Finnish leaders lay the groundwork for hosting NATO forces

Finnish leaders lay the groundwork for hosting NATO forces

HELSINKI — Top Finnish defense officials are moving closer to finalizing proposals aimed at filling the country’s NATO membership with life. One key consideration, which may require amendments to Finland’s constitution, relates to the hosting of alliance forces on Finnish soil.

The Ministry of Defense here is currently reviewing proposals and reports from the military, the Finnish Defense Forces, that outline the challenges and investments associated with NATO integration.

The MoD is expected to deliver a final report with recommendations to Finland’s conservative-right government by the end of 2024.

“There are no decisions on this as of yet,” Gen. Janne Jaakkola, the newly appointed commander of the FDF, said. “We are considering different options regarding whether new collaboration should cover extended exercises, a rotational model, or some other type of activity.”

Finland has a 830 mile (1,340km) border with Russia, the longest of any NATO member state.

The government here is examining what amendments to the constitution might be needed to allow a permanent presence by NATO allies on its territory. Given the pro-alliance nature of Finnish politics, any constitutional change needed will likely receive support from lawmakers.

In drafting its proposals, the MoD and the FDF are being mindful of plans being formalized by NATO to upgrade and reorganize its command structure. The changes will impact how allied forces may operate in Finland in the future.

For now, Helsinki appears in no hurry to request NATO troops while the country works on boosting its national defense capabilities and industries.

“The current system is optimized for national defense,” said Jaakola. “We will now take measures to coordinate it for common defense with our allies. This will take time.”

Gerard O’Dwyer is the Scandinavian affairs correspondent for Defense News.

Read the full article here