As economies across the globe continue to contract, navies, armies, and air forces are being told, if not, “do more with less” to at least “do the same with less.” Proceedings thus asked sea-service commanders around the world: What innovative efficiencies and economies are you implementing, or considering implementing, to improve force readiness?
Rear Admiral Veli-Jukka Pennala
The Finnish Defence Forces (all the military services) are executing a major reform. A declining budget and increasing personnel and matériel costs have to be balanced. This means downsizing organizations and structures, and revising procurement and maintenance plans. Balancing the budget is a large and challenging task, but failure will result in diminished resources for operations and new matériel. Wartime strength of the Defence Forces will be reduced from 350,000 to 230,000. The reform is to be implemented by the beginning of 2015.
As an important part of this reorganization, the Finnish Navy also will be restructured. We will concentrate on our core mission and make necessary reductions in support functions. In a “big-picture” sense, the goal is to streamline the organization, cut unnecessary facilities, reduce personnel from headquarters, increase ship crews, have ships spend more days at sea, and give more training to conscripts and more exercises to the reserves. Downsizing the structure makes it possible to direct an adequate portion of our limited resources to future procurement.
The tasks of the Navy will remain the same—our main mission being the maritime defense of Finland. Additionally we support other maritime authorities and participate in international military crisis-management missions.
In order to make a slimmed-down navy work properly in the future, the organization has to be rebuilt. Core capabilities and capacities will remain. Our main focus will be the “worker bees,” which means the number of personnel on board has to be increased. Cuts will be directed at support functions. The number of professional personnel in headquarters and administration will be reduced from 1,900 to 1,400.
Despite cuts the organization must function. The answer is Defence Forces–wide centralization. The Navy Matériel Command will be fused into a new Defence Forces logistics administration. The Navy Research Institute will be merged with a new Defence Forces research organization. Other support duties—administration, information technology, and such—will be centralized as well. These reforms enable the navy to operate with smaller support elements and smaller headquarters.
The planning phase for these changes is over, and the execution has begun. The Finnish Navy—because of the Defence Forces reform—will be smaller, but smarter and more operational in 2015.