107th Cadet and 90th Midshipman course celebrate graduation
107th Cadet and 90th Midshipman course graduated as Bachelors of Military Sciences on the 25th of August. President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö promoted 163 graduating Officer Cadets to Lieutenant in the Presidential Palace Hall of State. The stately and traditional graduation day is an unforgettable experience for young officers beginning a career that is more international than ever.
The Bachelor of Military Sciences degree primarily aims at providing the Finnish Defence Forces and the Border Guard with academically trained, professional and capable officers skilled in comprehensive combination of theory and practice. In addition to Bachelor of Military Sciences degree studies (180 ECTS), they have passed military vocational studies (30 ECTS) that include rights and licenses required in their future duties as officers.
In the future, more Officer Cadets will be educated and their international career opportunities will expand. In addition to participating in international exercises and events, Officer Cadets are already eligible for e.g. exchange studies.
Finnish Military Academy Commandant, Colonel Jukka Nurmi expressed pride for the first Officer Cadet course to graduate since Finland joined NATO.
“Our NATO membership will show in future officers’ daily duties, especially in the form of increased international exercises. Joint exercises with overseas troops in Finland will become routine across all branches.”
Despite new challenges, Nurmi assures that team spirit is high.
“This course began their studies during the COVID pandemic that required special arrangements in the beginning of their studies. At the same time this appeared to further unify the course, as demonstrated, for instance, by numerous course events over the past few weeks,” Nurmi says.
Officer cadets promoted to Lieutenant in the Hall of State by President of the Republic
The morning of graduation day began with laying flower wreaths in the National Defence University Memorial Hall for Officer Cadets fallen during the wars. Following the tradition, the memorial ceremony continued by Officer Cadets laying wreaths at the Heroes’ Cross and the grave of Field Marshal C.G.E. Mannerheim.
After the honours, the Officer Cadets formed a column by the Parliament House for their grand march, led by Major Aki Kukkonen, to the Presidential Palace. The marching formation consisted of the Officer Cadet Course Commandant, Branch Academy Commandants, the 107th Cadet and 90th Midshipman course, the Military Academy and the Army, Naval and Air Force Academy colour guard (109th/92nd Cadet course), and the Guards Band.
In the beginning of the promotion and appointment of cadets, the President of the Republic Sauli Niinistö greeted the graduating cadets, and highlighted that regardless of the alliance Finland is still responsible for its own defence.
“Even in the future, we are responsible for defending our own country. As part of the alliance, Finland is a provider of security. The foundations of fulfilling this duty are the Finnish defence system, based on conscription and large reserves, and the exceptionally high willingness to defend our country. Our allies know our readiness, and we should cherish the good reputation we have”, Niinistö said.
President Niinistö promoted the Officer Cadets to Lieutenants and appointed them to Finnish Defence Forces and Border Guard officer positions. Minister of Defence Antti Häkkänen and Chief of the Finnish Defence Forces Timo Kivinen congratulated the newly-promoted Lieutenants alongside the President of the Republic. The graduates’ families were also invited to witness the important moment that marks the beginning of their careers as officers.
Traditional closing event held at University of Helsinki
After promotion, the fresh Lieutenants continued their Graduation Day by marching to the University of Helsinki, where a closing event was held in the university banquet room. During the event, the Lieutenants received their diplomas, course and branch-specific primus awards and traditional swords. Rector of the National Defence University, Chief of Finnish Defence Forces and the Cadet Officer course primus delivered speeches.
In his speech, Rector of the National Defence University, Major General Mika Kalliomaa reflected on the officer career and its essence, the significance of which spans centuries. He also reminded the Lieutenants of our wartime officers’ sacrifices for the common good.
“The professional ethos of an officer is to serve our society, one definition of which is ultimately placing the common good ahead of their personal interests.”
“Our wars demonstrated what serving the society may ultimately mean. Many Finnish officers made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. We greatly honour their sacrifice and give thanks to the veteran generations for living in an independent and free Finland,” Kalliomaa said.
"Every officer cadet on the course pulled together and encouraged one another"
In his speech, The Chief of the Finnish Defence Forces, General Kivinen emphasized the importance of responsibility and teamwork.
“The greatest change in becoming officers has to do with the responsibility you are given. Responsibility concerning tasks, employees and especially conscripts. Increasing responsibility does not mean that you would have to work alone. Everyday work is teamwork, the results of which can at best be seen in a competent and good-spirited military group, capable of handling both the mental and physical challenges during a time of crisis”, Kivinen said.
Lieutenant Olli Pulkamo, who studied in the Border Guard Programme, was chosen as Cadet course primus. He emphasized how eventful the years of study had been, demanding flexibility from students, loved ones and educational staff alike.
“I encourage everyone to be curious and open-minded in the face of challenges. There is no cost to perseverance. When one adopts an attitude of genuine interest, learning is easier and work more meaningful,” Pulkamo states.
Pulkamo joins the others in praising the course’s team spirit.
“This team spirit was embodied well in last week’s traditional 24-hour relay, kaaderiviesti, in which we surpassed our goal by over 50 kilometres. Every officer cadet on the course pulled together and encouraged one another. This encouragement and team spirit was also felt throughout studies and the challenges thereof.”
During the closing event, Lieutenant Joni Kosunen was awarded the Army Honorary Sword, Lieutenant Otso Pirinen the Air Force Traditional Sword, Lieutenant Mikko Kuusniemi the Naval Academy Honorary Sword and Lieutenant Olli Pulkamo the Border Guard Honorary Sword. After the closing event, the graduate Lieutenants continued celebrations in the form of a formal dinner.
Congratulations to our new Lieutenants and good luck in their new and varied duties!