Finnish Defence Forces’ special operations forces train at their hundred-year-old base
A key locality both in the development of Finnish military aviation and in the history of the Finnish Defence Forces’ special operations forces (SOF) for a hundred years now, the Utti Base, currently run by the Utti Jaeger Regiment, continues to maintain its predecessors’ honourable heritage by sustaining top-level capabilities and readiness.
The establishing of the Utti Air Base was materialized in April 1918 by the order issued by then General of the Cavalry C. G. E. Mannerheim to set up an air base in Utti as promptly as possible. And 10 May 2018 marked the centenary of the actual clearance procedures being initiated in situ. Furthermore, as of June 1918, on the transfer of the first aircraft at the air base, the Utti Base’s composition includes military aviation. Over the past decades, the name of the base has undergone a number of changes. The most recent Finnish Air Force unit, which used to be based at Utti, was the Transport Squadron until it relocated at the end of 1996.
Established on 1 January 1997, the Utti Jaeger Regiment presently comprises the Paratrooper School founded in the 1960s, the Helicopter Flight that relocated from the Finnish Air Force as well as the Military Police School. Moreover, the reorganizing of the Helicopter Flight into a Helicopter Battalion came about in 2001, and the founding of the Special Jaeger Battalion took place in 2005.
Apart from its Headquarters, the present composition of the Utti Jaeger Regiment includes the Helicopter Battalion (HELIBN), Special Jaeger Battalion (SPJBN), Support Company (SPTCOY), and Logistics Centre (LOG CEN). The maritime component of the Finnish Defence Forces’ SOF, the Special Operations Detachment (SOD) remains produced and maintained in the Navy’s Coastal Brigade. Under exceptional circumstances prevailing in emergency conditions, the SOD operates as part of the Utti Jaeger Regiment’s entity.
In emergency conditions, the composition of the Utti Jaeger Regiment changes mission-dependently in a given situation. When raising readiness, this composition may be increased by means of the SOF reserve.
The Finnish Defence Forces safeguards Finland’s territory by utilising the Army, Navy, and Air Force as well as their joint capabilities. In all states of readiness, the SOF then forms part of the joint capabilities that are to be utilised in the framework of the Finnish Defence Forces’ set four tasks, of which it is the military defence of Finland that remains the primary one.
The primary task of the Utti Jaeger Regiment in turn involves executing the Finnish Defence Forces’ SOF operations for the purposes of the military defence of Finland, inter-agency assistance, and international activities. Special operations equal SOF missions relating to national defence, safety and security, which seek to impact joint effects on the strategic operational level. As such, the SOF operating procedures remain atypical in comparison to those of other military units, but nevertheless tend to require cooperating with other units as well. Implemented by SOF, special operations may be conducted in all states of readiness both nationally and overseas.
Special Jaeger Battalion demonstrating capability
All the soldiers serving in the Special Jaeger Battalion have voluntarily applied for their positions and thereby represent a selected coterie of combatants who have undertaken meticulous training and remain equipped with most optimal combat gear. The core of special operations activities continues to rest on the soldiers sustaining mental, physical, military, and ethical soundness and fitness.
In fact, the spearhead substance in special jaeger capability equals the professional personnel whose training in special jaeger missions began already back at the turn of the 21st century. Ever since, apart from operating in the Finnish Defence Forces, the professional SOF sustains in its reliability and competence an appreciated position in inter-agency cooperation and among international cooperation partners. The skilled and motivated personnel function as leaders, instructors and developers along the spearhead combatants. The overall investment in the personnel results in a manifold payout ratio as regards special jaeger capability.
The Paratrooper Company trains conscripts to be fit for mentally and physically demanding reconnaissance and combat missions. In addition to undertaking soldiers’ basic training, weapon and marksmanship training as well as paratrooper training, the paratroopers also get training in operating with helicopters and in waterways complemented by survival training or SERE in all seasons at all times. For the purposes of demanding wartime tasks and due to training extensity, all paratroopers get to be trained as non-commissioned officers. Altogether, roughly twenty per cent of the paratroopers end up undertaking reserve officer training as part of the Paratrooper Company’s bespoke reserve officer course.
As such, paratrooper training focuses on producing a motivated and well trained special jaeger reserve in wartime units. Therefore regular refresher training forms a significant part in the overall entity of special jaeger capability. Based on long-term experiences, it is safe to say that the paratrooper-trained reserve continues to be of excellent quality.
