In April of 2023 Finland officially became NATO’s 31st member – ending a journey away from full neutrality that began in 1991 when Finland joined the European Union. However, although Finland’s economic neutrality was already a thing of the past, militarily the country had been officially neutral since 1949.

Besides having the longest shared border with Russia of any NATO member, Finland also brings unparalleled expertise in winter warfare – as the Russians learned the hard way in the Winter War of 139-1940. Those skills are being taught to both Finnish and NATO soldiers from USA, Estonia, France, Belgium and Great Britain this month during the Finnish Jaeger Brigade Winter Combat Course this month.

The Jaeger Brigade’s Arctic training professionals will teach the participants personal survival skills, combat techniques and methods to maintaining combat capability required in winter circumstances. The goal is to make the participants understand the effect of winter conditions on a unit’s performance capability, combat techniques, and the way of conducting combat tasks. Among other things, the course participants will be taught the relevance of clothing, hydration, rest and nutrition for the maintenance of combat capability in winter conditions and how to take these aspects into account in different situations.

The course comprises a teaching and a field training exercise phase. After being taught the basics of winter warfare and the survival skills relating to the maintenance of combat capability, the soldiers’ skills will be tested in a field training exercise.

The participation of the foreign soldiers in the Winter Combat Course is part of the Army’s international training cooperation. The experiences gained from courses will be incorporated into domestic training and the development of national defense.