Local Defence troops (Finland)
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|Local Defence troops|
|Branch||Finnish Army, Finnish Navy, Finnish Air Force|
|Role||Land (local defence)|
Local Defence troops, or Local Defence units and Volunteer reserve units (Maakuntajoukot in Finnish) are local troops of Finnish Defence Forces composed of volunteer reservists who have signed a contract which obliges them to do certain tasks during a crisis. Finnish Defence Forces and, under oversight of the FDF, National Defence Training Association of Finland are responsible for training of troops. Local Defence troops are composed of provincial companies, each of which is under command of Military province of their area (Sotilaslääni, four in total, divided to 19 military districts (aluetoimisto)), in total there are 28 companies.
Most important duties for Local Defence troops are protection, guarding, oversight and defence of certain targets and the area of their respective military district in general in addition to helping police and/or firedepartments and other officials in number of matters, in war time armed forces companies of Local Defence troops are under direct command of headquarters of their respective Military province just as they are in peace time. Members of the Local Defence troops have their personal equipment (excluding most of battlegear such as flak vests, ballistic helmets and weaponry) at home on loan from the FDF, allowing quick mobilisation of troops in case of crisis since they only need battlegear and additional equipment such as vehicles, signalling equipment and supplies to be completely ready, these will be provided by garrisons and/or other military installations within or at least near to the military district the company in question is located in. Companies are always composed of reservists from area of certain military district within military province in question, providing an advantage of knowing the area of operations. Troops are trained regularly and their physical abilities are tested annually with conditions of suitability for troops set higher than basic expectations for professional soldiers of FDF.
In 1990 Finland declared the military restrictions of the Paris Peace Treaties, 1947 obsolete, which among other things had forbidden the military training outside of the Finnish Defence forces, in 1993 the National Defence Training Association of Finland was founded to guide and organize the voluntary defence training, the legal foundation was created in 1994. In 2001 it was decided to develop the voluntary defence training, and in 2002 a ministry -level work group was created to study the matter, the group released its report in 2004, calling for creation of what would become Local Defence troops. February 14, 2007 the Finnish parliament passed the Act of Defence forces 551/2007 which allowed the creation of the Local Defence troops, president Tarja Halonen signed the law in May 11.
Some left-wing political parties and other political groups have criticized Local Defence troops for being too close to White Guard which was abolished after World War II, while some civilian organizations such as Finnish Red Cross say that Local Defence troops shouldn't take a part in operations that fall under their area of expertise such as peace time volunteer rescue service.