Since 2002, Finnish soldiers have been working alongside Allied forces as part of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan. 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 to the Afghan National Army Trust Fund. Finland also contributes to a project conducted under the NATO-Russia Council aimed at training counter-narcotics personnel from Afghanistan and other Central Asian partner countries.
Finnish forces have also played significant roles in securing peace in the former Yugoslavia. Finnish soldiers are currently operating with the NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR) and, 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 and took part in Exercise Steadfast Jazz in November 2013, an exercise which inter alia was designed to test the different components of the next NRF rotation. Specific participation or involvement in any particular NRF operation requires 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 recognised the Finnish Defence Forces International Centre (FINCENT) in Tuusula as a PfP Training Centre. This centre provides training on military crisis management for staff employed by international organisations such as NATO, the United Nations and the European Union.
Finland also regularly participates in NATO and PfP exercises, such as Iceland Air Meet in February 2014. Among other forces, Finland has declared one mechanised 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. Maintaining operational interoperability at the end of the ISAF mission is not only crucial at the military level, but also at the political level. At the political level, consultation and dialogue will be reinforced and flexible formats encouraged with, for instance, meetings at 28 + 6 (28 + NATO’s six Western European partners, including Finland) taking place more frequently.
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 several 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 on a multinational cyber defence capability development project with NATO, which will improve the means of sharing technical information and promote awareness of threats and attacks. It is also participating in the establishment of a joint multinational headquarters in Germany, a harbour protection system and a deployable system for the surveillance of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear agents. Finland is a member of the Movement Coordination Centre Europe (MCCE) and is participating in the Air Transport, Air-to Air Refueling and other Exchange of Services (ATARES), as well as the Air Situation Data Exchange (ASDE).
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 Battlegroup 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 is an active supporter of Partnership Trust Fund projects in other partner countries and has contributed to nearly a dozen so far. Currently, it is supporting a project for the repacking, centralising and destruction of chemicals in Moldova; ammunition stockpile management in Tajikistan and the Building Integrity Programme. Finland has also shown an interest in supporting an upcoming Trust Fund project focused on multiplying the possibilities for women to work in the Jordan armed forces.
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 Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (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.