Finland – Sparta of the North

Finnish welcome party for unwelcome Russians

Finnish welcome party for unwelcome Russians 

2015/04/11 • Analysis & Opinion, Military analysis

A week ago I discussed why Peace is over for the States along the Baltic Sea. By now over 85,000 people have read the articles and already changes are underway: Iceland, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, and Finland will deepen their defense cooperation, while the Prime Ministers of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania discussed “joint purchasing of arms” as it is “vitally important for efficient use of defense spending,” and Poland announced it will move troops East and speed up the introduction of new land forces equipment. This is an excellent start, but more steps and more daring steps need to be taken, as all the nations mentioned above, with the exception of Finland, are unprepared for the coming Russian aggression. And mark my words: Russia is not done yet with war! Not in Ukraine, not in Moldova, not in Georgia, not in Nagorno-Karabakh, and not in the Baltic Sea region. Also Norway will sooner than later find Russia invading Svalbard.

But today I will focus on Finland, the first of three nations, together with Romania and Bulgaria, that readers of the other articles discussed most. Luckily all three do not figure in Russia’s current war plans, although in the cases of Bulgaria and Finland, for very different reasons. Romania is a special case that I will analyze in detail in a separate article. Currently the most unlucky nations in Europe are Georgia and Ukraine, both of whom have already become victims of Russia’s new wave of wars to regain its colonial empire: Georgia was attacked to provide Russia with military bases south of the Caucasus, as Russia’s military bases in Armenia can only be reached by air via Iran, and because Azerbaijan’s independence is guarded by Turkey, the rising regional power; while Ukraine was attacked for its strategic Crimean peninsula. That war now continues to punish Ukrainians for being, and insisting on being, a nation and a people distinct from Russia and Russians.

Just as for Georgians since 2008 and Ukrainian since 2014, peace is now over for the three Baltic States, as Putin can break NATO there, without having to fear NATO’s overwhelming military power, which is foolishly based elsewhere. Similarly peace is over for Sweden as Russia needs to occupy Gotland to deny NATO planes and ships access to the Baltic Sea. And for Poland peace is over, as it cannot and will not stand by when Russia attacks Lithuania after Putin’s demand for a corridor to Kaliningrad will have been denied by Lithuania, just as Hitler’s demand for a corridor to Danzig was denied by Poland in 1939. Additionally Russian nationalists consider the Polish people to be their hereditary enemy, because Polish troops in 1610 occupied Moscow, and because Poles rose up five times against Russian rule and fought four wars of independence against Russia. Clearly this indomitable Polish will to live free in their own nation is what Russians cannot forgive the Poles, as Russians do not forgive the same aspiration finally being demonstrated by Ukrainians now.

Finland

Unlike the aforementioned nations, Russia doesn’t have any immediate imperial designs against Finland, Bulgaria and Romania. Although Russian nationalists see the first two as part of Russia’s restored empire, Russia won’t employ military means to subjugate them. Russian imperialism, in the guise of Soviet communism, has already tried to conquer Finland once before, but the Finns butchered enough Russians for Stalin to reconsider. A lesson every nation must learn: Russia will break whatever treaty you signed with them (i.e. the Soviet–Finnish Non-Aggression Pact) and attack you on false pretexts (i.e. Shelling of Mainila), create a puppet government to administer the occupied territories (i.e. Finnish Democratic Republic), and will only relent if enough Russian soldiers are killed. The Finns killed over 1,200 Russians a day and thus got Russia to drop its plan to occupy and annex all of Finland. Theirs is a magnificent example to study, emulate and revere by all other nations under Russian threat.

Finland’s forests are hell for invaders.

Since even the current megalomaniac Russian leadership remembers the Winter War, Finland is safe. No Russian general wants his troops to enter Finnish forests and get massacred by the nearly 300,000 troops and 600,000 reservists Finland can muster. Finland, if attacked, can field twice (!) as many ground troops as Italy, Germany, France, Spain and the UK combined (!). If Finland had followed the foolish path of most other EU nations and reduced its military forces by 75% over the last decade, Putin might be tempted to invade Finland, but as Finland stuck to its concept of total defense, it is safe. Once again “Si vis pacem, para bellum” [If you want peace, prepare for war–ed.] has been proven as the most sound national defense principle.

