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Finland beefs up its defense with 2.2 billion Euros

Finnish soldier in the Cold Response 2022 exercise in Norway. Photo: Emil Biese FDF Combat Camera Team The Finnish Defense Forces have been almost unique in Europe as their primary objective has always been to stop and beat back a Russian peer level attack. Unlike most other countries this priority remained even after the collapse of the Soviet Union. After the 2014 Russian invasion of Ukraine, focus was placed on readiness and the ability to also counter smaller scale hybrid operations that can occur with very little warning. This has been achieved with the creation of readiness units that are manned by a mix of conscripts and professional soldiers.  The 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine has been very different than the 2014 one, with the whole operation opening up as large scale peer level war with all of the tools available in the Russian arsenal used. While this is exactly the premise Finnish defense is based on, the fact of a peer level warfare in Europe has caused the need to bo
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Russian Prototypes, Cope-cages and Missing Artillery

 The Russian two day invasion of Ukraine has now been going on for nearly a month and we can take some quick lessons about their equipment and performance. Much has been written about the failures of Russian operational planning, logistics, communications and leadership. These failures have led to staggering losses. Cope-cage on a well barbecued Russian tank The most distinctive piece of Russian equipment of this invasion has the been top-attack cage armor , aka. cope-cage aka. emotional support armor. The sometimes crudely made slat armor constructions started to appear on Russian tanks during the summer of 2021. While their purpose was initially a mystery, they were soon considered to be a desperate attempt to mitigate the effects of drone launched munitions like MAM-L and to even lesser extent top attack anti-tank missiles like Javelin and NLAW.  The vast amounts of knocked out Russian armor show that the cages are certainly not a surefire way to protect tanks from top attacks. We c

Russian Buildup: Critical elements point towards war

Russian T-72B3 obr 2016 tanks near Ukraine For well over a decade, Russia has been actively building a capability to turn large training exercises into offensive military operations to minimize the suspicions of the buildup. This strategy was successfully employed in 2014 when Russian army occupied Crimea from Ukraine. The same type of maskirovka , or deception, was also used multiple times by the USSR. During the massive Zapad 2017 exercise many western experts and pundits, myself included, were very worried that Russia would use it as a cover to stage an attack against Ukraine or even the Baltic states. Before Zapad 2017 I wrote a short checklist titled "To worry or not": Tweet from 2017 The list isn't comprehensive, but the Russian buildup during the January 2022 ticks all other boxes from that list, with the exception of Air Force assets being deployed to road bases, but that isn't strictly necessary given the availability of runways in the regions surrounding Ukr

Evolving readiness in Finland – Navy readiness units

  Jehu-class boat and NH-90 helicopters. Photo: FDF The Finnish Defense Forces have been working hard with improving their readiness since 2014. The army has developed readiness units that are manned with conscripts serving 6 months of their 12-month conscription in a readiness role. The units are rather hard hitting, with usually a company of infantry augmented by organic artillery, anti-aircraft, and main battle tank detachments. While the Army readiness units have been operational for five years now, the first two Navy units reached operational status in December 2021. The unit is formed much in the same way as the army units, with a core of professional soldiers supported by the 12 month serving conscripts that make up the bulk of the unit. Navy readiness unit conducting CQB training. Note the blue version of the readiness unit patch.    Photo FDF What differentiates the Navy unit from their dry land counterparts, is their ability to be used also in international situations,

Quick guide to identifying the Russian tanks Part 1: Updated Dec. 2021

  As most of the western nations have reduced their inventories to a few or mostly one type of main battle tank model in their active inventories, the myriad of tank platforms and distinct versions employed by the Russian armed forces may feel overwhelming. Here is a quick guide to identifying Russian MBTs. When you come across an image (or the actual thing), follow the steps to identify it properly. Updated 15.12.2021: T-90 modifications Family of the tank Russian Armed Forces currently operates, or at least storage, the following tank platforms/families: -            T-55 (<2000 in storage) -            T-62 (2000 in storage) -            T-64 (2000 in storage) -            T-72 (2000 active duty, 8000 in storage) -            T-80 (2000 active duty, 5000 in storage) -            T-90 (350 active duty, 600  in storage) -            T-14 (20 in field testing) So how can you identify what type of a tank are you looking at? There are two features that can be used to distinguishing th

Opinion: Great Power Competition in the 2020’s – Objectives for the smaller nations

World has moved from the unipolar US Dominated order, that emerged from the Cold War after the collapse of the Soviet Union, into a new great power competition with two major players and multiple smaller powers that aspire to rise to the top tier. China has already successfully challenged USA in the economic sphere. Russia and Turkey among others try to establish a localized area of dominance, while avoiding directly challenging the big dogs. There seems to be a lack of coherent objectives for the US political leadership in this competition. But the minimum viable objectives were well presented by Martin Skold: “The adversary means to either collapse us or coopt us, discrediting our governance model and turning our elites toward it. Any day that doesn’t happen is a good day. Any day we do that in reverse is better.” He also quoted Tanner Greer to explain the issue further: “ As Beijing sees it, China’s success depends on discrediting the tenets of liberal capitalism so that not

Death from above – Russian ad hoc top attack defenses

T-72B3 tanks with crude top armor cages The recent Russian tank upgrade programs and the ever slower moving T-14 Armata saga, have all had significant portion of the efforts put into improving the survivability of the tank and its crew. Both static and explosive reactive armor (ERA) have been upgraded and small amount of the latest T-90M and T-72B3 tanks have active protection systems that may be able to defeat most of the anti-tank missiles and slower moving HEAT shells. Environmentally friendly T-90M While these programs have put some emphasis on the armor on the top of the turret, the main focus has been in the sides and the front of the hull and turret. Additional ERA elements have been mounted on the skirts of the vehicles and slat-cage type standoff armor has been attached into the rear sides of the turrets and hulls. These modifications however have very little effect on direct top attacks by modern anti-tank missiles such as the American Javelin, that is also in the