NATO maneuvers in the Arctic, promising to defend the newly admitted Finland

NATO nations are engaged in military exercises in the Arctic, vowed to defend its newest member, Finland, which is holding its first joint NATO drill in the region since becoming the Western alliance’s 31st member.

Finland’s inclusion increases the length of NATO’s border with Russia, which in February of last year began a massive invasion of another neighbor, Ukraine.

The Northern Forest exercise, the largest ground military exercise Finland has conducted in modern times above the Arctic Circle, includes about 1,000 allied forces from the United States, Britain, Norway, and neighboring Sweden. There were also about 6,500 Finnish soldiers and about 1,000 vehicles.

Sweden and Finland were ditched to abandon their long-standing military non-alignment policy and seek protection in NATO’s collective defense commitment last year as a result of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

On April 4, Finland joined, prompting a threat of “countermeasures” from Moscow. By the time of the alliance’s summit in Vilnius in July, Sweden hopes to be a NATO member.

Major General Gregory Anderson of the 10th Mountain Division of the U.S. Army, who was in charge of the exercise at one of Europe’s largest artillery training fields in Rovajarvi, northern Finland, approximately two hours drive from the Russian border, declared that his nation was prepared to defend Finland.

“We are here, we are committed. The U.S. Army is here training with our newest NATO ally to build that capability, to help defend Finland if anything happened.”

Major General Gregory Anderson

His troops trained on the ground with Multiple Launch Rocket Systems that had been supplied from Germany. While their Finnish counterparts fired from their Leopard 2A6 tanks, the Swedes and the Norwegians fired from CV90 infantry fighting vehicles, and the UK troops deployed Warrior infantry fighting vehicles,

According to the commander of the Swedish ground forces, Sweden is still Finland’s closest military friend and is prepared to defend its Nordic neighbor both tactically and diplomatically.

“It’s of no question at all. We have prepared plans on what to do if we are to be part of the defence of Finland.”

Major General Karl Engelbrektson

Colonel Janne Makitalo, the exercise’s leader, advised NATO members to exercise caution when making snap judgments about their military needs based solely on footage from Ukraine.

According to Makitalo, “Russia is currently able to destroy, every month, about 10,000 Ukrainian UAVs.”

He claimed that while expensive technology solutions might look impressive on YouTube, they can be quickly identified in a real-world conflict.

The drill takes place from May 27 through June 2.

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