In 2015 Finland will spend 1.29% of GDP equal to € 2.66 billion on defense [Source], which allows for a minuscule procurement budget of just € 417 million. With a 2015 budget deficit of -2.5% and government debt of 61.2% of GDP, Finland can easily increase its defense budget, by the amount needed  to fund a replacement for its outdated standard battle rifle, which still uses a Soviet cartridge design. Additionally more Spike anti-tank guided missiles should be bought as soon as possible and enough modern equipment to kit out Finland’s entire force of 900,000 men and women ready to defend their freedom against Russia. Therefore defense spending should be raised by 0.41% of GDP or approximately € 850 million as soon as possible, which would be a boon for the Finnish economy as most equipment needed to outfit soldiers is produced in Finland by Finnish companies.

4 CV90

4x CV9030 hiding in the snow.

As Finland already acquired 100 used Leopard 2A6 main battle tanks (MBT) from the Netherlands, hundreds of American FIM-92F Stinger man-portable surface-to-air missiles, 24 Norwegian-made NASAMS 2 medium-range air-defense system, 16 German-Swedish ASRAD-R short-range air-defense system and 55 Israeli Aeronautics Defense Orbiter unmanned aerial vehicles (drones), just a few weapons systems remain, which need to be acquired in the coming years: first on the list are modern self-propelled howitzers (SPH) to replace the currently fielded Soviet 2S5 Giatsint-S and 2S1 Gvodzika SPHs. Although there are five possible SPH models Finland could buy, ultimately either the fully automated Swedish Archer system or the powerful German PzH 2000 will be bought, as both could be produced under license by Finland’s Patria corporation. Also more CV90 infantry fighting vehicles (IFV) need to be acquired to replace Finland’s 94 aging Soviet BMP-2 IFVs and 300+ outdated Soviet MT-LB armored personnel carriers (APC). However not all MT-LB need to be replaced with the expensive CV90, about half should be replaced with Finnish made Patria AMV wheeled IFVs. To increase the lethality and compatibility of its AMVs, Finland should follow Poland’s lead and combine its AMVs with Oto Melara Hitfist-30P turrets, which mount the same 30mm Mk44 Bushmaster II chain gun as Finland’s CV90s. Last but not least, the Finnish army should grow a pair, and in spite of Russian pressure renew the contract to buy 70 American MGM-168 ATacMS Block IVA surface-to-surface missiles for its M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS) to give Finland the capability to strike Russian targets 300km away.

The Finnish Air Force currently fields 55 F/A-18C, assembled by Patria in Finland, and 7 American built F/A-18D fighters. Although not the most modern system, it can remain in service for another five to seven years, giving Finland enough time to choose its next fighter. An ideal choice for a nation fighting from deep within its most valuable strategic asset, namely its vast impenetrable forests, would be American F-35B stealth fighters. The F-35B can take off from air strips of less than 200m in length and land on just a few meters of meadow, but it is pricey and I doubt Lockheed Martin will allow Patria to share in the production of this highly advanced fighter.

Therefore Finland should enter into a tri-national agreement with Poland and Sweden to jointly produce the JAS 39E Gripen. Together these three nations would order at least 200 JAS 39E, and the higher production numbers will lead to lower unit costs. Furthermore such a cooperation would deepen Baltic and Scandinavian defense cooperation and allow Patria to share in the production and further development of the JAS 39E. Finland could also buy the Eurofighter Typhoon, but for its national defense industry, the Gripen is a better choice, especially now that Airbus Group, the main stakeholder in the Eurofighter project, has sold its 26.8% share of Patria to the Finnish government. To make sure its air force can take to the skies even if Russia destroys its three main air bases, Finland must continue to maintain its 17 highway landing strips and seek an agreement with Sweden to be allowed to use Swedish air bases as alternative airfields.

