HELSINKI — Finland's Armed Forces Command has added a quick response dynamic with plans to locate rapid reaction units (RRUs) to military districts that fall under the command of the country's four military provinces.
Defense Minister Jussi Niinistö described the initiative as necessary to strengthen operational readiness and bolster Finland's overall defense and deterrence capabilities against rising regional tensions over Russia's military intervention in Ukraine.
Finnish territorial defense doctrine traditionally has been to use mobile field Army units backed by mainly local reserve forces to counter, delay, repel and inflict heavy losses on aggressors attacking across Finland's heavily forested, lake-rich frontier and inland terrains.
The RRUs will add a front-line rapid deployment combat force to the military's arsenal. The modular-type structure will enable RRUs to be used in defensive and offensive forward roles.
The RRUs are intended to comprise a mix of career officers and soldiers, as well as troops drawn from special forces units, retrained reservists and conscripts.
"The deployment of troops is our touchstone. Both the Air Force and Navy have a rapid-response capability, and this is the challenge that the Army now has," Niinistö said.
"New legislation is needed to enable the armed forces to recruit reservists in a transparent and efficient way. Under the present system, reservist contracts do not stipulate exact service times or how quickly reservists can be mobilized and armed," Kanerva said.
"Finland must reform its preparedness so that our defense organization and structures are at an appropriate level. It is legislation that is lagging behind right now," Kanerva said.
The decision to establish and deploy RRUs in a largely offensive role comes as the Finnish government reaches a provisional agreement with opposition parties to increase the defense budget in 2016-2020.
The growing all-party support for a much larger defense budget is being driven by unprecedented public support for a stronger military organization, a greater deterrence capability and a closer relationship with NATO.
The companies contacted form the basis of the so-called state-industrial-service wartime partnership that underscores Finland's Total Defense strategy. The communiqué stated that companies would receive further information in coming months regarding enhanced military and national defense preparedness programs.
If the new RRUs are structured in the style of the RDF, they will have a modular organization capable of operating alongside, or as part of, a larger integrated force, in coordinated missions with both naval warships and Air Force fighter support units.
The military's modernization program has reinforced shortfalls in the Navy's and Army's operating capabilities. The Navy took delivery of its first Jehu-class fast landing boats in June, filling a void in its littoral fleet for a multipurpose craft that can be used for troop transports, sea surveillance, battle and battle support missions.
The Navy's Squadron 2020 project has underlined the need for a new multipurpose warship to replace its existing fleet of Hämeenmaa and Rauma class ships. Emphasis is being placed on acquiring a ship type with advanced submarine hunting capabilities.
The Army's purchase of 20 NH90 helicopters has improved its tactical and transport capability. The final NH90 aircraft, assembled by Patria in Finland, was delivered in June.