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Finnish Defence Forces’ training exercise activity will be increasingly international

Defence Forces
Publication date 22.1.2024 14.03 | Published in English on 22.1.2024 at 15.02
Press release

In 2024, the Finnish Defence Forces’ training exercise activity will be increasingly international. The increase in the volume of international exercises to be attended arises from the NATO membership and from the fact that allies participate in a growing number of national exercises. According to the plan, this year will involve up to slightly more than 100 international training exercise events held in Finland and overseas.

The forthcoming NATO Steadfast Defender 24 drills will demonstrate the alliance’s cohesion, strength and commitment to defend all its allies as applicable. The Steadfast Defender 24 drills will be participated by all 31 member nations and Sweden. During the exercise, troops will be reinforced and deployed from North America to Europe. Finnish troops will be taking part in the Steadfast Defender 24 sub-drill Nordic Response 24. Additionally, the exercise Northern Forest 24 will be participated by troops from the U.S. exercise Immediate Response that is part of the U.S. Defender and NATO Steadfast Defender drills.

The Finnish Defence Forces’ main international exercise in 2024 will be the Norwegian-led military exercise Nordic Response 24 to be held in northern Finland, Norway and Sweden during 4.–15.3.2024. The exercise will be participated by up to c. 20,000 soldiers from altogether 14 nations. The objective of the exercise is to enhance the capability of NATO and its partners to reinforce and defend the northern elements of NATO. To be participated by troops from all services and from the Finnish Defence Forces’ Logistics Command and C5 Agency, the exercise is planned to involve c. 4,100 Finnish soldiers, nearly half of whom will be reservists. Up to now, this will mark the highest Finnish training audience strength to be exercising abroad. Finnish participation in the exercise will be commanded by ACOS J7 Training Division Defence Command Finland, Brigadier General Manu Tuominen.

As part of the alliance, Finland participates in drills that involve developing the execution capability and readiness presupposed by NATO joint operations as well as rehearsing operating as part of the alliance’s command structure and force structure. This is why the exercises in line with NATO’s main tasks will in the future be part of regular training exercise activity in which Finland is obliged to participate as part of NATO.

– Training exercise activity develops the ability to defend both Finland and the alliance. Additionally, exercise activity is part of tangible security support provided to allies – in particular to frontline nations, such as Finland. This demonstrates in practice the alliance’s ability to safeguard its member nations’ security, ACOS J7 Training Division Defence Command Finland, Brigadier General Manu Tuominen says.

During the course of the year also other multinational key exercises will be held, and, of the services-led exercises, the most visible ones will be Northern Forest 24, Freezing Winds 24, and Hanki 24.

Northern Forest 24 is an international Army combat exercise that will be held in the Rovajärvi area in May. The exercise will be participated by soldiers from Finland, the U.S.A., and Norway. From the Finnish Defence Forces the exercise will be participated by c. 4,000 soldiers, part of whom will be reservists. The objective of the exercise is to sustain and develop military interoperability and operating capability with international allies as well as to strengthen Finland’s ability to receive international military assistance.

The Finnish Navy’s main international exercise in 2024 will be Freezing Winds 24 that is to be held during 18.–29.11.2024. This naval exercise will involve rehearsing execution of combined naval operations in the conditions of the Baltic Sea north and of the Finnish coast. The objective of the exercise is to improve the ability of Finland and allies to defend the area of the Baltic Sea and to safeguard maritime traffic in the region. The exercise will involve troops and units from all services as well as from the Finnish Border Guard. The exercise is planned to be participated by c. 4,000 personnel, 20 vessels and 10 aircraft, the strength of which will be in line with that of the previous years’ Freezing Winds.

The Finnish Air Force’s main exercise in 2024 will be Hanki 24 that will be held during 26.2.–2.3.2024. A national air operations exercise, Hanki 24 provides training for service personnel, conscripts and reservists to operate in all Finnish air defence tasks in demanding winter conditions. The exercise will be participated by altogether c. 40 aircraft and 3,800 soldiers, of whom c. 2,300 will be reservists.

The advancement of multinational activity can also be seen in the training of conscripts and reservists. Training exercises make Finnish Defence Forces’ in-service training versatile and set new competence requirements for the expertise of each and everybody. 

– Competence enhancement of service personnel is at the core. Training exercise activity allows us to enhance interoperability and allies’ understanding of our military competences. There is also an umbilical link between the Finnish Defence Forces’ capacity and abilities and the collective defence of the alliance. Persons liable for military service, both conscripts and reservists, get to participate in a number of multinational exercises both in Finland and abroad. Training exercise activity conducted together with allies challenges Finnish Soldiers from a General to a Jaeger and encourages us to elevated levels of performance, Brigadier General Tuominen says.

The Finnish Defence Forces will issue more detailed releases relating to its participation in international exercises closer to the given exercise’s execution date.