Area Handbook for Finland

By Theodore L. Stoddard; William K. Carr et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 16
THE ARMED FORCES

The position of the armed forces is determined by their usefulness as perceived by the nation. The people at large feel that the armed forces either have improved their situation or at least have prevented it from deterioration. Defense has a high place on the list of national priorities, and military personnel enjoy a favorable social standing.

The mission of the Finnish armed forces is to defend the territorial integrity and national sovereignty of the country. Treaty agreements limit the size of the total force to about 41,900 men and restrict its equipment to defensive weapons. The president is the supreme commander of all armed forces. He is assisted by a Defense Council composed of cabinet members and senior military officers. Service is required of all men between the ages of twenty and sixty years, training is rigorous and effective, and the armed forces have an international reputation for military efficiency.


MILITARY TRADITIONS AND LIMITATIONS

Military Heritage

Although Finland did not achieve full national independence until 1917, its military traditions go back more than 300 years. As a part of Sweden, Finland supplied the Swedish armies not only with drafted foot soldiers but also with an array of highly qualified officers from the Swedish-Finnish aristocracy and the upper classes of Finnish society. Finnish elements of the Swedish armies, which for more than a century played an essential role in European power politics, were among the most effective and respected units.

The victories to which they contributed confirmed their belief in the usefulness of armed forces for national purposes and increased their self-confidence as performers of military roles. The setbacks that Sweden eventually suffered in Europe were explained by the Finns, with considerable justification, as mistakes that had been made by the Swedish kings on political levels where the Finns had no influence. On the level of purely military performance the Finns had done the best that could be achieved under the existing circumstances. As soldiers they felt that their performance on various battlefields had justified their reputation for bravery.

The Swedish campaigns in which the Finns played a great role gave

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Area Handbook for Finland
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Preface v
  • COUNTRY SUMMARY vii
  • FINLAND - TABLE OF CONTENTS xi
  • Contents xii
  • Contents xiii
  • SECTION I. SOCIAL 1
  • Chapter 2 - HISTORICAL SETTING 9
  • Chapter 3 - ENVIRONMENT AND POPULATION 35
  • Chapter 4 - SOCIAL SYSTEM 49
  • Chapter 5 - LIVING CONDITIONS 57
  • Chapter 6 - RELIGIOUS LIFE 71
  • Chapter 7 - EDUCATION AND MASS COMMUNICATIONS 81
  • Chapter 8 - ARTISTIC AND INTELLECTUAL DEVELOPMENT 97
  • SECTION II. POLITICAL 121
  • Chapter 10 - POLITICAL DYNAMICS, ATTITUDES, AND VALUES 139
  • Chapter 11 - FOREIGN RELATIONS 153
  • SECTION III. ECONOMIC 167
  • Chapter 13 - AGRICULTURE AND INDUSTRY 181
  • Chapter 14 - TRADE, TRANSPORTATION, AND SERVICES 193
  • SECTION IV. NATIONAL SECURITY 207
  • Chapter 16 - THE ARMED FORCES 213
  • Index 247
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