The year 2014 will have a special significance in the history of the Finnish Defence Forces. It was challenging not only because of the big internal structural changes that were being implemented, but also because of the changes that were occurring simultaneously in the operating environment. The Defence Forces have overcome these challenges in a confidence-inspiring way.
Following our defence reform, our wartime strength is now 230,000 combatants. In real terms, this is just over 4% of our population. Every twenty-fifth citizen is now committed to the military defence of our large country. According to our operational analysis, the size of our forces is now at a level that cannot be lowered any further without a reappraisal of our defence doctrine.
The defence reform will allow the Finnish Army to regain its previous level of activity from 2015 onwards. The Army will hold refresher exercises for at least 12,000 reservists each year, it will increase the amount of days spent in the terrain to 35 and it will increase the number of live-firing and combat exercises.
The implementation of the defence reform was brought to completion in the Army in 2014. The reorganised peacetime Army consists of the Army Command as well as of eight, restructured brigade-level units that are subordinate to the Commander of the Army. These units are the Karelia Brigade, Pori Brigade, Kainuu Brigade, Armoured Brigade, Jaeger Brigade, Guard Jaeger Regiment, Utti Jaeger Regiment and the Army Academy. The restructuring enables interoperability exercises and training several branches within a brigade-level unit.
The year 2014 was a combination of preparing for the introduction of the new organisation and of training and exercises activities. In August–September, the Navy organised one of the biggest international exercises ever to be held in Finland.
Exercise Northern Coasts 2014 brought together 3,200 participants from 13 countries as well as around 60 warships and twelve aircraft to the Archipelago Sea and the Bothnian Sea. The Navy successfully organised the exercise and feedback from participants is extremely positive.
The task of the Finnish Air Force and of the entire air defence is to deter threats aimed at Finland by air and to repel air attacks. The Air Force takes part in the Finnish Defence Forces’ operations together with the Defence Forces’ other two Services.
The Air Force’s peacetime and wartime organisations, operating procedures and capabilities have been revised in connection with the defence reform and work relating to the force structure. The Air Force reform and new capabilities for the Hornets and the surveillance and command and control systems enable the revision of the doctrine and allow for optimisation when threat situations change.
In 2015, the Finnish Defence Forces will have an even more cost-effective logistics system. Command structures have been simplified, overlaps have been eliminated and operating procedures have been harmonised. The system takes into account the requirements of troops and enables operability and operations at all levels of readiness.
The Defence Forces Logistics Command was formed at the beginning of 2015 by joining parts of the materiel commands of the Army, Navy and Air Force, the Centre for Military Medicine, the Häme Regiment’s Logistics School and the Defence Forces C5 Agency.
From 1 January 2015, to make its administration more efficient, the Finnish Defence Forces’ supporting services will be provided by the Defence Forces Shared Services Centre. The objective is to provide all Defence Forces personnel with uniform, simple and automated support services.
The Defence Forces Shared Services Centre brings together the usual financial and personnel services that are generally centralised in public administration. The centre also offers IT management services as well as learning material, image, audio and video production services. As its lynchpin, the Shared Services Centre has a Service Desk which is where customers address their queries. If the Service Desk is unable to provide the service itself, it will redirect the query to the appropriate Defence Forces’ service provider. Things have been made easy for the enduser: whenever there is a problem, they can turn to the Service Desk for help.
As a result of the defence reform, Finnish military music underwent the biggest transformation it has ever experienced during Finland’s independence. The newly organised military bands began their activities in their new locations at the beginning of 2014. The underlying reasons for the changes were the capability requirements of the military music field.
The reform was implemented at the end of 2013, at which time seven military bands and 78 tasks out of 264 were discontinued. To develop military music, four bands were reinforced to cover a larger geographical area. This also ensured the effective operations of the Guards Band and the Conscript Band of the Defence Forces.
The strengths of the Defence Forces' working atmosphere are the team spirit of small units, satisfaction with assigned tasks and happiness with one's immediate boss. The working atmosphere has remained at a good level even in the midst of the defence reform.
At the end of 2014, 13,513 of the Defence Forces' employees were stationed within Finland's borders.
The number of person years has been reduced in accordance with the obligations set in the Government's productivity programme. In 2014, the number of man years of salaried personnel employed using operational costs amounted to 13,482.
During the last few years, the number of sick leave days has decreased slightly.
The numbers of conscripts serving 347 and 165 days are almost the same size, and slightly less than 15% serve for 255 days. Conscript leaders and rank and file assigned the most demanding special tasks (e.g. military driver, armoured corps tasks, special air force and naval tasks) serve for 347 days.
The number of women in voluntary military service has stabilised at 300-400.
In the age group of men who have turned 30, over 75% have completed their military service in recent years. This is sufficient for troop production.
Figures are annual report figures and based on an annual average. Finland participated in the operation in the Mediterranean to remove Syria's chemical weapons capability from January to September, and as of February in one new operation in the Central African Republic (EU).
At the end of 2014, Finlands total strength in international operations was 535 soldiers.
The number of conscripts discontinuing their service has begun to decrease. About 85% of conscripts who begin their military service also finish their military service. The decrease in the number discontinuing their service is also explained by the smaller number of conscripts entering service.
Year after year, conscripts give better feedback on their time in military service and the training they receive. The time in the army and the evaluation of the regular personnel have received the best appraisals in the feedback survey. These results have been on the rise for a longer period of time.
The number of conscripts who have completed their military service has remained at the same level for the last four years, even though the number of conscripts entering service is smaller. This explains the decrease in the number of conscripts discontinuing their service.
Fulfilling the Defence Forces' tasks requires a higher level of readiness to act and increased combat efficiency. Recent events have highlighted especially the importance of high operational readiness in Europe. The defence reform has repaired the cost structure, but funding still remains insufficient for the part of defence materiel.
Final report 2014 of the Parliamentary Working Group