The speech of Lieutenant General Timo Kakkola at the National Parade on the Finnish Independence Day 6 December
Esteemed veterans and lottas of our wars, ladies and gentlemen, soldiers! [Ärade veteraner och lottor från våra krig, bästa festgäster, soldater!]
This past year has been an extraordinarily exceptional one. In the wake of the two years dominated by the COVID-19, the security situation in Europe underwent a significant change as Russia launched its widescale offensive into Ukraine on 24 February 2022. The war still continues and shows no indication of a quick closure. Finland has reassessed its security political situation and applied to join NATO.
The situation in Ukraine has shown that it has been of utmost importance for Finland to sustain preparedness that considers comprehensive security and planned long-term development of the Finnish Defence Forces. In proportion to its size, Finland sustains very credible Defence Forces, and, when measured internationally, a very strong will to defend. We have made the right choices concerning sustainment and development of our own defence capability. Despite Finland’s applying to join NATO, the defence of Finland will also in the future remain the main task of the Finnish Defence Forces. NATO membership does not negate the need for own strong defence capability.
The war waged in Ukraine has proved the significance of the will to defend. As our Commander-in-Chief has stated, the most significant defence line is between our own ears – it is about attitudes. In Finland we have been able to sustain a strong will to defend which also shows in overall trust and confidence in the Finnish Defence Forces.
Our defence capability is constructed so that we have access to technologically advanced units and systems capable of prompt operating. Additionally, we have the skilled and extensive reserve resting on our liability for military service that enables us to respond to possible broader-scope, longer-term threats as well.
Another indication for the power of the reserve is realised here in Hamina. Hamina Town is known for the Reserve Officer School that provides leadership training for a significant part of our reserve leaders. The important work carried out here in Hamina boasts an over 100-year tradition.
Functioning defence presupposes also materiel readiness. The procurement of the F-35 multipurpose fighters will secure Finland’s air defence capability until the early 2060s. The four Pohjanmaa-class corvettes will secure Finland’s naval defence and pre-repulsion capability. These procurement projects will produce significant added value to the entire defence system. During this decade, also the Finnish Defence Forces’ capability for joint fires, cyber and intelligence will be developed.
In consequence of the war in Ukraine, Finland has decided to strengthen its defence rapidly. We will procure more of the already commissioned and fielded defence materiel. We have increased the number of personnel, and we will further strengthen our defence capability and readiness by increasing the number of the refresher training exercises for the reserve. The reservists have participated in the exercise drills actively and demonstrated their good operating capability and competence in the exercises of all services and establishments.
[Under sommaren och hösten har vi också ökat vår internationella utbildningsverksamhet. Ett betydande antal trupper har utbildat sig i Finland med Armén, Marinen och Flygvapnet. Genom gemensamma övningar säkerställer vi vår förmåga att arbeta tillsammans i alla situationer.]
In the course of the summer and autumn, we have also increased our international training and exercise activity. A significant number of troops have undertaken training in Finland in cooperation with the Army, Navy, and Air Force. By combined exercising we secure our capability for cooperating in all situations.
One important element in the activity of the Finnish Defence Forces and of its reserve is nation-wide local defence that is implemented under the command of the Army in cooperation with other agencies, partners and associations.
Ladies and gentlemen,
Finland’s accession to NATO continues to progress. In terms of equipment and systems, we have for a long time now sustained interoperability and connectivity with NATO necessitating no significant needs for change. We meet the set military criteria for membership.
For the main task of the Finnish Defence Forces, for the defence of Finland, we continue to need well-equipped and well-trained troops and a reserve with the will to defend. In the future also, we Finns will primarily remain responsible for defending our country.
[Jag vill tacka er alla för det arbete ni har gjort för Finlands säkerhet! Tillsammans skapar vi trygghet.]
I would like to thank you all for the work that you have done for the security of Finland! Security will be done together.
Let us raise a three-fold Long Live to independent Fatherland!