A controversial military exercise involving US troops begins on Monday in the municipality of Kankaanpää, western Finland.
The war games concentrate around the village of Niinisalo, which is home to a Finnish Defence Forces (FDF) artillery unit that operates as part of the Pori Brigade.
Taking part in the manoeuvres are 2,300 Finnish and 185 American soldiers as well as hundreds of vehicles. The US forces are taking part within FDF combat units. Their equipment includes about 20 Stryker armoured vehicles.
No US troops on the town
Lieutenant Colonel Pekka Purtonen, the second-in-charge of the operation, tells Yle that the presence of American soldiers plays an important role in training Finnish conscripts, reservists and professional military staff.
“Both trainers and trainees gain a reference point against which they can reflect their own know-how and possibly learn new methods,” says Purtonen.
American troops will not be visible on the streets of Kankaanpää, he says.
“The timetable for the manoeuvres is very tight. In practical terms, the soldiers will hardly leave the exercise area and they won’t have any free time,” explains Purtonen.
Brace for traffic jams
The units involved are arriving in Kankaanpää and Niinisalo in stages. Motorists in the area are advised to allow extra time for possible traffic jams. Niinisalo is in the Satakunta region, some 85 km north-west of Tampere.
The war games are scheduled to conclude on Friday the 13th.
Related stories from around the North:
Canada: Canada’s defence review and the Arctic, Eye on the Arctic
Denmark: Nordics to step up security cooperation on perceived Russian threat, Yle News
Finland: Finland confirms 6th Russian airspace violation in just over a year, Yle News
Norway: Norwegian military faces major cuts, The Independent Barents Observer
Russia: New Russian spy ship to keep tabs on Norway, Barents Observer
Sweden: New security landscape in the Arctic, Radio Sweden
United States: U.S. general says Alaska military cuts not final without Arctic plan, Alaska Public Radio Network