Finnish Rapid Deployment Force (FRDF)
Finland maintains a rapid deployment force which can as necessary be put at the disposal of international organizations and institutions. The force includes two infantry battalions, one engineer battalion, one transport company and a CIMIC company specializing in civil-military cooperation. The force also has two Finnish Navy minelayers, which can be used as command and support vessels for a mine clearance division, as well as staff officers and military observers. Although the rapid deployment force does not yet include any Finnish Air Force units, the possibility of the Air Force participating in crisis management in the future is being studied.
A law enacted in 1964, defining the conditions of Finnish participation in peacekeeping, limited the maximum number of soldiers serving at any one time to 2,000. Regular troops of the Defense Forces could not be sent abroad, so the peacekeeping forces were composed of volunteer reservists, career officers, and NCOs who wished to be detached from their units to serve with UN contingents. A six-month rotation was customary, but many reservists had volunteered for repeated service.
The revised Peacekeeping Act, which came into effect at the start of 2001, enables Finnish soldiers to take part in humanitarian assistance or in operations to secure humanitarian assistance at the request of a UN special organization or agency. The most likely body to request military resources in support of its activities would be the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
Specialized instruction was provided at a permanent training site where clothing and equipment were stored for immediate availability. A stand-by force, consisting of a reserve motorized infantry battalion of approximately 700 men, could be prepared for mobilization anywhere in the world within four weeks. Its key officers could be in place much sooner. Officer training for the special requirements of UN service was conducted on a cooperative basis with other Nordic countries. Finland was responsible for training military observers; Sweden trained staff officers; Denmark, military police officers; and Norway, logistics and transportation officers.
Finland's participation in the Nordic Coordinated Arrangement for Military Peace Support (NORDCAPS) is aimed at establishing troop units in which the Finnish, Swedish and Norwegian troop contributions complement each other. Denmark has decided to opt out of EU-led crisis management. The Nordic forces pool is sufficient to establish one brigade. Deficiencies in the command and control and support functions for the Nordic forces pool brigade were eliminated by 2003. Britain has registered its interest in participating in NORDCAPS activities, following positive experiences gained in the KFOR operation.
The interoperability of the Finnish troops, committed to the Planning and Review Process (PARP), with NATO troops also assist in development of the Finnish rapid deployment force committed to the EU. Interoperability with NATO countries will improve Finnish performance in both NATO-led and EU-led crisis management duties. The rapid deployment force is equipped primarily with Finnish Defence Forces wartime materiel, the procurement of which is included in the Defences Forces budget planning allocations. Other materiel needed by the rapid deployment force which are not wartime materiel, as well as operating costs, are covered by separate allocations according to the established practice. The 2nd Infantry Battalion of Finland's rapid deployment force and other ground forces reserved for international crisis management achieved operational readiness at the start of 2003. Their materiel readiness was improved under a procurement program extending to 2006.
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