Finnish Defence Forces to exercise defending NATO northern region together with allies
The Finnish Defence Forces will participate in the Norwegian-led exercise Nordic Response 24 to be held in the northern areas of Finland, Norway, and Sweden during 4–15 March 2024. For the first time Finland will participate as a NATO member nation in exercising collective defence of the Alliance’s regions. As such this marks the most substantial participation in a multinational exercise abroad in the history of the Finnish Defence Forces.
Part of the Steadfast Defender 24 drills, Nordic Response 24 will have NATO nations and partners train the Alliance’s ability to reinforce troops up north for the purpose of training a defensive joint operation in arctic conditions in the areas of Finland, Norway, and Sweden. As Steadfast Defender 24 will be the most substantial training exercise of NATO in decades, its preparations and those of Nordic Response 2024 have now been underway for a number of years already.
Nordic Response 24 is an extensive military exercise on land, at sea, and in the air that will convene altogether up to c. 20,000 soldiers from 14 countries. The exercise will demonstrate NATO’s operating capability, cohesion, and will to defend all of the Alliance’s area. For the first time Finland will participate as a NATO member nation in training collective defence in an extensive joint forces’ exercise. Nordic Response 24 will be the Finnish Defence Forces’ main international exercise this year in which the Finnish Defence Forces’ capability will be developed to participate in NATO-led joint operations in the northern region together with allies. Participation in the exercise will advance Finland’s ever closer integration as part of NATO.
Finland has participated in the Norwegian-led Cold Response exercises as a partner nation for a number of times. In the wake of Finland and Sweden submitting their applications for the NATO accession, the exercise was renamed Nordic Response.
Finnish Defence Forces’ participation in Nordic Response 24
The Finnish Defence Forces will participate in the exercise by forces from the Army, Navy, and Air Force as well as from the sustainment logistics and CIS branches. From the Finnish Defence Forces, the exercise will be participated by more than 4,100 soldiers, a substantial number of whom will be reservists.
The Army will be at the centre of activity as the Finnish Army and Swedish Army will together form a division to be led by Finland. In the division the strength of the Finnish Army will be up to c. 2,500 soldiers. The exercise will also involve significant Air Force air mission activity in the airspace of Norway, Finland, and Sweden. The Air Force will deploy to the exercise 12 F/A-18 Hornet multirole fighters, staff officers, and operating base support functions. From the Navy, the exercise will be participated by staff officers and by a Coastal Jaeger Detachment.
From the Finnish Defence Forces’ Logistics Command, the exercise will be participated by service personnel and reservists from its HQ, 3. Logistics Regiment, Systems Centre, and the Centre for Military Medicine. The FDF C5 Agency will assign to the exercise service personnel and reservists from its HQ and divisions. The Defence Command will assign to the exercise Finland’s national command element. The Finnish Border Guard will also participate in the exercise within the territory of Finland.
The exercise will be visible and audible in the region of Lapland
In the area of Finland during the exercise, alongside Finnish troops will train altogether c. 3,000 soldiers from Sweden, 450 soldiers from France, and 50 soldiers from the U.K. The Army forces will be on the move mainly in the area of Enontekiö and from there in the direction of Norway. During the exercise’s onward and rearward movement phases (during 1–3 March and 14–17 March) traffic may become congested on the main roads in the vicinity of western Lapland’s ski resorts. Additionally, training audience forces will also be on the move across other areas of Lapland. The Air Force activity will concentrate on the operating base at Rovaniemi, whereas air activity will cover all of Lapland. Authorities are prepared to consider the increase in overall traffic. The Finnish Defence Forces will inform about the exercise’s impacts on the traffic situation in February closer to the start of exercise.