Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces

Defence Command 23.12.2018 8.00
Press release

Season's greetings to our finnish peacekeepers

Finnish peacekeepers,

This year, the Finnish Defence Forces has celebrated it centennary. Participation in peacekeeping and military crisis management has been a part of the Finnish Defence Forces tasks since 1956, when Finland sent its first peacekeepers to Suez. Over the years, over 50,000 Finns have served in approximately fifty peacekeeping and crisis management operations around the world. Based on the numbers it is easy to understand why Finland has reputation of being a large contributor to crisis management and our country's strong commitment to solving international problems.

However, the need for crisis management has not diminished around the world. There are approximately 400 of you, Finnish peacekeepers, currently participating in nine different operations as troops, advisers or observers around the world. This is a tangible sign that there is a need for peacekeeping and peace building also today.

Demands towards peacekeepers keep continuously growing in the crises hotspots around the world. Conflicts are becoming increasingly more complex. They might simultaneously contain conflicts between states, criminality and economic and political tensions. Also the number of actors in the area is increasing and their position becomes more vague. For example it is difficult to tell what each side represents or whose side they are on. The representatives of the international community have to more and more often look to their own safety, and they may also be unwillingly pulled in as parties of the disputes.

This development has lead to international organisations trying to reform crisis management to make it more comprehensive, i.e. to link military and civilian crisis management and other support functions together as strongly as possible. We also need more technical military force and at the same time more expensive capabilities to both ensure the security and safety of our peacekeepers, and to carry out the mission to help the area and its population. People are what make things happen. Additionally, there are more demands directed towards the knowledge and skills of the peacekeepers, both militarily and also culturally.

It is fair to say, that most of the mentioned challenges have been taken into account pro-actively in the Finnish crisis management forces. We have been able to send skilful and motivated troops to operations, and to ensure that they have sufficient personal and unit equipment. Based on both out own evaluations and outside feedback, they have been able to meet the demands of the operational areas very well. It is clear, however, that we must remain alert to changes, whether they are directed towards materiel, operating procedures or skills.

The work of Finns, to keep and build the peace, is needed also in the future. Next year, you, the peacekeepers, continue as Finland’s representatives in ten different crisis management operations in Afghanistan, Israel, Iraq, Kosovo, Kuwait, Lebanon, Mali, Somalia, Syria and in the Mediterranean. I thank you for you meaningful work in the crisis areas around the world and you valuable contribution to peace.

I wish you a peaceful Christmas and a successful year 2019.

Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces

General Jarmo Lindberg