Finnish Army

Ground Forces of the Finnish Defence Forces
Finnish Army
Maavoimat  (Finnish)
Armén  (Swedish)
Suomen Maavoimien tunnus.svg
Emblem of the Finnish Army
Founded2008 (independent branch of Finnish Defence Forces 22)[1]
Country Finland
TypeArmy
RoleLand warfare
Size
  • 3,610 staff
  • 770 civilians
  • 18,400 conscripts
  • 18,400 reservists in refresher training
  • 760 deployed in crisis management
  • 180,000 wartime strength[2]
Part ofCoat of Arms of the Finnish Defence Forces Finnish Defence Forces
MarchMarch of the Finnish cavalry in the Thirty Years' War[1]
Anniversaries24 February [1]
Engagements
Websitemaavoimat.fi/en/
Commanders
CommanderLieutenant-General Pasi Välimäki
Insignia
FlagThe Finnish Army uses the tailed state flag as its colour. The tailed state flag is used by all units and branches which don't have flag of their own.
Military unit

The Finnish Army (Finnish: Maavoimat, Swedish: Armén) is the land forces branch of the Finnish Defence Forces. The Finnish Army is divided into six branches: the infantry (which includes armoured units), field artillery, anti-aircraft artillery, engineers, signals, and materiel troops. The commander of the Finnish Army since 1 January 2022 is Lieutenant General Pasi Välimäki.[3]

Role

The duties of the Finnish Army are threefold. They are[4]

  1. Defence of the land area of the realm
  2. Support of civilian authorities
  3. International military crisis management operations

In addition to these tasks, the Army is responsible for conscription and personnel management of reserve.[4]

Because Finland is not under direct military threat, the current Army is, as it has been since the end of Second World War, in peacetime training formation. This means that its brigades (Finnish: joukko-osasto) are not meant to be operational combat units but training formations. According to the "troop production" doctrine (Finnish: joukkotuotanto), peacetime units will train each batch of conscripts they receive for a specific wartime unit. After the end of training, the conscripts are demobilised into reserve. During regular refresher exercises and in case of a crisis, the reserve unit will be activated and deployed in the formation it trained in during conscription.[5] Thus, the peacetime structure of the Army does not give any meaningful information about the mobilised structure or about the areas where the units would be used.

History of the Finnish Army

Between 1809 and 1917 Finland was an autonomous part of the Russian Empire as the Grand Duchy of Finland. Between 1881 and 1901 the Grand Duchy had its own army. Before that several other military units had also been formed while Finland belonged to Sweden.

The Grand Duchy inherited its allotment system (Swedish: indelningsverket; Finnish: ruotujakolaitos) from the Swedish military organization. However, for several decades, Russian rulers did not require military service from Finland; operations and defence were mostly taken care by Russian troops based in the Grand Duchy. As a result, officer benefits of the allotment system became practically pensions, as payment was based on passive availability, not on actual service.

During the Napoleonic Wars three 1200-man regiments were formed in Finland and Topographic Corps in Hamina. In 1821 the Topographic Corps was transformed into the cadet officers school. In 1829 one of the training battalions was transformed into the Young Guard Battalion, the Finnish Guards.

Finnish Guards in 1830

During the Crimean War, 1854, Finland set up nine sharpshooter battalions based on a rota system. Conscription was introduced in Finland in 1878. The Finnish Guard took part in fighting to suppress the 1830 November Uprising in Poland and participated in the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), after which it gained the status of Old Guard of the Russian Emperor.

The Finnish army was gradually broken up during the "oppression years" just after the turn of the century. As Finnish conscripts refused to serve in the Russian Imperial Army, conscription ended in Finland and it was replaced with a tax paid from the Finnish Senate to the Imperial treasury.

At the end of the 19th century the Russian empire was weakening, and this was reflected in a reduced capacity of the Russian troops to keep public order. Voluntary defence organizations disguised as fire brigades were formed by the Finnish people, especially during the strikes during and after the Russo-Japanese War.

There were socialist Red Guards and conservative, anti-socialist Protection Guards (or White Guards). Also, during the First World War activists secretly travelled to Germany to receive military training and to be trained as Jäger troops (in finnish jääkärit, in swedish jägare).

