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Toward the North - Army Ready to Operate in Arctic Conditions

Publication date 22.2.2024 18.40
Press release
Maavoimien joukkoja hiihtämässä pohjoisessa.

The Finnish Defence Forces will participate in the Norwegian-led exercise Nordic Response 24 to be held in northern areas of Finland, Norway, and Sweden during 4–15 March 2024. Nordic Response 24 will mark the Army’s and the Finnish Defence Forces’ most substantial participation in a multinational exercise abroad. The strength of the Army training audience will be c. 2,500 personnel of whom 350 are service personnel, 1,060 conscripts, and 1,120 reservists.

Part of the Steadfast Defender 24 drills, Nordic Response 24 will involve training the Alliance’s ability to reinforce troops up north, and a defensive joint operation in arctic conditions in the areas of Finland, Norway, and Sweden. In the exercise, the Finnish Army and the Swedish Army will form a division with a detachment from the U.K., with its commander from Finland and the deputy from Sweden. The exercise scenario begins by a fictional offence against the Alliance which results in the activation of Article 5 of NATO’s founding treaty to require the member nations to take measures to defend the area under attack.  

– The Alliance’s nations sustain a solid and determined will to defend all of its area, including Finland. Finland’s decades-long coherent and long-term co-operation with partner countries enables integration of the Finnish Defence Forces’ capabilities as part of NATO’s collective defence. It is also clear that Finland has much to contribute to the Alliance, and it has been good to see that our competences are highly appreciated, land exercise director, Chief of Army Operations, Brigadier General Sami-Antti Takamaa says.

The exercise will be participated by forces from nearly all of the Army brigade-level units. The exercise will have Army troops operate both as defenders (~1700 personnel) and offenders (~670 personnel), alongside whom altogether more than 100 personnel will serve in the exercise’s security organisation. The equipment strength will be up to c. 630 in total. The exercise drill entity will develop the competence of the service personnel, reservists, and conscripts both at the soldier and force level.

– Training in arctic conditions is part of the training undertaken by nearly all persons liable for military service, and Finland also provides plenty of training to other troops of the Alliance under these demanding conditions. Finland’s geographical location makes us central for the security of northern Europe and of the Baltic Sea region, Brigadier General Takamaa points out.

Participation in the exercise will advance Finland’s ever closer integration as part of NATO. The exercise will contribute to developing Army interoperability and joint operating capacity with forces of the Alliance and Sweden whose NATO accession will hopefully soon be completed. Joint training will provide support to development of capabilities and ensure interoperable joint operating capacity for the purposes of national defence and of the Alliance.

– The exercise will be visible and audible. We recommend patience and caution to all while on the road and when coming across training audience forces. It is worth familiarising with the information listed on the traffic release to minimise any delays that may occur, Brigadier General Takamaa says.

The exercise is to affect overall traffic:

In the area of Finland during the exercise, alongside Finnish troops will train altogether c. 3,000 soldiers from Sweden, 450 soldiers from France, and c. 50 soldiers from the U.K. Training exercise activity will significantly affect traffic in the direction of Enontekiö, and on the marching routes as listed on the traffic release, especially during the exercise’s onward and rearward movement. The main Army equipment will include the type of vehicles characteristic of northern troops, and also, among others, Leopard MBTs, armoured howitzers K9 FIN, and MLRS. Authorities in Finland, Sweden, and Norway have conducted inter-agency co-operation to speed up the traffic and to minimise the exercise’s impacts on the traffic situation.