Hägglund: Finland is party to armed conflict in Afghanistan
Finland’s former Chief of Defence Gustav Hägglund, who also served as the Chairman of the European Union’s Military Committee, says that Finland is a party engaged in an armed conflict in Afghanistan. In an interview with the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE, Hägglund nevertheless emphasised that Finland was not at war with anybody.
“The international community went into Afghanistan to bring down the then Taliban asministration. Finland is a party to an armed entanglement in Afghanistan and that is a fact”, Hägglund said in the interview.
According to Hägglund, the operational environment in Afghanistan has changed. The present international activities there are completely different compared with the situation that prevailed when the Finns were first sent there.
This is borne out by recent reports of Finnish and Swedish troops coming under fire and returning fire at insurgent attackers.
A total of 42 countries are taking part in the NATO-led Afghanistan operation, as part of the International Security Assistance force, ISAF.
Finland has been involved in the operation since 2002.
Finnish peacekeepers mainly serve in the north of the country, which has hitherto been considered relatively peaceful, at least by comparison with the troubled south, where for instance British troops have seen much action of late and taken losses to improvised explosive devices and rocket-propelled grenades in Helmand Province.
One Finnish peacekeeper has been killed in Afghanistan. He fell victim to a roadside bomb in Maimana in May 2007.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Despite risks, no cancellations for crisis management duty in Afghanistan (6.8.2009)
Finnish forces take fire again in Afghanistan (5.8.2009)
Finnish peacekeepers engaged in yet another exchange of fire in Afghanistan (31.7.2009)
Parliament approves additional forces to Afghanistan (9.3.2009)
New US strategy has Finland reconsidering goals in Afghanistan (6.2.2009)