August 22, 2011 defpro.com
According to General Ari Puheloinen, Commander of the Finnish Defence Forces, the current size of the Defence Forces cannot be maintained in the future. Reasons for this include the cost development related to maintaining Finland’s defence capability, large amounts of defence materiel reaching the end of its life span and the decrease in size of conscript age groups.
General Puheloinen, who spoke at the national defence celebration in Iisalmi, said that a defence force of the present size is too large in relation to the available resources. According to him, structures need to be downsized and modes of action and processes developed alongside of the organizational reform. The objective is better cost-effectiveness.
General conscription is still the most cost-effective way of producing the necessary troops. Conscription is also widely supported by society. This was shown by a survey commissioned by the Defence Forces and carried out by Taloustutkimus Oy, according to which 82 % of Finnish citizens support the current system.
In his speech, Puheloinen also spoke of the decreasing amount of funding available for the Defence Forces. He noted that according to the Government Programme, the Defence Forces will receive 200 million euro less than what is required for realising the functions laid out in the previous White Paper. According to Puheloinen the Defence Forces will face the need to save up to 400 million over the next four years. On top of the first 200 million, tens of millions of euro may be added as a part of the Government’s overall savings requirement. At the same time, cost pressures over the next few years are approximately 150 million euro.
From the point of view of maintaining the defence capability, Puheloinen considers the coming reform of the Defence Forces to be positive. He emphasized that maintaining the defence capability is not only about downsizing, it is about building something new at the same time. In practice, however, the reform will affect all areas of the Defence Forces.