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Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe visited Finland

Defence Forces
Publication date 1.12.2023 15.00
Press release
DSACEUR, Admiral Sir Keith Blount familiarised himself with the exercise Repo 23, led by the Karelia Brigade. In the photo Admiral Blount, Commander of the Karelia Brigade, Brigade General Jyri Raitasalo, Commander of the Defence Command, Lieutenant General Vesa Virtanen and the Commander of the Finnish Army, Lieutenant General Pasi Välimäki.

The Chief of the Defence Command, Lieutenant General Vesa Virtanen hosted the visit of NATO's Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe (DSACEUR), Admiral Sir Keith Blount, to Finland on 29 November–1 December 2023.

The purpose of the visit was to familiarise Admiral Blount with Finland's defence based on the reserve and the capabilities of the Finnish Defence Forces. The programme of the visit included, among other things, familiarisation with the exercise activities and discussions with the Commander of the Defence Forces, General Timo Kivinen and Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Defence Esa Pulkkinen.

Active information exchange enables utilizing the alliance's shared capabilities

During his visit, Admiral Blount learned about the activities of conscripts and reservists during the Repo 23 exercise in Lappeenranta. A total of 4,000 personnel from several brigade-level units of the Defence Forces and the Border Guard are participating in the exercise led by the Karelia Brigade. Approximately one thousand of the training audience are reservists. In addition to the Repo 23 exercise, Admiral Blount visited the Nuijamaa Border Guard Station, where he learned about the operations of the Southeast Finland Border Guard and the current border situation.

According to the Chief of the Defence Command, Lieutenant General Vesa Virtanen, active exchange of information between allies is essential in order to make the best possible use of joint capabilities.

–  It is of the utmost importance to us that NATO's top military leadership is aware of our defence system and our defence capabilities. This creates the conditions for the proper use of Finland's and the Alliance's joint military capability. I am particularly pleased that we were once again able to demonstrate the high-quality competence and first-class attitude of our reservists during the Repo 23 exercise. I would like to thank Admiral Blount for the good discussions. Together we are stronger, says Lieutenant General Virtanen.

Admiral Blount: Finland's membership strengthens the alliance

Admiral Sir Keith Blount visited the Nordic region for the first time in his new post, noting that as the newest member, Finland brings valuable experience to NATO, further strengthening the Alliance.

– I’m extremely grateful to Finland for hosting my first visit to the Nordic region since assuming post as DSACEUR this summer. 

As the Alliance’s newest member Finland brings a wealth of experience. Their whole of society approach to defence is inspirational and a brilliant example of the Alliance’s breadth and depth of capability.

It was impressive to see the quality of Finland’s reserve soldiers, the speed with which they can be mobilised, their level of training and their clear will to fight. Coupled with the consistent quality of Finland’s conscription model and the talent of its fully professional military cadre, Finland has much to be proud of. The Alliance is greatly enhanced by Finland’s membership and is yet more secure because of it, says Admiral Blount.