Readiness remains sustained while units change
The readiness unit suits optimally for those who are looking forward to quick tempo and versatile situations with physically demanding missions while undertaking conscript service!
Comprising professional soldiers and conscripts, the Finnish Army’s readiness units offer conscripts 347-day-long training that entails leadership training for some and versatile rank and file training for the others. As such, the first phase of this conscript training conforms to regular conscript training practices and features the basic training period, the special capabilities training period as well as the unit training period. The latter phase of the conscript service then equals readiness training with further enhanced training of skills and competence.
Unit training period
Versatile and particularly efficient also in terms of its weaponry, the Jaeger Brigade’s readiness unit had its training proficiency level inspected as part of the RYSKE 117 exercise. The readiness unit met the set requirements and began its standby duty on 15 June 2017. This also marked the start of the readiness phase proper, the unit training period, which involved drilling the use of force followed by what was extremely demanding yet perhaps most memorable training during the readiness phase proper, namely, conducting a long-range patrolling march in the wilderness areas of Itäkaira. In the wake of the successfully completed march, the training then continued by advancing training-branch-specific skills, and providing ranger and urban jaeger courses completed by all.
The readiness phase began with a demanding, yet memorable, long-range patrolling march.
Further training period
The intermediate module of the readiness phase is called the further training period. At the turn of August and September, the majority of the Jaeger Brigade’s readiness unit undertook training in the basics of military policing while the officer candidates participated in candidate trekking. After this, the following test was the local defence exercise in Vuosanka. Furthermore, the unit’s readiness was also measured by means of a surprise exercise drill. In the Rovajarvi training and exercise area, the concentration of force and conduct of two-sided combat were carried out successfully by the unit demonstrating its sustained capability in rapidly responding to a military threat posed. Again, the completion of the exercise was followed by advancing training-branch-specific skills and then the conscripts continued by drilling counter special operations forces measures and undertaking courses in military crisis management, night-vision combat as well as company-level combat.
The training of the Jaeger Brigade’s readiness unit closed with a practice period during which the unit either participated in exercises or was on leave. The finalizing of the training took the form of the Jaeger Brigade’s own combat exercise RIEKKO 217 followed by the Army’s dual-sequenced exercise PUUKKO 17 with live ammunition firing and combat maneuver drills. As part of these finalizing exercises it was easy to determine that the year-long conscript training had truly paid off. This became evident in how, on all levels, the actions taken were experienced and self-initiated, the issuing and executing of orders were promptly carried out, and the soldiers were able to react in surprising situations so promptly that it seemed as if they had indeed been anticipated.
The Jaeger Brigade’s Readiness Unit demonstrated its sustained capability in the LAPPI 118 exercise in Rovaniemi.
Experiences of readiness unit training
As part of producing this article, I interviewed a few professional soldiers as well as conscripts, and what follows next sheds light on the views expressed. For instance, according to Lieutenant JT, "the best part is that we have a full year to conduct training and this allows us to hone development further than the usual cut off point [of 165 days]". Moreover, Lieutenant SS viewed the course-form training to be a logical and salient solution. However, one professional soldier, Lieutenant JH also offered a proposal for further improvement: "Over the autumn we should have a higher number of the readiness unit’s own training exercises as opposed to undertaking exercises as part of a battalion battle group." Both the unit’s Commanding Officer and personnel viewed that rather than being a parade unit the main effort in this all is in providing combat training. They thus viewed the role of professional soldiers as that of an instructor when in garrison and a leader when in a field exercise as part of the unit. This tangible cohesion present in the unit was easily discernible even to an outsider.
The Readiness Unit’s armoured vehicle platoon receives an order for a fire support mission to annihilate an adversary in the breach point of assault in the LAPPI 118 exercise in Rovajärvi.
By the same token, the conscript feedback was encouraging and indicated that we have adopted the right track in providing training. A Private First Class in the jaeger platoon commented on how "this has been a great year for our good and close-knit team. This hasn’t been too easy, though, and the long-range patrolling march is what sticks in mind for good". A PFC who served as a combat runner sincerely described his experiences: "It is the combat exercise drill that became as a surprise, the alarm, and the actions of my own platoon that remain firmly in my memory. Also the long-range patrolling march in the July of 2017 was a memorable experience regardless of the tears, despite being exhausted and irritated and all. Had it not been for this kind of a team, I wouldn’t have made it. There has always been someone to drag you up or cheer you on if you are about to call it quits". Similarly, a then officer candidate and now a Second Lieutenant from the reconnaissance platoon said that "all was laid back, good cooperating along with tough missions. And the 24-hour-long skiing effort at the end of the service was physically demanding with the last five km on each lap being the worst with all your body aching and all. In spite of the fatigue, he ended up completing altogether 105 km mounted on skis. Furthermore, a Sergeant in the armoured vehicle platoon commented on how "we always made it. The company’s own combat course was a memorable experience. With all these varying courses this has not just been just repeating the one and same thing all year round. And it was great to get to fire with the battle tank. Plus when drilling counter special operations forces measures I got to wrestle with a Captain."
As part of the RIEKKO 217 exercise, also the artillery element was present along the Jaeger Brigade’s readiness unit in the close training grounds of the Sodankylä Garrison in Mellankangas.
Readiness remains sustained while units change
As the Jaeger Brigade’s readiness unit mustered out on 14 December in 2017, the conscripts who had entered into service in the previous July and been selected in the readiness unit started their standby duty to demonstrate their skills and competence as part of the RYSKE 217 exercise. The soldiers on duty continue to change and readiness still remains sustained at every moment, 24/7/365.
Now, all those brisk and energetic youngsters who still are awaiting their conscript service will benefit from knowing that the Jaeger Brigade’s all units provide conscript training that is versatile and of high quality. For those in particular who are looking forward to quick tempo and versatile situations as well as physically demanding missions while undertaking conscript training the readiness unit really is the place to be!
Lieutenant Colonel Ari Mure
Chief of Training, Jaeger Brigade
AT COY / LJBN / JBDE, Contingent II/90