Future Military Leaders Seminar delved into the future of officer training and military leadership
For the first time, the Future Military Leaders Seminar was organized at the Finnish National Defence University in Santahamina from 12-13 October 2023. Personnel and students from the Finnish and Swedish defence universities attended the two-day seminar. Last time, the seminar was held in Sweden in May 2022.
The goal of the seminar was to discuss the consequences of the war in Ukraine and the effect of NATO in particular for Finland’s and Sweden’s military leadership. The topics were worked on by panel discussions, presentations and group discussions.
”We reached our objective successfully, and the group assignments and discussions of Finns and Swedes pursuing senior staff officer studies deepened their perceptions of the changed security environment from the leadership perspective in particular”, says the Finnish National Defence University’s Military Professor of Leadership, Lieutenant Colonel Aki-Mauri Huhtinen.
The seminar was attended by both Finnish and Swedish experts. Doctor of Military Sciences, Colonel Anders Palmgren represented the Swedish Defence University in the capacity of its Chief of Training.
“It is really important for Finland and Sweden to cooperate and learn from each other. Issues regarding NATO and military leadership, for example, are prominent at the moment, and it is important to discuss them together”, Palmgren emphasizes.
In their military training programmes, many countries have focused mainly on crisis management in the past few decades; the eventuality of a European war has not been taken into account. The war being fought in Europe at the moment has changed the perspective, and there is a desire to make real warfare instruction a bigger part of officer training again.
“We have been lucky, because there has not actually been a war in Europe since the Second World War. Now, with the war going on, it is crucial not only to learn from the situation in Ukraine, but also to remember what a full-scale war in Europe means”, Palmgren says.
The war now going on also emphasizes the importance of cooperation between different countries. Finland and Sweden share a long history together, so maintaining the cooperation between the countries will be self-evident in the future as well.
“Our countries share not only the same values and culture, but also a common view on defence. These aspects make it easy for us to operate together outside NATO and, perhaps, also inside it in the future. Another important aspect when it comes to future cooperation is that the students of both schools get to know each other thanks to seminars such as this one, for example, Palmgren emphasizes.
Speeches and panel discussions
The first day of the seminar consisted of speeches and a panel discussion. The keynote speech was delivered by Senior Researcher of the NDU’s Russia Group, Lieutenant Colonel Janne Pukkila. In his presentation, he discussed the different stages of the Russian invasion from spring 2022 to autumn 2023 also reflecting on the crucial moments, consequences and changes to procedures.
In addition to Pukkila, Brigadier General Sami Nurmi from the Ministry of Defence, Brigadier General Manu Tuominen from Defence Command Finland, and Colonel Anders Palmgren from the Swedish Defence University each delivered a speech.
In his speech, Nurmi focused on the defence policy perspective by speaking about the multicultural and multidimensional military leadership environment and the requirements involved. Tuominen presented requirements which the battlefield of the future will bring with regard to the training of leadership and administration and the training of future officers and reserve officers. Palmgren, in turn, spoke about military command proficiency and its key characteristics before joining the other speakers in the final panel discussion.
On the second day of the seminar, it was time to take a look at the students’ group assignments, discuss them and have the students explain the ideas and solutions to the whole audience.
The first seminar day speeches and panel discussion can be viewed on the Finnish Defence University’s Youtube channel.