Finland and Sweden adopted the position of non-aligned countries in World War II: without joining NATO, despite both nations having military defense forces in relation to Russia, they maintained the neutrality that they now call into question with their requests for membership. to the Atlantic Alliance.
But, as Sweden, since the 1990s of the last century, decided to shrink its armed forces and change priorities in terms of territorial defense, focusing on international peace missions, the Finland never failed to keep in mind the defense of its borders, especially when about 1,300 kilometers of border are shared with Russia and the country was part of the Russian empire until 1917.
Finland is even the fifth country with the longest border with Russia, surpassed only by Kazakhstan, China, Mongolia and Ukraine.
Finnish neutrality emerged as a condition of peace imposed by the Soviet Union after the signing of a “friendship agreement” in 1948, which would allow Finland to maintain its independence.
“Sweden’s neutrality was a matter of identity and ideology, while in Finland it was a matter of existence,” he told BBC Finnish historian Henrik Meinander.
And, therefore, the Finns never neglected their defense and maintained their mandatory military service, with the aim of “maintaining the readiness of the armed forces”, reads in the Defense official websitewhich reports that military training is carried out annually by about 21,000 recruits and that, in recent years, the number of women volunteers has been increasing.
Mandatory military service could take almost a year
Recruits who receive training for reserve officers serve for 347 days, with the option of completing 255 or 165 days of military service, depending on the tasks performed and the type of training received.
Recently, the Training 2020 Program was implemented, with improvements in terms of training methods for recruits, including, for example, virtual simulations and intensifying “demanding training activities”, the Armed Forces explain.
As for the budget, in 2023 Finland should already meet the limit stipulated by NATO, which requires that at least 2% of the total state budget be dedicated to defense, but it has always been close to that limit in recent years.
according to The Global Firepower Index 2022which lists the military might of 142 nations, listing indicators such as human, natural and financial resources, geography or technical capacity, Finland ranks 53rd globally, although, with regard to reservists, for example, achieve a surprising fourth place in the ranking, with 900,000 citizens in reserve and a force of 280,000 soldiers ready to be mobilized for an eventual conflict, only behind Taiwan, Brazil and India, respectively.
With regard to the ability to activate and deactivate submarine mines, the Finns, bathed by the Baltic Sea, occupy the sixth position in the global ranking, only surpassed by Russia, China, Egypt, Japan and Poland.
Mandatory refresher exercises at any time
Finns enter the reserve at age 50 or 60, depending on roles and rank, and must keep regional authorities informed whenever they change address.
They may be required to participate in refresher exercises at any time — they only need to receive the call for proposals three months before the exercise takes place.
“If the security situation in Finland so requires, by decision of the President of the Republic, reservists may be required to participate in refresher training exercises with notices of less than three months. This allows for military readiness when necessary”, informs the Finnish Armed Forces website, which adds that these refresher exercises can last up to 200 days and are paid at a daily rate of at least around 60 euros.
According to the Global Firepower Index, Finland has nearly two million citizens ready to serve, out of a population of 5.5 million, and 23,000 active soldiers, who also have 14,000 paramilitary forces.
Finland has no aircraft carriers, destroyers or submarines, but has 200 tanks, 2,090 armored vehicles and 662 self-propelled artillery units and 63 rocket launchers.
Several specialized media point out that Finland has made a great effort to modernize the military with cutting-edge technology, namely acquiring AGM-158 missiles and F-35 fighter jets from the United States. And the navy upgraded its Hamina-class ships a few years ago, outfitting them with sonar and torpedo systems.
Finnish soldiers often do military exercises with Norway, which is a member of NATO, and as far as intelligence is concerned, Finland has a good reputation at European level for the work it has never stopped doing in collecting data from Russia, due to the long border the two countries share.
What the Finnish soldiers lack, say the specialized media, is the international aspect, since the forces are concentrated in the strategic defense of the territory and little dedicated to missions outside their country. However, for the Finns, the greatest danger never ceased to be on the other side of the border.
Source: CNN Brasil