New Finnish Chief of Defence rejects professional army

Ari Puheloinen (Photo YLE)

The next Finnish Chief of Defence, Ari Puheloinen, is not in favour of the introduction of an all-professional Army in Finland. He believes that a reservist army is a less expensive and more effective system.


In Puheloinen’s view the present system of conscription and reserve time is optimal for Finland, YLE reports. At current spending levels the country is able to maintain a 350 000 man strong army reserve, he says. If Finland should adopt a system of professionals, defence spending would have to be doubled in order to keep a 40 000 man strong army. According to Puheloinen, 40 000 soldiers will not be enough to defend a country the size of Finland.

Puheloinen, who takes over as Chief of Defence in August, also argued that professional armies do not attract the best members of each generation:

- In those countries that have shifted to a professional army I course of the last decade, there have been difficulties in getting quality recruits to fills the ranks, said Puheloinen.

According to Helsingin Sanomat, Lieutenant-General Ari Puheloinen, 57 has long been seen as a likely candidate for the post of Chief of Defence, which becomes vacant when its current holder, Admiral Juhani Kaskeala retires at the beginning of August.

Puheloinen has earlier had posts like Commander of the Parola armoured brigade and Commander of the Eastern Defence Region. He has also international experience, serving as a deputy military attaché in Moscow, and in special OSCE duties in Vienna. As a younger man, he studied at Harvard University in the United States.