2nd MAW Marines Train with Finnish Air Force at Exercise ILVES


By Robbin Laird

Since 2018, the Marines have ramped up their efforts to train in the Nordic region and to operate in Cold Weather.

With the Nordics ramping up their defense capabilities, and working greater integration with each other and with their North Atlantic partners, there are enhanced opportunities for Marines to work in the region as well.

As VADM Lewis made clear last week in his speech at the FOC ceremony on July 15, 2021 aboard USS Kearsarge for Joint Allied Command Norfolk, the expertise of the Nordics is certainly a valued part of reworking North Atlantic defense. And for the North Carolina-based Marines, this means expanded opportunities to learn from our Nordic partners.

During my visit to 2nd MAW last week, I had a chance to talk with VMFA 115 about their time in Finland and will report on that later this month.

But for now I would simply highlight that what I learned during my 2018 visit to Finland about how the Finnish Air Force operates was reconfirmed as a core defense capability in the defense of Europe.

I will focus in the interview piece on the cross-fertilization between Marine Corps and Finnish approaches going forward for regional and North Atlantic defense.

In this article, I simply wished to highlight some of the photos from VMFA 115s visit to Finland.

In the featured photo, U.S. Marines with Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 115 are seen with Airmen from Finnish Air Force Fighter Squadron 31 at Rissala Air Base, near Kuopio, Finland, June 17, 2021.

Marines with VMFA-115 deployed to Kuopio, Finland in support of Squadron Visit ILVES (Finnish for “Lynx”).

According to 2nd MAW: “The purpose of Squadron Visit ILVES was to conduct air-to-air and air-to-ground training, improve proficiency in joint and multinational tactics, and enhance partnerships with international allies. VMFA-115 is a subordinate unit of 2nd Marine Aircraft Wing, the aviation combat element of II Marine Expeditionary Force.”