued by the Allies. In July 2001, NATO formally recognized the Finnish International Centre in Ninisalo as a PfP Training Centre.
Finland also regularly participates in NATO and PfP exercises. Recent examples include the March 2011 Baltic Region Training Event, conducted by NATO Air Command Ramstein, which aimed to enhance interoperability and build capabilities in the Baltic states; the November 2012 Exercise Steadfast Juncture, a command post exercise which took place at the Amari Air Base, Estonia, focused on the command and control of a fictitious NATO-led crisis response operation involving the NRF; and the November 2012 Cyber Coalition exercise, a procedural exercise designed to give participants a better understanding of cyber defence capabilities and to identify areas for improvement.
Among other forces, Finland has declared one mechanized infantry battalion group and one combat engineer unit, a coastal mine hunter and a small number of fixed wing aircraft as potentially available for exercises and operations.
Finland plays an active part in a number of multinational projects for the development of capabilities. It has joined the Strategic Airlift Capability (SAC) programme, participating along with Sweden and ten NATO Allies in the operation of three C-17 transport aircraft based in Hungary. Continuation of a related initiative, the Strategic Airlift Interim Solution (SALIS), which leases Russian and Ukrainian Antonov transport aircraft,beyond 2012 is being evaluated.
The country is also working with Nordic NATO Allies and partners on the establishment of a joint multinational headquarters in Germany, a harbor protection system and a deployable system for the surveillance of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents. Finland is a member of the Movement Coordination Center Europe (MCCE) and is participating in the Air Transport and Air Refueling Exchange System (ATARES), as well as the Air Situation Data Exchange (ASDE).
Finland is also participating in the NATO-Russia Council’s Cooperative Airspace Initiative, which is aimed at preventing terrorists from using aircraft to launch attacks similar to those of 9/11.
Finland’s close ties with its neighbours Norway, Denmark and Sweden have resulted in Nordic Defence Cooperation (NORDEFCO), a further practical and efficient way for like-minded states to contribute to regional and international security. In Finland’s case, this activity is pursued alongside the Nordic Battle Group.
Defence and security sector reform
Finland has participated in the PfP Planning and Review Process (PARP) since 1995, which – along with participating in the Operational Capabilities Concept – influences Finnish planning and activities. Cooperation in these frameworks is aimed at enhancing Finland’s ability to take part in peace-support operations, as well as allowing Allies and other partners to benefit from Finnish expertise.
Finland has developed a new military crisis-management concept as the basis for a revised national pool of forces for crisis-management operations. All of these forces should be evaluated under Operational Capability Concept Evaluation and Feedback programme by the end of 2016.
Finland is contributing to the development of the EU Battle Group concept. It is cooperating with Estonia, Sweden and Norway, among other countries, in the development of a multinational rapid reaction force for EU-led peace-support operations.
Alongside NATO Allies, Finland contributes to NATO’s programme of support for security-sector reform in the western Balkans, southern Caucasus and Central Asia. It currently contributes to a number of Partnership Trust Fund projects in other partner countries, including a project for the repacking, centralizing and destruction of chemicals in Moldova; the conduct of an Explosive Remnants of War Survey, providing detection equipment, building an ammunition destruction facility and propellant-surveillance laboratory in Jordan; and a retraining and resettlement programme for departing servicemen in Ukraine. In the past, Finland has contributed to six completed Trust Fund projects in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Georgia and Serbia.
Civil emergency planning
Civil emergency planning is a major area of bilateral cooperation. The aim is for Finland to be able to cooperate with NATO Allies in providing mutual support in dealing with the consequences of a major accident or disaster in the EAPC area. This could include dealing with the consequences of incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear agents, as well as humanitarian disaster relief operations. In line with this, Finnish civil resources have been listed with the Euro-Atlantic Disaster Response Coordination Centre (EADRCC). Finland has also provided valuable civil emergency training to Allies and partners.
Science and environment
Under the Science for Peace and Security (SPS) Programme, scientists from Finland have participated in numerous advanced research workshops and seminars on a range of topics. Topics have included border security and the fight against terrorism, environmental security in harbours and coastal areas, and bioremediation of contaminated soils.
In every partner country an embassy of one of the NATO member states serves as a contact point and operates as a channel for disseminating information about the role and policies of the Alliance. The current NATO Contact Point Embassy in Finland is the embassy of Denmark.