Chief of Defence (Finland)

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Chief of Defence of the Republic of Finland
puolustusvoimain komentaja
Kommendören för försvarsmakten
Flag of the commander of the Finnish Defence Forces.svg
Flag of the Chief of Defence
General Jarmo Lindberg

since 1 August 2014
Finnish Defence Forces
Reports to President of the Republic
Minister of Defence
Nominator The Government
Appointer President of the Republic
Formation 1918
First holder Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim
Deputy Chief of Staff of the Defence Command

The Chief of Defence (Finnish: puolustusvoimain komentaja; lit. Commander of the Defence Forces, Swedish: kommendören för försvarsmakten) is the Chief of Defence and commander of the Finnish Defence Forces, under the authority of the President of Finland.

The Chief of Defence commands the Finnish Army, the Finnish Air Force, the Finnish Navy and is assisted by the Defence Command. He is the highest-ranking officer of the forces (Admiral or General) and his deputy is the Chief of Staff of the Defence Command (Finnish: pääesikunnan päällikkö).

The current Chief of Defence is General Jarmo Lindberg.

Role and functions[edit]

In contrast to many other Western countries, the Finnish Defence Forces have an actual military commander with direct authority over all forces, and the Chief of Staff is a separate position. The Chief of Defence is responsible for all operative aspects of the Defence Forces, while the Ministry of Defence, headed by the civilian minister, plans the long-term economical aspects. In administrative matters, the Chief of Defence has the authority to form or disband any unit below brigade level and to make any necessary reorganization to the command structure of the Defence Forces, unless such changes have wide impacts on the Finnish society, on the finances of the state or on the personnel of the Defence Forces.[1] In command matters, the Chief of Defence has the authority to make any command decision that is not reserved to the President of Finland.[2] In matters reserved to the Minister of Defence or to the President of Finland, the Chief of Defence prepares the decision and introduces his proposal to the Minister or to the President.

The immediate subordinates of the Chief of Defence are [3]

The Chief of Defence is appointed by the President on the nomination of the Finnish Council of State and may be asked to retire whenever a reason occurs. However, since 1972, all Chiefs of Defence have retired only after fulfilling the statutory retirement age of 63.

List of Finnish Chiefs of Defence[4][edit]

Suomen Puolustusvoimien tornileijona.svg
Title Name In Office
Supreme Commander of the forces of the Republic of Finland General of the Cavalry Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim January 28–May 30, 1918
Supreme Commander of the Finnish Military Forces Major General Karl Fredrik Wilkman May 31–August 12, 1918
Minister of Defence Major General Vilhelm Aleksander Thesleff August 13–November 27, 1918
Minister of War Colonel Rudolf Walden November 27–December 31, 1918
Commander of the Finnish Army General Major Karl Fredrik Wilkman January 1–June 19, 1919
General Major Kaarlo Edward Kivekäs June 20–September 11, 1919
Commander of the Hosts General Major Karl Fredrik Wilkama September 12, 1919 – August 7, 1924
Lieutenant General Vilho Petter Nenonen August 8, 1924 – April 16, 1925
Jaeger Colonel Lauri Malmberg April 17–October 1, 1925
Lieutenant General Karl Fredrik Wilkama October 2, 1925 – May 21, 1926
Lieutenant General Aarne Sihvo May 22, 1926 – January 15, 1933
Lieutenant General Hugo Viktor Österman January 16, 1933 – October 16, 1939
Chief of Defence[5][note 1] Field Marshal Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim October 17, 1939 - November 20, 1939
Commander-in-Chief Marshal of Finland[5][note 2] Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim November 20, 1939 - January 12, 1945
Chief of Defence General of the Infantry Erik Heinrichs January 12–July 1, 1945
Lieutenant General Jarl Lundqvist July 2, 1945 – June 3, 1946
General of the Infantry Aarne Sihvo June 4, 1946 – May 31, 1953
General of the Infantry Kaarlo Heiskanen June 1, 1953 – October 28, 1959
General of the Infantry Sakari Simelius October 29, 1959 – November 12, 1965
General of the Infantry Yrjö Keinonen November 13, 1965 – April 30, 1969
General Kaarlo Leinonen May 1, 1969 – March 14, 1974
General Lauri Sutela March 15, 1974 – October 11, 1983
General Jaakko Valtanen October 12, 1983 – February 28, 1990
Admiral Jan Klenberg March 1, 1990 – October 31, 1994
General Gustav Hägglund November 1, 1994 – June 3, 2001
Admiral Juhani Kaskeala June 4, 2001 – 2009
General Ari Puheloinen August 1, 2009 – 2014
General Jarmo Lindberg August 1, 2014–Present


  1. ^ Laki puolustusvoimista. (551/2007) §29. Retrieved 30-10-2008. (Finnish)
  2. ^ Laki puolustusvoimista. (551/2007) §£30, 33. Retrieved 30-10-2008. (Finnish)
  3. ^ Tasavallan presidentin asetus toimivallan jaosta sotilaskäskyasioissa (1089/2007) § 2. Retrieved 30-10-2008. (Finnish)
  4. ^ Suomen itsenäisyyden ajan puolustusvoimain komentajat. Finnish Defence Forces. 2014-08-01. Retrieved 2016-01-16. (Finnish)
  5. ^ a b Klinge, Matti (1997) Gustaf Mannerheim. Kansallisbiografia. Retrieved 2016-01-15. (Finnish)


  1. ^ The official list of Chiefs of Defence on the Finnish Defence Forces site (Retrieved 2016-01-15) does not list Mannerheim as a Chief of Defence. This is because the position of sotaväen päällikkö (Commander of the Hosts) was not abolished. Instead, the newly formed position of puolustusvoimain komentaja was the commander of puolustuslaitos, the contemporary name of the Defence Forces, the Finnish Border Guard and the White Guard.
  2. ^ From 1942 onwards, prior to that, Field Marshal

External links[edit]