Friday, October 30, 2015

Sweden and Finland create joint task forces in wake of increased Russian aggressiveness

(Business Insider) Two European countries near Russia, including one that borders Russia, are combining parts of their military forces.

The Swedish government announced on October 29th that it will create a joint naval battle group with the Finnish Defense Forces.

Finland borders Russia to its northeast, while Sweden has seen recent Russian military violations of its territory — most notably by a possible Russian submarine in October of 2014.

The new battle group, known as the Swedish Finnish Naval Task Force (SFNTG), is envisioned as a cost-effective way for the two nations to conduct joint crisis response operations in the Arctic and the surrounding regions.

According to Defense News, the SFNTG will be staffed by troops trained to operate within the region's climatic extremes. The task force will "conduct sea surveillance, exercises and include combined units," Defense News reports. "It would share infrastructure and be able to transfer operational control of units between the Swedish and Finnish navies."

Finewire also notes that the SFNTG will be interoperable with NATO units and the militaries of NATO countries — which is notable as both Sweden and Finland have eschewed NATO membership in order to keep their policies of neutrality intact.

Sweden is also in talks with Finland and Denmark to be able to base naval units in the countries' homeports during peacetime.

The formation of the SFNTG comes amid a series of security shifts among the five Nordic countries — Iceland, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Finland. In early April, the five countries announced plans to expand their defense ties.