By becoming part of NATO’s defense planning, the Nordic region could become a cohesive military strategic entity.
Russian The attack on Ukraine raised the issue of Sweden’s and Finland’s membership of NATO in one fell swoop.
We believe that Finland and Sweden could contribute to the promotion of both military and civil defense. Military co-operation between Finland and Sweden has already been deepened on many levels. The aim of cooperation is to improve the countries’ defense capabilities, enable joint operational action and promote common national defense interests, including strengthening the security situation in the Baltic Sea region. By becoming part of NATO’s defense planning, the Nordic region could become a cohesive military strategic entity.
Civil defense In February 2021, the Swedish and Finnish interior ministers signed a policy on deepening co-operation. A month earlier, the Hanaholmen initiative, a joint crisis preparedness course, was launched, which President Sauli Niinistö described as “a valuable step in the right direction in developing civilian crisis preparedness in Sweden and Finland”. The course was created in co-operation between the Swedish National Defense University and the Finnish Security Committee, and the participants were representatives of state and regional authorities, civil society and business.
The program structure of the Hanaholmen initiative is based on seven cornerstones of civilian preparedness, which NATO has identified as particularly important for society’s resilience to crisis. These include energy supply, the logistics system and the readiness to manage large population movements.
If Finland and Sweden join NATO, civil defense must also be harmonized with the Defense League system. In which areas of civil defense could co-operation between Finland and Sweden be further strengthened?
What can Finland learn from the new Swedish model?
One example is the idea of setting up a functioning strategic warning system to inform national governments of the impending crisis at an early stage. Another area for development would be cooperation between public and private actors and civil society. In the face of a crisis, it is important to secure critical supply chains, which requires smooth and well-practiced cooperation between all parties. With NATO membership, this cooperation should be integrated into the Alliance’s civil-military cooperation system (Cimic). Experts also identified the need to build joint capabilities related to hybrid and cyber threats.
Although Sweden and Finland have a long tradition of civil defense co-operation, there is always room for learning something new. As Sweden now replenishes its emergency stocks according to the Finnish model, Finland will follow this development with interest. What can Finland learn from the new Swedish model?
The second part of the Hanaholmen initiative crisis preparedness course will start in August, including new Finnish-Swedish scenario exercises, expert discussions and meetings.
Good crisis preparedness is based on the general perception that some kind of crisis will break out sooner or later. The quality or scale of the crisis is impossible to predict, but different scenarios can be prepared through practice. Here, too, Sweden and Finland are stronger and more crisis-resistant together and also contribute to strengthening NATO’s civilian capabilities.
Head of the Swedish National Defense College’s Total Defense Center
Managing Director, Hanasaari – Swedish-Finnish Cooperation Center
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