After independence and beginning of the Finnish Civil War the White government declared the White Guards as government troops, and the war was fought between the Red Guards, assisted by Communist Russians, and White Guards added with the Jägers and assisted by the German Empire.

After the war in 1919, the Protection Guards became a separate organization. Therefore, strictly speaking, there is no continuity between the White Guards, which became a voluntary organization, and the Finnish army, which was a cadre army based on conscription. However, Jägers gained important positions in the army, and German tactics and military principles were adopted.

Winter War

Finnish troops at a machine gun post during the Winter War

The Finnish Army consisted of 9 field divisions, 4 brigades and a number of small independent battalions and companies at the beginning of the Winter War in 1939. The Army was organised into three corps.[6] The II and III Corps were organised into the Army of the Isthmus which was located on the Karelian Isthmus, the likely location for the main Soviet attack. The IV Corps defended the area north of Lake Ladoga. The defence of the rest of the border up to Petsamo by the Arctic Ocean was given to the North Finland Group which consisted of a handful of independent battalions.

In order to organize replacements for the units a Field Replacement Brigade (Kenttätäydennysprikaati, KT-Pr) of nine battalions was formed. But due to the severity of the Soviet attack the battalions had to be used as combat troops. Also three Replacement Divisions or Home Replacement Divisions (1.Koti.TD – 3.Koti.TD) were formed from the available reservists. As the situation became more alarming the 1st and 3rd Replacement Divisions were reformed into the 21st and 23rd Divisions and sent to the front on 19 December. The 2nd Replacement Division was deployed as individual regiments to Northern Finland.

Finland ceded 9% of its territory via the Moscow Peace Treaty but prevented the Soviet Union from annexing Finland.

WWII weapons used by Finnish army, including 7.62 mm Mosin-Nagant M/91 rifle with spike bayonet (no. 1)

Order of battle

Army of the Isthmus

Army of the Isthmus (Kannaksen Armeija, KannA) under Lieutenant General Hugo Österman was located on the Karelian Isthmus.

Four delaying groups, named for their location, were stationed immediately by the border on the isthmus.

Independent formations

Reserves of C-in-C

  • 6th Division (Southern Finland)
  • 9th Division (Northern Finland)
  • Field Replacement Brigade (KT-Pr)

Continuation War

Mannerheim awarding Mannerheim Crosses to soldiers and aviators. He is congratulating cadet Yrjö Keinonen, who later became Finnish Chief of Defence. The man next to him (to the right) is flying ace Jorma Karhunen.

The Army of Karelia was formed on 29 June 1941 soon after the start of the Continuation War. There were seven Finnish corps in the field during the war: the I, II, III, IV, V, VI and VII. During the war the Finnish Army was responsible for the front from the Gulf of Finland to Kainuu. The front in Northern Finland was the responsibility of the German AOK Norwegen. During summer and autumn 1941, the Finnish Army re-conquered the areas lost to the Soviet Union in the Winter War and pushed deep into Soviet territory in Eastern Karelia. In winter 1942, the Finnish political leadership ended offensive action and the front stagnated for over two years.

The relatively inactive period of stationary war ended abruptly in June 1944, as the Soviet Union started its Fourth Strategic Offensive. As a result, the Finnish Army lost large areas of the Karelian Isthmus, most importantly Viipuri, a major city, and was forced to retreat from Eastern Karelia. However, in the decisive Battle of Tali-Ihantala, the Soviet advance was halted. The Soviet Union concentrated its forces for the battles in Central Europe, and Finland made a separate peace in September 1944.

Lapland War

The Lapland War (Finnish: Lapin sota) was the hostilities between Finland and Nazi Germany between September 1944 and April 1945, fought in Finland's northernmost Lapland Province. While the Finns saw this as a separate conflict much like the Continuation War, German forces considered their actions to be part of the Second World War. A peculiarity of the war was that the Finnish army was forced to demobilise their forces while at the same time fighting to force the German army to leave Finland. The German forces retreated to Norway, and Finland was therefore able to uphold its armistice promise to the Soviet Union.

Cold War

During the Cold War, Finland was neutral but maintained close ties to the Soviet Union. The Finnish Army was in a sticky situation as it bordered the Soviet Union.[7] Porkkala was a Soviet naval base taken from Finland in 1944. Construction for it finished in 1945 and became a naval base. It was handed back to Finland in 1956, for Kaliningrad had become a better place for the Soviet Navy.[7]

Organisation

Peacetime organisation of the Finnish Army (click to enlarge)
Finnish Army is located in Finland
Armoured Brigade
Armoured Brigade
Pori Brigade, Niinisalo
Pori Brigade, Niinisalo
Pori Brigade, Säkylä
Pori Brigade, Säkylä
Army Academy, Lappeenranta
Army Academy, Lappeenranta
Army Academy, Hamina
Army Academy, Hamina
Jaeger Brigade, Sodankylä
Jaeger Brigade, Sodankylä
Jaeger Brigade, Rovaniemi
Jaeger Brigade, Rovaniemi
Armoured Brigade, Riihimäki
Armoured Brigade, Riihimäki
class=notpageimage|
Locations of Finnish Army units

The Army is organised into eight Peacetime brigades. Two of these brigades, Army Academy and Utti Jaeger Regiment do not have subordinate regional offices. The six other brigades have one or more subordinate regional offices and a deputy commander.[8][9] During a crisis, the regional offices form provincial local battalions and the brigade headquarters form the regional command level.[9] During normal situation, the regional offices are responsible for conscription, organising voluntary national defence work and planning crisis time activities.

The brigades are:

Army logistics is part of the joint Finnish Defence Forces Logistics Command.[10]

During war time the army is organised operative forces which consists of approximately 61 000 men and territorial forces which consist of 176 000 men.

The following list is the wartime organisation of the Finnish army from 1.1.2008

Operative forces:

Territorial forces:

  • 6 infantry brigades
  • 14 independent battalions / battlegroups
  • 28 Territorial Forces (Finland) (company sized)

Equipment

Finnish Patria AMV XA-361 with AMOS mortar system at the national parade on the flag day of the Finnish Defence Forces.

Major weapon systems used by the army include:

See also

References

  1. ^ a b c Maavoimien historia ja perinteet History of the Finnish Army. Finnish Defence Forces. Retrieved 2022-01-12. (in Finnish)
  2. ^ [1] About us. Finnish Army. Retrieved 2022-01-12. (in English)
  3. ^ Tuononen, Jere (30 December 2021). "Maavoimien komentaja vaihtui Mikkelissä – uusi komentaja: hävittäjähankinnat parantavat myös Maavoimien suorituskykyä". Ruotuväki. Retrieved 7 January 2022.
  4. ^ a b Maavoimien tehtävät Archived 2016-03-05 at the Wayback Machine. Finnish Defence Forces. 2015-01-13. Retrieved on 2015-06-19. (in Finnish)
  5. ^ Joukkotuotanto tuottaa valmiita sodan ajan kokoonpanoja Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine. Finnish Defence Forces. 2012-12-04. Retrieved 2015-06-19. (in Finnish)
  6. ^ See The Finnish Army in the Winter War at winterwar.com
  7. ^ a b "Finland | Coldwarsites". Retrieved 2022-03-07.
  8. ^ Kolstela, R.Maavoimien organisaatio 2015 Archived 2016-01-19 at the Wayback Machine. Finnish Defence Forces. 2014-12-09. Retrieved 2015-06-19. (in Finnish)
  9. ^ a b PAIKALLISPUOLUSTUS JA YHTEISKUNTA Archived 2015-06-19 at the Wayback Machine. Presentation in the yearly meeting of the Finnish Military Sociological Association. 2015-04-23. (in Finnish)
  10. ^ Finnish Defence Forces Logistics Command Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine. Finnish Defence Forces 2014-12-19. Retrieved on 2015-06-19.

External links

  • Finnish Army website
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Leadership
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  • Ministry of Defence
  • Defence Command (Divisions: Personnel · Intelligence · Operations · Logistics · Plans and Policy · C5 Systems · Training · Legal)
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Finnish Army formations during World War II
Corps in the Winter War
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Divisions in the Winter War
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  • 21st
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Corps in the Continuation War
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  • III
  • IV
  • V
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  • VII
Divisions in the Continuation War
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