Blog of the Commander of the Finnish Army: "Helping others"
"Jokainen joka apua saa sitä joskus tajuu myös antaa." "Everyone, who gets help also returns the favour when the time comes."
Pave Maijanen’s song has a resonating message that also describes the purpose and content of international military co-operation. This applies especially to the military cooperation between Finland and Sweden, which has a long history. The political steering for Finnish-Swedish cooperation has been stated in the latest Government’s Defence Policy Report to Parliament: "No predetermined limits will be set on deepening the bilateral defence cooperation".
The Air Force and the Navy have a slight head start in military cooperation with Sweden. However, the Army is quickly catching up. The cooperation covers all of the capabilities of the Army, but the focus is on practical cooperation between units. Both parties, Finland and Sweden, will organise their national defence according to their own needs. The purpose of the cooperation, which will manifest itself as support to the other party if necessary, is to provide additional value to the countries’ own national efforts. Reciprocal Army exercises increase the qualifications for both countries to provide and receive military aid when it is needed and requested.
Swedish Army units have been training in Finland numerous times over the last few years, mainly in Northern Finland. The Finns have already organised a few exercises on fighting in built-up areas in Kvarn, Sweden. The experiences have been entirely positive. This autumn a Finnish Army unit is participating in Sweden’s national defence exercise on Gotland. So, what do we get from participating in an exercise with the goal of defending Gotland? Again, in reference to the song lyrics in the beginning: if you want help, you need to be able to give it, too. Furthermore, it is an obligation, dictated by the new task of the Finnish Defence Forces on international assistance.
The Finnish Army has practical approach to cooperation. Training increases the capabilities and motivation of the participating troops and gives outsiders a good idea of the capability of our Defence Forces. So, the training is also part of the capability to prevent events. Our conscripts and reservists work as equals side-by-side with Swedish professional soldiers, a good indicator that general conscription is a functional model for us.
Cooperation is not based on agreements and their commitments. Good friends do not necessarily even need such agreements. Shared values, historical background and the similarity of our defence solutions provide a natural basis for deepening the cooperation. A Swedish main battle tank on Finnish soil or a Finnish tank in Sweden are practical examples of well-functioning cooperation that is not directed against anyone. The cooperation provides significant added value to the defence of both countries, without removing the requirement of maintaining a credible national defence. And one should remember that you don't have to ask for anything to get nothing, which is something we do not want.
Major General Petri Hulkko
Commander of the Finnish Army
Greetings from the Commander of the Finnish Army: