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Reducing our Vulnerabilities

1st Lieutenant Susanna Takamaa / Finnish Reserve Officers' Federation / CIOR Public Affairs 29.06.2023

Amongst the keynote speakers were professionals from NATO, of several national level defence organizations as well as civil-military cooperation on wide perspective. The opening words of the Symposium were given by the President of CIOR Toomas Luman, who welcomed everyone and repeated some of his remarks from the speech he gave on Monday at the Opening Ceremony (read it here).

Major General Francois-Marie Gougeon from France works for the NATO Director Policy and Capabilities Division. He spoke about the NATO’s defensive umbrella that must be opened wider in case of a stronger storm. “The Russian invade showed us we could no longer decide for ouselves when and how we are drawn into conflicts,” Gougeon noted. As for NATO coming closer together, “this is only a starting point of a transformation, the beginning of the journey.”

Major General Francois-Marie Gougeon

The first session of the Symposium was about how to maintain defence capability when mobilizing reserves from our societies, which will be the most important factor in a long-term full scale military conflict in Europe. Giving their national perspectives were Major Genral Marc Overton from the United Kingdom and Commodore Tuomas Tiilikainen from Finland.

Major General Overton pointed out, that Ukraine would not currently exist without its Reserve forces. According to Overton the success of Ukraine has been underpinned by several factors such as speed of mobilization that provides a competitive advantage, the reserves are an integral part of defence plans, Ukraine is maintaining and integrating reserves and supporting reserve structures, and utilizing of special skills to deliver capability. He also pointed out, that there are notable areas of weaknesses too, including inconsistent levels of reserve equipment.

As priorities to the development of reserve Overton mentioned things such as digitally enabling the reserves in order to better understand and utilize the civilian skills and improve mobilization processes, commence a specialist skills study to identify how we support those specialist capabilities that are difficult to train and retain in the regular force, and take into better account the reserve service families, providing through-service support rather than just on mobilization.

Commodore Tiilikainen talked about the Defence system of Finland, where conscription is the basis of the defence and strongly supported by the President, Government and Parlament as well as the population. Men between ages 18-60 are liable for military service and women can volunteer.

“Conscription will be developed as a key part of the reform of the Defence Forces,” Tiilikainen states.

Dr. Oliver Zajec

The first part of the Symposium was finished with Mr. Camilo Villarino, the Head of Cabinet of High Representative of tge Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy from the EU, who gave notes from the EU’s strategic role in terms of geoeconomic sanctions and investment on global defence.

During the second part of the Symposium Dr. Oliver Zajec, the Director of the IESD (Institute of Strategic ans Defense Studies) talked to the Symposium about the Ukrainian war and the Western co-belligerence as key element in the political-military equation of the conflict. “Ukraine remains a heroic and courageous country – but they can in no way hold their ground without the international support,” said Zajec. “Ukraine must prevail and deserves our full support.”

The Ukrainian speaker, Lieutenant Colonel Vladyslav Tychyna spoke about the Ukrainian war from a CIMIC perspective, as a Civil-Military cooperation expert. Tychyna gave heartwarming presentation of the cooperation between civilian and military personnel in the middle of the war. Especially all the Russian attacks towards the Ukrainian infra, such as the Kakhovka Dam have affected the civilians and have been an effort of strength. Tychyna received a standing ovation from the Symposium.

Lieutenant Colonel Vladyslav Tychyna

 

Last speaker on the Symposium was Major General (ret.) Pekka Toveri. Toveri, now a Member of the Finnish Parlament, is a former chief of intelligence of the Finnish Defence Forces and gave a speech if Russia still has military capability to exert pressure, from the Western world’s perspective. He pointed out that Russia still works with similar mindset and leadership as during the Soviet times, but that the country does not lack of material nor men.

For more photos go to our Facebook.

Photos: Susanna Takamaa

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