Chief of Defence says conscription may soon not be sustainable
Puheloinen says defence spending cuts could lead to drastic moves
General Ari Puheloinen, Finland's Chief of Defence, has given dire warnings about the current state of Finnish defence funding.
Speaking at the opening of the autumn’s National Defence Course on Monday, the general said that more money needs to be allocated to defence after 2015. He warned that otherwise radical moves would be in store.
Puheloinen said that if current trends continue the tasks of the military would have to be reassessed, conscription would have to be dropped, and the Defence Forces would have to go give up on the doctrine of defending the entire country.
By the turn of the decade Puheloinen says that Finland would face a more thorough reform of the Defence Forces than the one that is now taking place. He warns that this would not be limited to the military - it would affect society as a whole.
"The result would be all of these measures, because the factors in question are interlinked", Puheloinen said.
According to the Chief of Defence, it would not be possible to sustain Finland’s current system of defence if the defence budget were to remain at the level that it will be in 2015. He says that inflation adjustments would not be enough.
"It is about materiel", General Puheloinen said to Helsingin Sanomat.
Lurking in the background is the constant rise in the price of modern weapons systems. At the same time Finland needs to prepare for major acquisitions of its Navy and Air Force. Decisions will have to be made at the end of the decade and in the 2020s.
Puheloinen said that after the ongoing reforms in the military, Finland will not be able to resort to the old remedies – reducing the number of garrisons or of the strength of the wartime army.
He pointed out that the remaining garrisons will be needed for the training of soldiers. He said that a further reduction in wartime strength would mean that there would not be enough personnel to defend the entire territory of Finland.
Speaking at the same event on Monday, Minister of Defence Carl Haglund (Swed. People’s Party) said that one solution could be separate funding of the kind that Sweden and Norway have used in their acquisition of jet fighters. In that system, large purchases of armaments would always involve a supplementary budget.
"Separate financing is one way", Puheloinen said. "However, it is not a permanent solution."
Both Haglund and Puheloinen pointed out that Finland’s neighbours, Russia, Estonia, Sweden, and Norway are all increasing their defence budgets.
The government is working on a new security and defence policy report, which is due for completion by the end of the year.
Puheloinen denies that his outspokenness on Monday was directed at those who are drawing up the report, saying that doing so "is not my job".
Previously in HS International Edition:
Defence Forces restructuring may lead to changes in number of officers (3.8.2012)
Military spending cuts: Defence Forces to save nearly EUR 20 million by relinquishing real estate holdings (10.2.2012)
Significant cutbacks planned for Defence Forces (8.2.2012)
Cutbacks in defence spending drive Finnish generals into tourist class (7.1.2010)
Finnish Defence Forces