Senior NATO military officials visit Finland
Deputy Chairman of the NATO Military Committee, Lt Gen Mark O. Schissler and Director General of the International Military Staff, Air Marshal Sir Christopher Harper attended a Joint Fires live firing exercise while visiting Finland (25-27 November 2015).
During the visit the Deputy Chairman and the Director General met with the Commander of the Finnish Air Force, Major General Kim Jaameri, Commander of the Finnish Army, Lieutenant General Seppo Toivonen, and Major General Markku Nikkila, Military Representative of Finland to the European Union and NATO. They also met the FIN Chief of Defence Command, Vice Admiral Juha Rannikko and the FIN CHOD, General Jarmo Lindberg. Discussions focused on how NATO-Finnish military cooperation and interoperability might be increased in practical terms.
Finnish cooperation with NATO is based on its long-standing policy of military non-alignment and firm national political consensus. Cooperation has been reinforced over the years since Finland joined NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme in 1994 and became a member of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council in 1997.
Important areas for cooperation between NATO and the Finnish Defence forces are education, training and exercises. This cooperation also enables the Finnish Defence Forces to develop further capabilities and increase interoperability with NATO Nations, other partners as well as international organisations in multinational peacekeeping operations.
During the visit to Lapland Air Command base, hosted by Commander of the Finnish air Force, Maj Gen Kim Jaameri, Lt Gen Schissler highlighted the benefits of NATO-Finnish cooperation, stating that “Finland is a highly capable and very committed partner who provides NATO with additional military expertise in its operations and missions, but also useful regional security insight”.
Finland is a valued contributor to NATO-led operations and missions in the Balkans and Afghanistan. Air Marshal Harper stressed during discussions that NATO and Finland “are keen to examine opportunities that could enhance our partnership further through increased practical cooperation, stepping up our joint training and exercises, our dialogue and our capabilities”.
The Joint Fires live firing exercise took place within the Arctic Circle between 17-27 November 2015 with 3000 Finnish soldiers from the Army, the Navy and Logistics Command. It is important to note that an impressive number of these soldiers were conscripts. Although these young individuals receive a relatively small amount of training when compared to longer term professional soldiers, their performance was masterful nevertheless.