Finland regions

UK tightens ties with Finland and US in high-level readiness exercise

The deployment follows the UK’s Joint Security Declaration with Finland signed in May.

More than 750 soldiers from the UK, US and Finland gathered this week in Niinisalo, western Finland, to take part in the four-day high readiness exercise. Partner nations practiced interoperability between air and ground forces before Finland joined NATO. This type of international training is essential to prepare allies to operate side by side should NATO deploy in the future.

Armed Forces Minister James Heappey MP said:

Exercise Vigilant Fox demonstrated the strength and interoperability of our armed forces with our American and Finnish allies and reaffirms our commitment to the defense and security of the Baltic Sea region.

British troops based in Estonia as part of Project Unified Stance crossed into Finland in Royal Air Force Chinook helicopters. Troops from Company C, 2-gun Battle Group, were inserted at Niinisalo to join Finnish high-readiness forces from the Jaegar, Karelian and Pori Brigades. The exercise also included soldiers, armored fighting vehicles and helicopters from the US 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team (The Iron Brigade).

Units from the three nations undertook a series of demanding training events, conducting offensive and defensive operations including helicopter assaults, covert landings and short-notice raids using American Black Hawks, Finnish NH-90 and British Chinooks.

Such training improves integration between air and land forces, as well as interoperability between partner nations, and is crucial to ensuring that NATO forces can work together effectively in operations and in times of war.

In addition to air-land integration, the exercise focused on the development of command and control procedures and tactical exercises using a combination of live and blank fire exercises and urban operations.

Colonel Jukka Nurmi, Deputy Chief of Training, Finnish Defense Command, said:

Training events like Vigilant Fox are a great opportunity to learn from each other and Finland is very grateful for the participation of international partners. For Finland, the exercise is an effective way to demonstrate the competence of our conscripts and to check and develop the international compatibility of our own troops. The training and exercise activities carried out with close partners, such as the United Kingdom, are a continuation of a long-standing close cooperation.

Wing Commander Stephen Boyle, Defense Attaché, British Embassy in Finland, said:

Our soldiers, sailors and airmen have received a warm welcome in Finland over the past few months. Exercise Vigilant Fox is the latest in a series of ongoing events across all domains. As Finland moves towards full NATO membership, we will continue to seek opportunities like this to show our solidarity with Finland, learn from each other and improve our ability to operate together.

The exercise comes just two weeks after the deployment of RAF fighter jets to Finland and Sweden for joint training.