Arctic Finland to see biggest military exercise of the year

A Finnish army sniper taking aim during field exercises in Lapland in 2018. (Lapani Leisti / Yle)

7,000 troops will be taking part in exercises in the forests of Finnish Lapland, including a contingent from neighbouring Sweden.

The Finnish Defence Forces’ largest field manoeuvres of the year is the ground exercise ‘Northern Forest 21’ being held in Rovajärvi, Sodankylä and Kittilä up until 3 June. The total troop strength of the exercise is around 7,000 personnel, of which 2,000 are reservists.

The exercise began on Monday with artillery and infantry live fire at the Rovajärvi gunnery range which is located within the municipalities of Rovaniemi and Kemijärvi.

The second phase of the operation, field combat exercises, will start on Monday 24 May at Rovajärvi, and areas in Sodankylä and Kittilä. The exercise ends on 2 June and will be the final war games for conscripts being mustered out next month.

“The exercise aims at developing the use of firepower, and the performance of troops in the challenging conditions of northern Finland. The extensive exercise will enable practice for cooperation among large troop entities,” Colonel Kari Pietiläinen of the Finnish Army Academy explained in a press release.

Swedish soldiers to take part

About 350 soldiers from Sweden’s Norrbotten Regiment’s artillery and communications units will also take part in the exercise.

According to the Finnish Defence Forces, training with Swedish troops will aid in developing joint operational capabilities and the maintenance of a common situational picture. This co-operation and its development is based in the strategic concept of defence co-operation between Finland and Sweden.

Related stories from around the North: 

Canada: Canada’s military launches scaled down annual Arctic exercise, Radio Canada International

Finland: Finnish Defence Minister tells party leaders shrinking fighter fleet would be “irresponsible”, Yle News

Norway: USS New Mexico docked in Tromso on Monday as Norway, US bolster Arctic military ties, The Independent Barents Observer

Sweden: Arctic Sweden to welcome thousands of international troops for Northern Wind exercise, The Independent Barents Observer

United StatesRussian, U.S. foreign ministers to meet on sidelines of Arctic Council meeting, Eye on the Arctic

Yle News

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