Finland’s officers’ union supports NATO membership

YLE NewsEye on the Arctic

According to a Finnish Officers’ Union survey, current budgetary allocations for defense are insufficient for maintaining security.

The majority favor NATO membership.

According to the Finnish Officers’ Union, the professional organization for officers of the Finnish Defense Forces and the Finnish Border Guard, current resources are seriously lacking and NATO membership is a solution that is strongly supported by the union.

Union members surveyed were presented with the following statement: “The defense budget is sufficient for an independent and credible defense force.”

According to the results, 38 percent of respondents totally disagreed with the statement, while 39 percent said that they disagreed somewhat. Only two percent of respondents totally agreed with the statement.

“Almost 80 percent of officers don’t believe that we have an independent and credible defense force,” says the Finnish Officers’ Union General Secretary Hannu Sipilä.

Clear support for NATO membership

In addition, the survey showed that the officers’ support for NATO membership has continued to be very strong.

Sipilä says this a clear outcome of the fact that defense funding is considered insufficient.

“When asked whether Finland should consider NATO membership, 51 percent said ‘yes’ and 32 percent said ‘no.’ Seventeen percent did not want to give an answer,” says Sipilä.

The survey also found that NATO membership was favored by high-ranking officers.

“Particularly colonels and generals, 68 percent of senior officers were in favor of NATO membership as compared with 26 percent of senior officers who opposed it,” says Sipilä.

But despite the support of NATO membership, the officers surveyed stressed the importance of maintaining independent and credible Finnish defense forces.

“NATO would only add value to our own independent defense forces,” says Sipilä.

Only two percent of the officer corps were of the opinion that the current political leadership has worked successfully on behalf of national defence.

“A clear majority of officers believe that our political leaders have failed in matters of national defense,” says Sipilä.

Taloustutkimus Research carried out the survey between Nov. 21 and Dec. 30. There were 2,312 respondents out of 6,000 Finnish Officers’ Union members. Respondents included 256 generals, commodores and admirals, along with some retired military officers.

This story is posted on Alaska Dispatch as part of Eye on the Arctic, a collaborative partnership between public and private circumpolar media organizations.