In today’s complex and dynamic threat environment, military leaders must effectively employ limited resources to execute their country’s national security strategy. Proceedings asked sea-service commanders around the world: It is often said that a nation’s national defense decisions are ultimately derived from its own sovereign interests. Given this presumption, what are the global trends that most influence your national security decision making and how does your navy use its operating policies, alliances, and partnerships to address these trends?
Rear Admiral Kari Takanen
Globalization has caused interdependence between states and international actors. This, along with the increasingly technological operating environment, brings new kinds of vulnerabilities. Due to interdependency, distributed industry, and global markets, maritime traffic is increasing in both volume and size. For Finland, the importance of its sea lines of communication and reliable logistical flow is increasing.
The development of technology has revolutionized the possibilities for communication. Cyber space does not have geographic borders, so threats have to be repelled together. The prospect of a large-scale armed aggression is low, but it cannot completely be ruled out. Besides the traditional military scenarios, a number of different types of asymmetric threats exist, such as environmental problems, organized crime, and terrorism. Most European countries are facing financial challenges. As a consequence, forces are being down-sized. This drives bilateral and multilateral cooperation, which is shaping the methods, procedures, and materiel programs to ensure interoperability and reduction in rising costs. The Arctic is today’s focus. The main interest is in the economy, but security issues in the area are also growing.
The fundamentals of Finnish national defense are general conscription, territorial defense, and military non-alliance. These will remain so in the future. The main task of the Defence Forces is to defend Finland. Additional tasks are to support other authorities and participate in international military crises management. The Finnish Navy will focus on balanced development of its naval and coastal units in accordance with these three tasks. The need to secure the sea lines of communication beyond our territorial waters must be taken into account in future materiel projects.
Defense provides deterrence and is tailored for the operating environment, the available resources, and the security situation. Finland’s defense comprehensively utilizes all resources of society and multinational cooperation. Even though a non-allied country has to maintain all maritime capability areas independently, the navy is increasingly depending on international cooperation, which spawns capability development and increases interoperability.
Regional cooperation tends to be the easiest type of cooperation to execute. The best examples are the well-working Surveillance Cooperation Baltic Sea and common training—for example the NATO–EU Northern Coast 2014 exercise, which will be held in Finnish waters next fall. Future cooperation might deepen and include mutual material procurements as well. The most important framework for doing business together is the Nordic Defence Cooperation. And the closer you are, the easier the cooperation gets. Therefore collaboration with Sweden is naturally a high priority.
Parts of the Baltic Sea freeze every winter. The Finnish Navy is capable of operating in icy conditions, and proven Baltic Sea maritime situational awareness best practices could be extended to cover the arctic area.
The Navy will implement reform by 2015, which will balance the unchanged tasks and available resources. It will form a basis for development toward the 2020s. The end state will be a well-functioning and cost-effective navy capable of carrying out its tasks.