5L2X2786

NH90 NFH helicopter with a MU90 Impact torpedo.

Finland’s Navy is well prepared to thwart any attempt by Russian forces to land on Finnish shores as the Navy’s Uusimaa Brigade is equipped with Spike-ER guided missiles and truck mounted RBS-15 Mk. III anti-ship missiles, making it impossible for Russia’s Baltic Fleet to pass the Finnish coast unscathed. The only two things Finland’s Navy lacks are anti-submarine warfare helicopters and submarines, with the latter not necessary for the coastal defense needs of Finland. However Finland should buy at least 12 NH90 helicopters of the NFH variant to give it the capability to chase and sink Russian submarines and ships. Finland already operates 20 NH90 in the TTH variant, and as Sweden operates both NH90 variants, it would be possible for Finland to train its NH90 NFH crews jointly with Sweden’s crews at Sweden’s Malmen Airbase. Joint training would be especially useful for Finland as Sweden, unlike Finland, fields submarines to exercise against.

Ultimately, Finland is at peace and will remain at peace because it is well prepared to bleed out a Russian invasion force in its forests and has no territory Putin covets or needs. Also working in Finland’s favor is the fact that Russia’s leadership, with its worldview minted at the KGB in the waning years of the Cold War, assumes Finland will fall back into Finlandization if Russia issues enough military threats. This is an erroneous idea, which when finally realized by the Kremlin, will have led to even more Finnish militarization and thus even less desire by Russia’s army to revisit the endless, deadly Finnish forests.

Next: Bulgaria

Edited by: Paula Chertok

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  • Dirk Smith

    Great analysis.

  • Mellow Jessica

    Long live a Free Finland!

  • hal

    Interesting article with a great deal of facts!

  • Jooseppi

    Very good article! In the welcome party picture are Finnish Border Jaegers (Special Forces of the Border Guard) and their instructors can be seen in the third row *chuckles*

  • W8post

    Is there no room for the ‘Mistral’ -of course fully equipped- in Dragsvik?

    • Andy Lee

      Of course there is room for the ‘Mistral’ in Dragsvik!

  • Roger Mikael Klang

    Sweden have fought 16 wars against Russia I Think. Most of them with Finland by our side.

    • Morksuggan

      Finland was an integrated part of Sweden until 1809.

    • korpiveli

      Sweden fought many wars to the last Finn :)

      • Roger Mikael Klang

        That is proven wrong :)

        • kaenkkix

          Proven ,where, in Sweden perhaps????

          • Lauri Kivinen

            There is simply no basis for that “accusation”. Domestic, conscripted troops (both from modern-day Sweden & Finland) were considered loyal and for that reason were used very often to hold fortifications and cities as garrisons. Mercenaries were better trained and equipped and used more in field battles, but could be bribed by the enemy.

      • kaenkkix

        korpiveli nails it !!!! Finnish troops “hakkapeliitat” did most of the fighting,while swedish “troops” hid somewhere far far away

        • Sampo Honkala

          Not true. Mercenaries from different countries gave up easily, Swedes have been tough fighters. The sentiments common in Finland are based on the 1808-09 war, where it was the top command that failed, not the fighting units.

      • Lauri Kivinen

        Oh come on, that cliche is overused, incorrect and not at all funny anymore.

  • W8post

    Russians going back into history until the 1600th? What about Finland staying closer at home like 1917? Russia the agressor? Finland should be the agressor and get Karelia back!

    • Roger Mikael Klang

      All of that wasn’t Finnish territory, but some of the territories not marked with green on your map were Finnish. Salla, the Karelia in the South of Finland down to S:t Petersburg, and Petsamo-region up in the North. Petsamo was Finland’s Wake hole to the sea in the Barentsregion.

      • W8post

        Like this map better? Still, there are some minor adjustments to day.

        • Roger Mikael Klang

          Yes it is better. But in the North only the Fisher peninsula (Fiskarhalvön in Swedish) is marked. I Think it was the whole Petsamo too, like a strip of land in the north-east of Finland up to the Fisher peninsula. Am I wrong, someone?

