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Soviet-built SA-3 GOA low- to medium-altitude antiaircraft
missiles in use by Finnish Defense Forces
Courtesy General Headquarters, Finnish Defense Forces
Finland's defense doctrine foresaw that the army (Maavoimat) would bear the brunt of repelling an invasion or any violation of Finnish territorial integrity during a period of hostilities. Consequently, maintenance of sufficient peacetime readiness of ground forces enjoyed high priority. The importance assigned to territorial defense was reflected in the command structure, which integrated army headquarters with general headquarters. Navy and air force headquarters were on a lower level, parallel with the seven military area commands.
As of 1988, the active-duty ground forces consisted of 30,000 troops, of which 22,300 were conscripts. They were organized into 8 brigades, each with a reduced peacetime strength of 1,500 to 2,000, together with 7 independent infantry battalions with strengths of up to 500 each, supported by artillery, antiaircraft, engineer, special forces, signals, and transport units of varying sizes. Under peacetime conditions, the brigade was the basic ground forces unit; there were no divisions or corps. In wartime, 2 or more brigades plus a number of detached battalions could be combined to form a corps of 15,000 to 30,000 tailored to a particular operation.
Upon mobilization, the first-line army forces, numbering about 130,000 and including younger reservists with recent training, would be deployed initially. In accordance with a fifteen-year (1981-96) modernization program, the best equipped of these units were known as Brigade 90 forces. The program provides for an eventual ten to fifteen brigades. The remaining first-line units, known as Brigade 80 forces, were believed to number ten to fifteen brigades when mobilized. They were similarly organized, but they had less advanced equipment. Although details were lacking, analysts believed that no more than one or two brigades met Brigade 90 standards as of late 1988.
In the north, the Brigade 90 forces would be jaeger (ranger) brigades equipped with tracked all-terrain vehicles, such as the Finnish-built NA-140. In central Finland, the jaeger brigades would have many Finnish A-180 Pasi wheeled armored personnel carriers and other light armored vehicles. Armored Brigade 90s in the south would have the T-72 main battle tank, while Brigade 80 elements would have modernized T-55 tanks; both are Soviet built (see table 22, Appendix A).
A jaeger Brigade 90 consisted of four battalions, each with a complement of about 1,000 troops and each possessing some artillery and antitank capabilities. A battalion comprised four rifle companies. In addition to small arms, its principal weapons were 81mm and 120mm mortars, recoilless antitank rifles, and shoulder-fired antitank missiles. The Brigade 90 antitank company was equipped with truck-mounted, wire-guided missiles. A brigade also included two artillery battalions, one equipped with twelve 122mm howitzers and the other with twelve 155mm howitzers, all towed by tracked vehicles. The brigade air defense battalion consisted of Soviet SA-14 shoulder-fired missiles and 23mm antiaircraft guns, supported by low-level radar and by armored fire control systems. The brigade was supported by an engineering battalion with a strong minelaying unit, and headquarters, signals, and support companies.
Two coast artillery regiments and three independent battalions occupied ten principal hardened gun positions, known as "fortresses," protecting key shipping lanes of the southern coast. These fixed positions, with batteries of turret-mounted 100mm and 130mm guns, had been blasted out of granite cliffs. They were supported by mobile coast artillery battalions to which, in 1988, were being added mobile Swedish RBS-15 antiship missiles mounted on all-terrain trucks.
Antiaircraft defenses were the responsibility of the army, closely coordinated with the air force. The principal weapon was the Soviet SA- 3 Goa truck-mounted surface-to-air missile. In 1988 negotiations were reportedly underway with France for the purchase of Crotale missile launchers and fire control systems to be mounted on the A-180 Pasi armored vehicle for medium-range point defense.
In peacetime, trained garrison forces that could be formed into operational units within hours totaled about 10,500 (8,000 army and 2,500 RVL). In an emergency, the existing brigades and independent battalions could be brought up to a wartime strength of some 70,000 within 12 to 24 hours. In the event of an acute crisis or an attack on the country, planners anticipated that the Fast Deployment Forces--consisting of the most mobile and powerful army elements, together with almost all navy, air force, and RVL units, and key local force units in border areas--would be mobilized. The army complement of the Fast Deployment Forces amounted to about 130,000 and could be activated in two to three days.
Details on the organizational pattern of the fully mobilized army were not made public. Tomas Ries, a specialist in Nordic security, has estimated that the army's share of the general forces, that is, the most powerful elements of the Defense Forces, numbered perhaps 200,000. In combat these troops would be organized into 20 to 25 brigades; about 70 independent light infantry, artillery, antitank, and other specialized battalions averaging 800 personnel each; and some additional specialized forces, mostly of company strength. Many of these units would be equipped with older, less sophisticated weapons, and would include higher age-groups that had not undergone recent training.
The army's share of local forces would consist of about 250 light infantry battalions, as well as smaller specialized units, numbering up to 250,000. They would serve the functions of local defense, surveillance, and guard duty. An important function of the local forces would be to lay antivehicular mines to block the limited road network. These forces would be armed with modern basic infantry weapons, supplemented by older light antitank weapons, mortars, and vehicles, including some commandeered from the civilian sector.
Support troops formed a separate category, normally operating in rear areas, and would not be expected to take part in combat. They would carry out service, support, and logistical tasks. Their mobilized strength would be about 100,000.
Data as of December 1988
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