A researcher in the Finnish instute of International Affairs Charly Salonius-Pasternak has released a study in wich he is reported to claim, that the Swedish army has basicly been run down. And this supposedly may cause some sort of a military imbalance in the Baltic area. What such an imbalance might mean remains a bit unclear, but we all are affraid of the big boogeyman in the east, are we not?

Sweden has a relatively strong air force in comparrison to the size of the country and a very modern fleet, but according to Salonius-Pasternak this fleet of ships lacks air defence capabilities. However, my observation is, that Sweden has not actually sought any actual overseas power after the 18th century, when the empire crumbled due to actions of one Charles XII. A layman such as myself would expect their fleet is relatively safe from arial attacks as long as it remains in range of their powerfull airforce. Is that not where such a fleet is supposed to operate in order for it to defend the mother country, her indipendence and her waters?

Salonius-Pasternak also says that the Swedish air force is weak in it having no air to ground weapon systems. Now that is strange coming from a Finnish research institute. The Paris peace treaty actually forbids Finland to have any bombers, or other ground attack aircraft. Finnish military or researchers have never openly admitted having especially weak airforce for not having any. And despite the lack of it, neither Soviet Union, nor Russia has attacked us (any more than the Swedes) after the treaty was signed. Perhaps this statement and the entire research could be put in perspective through he fact that it has been the incentive of Finnish military to obtain ground attack capabilities for few past years.

Has the nature of warfare changed so that a believable defence requires air to ground capabilities? There is no doubt that some of these capabilities proved their efficiency allready during WWII, and that is propably why Soviet Union wanted to ban them from Finland. However, would the end result of the Vietnam war have been any different, if the Vietnamese had such capabilities like the US had? No doubt, the US caused terrible losses to both Vietnamese military, guerillas and civillians with those kinds of weapons. US having the air superiority would most propably have stopped any such raids by any Vietnamese aircraft even attempting anything like it.

The Finnish military and researchers sometimes forget, that the Finnish army should compare itself rather to the Vietnamese, than to the US military. If anything has changed since the Vietnam war, it is that the smaller armies have had to revert even further into guerilla tactics. Something, that has served us Finns well before.

A nother suggestion raised in Finnish media from the Salonius-Pasternak research is, that the only possible companion to provide enough support and on equal terms to Sweden is NATO. This suggestion may be seen in Finnish political perspective. It has become an ideological division line in Finland wether someone supports the Finns joining in NATO, or not. The reasonable arguments have long since been forgotten and only well rehearsed jargon remains. Supposedly,  if the Swedes would join, then the Finns would also have to. Why, is never even speculated any more.

Salonius-Pasternak seems not to discuss wether Swedes should make an alliance with Russia. Perhaps, because Russia is seen as the only country, that might ever invade Sweden. Russia has been known to invade it’s allies, however, NATO has invaded a lot more countries during the few decades it has existed, than Russia during it’s entire history. But is Russian invasion in Sweden much more likelier, than that Denmark invades Sweden to gain back lost territories in Skåne? After all Sweden holds no lost Russian territory.

The final suggestion from the Salonius-Pasternak research was that Finland and Sweden should create more military co-operation. With this I do agree. Some time ago one Swedish officer told me, as we were discussing these very issues, that Finnish ground army IS the Swedish army, but that the Swedish air force IS the Finnish air force. To me this simplification sounds reasonable. Such small countries find it very expensive to provide the entire repertoar of conventional warfare. Especially as the on edge technology gets ever more expensive.  But for it to work, this would require the Swedish to give binding promises to help Finland  in case of war, and that might be politically a difficult subject in peace loving Sweden.

It is not as we are about to enter in war with Russia. She has a lot of other neighbours, she finds a lot more troublesome, than the Nordic countries. And even Russia would really have to consider the cost of attacking such an adversary as Sweden and Finland together.

Even in peace time, as it is more realistic to expect peace with Russia (and other great military powers in the world) in the future, the alliance of these age old neighbours and companions Finland and Sweden the division of military efforts would be a good and prosperous prospect. Both countries would save actual money for not trying to create two different militaries, but by specializing on something each of them does really well.

Initially there might be some distrust, but I do not think that in Finnish politics anyone would really claim, that Sweden has ancient imperialist ambitions towards Finland any more than in Swedish politics it would be seriously proposed suggestion, that Finland is trying to milk the riches of Sweden by relying on their airstrength. In addition, it is not likely that Russia would really feel threatened by such an alliance, alltough in medieval history such an alliance resulted in a crusade against the Russians from the west a few times…

Of course both countries would still need their own nominal branches of ground and air forces to secure their sovereign airspace and to protect vital targets within the country itself. But if this idea never turns into reality, it is more because of the attitudes about the NATO conversation, than the reality.

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