HELSINKI — The Finnish government is preparing new legislation that will permit the Armed Forces (FAF) to provide more direct forms of support to the overseas military operations of partner nations. The legislative reform initiative was triggered by a request for armed assistance from France in that country's fight against ISIS and other Islamic terrorist groups in the wake of the Paris attacks.
Under Finland's existing laws, the FAF's overseas military operations are restricted to participation in crisis management missions.
Finland is militarily non-aligned, although it continues to build stronger defense cooperation regionally, through Nordic-Baltic collaboration and under the Partnership for Peace program with NATO.
The restrictive nature of Finland's present laws relating to overseas military support meant that the country was unable to deliver an immediate response to France, even after the French government invoked the EU's mutual defense clause, which is backed by Finland.
"Our legislation in this area needed to be updated, and especially in light of France's request for armed assistance after the attacks in Paris. We realized that our existing legislation was not flexible enough. We live in a fast changing world, and our laws on overseas military support must reflect new realities," said Timo Soini, Finland's foreign minister.
The present maximum time limits for refresher training are to be doubled under the proposed law. For servicemen, the maximum amount of refresher days is set to rise to 80 days, and for reservists with specialized skills to 150 days.
For NCOs, warrant and commissioned officers, the new maximum number of "refresher" days is set to reach 200.