Training Together: Finnish National Defence University and Swedish Defence University
The Finnish National Defence University and Swedish Defence University organized a Training Event Joint Operations (TEJO) together on 20-30 March 2023. The exercise was conducted simultaneously in Finland and Sweden, and the students and instructors were working on a site in each country.
The main objective of the exercise was to develop and improve the participants skills in planning and executing a NATO-led operation. Additionally, a key objective was to increase the cooperation among the students and to improve their knowledge of NATO staff processes and doctrines.
“The exercise took advantage of opportunities provided by digital pedagogy. Independent study, online materials, working in groups and the practical exercise significantly improved the students’ skills”, the Officer Conducting the Exercise (OCE,) Vice Rector of the Finnish National Defence University Colonel Rainer Peltoniemi summarizes.
“It is great to see how the students can take on new information and work together seamlessly in such a short time, when they are motivated. The security policy situation and the ongoing NATO application processes of the countries also had an impact on the exercise,” he continues.
The students of the 74th Staff Officer Course and the 61st General Staff Officer Course were the Finnish students of the exercise. The corresponding course level students were also participating from Sweden. The instructors and experts in the exercise included people from Finland, Sweden and the United, Kingdom, for example.
The Chief of the Defence Command Finland, Lieutenant General Vesa Virtanen inspected the exercise on Wednesday 22 March and was happy with what he saw. Lieutenant General Virtanen thought that the way in which the exercise was done and its pedagogic solutions were particularly successful.
The Swedish Defence Attaché, Captain (N) Kalevi Wiksröm visited the exercise on Wednesday 29 March. He saw it was important that the cooperation between Finland and Sweden is so strongly visible in the interaction between the students.
The exercise groups also said that the exercise was important, the arrangements were good and spirit of the exercise was high.
“One of the targets of the exercise was using English in a NATO context and for that, both countries had English language specialists supporting the exercise and students. A common understanding and processes are the pre-requisites for joint operational planning and execution of a NATO-led operation, “says Commander Konsta Veikkonen who led one of the groups in the exercise.
“This was a great way of deepening defence cooperation between Finland and Sweden. The countries have many common interests here in the High North. Gaining a better understanding of NATO’s way of saying things and its jargon is vital as well. Personally, I like Finland and Helsinki, and Santahamina has excellent facilities for the exercise,” a Swedish officer continues.
Pär Lager, from the Swedish Defence University, was a mentor in the exercise and was happy with the level of cooperation:
TEJO prepares the officers for NATO's joint operations. The cooperation is effective, open, skilful and reliable. All of the participants do not have experience of such exercises from before, so this is a very good learning experience.”
A Finnish major, who led one of the groups in the exercise, agrees:
“This was a very good and important exercise” We learned the functions of a NATO-led joint level operation and got to work together with the Swedes. In a long exercise like this, you get to know each other better, which is a good thing for the future.”
In the closing event of the exercise, the Vice Rector of the Finnish National Defence University, Colonel Rainer Peltoniemi (left) thanked the participants of an excellent exercise and cooperation, and in return the head of delegation from the Swedish Defence University, Lieutenant Colonel Peter Värnqvist, reaffirmed that the cooperation will continue in the future.