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Finnish liability for military service – the bedrock of our defence for 100 years

Army Command Finland 8.2.2019 9.20
Press release
Kaksi sotilasta suksilla.
Asevelvollisuus on ollut jo 100 vuoden ajan puolustuksemme perusta.

”A temporary Conscription Act of an independent Finland was passed exactly a hundred years ago today on 8 February 1919. As a militarily non-aligned nation, we prepare for defending our territory independently. Liability for military service allows us to train the necessary wartime troops and, if the situation so requires, we will defend the entire country”, General Major Markku Myllykangas, Finnish Army Chief of Staff writes.

Altogether, we Finns amount to only some 5,5 million people, which in total equals about 0,07% of the world’s population. This world sports more than 50 cities with a higher number of inhabitants in each than in all of Finland. As a militarily non-aligned country, we prepare for defending our territory independently. We will defend our fatherland from Hanko to Utsjoki and from Ilomantsi to Vaasa. In the year 2015, we sent a reservist letter to approximately 970,000 of our conscripts. Only a few nations can feature these figures. Similarly, only a few nations can tenfold their peacetime strength into the set wartime strength in just a matter of days. We can. Despite our limited number of population and extensive land territory, we have been able to sustain and safeguard peaceful conditions in our country.

The notion of liability for military service roused sentiments for and against right after having been passed to become the defence solution for the independent Finland on 8 February 1919. For already a hundred years now, this liability for military service has functioned as the bedrock of our defence. Its core still remains unchanged and topical. This bedrock that works will hopefully remain similarly structured in the future as well. Over the years, both training implementation and practices have undergone development to include the voluntary military service for women. And each given security situation has been catered for by prescribing national legislation, decreeing authorisations and establishing readiness units as part of the Finnish Army. The liability for military service continues to enable us to train the necessary wartime troops and, if the situation so requires, defend the entire country. We call this the Finnish liability for military service.

The Finnish Defence Forces currently implements the Training 2020 Programme that equips us to meet optimally the expectations of the persons liable for military service born in the 21st century. This entails intensifying training and modifying instruction methods to allow as many persons as possible to undertake the conscript service and serve in tasks in which to utilise one’s competences and skills. The same applies to the reservists. We need every person liable for military service for the tasks of national defence.

The liability for military service affects the surrounding society to a great degree. For instance, take comprehensive security, inter-agency executive assistance, impact on national public health and a sense of communality - just to name a few. Each individual also benefits from this in that the knowledge, skills, licenses and friendships hopefully last for a lifetime.

The reforming of the call-ups to include women presupposes that amendments be passed. Obviously, this is also a matter of resource allocation. It is advisable to differentiate the call-ups from an event on advancing national defence awareness. The call-ups serve in determining fitness for service classification, service start location and induction date into military service. The call-up event adds up to more than just an information event on national defence.

The Finnish liability for military service has sustained and will continue to sustain a significant mission for the next hundred years to come. The present system provides Finland with the necessary wartime troops and does so cost-effectively. There is no point in breaking up something that works but it can still be developed in a number of ways.

General Major Markku Myllykangas
Finnish Army Chief of Staff
Conscript from the contingent of 1981