Helicopter Battalion being operationally ready
For the past ten years, the Helicopter Battalion has operated with its new primary equipment. As the acquisition procurement of NH90 now nears its closing, the operating of this equipment has become standardized. In the wake of the initial challenges faced early on, the new transport helicopter has turned out to be an excellent commissioned tool in conditions characteristic of Finland and as regards the set missions.
As of January 2018, the Helicopter Battalion’s composition sustains organizational changes that involve giving up one of the flying units, and establishing two flying units that continue to utilise the equipment of both, whereas the Aircraft Maintenance Company remains intact. Consequently, the renewed 1st Helicopter Company stands for a high-readiness unit specialised in SOF aviation tasked to develop and train SOF aviation NH90 and MD500 crews on a continuum that ranges from mission planning to mission execution. Moreover, this unit also sustains readiness for participation in implementing an international crisis management mission.
Correspondingly, the 2nd Helicopter Company provides basic flight training by utilising both helicopter types and providing helicopter support to regular forces. By the same token, the company also remains responsible for cadet pilot training. In all states of readiness, the Aircraft Maintenance Company sustains responsibility for fixed-term maintenance of the NH equipment and fault repairs both nationally and overseas.
An operationally ready brigade-level unit, the Helicopter Battalion sustains the capability for rapid reacting to demands of both the Finnish Defence Forces and other authorities as regards all prospective set missions.
Support for the special operations
Special operations may be executed only when appropriately and proportionately supported. The quantity and type of support necessary from other services and service branches depend on the set SOF mission as well as the prevailing situation and conditions. Performance enabler, this support decisively affects the successful execution of special operations.
Capability for rapid execution and readiness to respond in all set mission types also presupposes that organic SOF support remains available. Thus it is necessary to build up and sustain the support capability of the Support Company, Logistics Centre, and other units as permanent part of the overall entity in providing support in Finnish Defence Forces’ special operations. By means of a support element that meets all the set requirements it is possible to realise operations and keep carrying on to the meet the set objective.
In the organisation of the Utti Jaeger Regiment, the Support Company remains responsible for SOF troop production.
Finnish Defence Forces’ Special Operations Forces Course turning steel into gold
The Finnish Defence Forces’ Special Operations Forces Course instills in soldiers the foundation for those basic skills, attitudes, and values that are necessary in professional SOF operating, and thereby creates the prerequisites for managing entry level tasks in Finnish Defence Forces’ SOF in the Army and in the Navy. Those graduating from this course will be positioned in the wartime reserve of the two services. The course attendants may also apply for positions in the Army and Navy operational SOF units in the tasks of a SOF NCO, or alternatively, take the entrance test to the National Defence University to graduate as a commissioned officer and thereby return to the special operations forces as an officer.
The twelve-month Special Operations Forces Course focuses on standardising basic tactics, techniques, and procedures to thereby equip the SOF soldiers with a solid foundation enabling the buildup of supplementary further skills. Figuratively speaking, it is also possible to say that, as part of the conscript service, the conscripts are turned into steel, and during the Special Operations Forces Course, this steel is turned into gold, whereas the Special Jaeger Company and the Navy Special Operations Detachment will transform gold into diamonds.
Special Operations Task Group will be tailored relating to the situation and set mission
Overall, the bespoke toolkit available for special operations equals the capabilities, materiel, and professionalism materialised by the units and personnel in the Utti Jaeger Regiment. Similarly, the contents of this toolkit, also known as the Special Operations Task Group (SOTG), become utilised when, on a case-by-case basis, it is necessary to tailor bespoke tools to execute a set SOF mission in a given setting.
As for its composition, the SOTG may comprise in its organisation only one capability component, or alternatively, consist of a number of these. However, all variations to the SOTG composition translate into the SOTG demonstrating optimal capability to execute its set task. Consequently, the SOTG represents the type of tool under the command of the Utti Jaeger Regiment that serves in all those situations that require the utilisation of the Finnish Defence Forces’ SOF.
As it would be non-feasible to set up special operations forces when a crisis or another type of aberration has already surfaced, the Finnish Defence Forces features this particular brigade-sized unit, namely, the Utti Jaeger Regiment.