Territorial Forces (Finland)
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (January 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)|
|Active||14 February 2007–present|
|Branch||Finnish Army, Finnish Navy, Finnish Air Force|
|Role||Land (local defence)|
Territorial Forces, (Maakuntajoukot in Finnish) are regional forces of Finnish Defence Forces (FDF) composed of volunteer reservists who have signed a contract which obliges them to do certain tasks during a crisis. The FDF works with and superivises the National Defence Training Association of Finland in the training of troops. Territorial Forces are composed of Territorial 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. Sometimes the name is rendered as local defence units or volunteer reserve units.
Most important duties for Territorial Forces are protection, guarding, oversight and defence of certain targets and the area of their respective military district in general. In addition, Territorial Forces are tasked to provide assistance upon request to police and/or fire departments and other officials. During war, Territorial companies will fall under direct command of their respective headquarters of their respective Military province just as they are in peace time. Members of the Territorial Forces have their personal equipment (excluding combat items such as vests, ballistic protection & helmets and weapons) at home on loan from the FDF, allowing quick mobilisation of troops in case of crisis since they only need to add combat equipment, 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 FDF. In 1993, the National Defence Training Association of Finland was founded to guide and organize the voluntary defence training; the legal basis was established in 1994. In 2001, it was decided to develop the voluntary defence training. In 2002, a ministry-level working group was created to study the matter. The group released its report in 2004, calling for creation of what would become Territorial Forces. On 14 February 2007, the Finnish parliament passed the Act on Defence Forces 551/2007 which allowed the creation of the Territorial forces; President Tarja Halonen signed the law on 11 May.
During TF formation, left-wing political parties and other political groups criticized Territorial Forces for being too close to White Guard, abolished after World War II, while some civilian organizations such as the Finnish Red Cross said that Territorial Forces shouldn't take a part in operations that fall under their area of expertise, such as peace time volunteer rescue service.