Finnish Army

Finnish Army

Infobox Military Unit
unit_name=Finnish Army
"Suomen maavoimat"
"Finlands armé"

caption=Finnish Army emblem
role=Ground defence|size=
battles=Winter War
Continuation War
Lapland War
commander1=Lieutenant-General Ilkka Aspara

The Finnish Army (Finnish: "Maavoimat", Swedish: "Armén") is the land forces branch of the Finnish Defence Forces.Today's Army is divided into six branches: the infantry, field artillery, anti-aircraft artillery, engineers, signals, and materiel troops.

History of the Finnish Army

Between 1809 and 1917 Finland was an autonomous part of the Russian Empire as the Grand Duchy of Finland. Between 1881 and 1901 the Grand Duchy had its own army. Before that several other military units had also been formed while Finland belonged to Sweden.

The Grand Duchy inherited its allotment system ("ruotujakolaitos") from the Swedish military organization. However, for several decades, Russian rulers did not require military service from Finland - operations and defence were mostly taken care by Russian troops based in the Grand Duchy. As a result, officer benefits of the allotment system became practically pensions, as payment was based on passive availability, not on actual service.

During Napoleonic Wars three 1200 men regiments were formed in Finland and Topographic corps in Hamina. In 1821 the Topographic corps was transformed into cadet officers school. In 1829 one of the training battalions was transformed into Young Guard Battalion, the Finnish Guard.

During the Crimean War, 1854, Finland set up nine sharpshooter battalions based on rote system. Conscription was issue in Finland in 1878. The Finnish Guard fought in Poland in 1830 and participated on the Russo-Turkish War (1877–1878), after which it gained the status of Old Guard of Russian Emperor.

The Finnish army was gradually broken up during the "oppression years" after the turn of the century. As the Finns conscripts refused to serve in Russian Army, conscription ended in Finland and it was replaced with tax from the Finnish Senate to the Imperial treasury.

At the turn of the 20th century, the Russian empire was weakening, and this was reflected in a reduced capacity of the Russian troops to keep public order. Voluntary defence organizations disguised as fire brigades were formed by the Finnish people, especially during the strikes during and after the Russo-Japanese War.

There were socialist Red Guards and conservative, anti-socialist Protection Guards (or White Guards). Also, during the First World War activists secretly travelled to Germany to receive military training and to be trained as Jaeger troops ("jääkärit").

After independence and beginning of the Finnish Civil War the White government declared the White Guards as government troops, and the war was fought between the Reds, assisted by Communist Russians, and White Guards added with the Jaegers and assisted by the German Empire. After the war in 1919, the Protection Guards became a separate organization. Therefore, strictly speaking, there is no continuity between the White Guards, which became a voluntary organization, and the Finnish army, which was a cadre army based on conscription. However, Jaegers gained important positions in the army, and German tactics and military principles were adopted.

Winter War

The Finnish Army consisted of 9 field divisions, 4 brigades and a number of small independent battalions and companies at the beginning of the Winter War in 1939. The Army was organised into three corps. [See [ The Finnish Army in the Winter War] at] The II and III Corps were organised into the Army of the Isthmus which was located on the Karelian Isthmus, the likely location for the main Soviet Attack. The IV Corps defended the area north of Lake Ladoga. The defence of the rest of the border up to Petsamo by the Arctic Ocean was given to the North Finland Group which consisted of a handful of independent battalions.

In order to organize replacements for the units a Field Replacement Brigade ("Kenttätäydennysprikaati", "KT-Pr") of nine battalions was formed. But due to the severity of the Soviet attack the battalions had to be used as combat troops. Also three Replacement Divisions or Home Replacement Divisions (1.Koti.TD - 3.Koti.TD) were formed from the available reservists. As the situation became more alarming the 1st and 3rd Replacement Divisions were reformed into the 21st and 23rd Divisions and sent to the front on December 19. The 2nd Replacement Division was deployed as individual regiments to Northern Finland.

Continuation War

Lapland War

Organisation Today

The Army is organised into four Military Provinces: southern, western, eastern and northern. The military provnces are responsible for the defence and planning in their areas. The four military provinces are further divided into 22 regional offices or regional military provinces which are responsible for conscription, organizing the local defence and aiding the voluntary defence organizations. The Army is commanded by Ilkka Aspara, who succeeded Olli-Matti Multamäki on January 1 2007. [ [ Planning of the Broad Structural Reform has begun within the Defence Forces] . 3-15-2007. Retrieved 12-4-2008.] [ [ Maavoimien rakennemuutos.] Retrieved 2-4-2008. fi. The English page gives outdated information, which has been since partly superseded. The Finnish source shows the actual organization of the Army from 2008 onwards.] The Logistics is centrally planned by the Army Materiel Command, which has one Logistics Regiment in each Military Province. [ [ Huoltojärjestelmä.] Finnish Defence Forces. 2007. Retrieved 2-4-2008. fi]

Military Province of Southern Finland:Guard Jaeger Regiment (Helsinki):Southern Finland Logistics Regiment

Military Province of Western Finland:Armoured Brigade (Parola):Häme Regiment (Lahti):Signals Regiment (Riihimäki):Pori Brigade (Säkylä) (Readiness brigade):Artillery Brigade (Niinisalo):Engineer Regiment (Keuruu):Western Finland Logistics Regiment

Military Province of Eastern Finland:Karelia Brigade (Vekaranjärvi) (Readiness brigade):Reserve Officer School (Hamina):North Karelia Brigade (Kontiolahti):Eastern Finland Logistics Regiment

Military Province of Northern Finland:Kainuu Brigade (Kajaani) (Readiness brigade):Jaeger Brigade (Sodankylä):Lapland Air Defence Regiment (Rovaniemi):Northern Finland Logistics Regiment

The Utti Jaeger Regiment which trains Para Jägers and Special Jaegers is directly under the Army Command. Since 1998, the amphibious Uusimaa Brigade is part of the Finnish Navy.

Wartime organization

In wartime, the army is composed of Jaeger, Infantry and Armoured Brigades. Jaeger and infantry brigades serve different wartime purposes, jaegers being more mobile while infantry brigades being equipped with older equipment. Three of the Jaeger brigades are special Readiness brigades with rapid reaction capability. They are more mobile and more heavily armed than the ordinary jaeger brigades, and have a higher proportion of regular to reservist personnel; there is one readiness brigade for each of Finland's 3 territorial commands.

Wartime strength of the Army is 237,000, of which 61,000 are in Operational Units and 176,000 are in Regional Units.

Operational units:

*3 Readiness Brigades (Jaeger Brigade 2005 type)
*2 Jaeger Brigades (Jaeger Brigade 91 type)
*2 Mechanized Battle Groups
*2 Motorized Battle Groups
*1 Helicopter Battalion
*1 Special Forces Battalion (Erikoisjääkäripataljoona)
*1 Anti-Aircraft formation

Regional units:
*6 Infantry Brigades (Infantry Brigade 80 type)
*14 Independent Battalions and Battle Groups
*28 Local Defence units and Volunteer reserve units (Maakuntajoukot)


Major weapon systems used by the army

*91 MBTs
*392 IFVs
*270 APCs (tracked)
*424 APCs (wheeled)
*2,058 mortars
*684 artillery pieces (towed)
*90 artillery pieces (self-propelled)
*22 MLRS
*22 Helicopters (+ 8 for training)
*11 UAVs


ee also

* Ski warfareEuropean topic
title = Armies in Europe
suffix = _Army
countries_only=yes |UK_only=yes

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