Reserve Officer School
|Reserve Officer School|
The Colour of the School
|Role||Reserve officer training|
|Size||200 conscripts, 250 career personnel, 700 students during courses|
|Part of||Eastern Finland Military Province|
|Decorations||Order of the Cross of Liberty|
Reserve Officer School (Finnish: Reserviupseerikoulu, RUK), located in Hamina by the South-Eastern border, is the unit responsible for the training of the bulk of the Finnish reserve officers.
This means two yearly courses of some 750 men and women. The School is organized into a Reserve Officer Course, two supporting companies, a Logistics Centre and the Kymenlaakso Regional Office. The Reserve Officer Course is divided into eight companies:
- 1st Company: infantry and anti-tank weapons
- Ranger Company: sissi troops, reconnaissance and artillery forward observers
- Artillery Battery: mortar and artillery, as well as artillery forward observers for infantry
- Air Defence Battery: anti-aircraft fire control and firing positions, as well as military police
- Engineer Company: combat engineers, EOD and counter-CBRN
- Signal Company: signals corps and the signals service of field artillery, anti-aircraft troops, mortar units and Finnish Air Force.
In addition to the eight units of the Reserve Officer Course, the School has a Jäger Company and a Transportation Company which are responsible for providing support personnel for the school, most importantly, the military policemen, drivers and medics.
Organizationally, Reserve Officer School is a brigade-level unit which belongs to the Eastern Finland Military Province. The unit was founded in 1920 and has operated continually with a single break from 1945 to 1947 when the Finnish officer training was stopped by order of the Allied Control Commission. Since its founding, the school has been situated in Hamina, with the exception of war-time 1939–1945, when the school was evacuated to Niinisalo in Kankaanpää. During the years 1942–1945, the school operated under the name of Officer School (Finnish: Upseerikoulu). Since 1920, the School has trained over 168,000 reserve officers for the Finnish Defence Forces.
The Status of Reserve Officer
Within the Finnish Defence Forces, the vast majority of officers advance through the ranks during conscript duty, instead of being commissioned from without for a separate career path.
At the termination of the basic duty of eight weeks, some dutymen are selected for extra training as reservin aliupseeri, lit. Reserve Non-Commissioned Officer. After seven weeks of training some NCO students are selected to become Reserve Officers, who are trained at the Reserve Officer School. Both the Reserve NCOs and Reserve Officers serve for 11,5 months, while the majority of conscripts serve for 5,5 months.
In any case, the Reserve Officer School still trains the higher officers, of whom most will still be relinguished -- not so much relegated -- to the reserve. In the Finnish system, should war be declared, Reserve Officers would immediately gain the same Acting rank as their fewer, previously standing counterparts, so that they are full officers, only in reserve.
The rank of a Reserve Officer is also a more or less obligatory prerequisite for attending the National Defence University. It could then be argued that the only truly commissioned officers in Finland are those who not only graduate the university, but (almost invariably) get a commission afterwards, so that almost all commissioned officers in Finland have more or less advanced through the ranks as well.
The Training in the Reserve Officer School
After the first seven weeks of the Lower Officer school, those most suitable for Reserve Officer training are selected on the basis of the first phase of schooling and the basic conscript phase. Most officer students are previous high school graduates and start university studies after their military service. Some have already graduated from a university.
In the Reserve Officer School students receive training for the duties of platoon leader (or equivalent). The curriculum includes studies in leadership, tactics and physical education. After a 3½-month-long course, they are promoted to officer cadets and sent to their 'home' garrisons to train their war-time platoons from the recruits. After 5½ months of service as officer cadets, they are promoted second lieutenants and discharged. Come war, they would ideally lead more or less the same platoon as they led at training time.
Traditionally, the training of a reserve officer has carried certain social distinction and has been tied to high positions in industry and economy. E.g. former Nokia CEO Jorma Ollila was the Chairman of his Reserve Officer course.
The high educational level of most reserve officers offers the Finnish Defence Forces a chance to fill many war-time vacancies on the basis of civilian professions. For instance, a manager of a civilian transportation company might have a wartime placement as a brigade-level logistics officer. Conscripts who are medical students or doctors are usually given special training to become reserve medical officers.
Other Reserve Officer Training
Some special branches carry out their own reserve officer training. Among these are the Special and Para Jäger units of Utti Jaeger Regiment, Armoured Brigade. Navy reserve officers are trained in Naval Warfare School and Air Force reserve officers in Training Air Wing. There are also some technical braches which recruit from early on in a recruit's conscript path, some of them mostly being secret. One such path would be the Messaging Corps and especially its School, which has remained somewhat secretive and mysterious from its beginning even to most Finnish officers.
- Varusmiehiä kouluttavat joukko-osastot 2008. Reserviläinen 1/2008, p.38. ISSN 0557-8477 (Finnish)
- RUK: perustietoa. Finnish Defence Forces. Retrieved 7-13-2011. (Finnish)