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Puolustusvoimat Defence Force

The Defence Forces maintain and develop the capability to perform defined by the foreign, security and defence policy of Finland’s political leadership. The capability comprises the capabilities of ground defence, maritime defence and air defence as well as the joint capabilities of the Defence Forces. Capability proportioned to the security environment prevents the emergence of crisis situations and their escalation to the use of armed force. Capability is assessed for Finland’s military defence and, at the same time, adapted to the other two tasks of the Defence Forces. The Defence Forces maintain the readiness level necessary to fulfil all tasks assigned to them. The use of the Defence Forces’ capabilities is prepared to cover the whole country.

The military defence of Finland and the required coordination of all government branches’ activities - which are tasks under the purview of the Ministry of Defence - are the most demanding total defence tasks and tie up the the greatest share of society’s resources. It is sensible to also employ the principles of total defence coordination while responding to other wide-ranging security threats. The management and cooperation that is required during a crisis that has already begun is always led by the competent ministry.

The total defence concept provides tools for assigning appropriate command responsibilities and resources. In order for this concept to work, all administrative branches must constantly monitor and analyse developments in the security environment and within society. In addition, they must periodically review relevant statutes and their own preparedness plans.

The Finnish Defence Forces provide support for other authorities with their expertise, equipment, infrastructure and situational awareness data. In practice, such support is being increasingly requested. Executive assistance commitments on statutory and international collaboration obligations are likely to continue to increase. Inter-authority interaction, however, must be intensified on all levels.

After the war, Finland had to re-assess the basis of its national security. New considerations included not only the Paris Peace Treaty but the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance with the Soviet Union, the lessons of Finland's wartime experience and the technical and tactical advances in warfare. An organizational restructuring conducted in 1952 aimed to get all troops and branches geographically under unified leadership. The brigade became the basic unit in the army. The idea of establishing a defence council as the highest advisory body, which had been under consideration since the late 1940s, became reality only in 1957. The Defence Council was composed of selected ministers, the Commander-in-Chief and the Chief of Defence Command Finland.

New garrisons were founded in the countryside in the 1960s. It was considered that conscripts could be trained more easily away from towns and cities, where access to training areas would be more convenient. Garrisons were founded in Upinniemi, Kontioranta, Ylämylly, Luonetjärvi, Säkylä, Valkeala and Sodankylä.

The Defence Forces' arms and equipment were modernized in the 1950s and 1960s. Assault rifles and new light machine guns had been designed to replace the outmoded rifles, light machine guns and the submachine guns. The Valmet factory in Tourula designed the new models, the m/62 light machine gun and the m/62 assault rifle. Aged tanks were replaced with tanks bought from Russia and Britain. A new 122 mm heavy cannon designed in cooperation with Tampella supplemented Finland's field artillery arsenal.

Finland's defence was becoming more closely integrated with national security policy in the mid-1960s. In 1970, the first parliamentary defence committee was established, and the 1974 Act on the Defence Forces incorporated many of the committee's recommendations. The tasks which the defence establishment had been fulfilling for 55 years were now made statutory. At the same time, the name was changed to the Finnish Defence Forces. In the mid-1960s, the Finnish defence doctrine was beginning to focus more on the prevention of war and crises. It was considered necessary to extend defence systems to cover the entire country, emphasizing regional defence. In 1966, the Defence Forces thus adopted a system of military provinces.

New operational and tactical provisions were developed in the 1970s. As the number of men of conscription age declined, changes were made in the composition and location of military units in the late 1980s. Old military units were closed or merged with other units. Amendments to the Conscription Act changed the duration of conscription and the age and times of year at which conscripts start their compulsory military service. The military service period was 240, 285 or 330 days.

The position of the Defence Forces changed considerably in 1990, when the Government decided that the restrictions stated in the Paris Peace Treaty concerning Finnish sovereignty were - with the exception of a ban on atomic weapons - no longer relevant. Finland could now decide on the number of men, vessel tonnage, number of aeroplanes and the type of missile. The aim is to make sure that the system based on general conscription and military service continues to function properly. It is essential to reduce the number of wartime troops and at the same time improve their quality. The technical quality of Finland's defence must also be improved to meet the demands of the coming decades.

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Page last modified: 16-03-2013 19:38:55 ZULU