Finland's military is tripling the number of reservists called up for refresher training courses, from 6,000 last year to 18,000 in 2015, a senior official has told media.
Finland shares a 1,340-kilometer (830-mile) border with Russia, which is accused by the West of involvement in the war in eastern Ukraine.
Finnish army assistant chief of staff Mr. Hannu Hypponen said the move was planned three years ago and was not related to the conflict!
"For the past three years the armed forces had an obligation to make savings ...
Now the number of refreshers has been put back to the level where it was in 2010," Mr. Hypponen told AFP.
"Around 2,400 employees were let go, allowing savings in staff expenses so that assets can be allocated for operational activities such as refresher courses," he added.
(In other words no additional funding to the Finnish army has been given). SDR wonders how this can be seen as a way to increase funding?
Mr. Hypponen stated when the restructuring began three years ago.
The Baltic Sea has recently witnessed an upsurge in Russian military activity which has prompted non-aligned Finland to announce closer military cooperation with its Nordic neighbors, in particular Sweden but also with NATO members Norway and Denmark.
Finland, which is not a member of NATO is being pointed out, “outside Finland” for instance by DefenseNews while the media within Finland points out that Finland has agreed on a special Nato status. (see links below)
"Stepping up the readiness of the armed forces is linked to the situation in Ukraine," Mr.Hypponen said, referring to a recently-announced plan for a quicker call-up system for reservists.
Military service is compulsory for adult males in Finland, lasting between 165 and 347 days. Conscripts can later be called up for refresher courses lasting five to seven days on average.
Finland and NATO what's the reality ?
Finland will retain the option to apply for NATO membership during the government's four-year term, this has somewhat surprised the Kremlin, which believed that the inclusion of the nationalist and traditionally anti-NATO Finns Party in the new coalition would cool interest in joining the Western alliance.
However, the Finns constitute the junior partner in the government, which also includes the robustly pro-NATO National Coalition Party (NCP). The Center and the NCP will be the key players dictating defense and security policy going forward.
The "NATO option" and the new government's decision to conduct a root and branch cost and effect analysis of NATO membership, represents milestones in the evolution of Finland's historically neutral foreign and security policies.
"The geopolitical landscape has changed in the Nordic and Baltic areas since Russia became involved in Ukraine. The important issue of whether Finland will remain non-aligned or join NATO is a question for the future and a possible referendum. It is important to maintain the option of NATO membership," said Mr. Alexander Stubb, the NCP's party chairman. (National Coalition Party)
In the interim, the NCP, which led the previous conservative-left government, favors moving the Finnish Armed Forces (FAF) closer to NATO by intensifying cooperation within the Partnership for Peace framework, while expanding near-neighborhood exercises with NATO forces.
In a decision welcomed by the FAF's command, the new government's Joint Policy Position backs a comprehensive review of future spending on defense. In addition, the government plans to produce a defense strategy report to define policy guidelines for the maintenance, development and use of Finland's conscript-based system, which is currently organized along total defense structures.
In a parallel initiative, the new government plans to amend legislation to permit military and national security-run surveillance programs to collect signals intelligence outside Finnish borders and in communications passing through Finnish territory.
Unlike the earlier four-party conservative-left administration, all three partners in the new coalition support increasing the FAF's annual budgets in 2016-2025, with a particular focus on strengthening the military's procurement capability ahead of big ticket purchases, including the acquisition of a new fighter type and up to 64 aircraft to replace aging F/A-18 Hornets.
The government is embarking on a defense and security policy direction new to Finnish politics and strategic defense planning, said Mrs. Teija Tiilikainen, the director of the Finnish Institute for International Affairs.
"The previous government made sure that it did not apply for NATO membership during its time in office. The new government's policy is different, it keeps the issue alive and the option open. It will be interesting to see how all this develops," Mrs. Teija Tiilikainen said.
The Swedish analyst view
The regional security environment has worsened considerably, and in a more unpredictable way, over recent years and especially since Russia annexed Crimea in March 2014, said Kari Sundström, a Stockholm-based political analyst.
"The Finnish center-right government's elevated interest in NATO is linked to a desire to build a stronger overall national defense capability through cost and task sharing.
The appraisal and implications side of the planned investigation will help Finland determine, in a much more accurate way, the likely value of NATO membership," Mr. Sundström said
Entry costs for Finland, in terms of compatibility of training and equipment, may require a bigger defense budget at the beginning, said Mr. Sundström. "In reality, much of the Finnish defense forces' equipment and training is already of a NATO-standard," he said.
Finland's more security conscious mood is also fueling political movement on possible NATO membership, Mr. Sundström states.
"Finnish membership in NATO was never discussed as a serious or immediate option as part of public debate until two years ago. It is now a hot topic.
All recent polls show that Finns are becoming increasingly concerned about Russian aggression in the region and want a stronger defense.
Finns also want a higher level of spending for the military. Although majority backing for NATO membership is still lacking, over 55 percent of Finns support the holding of a referendum to decide the issue," Mr. Sundström continues.
The immediate need for increased capital spending on defense was identified by a special government-appointed parliamentary working group last September.
Chaired by Mr. Ilkka Kanerva, the group proposed incrementally increasing the defense budget by US $170 million annually.
"The review we carried out advocated regular reviews of index increases to defense spending. It did not include spending on major material acquisitions for the Army, Navy and Air Force.
This element of future budgeting will need to be addressed by the new government," Mr. Kanerva said.
NATO Secretary General Mr. Jens Stoltenberg has made no secret of his desire to see Sweden and Finland join fellow Nordic states Denmark and Norway in NATO.
NATO's offer of deeper collaboration with Sweden and Finland happens against a backdrop of increasing unease over airspace violations by Russian aircraft and the detection of suspect "foreign" submarines and heightened underwater activity in Swedish and Finnish territorial waters.
The Finnish Navy dropped low-impact depth charges in the waters off Helsinki harbor at the end of April after its surveillance network detected unidentified "objects" off the near coast.
The Swedish Navy has conducted similar "sub hunt" operations over recent months.
The incident off Helsinki harbor has reinforced the Finnish government's resolve to dispatch troops and naval assets to NATO's US-led BALTOPS naval and amphibious exercises in the Baltic Sea in June. Sweden is also participating.
And last but not least
Should large media like CNBC and others be “inciting war” when it's all up to them to learn more about realities by asking the sources directly.
Here below some screenshots of fantasy news and assumptions touching the borders of Finnish and Russian national security.
It's not morally right to make money anyway possible, they should remember that such headlines only point out their utter ignorance and indifference of facts and fiction within their reporting.