Finnish Defence Forces International Centre pays tribute to peacekeepers on its Heritage Day
Heritage Day of the Finnish Defence Forces International Centre (FINCENT) was celebrated at the National Defence University on United Nations Day, 24 October. The day began with a wreath being laid at the Hietaniemi Cemetery to pay tribute to past peacekeepers and then continued with ceremonies at the Santahamina Building. The ceremonies were hosted by Commandant Jukka-Pekka Schroderus, the retiring head of FINCENT, together with the Heritage Association of the UN’s Finnish Company.
The Heritage Day began with the solemn ceremony of laying a wreath at the monument to fallen UN troops and Finnish peacekeepers at the Hietaniemi Cemetery. The monument pays tribute to Finnish troops who have given their lives in peacekeeping operations. It was revealed in 2006 to mark the anniversary of five decades of Finnish peacekeeping activities.
The day continued with a meeting of invited members of the UN’s Finnish Company and other daytime ceremonies. Themes of the day included the history of FINCENT and Finnish peacekeeping operations. FINCENT cherishes the heritage of the UN’s Finnish Company, which was the first Finnish peacekeeping and monitoring company to serve under the UN. The first operation took place in Suez from 1956 to 1957. To learn more about the history of the Finnish Company and the Suez operation, watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AXme_pS2t-0&t=956s
The speakers at the Heritage Day focused on the current operations of FINCENT. Lieutenant Colonel (retd) Vesa Kouhia and Doctor of Philosophy Tuomas Kuronen talked about the quality assurance and assessment operations of the centre and its work in international networks, and the required competencies. Head of FINCENT, Commandant Jukka-Pekka Schroderus gave a welcoming speech and talked about the new, detailed requirements that the UN has set for its crisis management troops and personnel.
The Commandant's viewpoint
Commandant Schroderus has been heading the Finnish Defence Forces International Centre since 2015. A new head will take over the position at the turn of the year; this was the last Heritage Day for Schroderus as the Commandant of FINCENT. Before the Heritage Day, we asked him to share his thoughts, and he was proud to do so.
– "This is a very special position within the Finnish Defence Forces. Perspectives have been opened to me through the EU, NATO, the UN and the African Union on the one hand and through domestic operators, civilians and soldiers alike; they have helped me understand how we all look at things from very different angles. And the rich variety of people – not just those working here with us, but our trainer pool and international partners as well – is a genuine asset", Schroderus says.
The three years that Schroderus has spent in this position have included both challenges and successes. FINCENT’s move under the National Defence University in 2015 meant many changes. It had to build a position among new operators while getting used to the changed organisational environment. On the other hand, the new facilities in the Santahamina Building created an excellent setting for the work. Despite all the changes, Commandant Schroderus found that it was not difficult to step in and continue the good work that FINCENT had always done.
– "FINCENT’s good reputation is undisputed. It has not been built during my three years here, but during all the sixty years of operation. It’s based on everything from the basic military training of troops to the ways we work abroad and handle our HQ operations. We are in a happy position, enjoying all the results of the previous FINCENT generations", Schroderus says.
FINCENT's international networks
FINCENT operates in accordance with internationally approved methods of modern crisis management and training. Military interventions in a crisis should not be seen as a single operation; instead, it must be part of the situation throughout the duration of the crisis. New challenges include cyber warfare and attention to cultural heritages. The United Nations’ crisis management stipulations define the big picture of FINCENT’s operations, but Commandant Schroderus also emphasises the importance of other parts of FINCENT’s networks. Various operators such as the European Security and Defence College, Nordic Defence Cooperation or NATO, just to name a few, all work towards increasingly solid international operations.
Schroderus values the experiences accumulated from international networking. The highlights of his three years as the Commandant of FINCENT include successful operations and visits from people in high position in NATO and the UN. He also places great importance on FINCENT’s ability to bring different parts of the networks to the same table; its latest successes include the organisation of a course on the protection of civilians for the purposes of operations managed by NATO and the UN.
– "We have been very happy to be able to demonstrate how these two organisations can work together", Schroderus says.