          • noclador

            Fisher was ceded in 1940, Petsamo in 1944. Hence it is not on the above map.

          • Roger Mikael Klang

            Sort of. Fisher peninsula’s real name is Rybachy peninsula. And the Finn’s lost Petsamo in 1940, but in the negotiations that followed only Rybachy peninsula was ceded.

          • Roger Mikael Klang

            The only reason it was only Rybachy peninsula that was ceded is that it was the British Who owned the natural recource production of Petsamo until the summer of 1940.

          • Roger Mikael Klang

            The natural recource production was Nickel.

  • Murf

    Excellent article as always.
    The F-35 is going to be problematic for quit some time to come(and that’s being optimistic)
    The Gripin would be an excellent addition to their fleet. Both because of it’s combat capabilities and the political factor.
    Sticking with the F/A-18 with up grades such as the Super Hornet and the Growler may be an alternative(based on cost effectiveness more than any thing) The US and Canada will be selling off many in the future to make way for the F-35. Many of the upgrades could be done in Finland.
    As a side note Reytheon has announced it has designed and tested a ship killing version of the GPS guided Tomahawk cruise missile. It can also be re tasked in flight, can have it’s target designated by a separate plane and eventually another ship. The missile already has a 1000 mile radius and be used in “on call basis”. An interesting development.
    Look forward to more.
    PS will you be doing a update on the Ukraine army in light of the recent battle during the winter champagne and subsequent changes?

  • puttypants

    Great analysis however I want to make one point and that is how many times thru history Ukraine has fought to get out from Russia’s yoke. This isn’t the first revolution Ukraine has experienced. After WW2 communism kept them in check only because so many had been slaughtered between 1917 and 1945. I can’t think of another country in europe than Ukraine that has suffered more from Russia’s colonization of Ukraine.

  • Serge Kovalskiy

    Cia fucking propaganda. Finland always was ok. What thw main idea. Of this article?

  • Heimo Soturi

    From what I gather, this article is mostly “buy our expensive, underachieving plane, replace your rifle cartridge just because its soviet, get rid of BMP’s, buy more our stuff, get more more more”. When I read that finnish army should “grow a pair” and buy some expensive equipment (the MLRS rounds), I totally lost it. Budget cuts hardly count as ‘lacking balls’ and its weird that ‘Sparta of the North lacks balls when its not buying certain gear from certain seller. Only thing where finnish government (and not the FDF) has been lacking courage was the Ottawa treaty that banned landmines.

    Ofcourse in everybodys fantasy where you can twiddle with unlimited money one can buy all sorts of cool state-of-the-art gear, but FDF has extremely tight budget, many bases (probably not the right term) have been shut down, reservists dont get get called in for re-training as often, some simple stuff just fall apart from wear and tear.

    Finland is pretty much the first wall of the west to stand against Russia and we too acknowledge that fact. We make do with the gear we have and the miniscule population of 5million that live here. If anything, other western countries could provide some bricks and mortar for this wall by selling FDF good equipment at really affordable prices. Just like some countries did during winter war.

    Private FDF ‘class’ of 1/07

  • Ilya Timakov

    Unfortunately Northern Sparta for 15 years was falling into pacifism and infantilism, consuming a common myth about “compact professional army is most effective”.
    Figures about trained military reserve was correct for 1980’s and now it`s 2,5 times less. There were years and years of shortcuts in FDF, only in a last 3 years Finland has lost one brigade, two regiments and several detached units. And yes – joined to idiotic ban of antipersonnel mines. And tightened a firearms legislation to make a reserve training more difficuilt.
    Now Finland needs most of all not a replacement of some weapons. It needs more people who are ready to get trained and prepared for defence of their country.

    • Sampo Honkala

      You are mistaken. About 26 000 men start training every year. The entire amount of people born in Finland in a year is around 58 000. As there are slightly more women than men, to train every man would mean less than 29 000. So, there is no lack of trained soldiers. Finland has not lost brigades or regiments, it has closed down training centres which is a different thing. Reservist training takes place within the army which has nothing to do with firearms legislation, which applies only to the civil use of arms.

