Territorial Defence
(Source: Finnish Ministry of Defence; English version posted Feb. 9, 2004)

by Seppo Kääriäinen, Finnish Minister of defence
Security and defence policy will be thoroughly analysed during the coming year as the Government is preparing a Report that is to be submitted to Parliament in autumn in accordance with the Government programme. In 2001, the former parliament outlined that Finland’s defence solution must lean on defending the entire country, general conscription and territorial defence in the future, too.

In addition to these principles, defined by Parliament, the defence of Finland in all situations relies on the Finns themselves. The ability to defend our own country and its citizens remains the foremost task of national military defence.

On the regional level, the effects of the future reorganisation in the Defence Forces have raised questions. Is a depot, a garrison or a military band going to cease to exist? Are the jobs going to be cut down? These are relevant questions and spring from genuine distress. They cannot be dismissed. These worries are not only about jobs but also about security – a fire insurance and life insurance of the every day life and times of crisis. In other words, the insurance that is present and easily available.

As was stated by the Parliament, too, Finland’s defence relies on territorial defence. This means that the entire country and population will be defended, not only a number of growth centres.

To date, warfare has ultimately been about a territory and keeping it. This has been shown by the most recent wars, too. Technologically highly advanced systems can be used to carry out an effective strike in the short term, but even after that troops are needed to gain control of the territory and to keep it in the long term. Afghanistan and Iraq can be given as examples of this.

The defence administration has traditionally relied on dispersed functions. The units in the Defence Forces, the command and control system, the materiel for times of crisis and the mobilisation system are regionally dispersed. It is difficult to terminate this kind of arrangement because, if one element breaks down, the other elements keep functioning, even quite well, particularly if they have been trained to take independent action and assume regional responsibility. Dispersed over the entire nation, the system provides support to regional development, too.

Also in the new Report, regions will be the basis for developing the defence system. As to the future policy, I have outlined that each region in Finland will continue to have military functions in the 2010s, too. A well playing band is not enough. There has to be something solid to rely on. The task of local defence troops, which are to be prepared as part of the coming Report, would be to respond to security needs in times of war and peace and thus provide additional security and maintain the regions. The true essence of our territorial defence is the exceptionally high will to defend the country.

In any case, the first resolution in the report of the previous parliament provides the basis for drawing up the 2004 Report, and this cannot be dismissed or vitiated. The Parliament is going to have the final word. Finnish defence is built on territorial defence. And to suppress that would cost anybody far too much.

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