Vice Admiral Juha Rannikko—Finnish Navy
For Finland, maritime connections continue to be of primary commercial, military, and politico-environmental importance to the nation's well being and security.
The Finnish Navy is specialized in operating in the extreme littoral environment in our coastal and archipelagic areas of the Baltic Sea, especially during icy winter periods. The shallow waters, broken coastline, and archipelago demand specialized units, know-how, and skills during peacetime and crisis. High mobility, robust command and control, common situational awareness, and layered firepower are the hallmarks of the Finnish Navy. The navy's commander-in-chief leads the service under the commander of the Finnish Defence Forces and is responsible for the readiness of the navy, maintenance and development of the capability of maritime defense, as well as for education, maritime surveillance, securing territorial integrity, and safeguarding vital sea lines of communication in accordance with the Defence Forces mission statement.
The development of the Finnish Navy has always been by small, incremental steps. It has recently been aiming to enhance its capabilities in securing the sea lines of communication and improving mobility and fire power of its coastal units. The procurement of materiel and unit training is done in accordance with previously drafted long-term plans. Therefore, the changes carried out during the past few years had been planned and approved before the global economic downturn set in. However, the effects of the recession are now affecting the navy.
The number of naval units has been reduced in past years. Personnel are focusing on the navy's most modern units: the Hamina-class fast-attack craft, modernized Hämeenmaa-class multi-purpose minelayers, and three new mine countermeasures units to be delivered in 2010-12. By focusing on these fields, the navy aims to gain efficiency through increased utilization and streamlining of its training and maintenance activities. The coastal units are also developed to meet the demands of tomorrow's tasks. They will be multipurpose, technically advanced, and mobile in all aspects. All units in the Finnish Navy must be able to contribute to Defence Forces tasks. The goal is to maintain and develop those units that are best suited for tomorrow's diverse threat environment. Though the number of units has been reduced, the overall output is positive because of the increased mobility, versatility, modern C4I systems, and weaponry of the units. The navy's force structure is being streamlined to reduce overlaps in every function and to return trained personnel to core functions.
The reduced number of units also requires reviewing both tactics and operational needs. The Finnish Defence Forces have always operated with a joint approach. Today, and especially in the future, a joint approach and network-enabled operations are an absolute necessity. The navy's operational aim is to control the coastal and maritime domain, maintain the initiative, measure the effect on any chosen target, and support other services. All units must be agile and able to maintain the high tempo of maritime operations. Coastal and naval units must be able to operate seamlessly and without any time delay, together with other services. We seek technical and operational readiness for joint operations as well as interoperability in every new project.
The joint approach does not end with the Finnish Defence Forces. Our concept of total defense is inter-administrative, meaning that the already well-established cooperation between different maritime operators is highlighted, and positive actions are taken to synchronize efforts and influence even further in the maritime domain.
The role of international cooperation has changed during the last few years. Today the Finnish Navy is focusing more on exercises that contribute directly to the goals of national defense and the training requirements of our most capable units. And training activities are now more focused. This is due primarily to the limited resources in units, money, and personnel. The navy carefully examines the aims and concept of every exercise and expects clear and measurable results for the participating units. Each year, the international exercises in which naval units participate are increasingly demanding and lessons learned from ongoing operations contribute directly to the units' skills and motivation. These exercises must be very cost-effective. However, it must be clearly stated that the Finnish Navy benefits greatly from well-organized and -executed international cooperation and exercises. The international sea surveillance cooperation in the Baltic Sea region should be highlighted as a positive example of the possibilities and benefits of international cooperation.
All-in-all, the effects of the global economic downturn are being felt in the Finnish Navy. They are not the only reasons to adjust the navy, but they certainly are the most immediate. The navy's strategy is to focus on its core functions. The number of units has been reduced to release resources to those most capable. A clear change from quantity to quality can be identified. Existing and future units will be even more versatile and ready to meet the demands of tomorrow's challenges. The efficiency of the Finnish Navy relies heavily on joint capabilities of the Finnish Defence Forces. Cooperation between the navy and Finnish maritime operators as well as international navies has increased the efficiency, competence, and overall output of the service. The capabilities to control the coastal and maritime domain and to secure the sea lines of communication remain paramount and act as the guiding principle in developing the Finnish Navy.
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