US, Estonian troops participating in annual Finnish winter military exercise (3)
According to a Finnish foreign policy analyst, the United States’ participation in the Finnish military exercise is sending a strong message to both Finland and Russia.
”[The United States] wants to show its allies its military capabilities. The US wants to show Russia that it has these allies as well as partners such as Finland,” explained Finnish Institute of International Affairs researcher Mika Aaltola, via MTV.fi.
Finland, however, is interested in strengthening its defense capabilities through cooperation with a military giant such as the United States.
“Finland is no longer a Cold War-era neutral country. We are in a security alliance with the West, and the United States is at its center,” stated Aaltola.
Finland signed a host country agreement with NATO in Setpember 2014, which among other factors established the addition of Finnish-NATO joint training exercises, including on Finnish territory, as well as other forms of military cooperation. According to the agreement, in the event of war, NATO troops would have the right to travel through Finnish territory as well as utilize Finnish infrastructure as needed.
The military exercise commencing in Lapland on Monday is an annual exercise of the Finnish special forces’ Utti Jaeger Regiment (Finnish: Utin Jääkärirykmentti), which is carried out in the toughest possible winter conditions. Part of the exercise involves solo surival training, which is open to helicopter teams that belonging to the Helicopter Exercise Programme of the European Defence Agency as well.
In addition to Finnish, American and Estonian troops, Polish and German military troops will be participating in this military exercise as well. Germany will be sending two helicopters Lapland for the occasion.