General Conscription Remains the Primary Tenet in Land Defence
General conscription remains a significant element in a nation-wide defence capability. Skilled forces supplemented by an adequately-sized reserve guarantee sustaining capable land defence also in the battlefield of the 2030s.
In serious instances of crisis, the total strength of the forces allocated for land defence becomes ten-fold. In rapidly developing situations, expertise is not generated in a vacuum. It is essential to remain able to sustain performance and operating capability even in long-lasting situations, which require a sufficiently substantial reserve.
On a yearly basis, the Finnish Army provides training for approximately 20 000 conscripts and 10 000 reservists. Part of the key competence of brigade-level units, conscript training has been actively developed to correspond to the requirements set by the given operational environment for the past hundred years now. The mission in conscript training has always translated into building up a motivated and capable wartime force that has confidence in their own skills, is able to cooperate jointly with others, and retains mastery of the basic skills even after decades if necessary. This training must be efficient as each contingent is allocated six months of bespoke training, with the training of leaders and those in demanding special tasks lasting for a full year.
The Army needs each and every soldier that it trains for wartime tasks. Over the past few years, readiness has become emphasized in overall training. In 2017, a significant Army readiness-enhancing reform took place with the employment of readiness units consisting of salaried personnel and conscripts. The training programs of readiness units in brigade-level units equip the conscripts with the capability to function in demanding combat tasks by using the latest equipment and gear complemented by basic knowledge and skills in a number of service branches.
Conscript training is subject to constant development that draws from research, experiences and feedback. In recent years, the utilization of virtual training environments as well as simulator-assisted training and drilling has become part of the everyday procedures in Army brigade-level units. In the future, this availing of digital contents, simulators and virtual environments will be on the increase.
Participation in crisis management operations and international cooperation indicate that, under the command of skilled instructors, general conscription effectively produces internationally comparable expertise and effective capability for the Army.
Currently, as part of the Training 2020 programme, the Finnish Defence Forces’ training system and its development requirements are being re-examined. The intention is to turn conscript training into an increasingly flexible, upwardly progressive and cost-effective entity that utilizes up-to-date tools and methods. This involves improving the process of call-ups so that already at the selection phase a given individual’s skills, physical condition and own willingness may be accounted for more efficiently than is the case at the moment.