      My understanding is that using the round figure of 25 000 trained men in a year, in the age groups 18 – 58 there are 40 x 25 000 trained reservists in the country and they have all served from 6 to 11 months. This counts for a national army of 1 million men. Although very quiet about it, Finland in a modern world is a military super power – not compared to the US or Russia, but compared to the area and population that this army will defend.

      • Ilya Timakov

        I don`t think I`m `mistaken`. I just have a completely different understanding of military reserve.

        For You it`s a man who has been at military service some years ago and still able to walk whithout cane.
        For me reservist has to be regulary retrained, properly eqwipped and – main point – to have a readymade organized structure wich he can join immediately at the moment of mobilisation.

  • Sampo Honkala

    The article is well written and informative. Still I think there is a misunderstanding about troops and reservists. The Finnish defense is based on reservists. 300 000 is roughly the amount of reservists (could be 250 000 currently) that can get gear and be sent to front in rather short notice. The permanent troops are much smaller. There has been developement towards less troops with better equipment. During the continuation war the reservist army in action was up to 500 000 and with a much smaller population – 900 000 might now be possible as the maximum strength, but that would take probably years to put up because of the lack of equipment. Men with a proper training is not the problem, because still most men have served 8 to 11 months.

    The current world politics have slightly increased the support for joining Nato, which I consider a poor choice. A country can be best protected by the troops and equipment that are permanently in the country and under the command of the government. I consider all other approches next to dreaming. Foreign help has seldom materialized and in the long run believing in such only deteriorates the defense morale. We have it pretty clear in Finland – the country will give you a rifle and the training of how to best use it, but the responsibility of defending the country is yours. It is the duty of every man, not some special organization. Especially it is not the duty of other nations or states or organizations, whose decisions are not in our hands. The rifle is.

    • W8post

      I agreed on this because what you state, now can be seen in Ukraine. Most people defending their country aren’t even trained military, but patriots with a riffle.

    • Teemu A

      In fact Finland could arm 357 000 men with full equipment and 350 000 more with model Cajander (rifle and uniform, but no body armor). Finland can mobilize its war time army in matter of days.

  • Samu Bragge

    Finnish military is sending all the reservist war time duties this month.. war is near my friends (hopefully not, I’m not mentally prepared for this). russia attacks finland about twice every century in all recorded history or every 60 years.. I know it’s sort of fallacy to think this way. BUT russians stay russians even if you fry ’em in butter.. third rome they say!

  • Johnny Walker

    Finland will get plenty of warning, since Russia will not attack Finland before they attack the Baltic countries.
    Finland IS Sparta – size wise, but when it comes to the Finnish armed forces, there are a little more than 300.
    What people don’t think about, and are better off not knowing is that there are weapons depots all over the country, they are a “public secret”, these are also hidden well, and there are decoy depots to cover them up – I am sure that the Russians are aware of this though, partly because Finland WANTS Russia to be aware.
    The real power of Finland however is the Sparta-esque way of thinking, Finns are taught to think in terms like “Home, religion and native land” since birth – Finns regard their native land as the most important thing there is, it goes before own personal safety, and that makes the Finns dangerous.
    It can be estimated that Finland can muster up close to 1 million armed people in a very short time, the standing armed forces would just be the first wave the Russian troops would meet as they try to navigate through the deep, dark, lethal forests of Finland – forests that Finns are very familiar with, and can move through both silently and without being spotted until it is too late.

  • Lauri Anttila

    As a Fin, I approve this message! Even thought i have served in the navy, it really shocked me how hugely large our army is! We value our freedom, and today we, as a people, want to be as West as West gets. Never surrender our hard-won liberties and never forget our past.

  • Michael Moulds

    SISU

  • Tom Halpin

    Scarier and scarier…

  • JOHN GRAHAM

    FASCIST FINN-ED-TER

  • http://www.miesasia.fi/ Miesasia

    Dont forget that even though we dont have Simo Häyhä anymore sniping the shit out of Russians we got now 100x guys with better rifles and more training than he had with same or better skills than he had.

