The main military exercise of the Defence Forces for next year, ARCTIC LOCK 2021, was planned to take place in May-June 2021. It was to be the largest exercise of the Defence Forces in 2021, with a significant number of international cooperation partners participating. A total of 13 key partner countries, as well as staff personnel and observers from the EU and NATO were invited to participate in the exercise.
Preparations were continued this year while taking into account the travel and meeting restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The international cooperation partners that were invited to the exercise are still committed to participate but planning at international level was not continued after March 2020 due to the restrictions.
It is not feasible to further postpone essential planning events and related preparatory action with international partners, such as terrain reconnaissance in the exercise areas, which are needed to prepare for an exercise.
For the reasons above, the on-going pandemic and the forecast of its development, the President of the Republic and the Ministerial Committee on Foreign and Security Policy decided on 18 September, after a proposal by the Ministry of Defence, that the planning for ARCTIC LOCK 2021 is to be discontinued and the exercise cancelled. The international exercise will be replaced by the Defence Forces’ national main military exercise in 2021.
“International training is important, but in this situation it is even more important to keep the coronavirus under control. It is therefore justified to replace ARCTIC LOCK with a national exercise,” said Minister of Defence Antti Kaikkonen.
According to Minister Kaikkonen, the defence administration will examine the possibilities to organise a major international exercise later in the 2020s.
The national main military exercise in 2021 will be implemented with about 15,000 national participants instead of the projected total of approximately 20,000 national and international participants in ARCTIC LOCK.