The meeting of NATO Ministers of Defence was organized at NATO Headquarters in Brussels on 8 to 9 November 2017. Finland took part in the working session on the Resolute Support Mission as well as Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS and Train Advise Assist Command - North (TAAC - N) meetings organized in connection with the ministerial. Minister of Defence Jussi Niinistö represented Finland at the meeting.
The aim of this week’s Ministerial was to continue NATO’s adaptation for the 21st century and at the same time pave the way for NATO’s next Summit in July held in Brussels. NATO Ministers focused especially on the review of NATO’s Command Structure, Afghanistan and global threats such as North-Korea. In the meetings open to Finland, crisis management and the long-term support to Afghanistan and Iraq were emphasized.
- Participation in military crisis management is part of our partnership with NATO, and thus it is important that we meet regularly also at the ministerial level to discuss the situations and way forward to support the political decision making, said Minister Niinistö.
Active participation in crisis management continues
NATO is presently very much focused on strengthening its deterrence and defence posture. Crisis management is still, however, one of the core tasks and priorities of NATO. Projecting stability and supporting southern and eastern partners in developing their security and related defence capabilities is important especially in the light of terrorism prevention.
The strengthened commitment and support from NATO Allies and operational partners to Afghanistan and Iraq was confirmed at the Ministerial. All in all 28 nations announced that they will increase their troop numbers. As a result, NATO’s Resolute Support Mission will increase from around 13,000 to around 16,000 troops. Also Minister Niinistö stressed the support from international community and the need for long-term commitment in order to advance the security in both Afghanistan and Iraq.
- The key strategic priority for RSM is peace in Afghanistan. This requires a regional consensus and Afghan led peace and reconciliation process. RSM continues to support Afghan forces by providing training, advice and assistance without an end-date.
Finland is also investigating possibilities to provide more troops to RSM.
- In addition, we support the stabilization and reconciliation process by providing Afghanistan with financial support and development aid.
In regard to Iraq, the coalition has gained significant progress and the focus is shifting from combat activities towards stabilization and reconstruction. This requires new types of efforts. According to Minister Niinistö, Finland has already been adapting its activities to match the changing environment.
- Finland continues to contribute to the coalition operation with some 100 troops till the end of 2018, and we are expanding our training activities from Peshmerga forces to cover also Iraqi security forces. Furthermore, Finland provides funding for humanitarian and development activities.
Strenghtening defence materiel cooperation
In addition to the crisis management, also the defence materiel cooperation was strengthened. Finland together with Hungary and UK joined the NATO's multinational cooperation arrangement on the Air-to-ground Precision Guided Munitions (PGMs). According to Minister Niinistö, the purpose of the cooperation is, above all, to increase compatibility and cost-effectiveness and to acquire more and better materiel as well as military technology research data that is of higher quality and more extensive than only national resources would allow.
- The objective of the arrangement is to increase their availability by coordinating all aspects of procurement and loaning possibilities and the exchange of information to ensure that the munitions stored in different countries are as compatible and mutually interchangeable as possible. Hence, we will be able to share information on the Air-to-ground Precision Guided Munitions and its development, to investigate and implement joint procurement possibilities and to improve its availability and military security of supply.