    You could say they are a quit welcoming party for any invader.

    Ps. Anyone wondering who Simo Häyhä is, well hes known as the worlds best sniper with highest kill count ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Simo_H%C3%A4yh%C3%A4 )

    http://www.miesasia.fi

  • Frode Lindgjerdet

    Russians invade Svalbard, let them try. They can hardly sustain them selves there in peace time and need constant help from Norway to keep their population there alive.

  • Lauri Kivinen

    Nice article. Sometimes it feels that people in Finland don’t appreciate the fact that there is a large reserve and actual, true willingness among the ordinary people to take up arms and fight to the death in the event of an invasion. About 75% of people have stated that Finland should be defended even if the situation is so bad that the outcome is not clear. My personal experience is that this percentage is real, most ordinary, peaceful men would really risk death willingly if needed. Many are actually worried that they would have no position in the armed forces in the event of war, thinking this as, more or less, a insult on their manhood :) Personally, I think Finland would have even hordes of >50 year-old guys willing to volunteer as soldiers in the case of war. Sadly, the yellow press in Finland likes to make big defeatist headlines, sometimes suggesting total fantasy crap like “Russia could conquer Finland in two days”.

    There is however some confusion in this article regarding the ‘900 thousand man reserve’. 900 thousand is pretty much the amount of men and volunteer women who have had military training and are 50 years of age or below (60 for officers). Reservists in prison or with known mental problems are excluded from this number. About 100 thousand of this 900k are employed in functions that are critical to finnish society and will remain in their regular jobs even at the event of war. 230 thousand soldiers (150 thousand in the army, the rest in navy and air force) is the initial, war-time structure of the finnish armed forces. These are mostly able-bodied, young, fit and regularly trained (not enough ín recent years!) people who can be issued modern light and heavy weaponry and can be quickly mobilized, The remaining 570 thousand reservists are mostly people between 30-50 years of age with military training but probably not much refresher courses, at least not in recent years. The health and fitness of these people can also vary. I’d say about 350-400 thousand of these are fit enough to be trained in a couple of months to act in home defence duties and the younger/fit ones as reinforcements for the 230 thousand first-line troops in case of a prolonged conflict and/or substantial losses of manpower as KIA/WIA. There is standard light infantry type equipment (assault rifles, automatic rifles, light and heavier anti-tank rockets…) and perhaps some older mortars, artillery etc. for pretty much everyone even in this “surplus reserve” but the heaviest equipment (modern artillery, tanks, IFVs, armored vehicles, air defence systems, best anti-tank equipment) is pretty much only for this 230 thousand initial “crew” and hopefully would still exist for their possible replacements so the second-line units would not have to fight main battle tanks with just rifles, LAWs and light mortars. But overall, yes, we DO have enough manpower and if there would be war, we WOULD have the will to fight. Everyone dies some day and it’s better to be killed than to live in unbearable conditions.

    About the equipment suggestions – The ca 100 BMP-2s are being modernized by finnish companies and will have night-vision and some stealthy capabilities. The prototype modernized BMP-2 has been tested with positive results. It’s not as good as CV9030, but much better than the “vanilla” version and will be used into the 2030s.

    http://www.puolustusvoimat.fi/wcm/b72ded0047882d38b286f6ed4bd43dee/1/bmp1_440.jpg?MOD=AJPERES&CACHEID=b72ded0047882d38b286f6ed4bd43dee/1

    The MT-LB is mostly just a armored taxi to get the mechanized infantry from Finland’s precious armored battlegroups and other first-rate units into combat zone and I doubt it will be replaced anytime soon (we acquired many more of them recently from Sweden at scrap iron prices – better field transport than truck or even trailer of a tractor)
    100 Leopard 2A6s were bought from Holland but will be delivered in small installments, ending in 2019. About 1 tank per month. Of course we still have the Leo 2A4s ready and hopefully they will be moth-balled for some time, not scrapped right when the 2A6s arrive.
    However, thanks for the nice article! Makes one proud to be a finn!

  • otaN Too Stronk

    Finland too stronk.