Mattis Visits Finland: Highlights the Importance of Nordic Defense


2017-11-07 Second Line of Defense has underscored the importance of the evolving challenges as well as strategic responses of the Nordics to those challenges.

Apparently, Secretary Mattis agrees.

Yesterday, he visited Finland and highlighted their contribution to democracy and to the defense of the region.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis applauded Finland’s contributions to democracy and global security today after meeting with the country’s most-senior government official.

 As part of his five-day trip to Europe, Mattis spoke today in Helsinki, after meeting with Finnish President Sauli Niinistö.

“My country highly values Finland’s contribution to the global coalition to defeat [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria],” Mattis said in a press appearance with Niinistö.

“I think that your tactically skillful and ethically sound troops have brought courage and competence to the battlefields against terrorism in the same manner in which your country has brought compassion to the humanitarian fields on so many occasions,” the secretary said.

Mattis added, “The lessons of our success in reducing the terrorist threat is a reminder that we are strongest when we democracies stand together, united in the face of barbarism, united in the interest of peace.”

He also highlighted the standup of the new European Center of Excellence for Countering Hybrid Threats.

“With this center, Finland has created an institution fit for our time, and I thank you, Mr. President, for your foresight,” Mattis commented.

efense Secretary Jim Mattis and Finland’s President Sauli Niinistö speak to the media at the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, Finland, Nov. 6, 2017. DoD photo by Air Force Staff Sgt. Jette Carr

The secretary complimented Finland’s commitment to Nordic defense cooperation, to include assuming the chair for the Arctic Council.

“By tightening such cooperation here in the north, we see the deterrent capability of democracies strengthened,” he said. “In today’s conversations, we reaffirm that relations between Finland and the United States have never been stronger.”

Finland is looking to modernize its defense forces, including replacing their F-18s.

Finland has increasingly participated with other Nordic states in enhancing deterrence in the region.

According to an article by John Vandiver in Stars in Stripes published November 6, 2017:

Finland is assembling what is expected to be its largest military exercise in years, modeled on Sweden’s recent “Aurora” drills that concluded in September. About 20,000 troops, including roughly 1,400 U.S. servicemembers, took part in Sweden’s biggest military exercise in two decades.

Helsinki is following suit.

“The exercise (in Finland) is planned to broadly gather conscripts, reservists and soldiers to practice … together with our main partners like Sweden, the United States and other countries,” Finland Defense Minister Jussi Niinisto told reporters ahead of a visit by Defense Secretary Jim Mattis.

“If there’s a crisis, it will be good for us to practice receiving help,” Niinisto said.

Editor’s Note: For our look at the new Finnish center, see the following:

For our new Special Report on North Atlantic and Nordic defense, see the following: