Speech by President of the Republic of Finland Sauli Niinistö at the promotion and appointment of cadets on 30 August 2019

Kuva: Matti Porre/Tasavallan presidentin kanslia

Esteemed Cadets,

I congratulate you on the completion of the Bachelor of Military Sciences degree. I hereby promote all you cadets holding the rank of second lieutenant and sub-lieutenant to the rank of officer and appoint you to a fixed-term position of a junior officer.

This is a special day in your career. You have completed your studies at the National Defence University and are now assuming your first duties. Officer training gives you excellent capabilities for serving as trainers and leaders of your troops.

The Finnish Defence Forces and the Border Guard are completely dependent on professionally qualified staff. Your employers have made a decades-long commitment to you. Similarly, you will be, throughout your career, engaged in enhancing Finland’s defence capability and its future development.

You will begin your careers in the position of junior officers in a situation in which our defence capability is strong and border controls effective. At the same time, the world around us is changing, continually posing new challenges for us. Super power competition is intensifying and the geopolitical situation is difficult to predict. Military activity in Baltic Sea region remains at a highly level, and the importance of the Artic region in the security policy context is growing.

The rules-based international order has been upset by serious disruptions. We need to make an effort to protect international cooperation. At the same time, however, we need to be prepared for continued confrontation and uncertainty. As I have indicated elsewhere, it is us who are ultimately responsible for our own security and welfare.

Esteemed Young Officers,

Aside from training duties, some of your will begin your careers by securing and monitoring our borders while others will serve in key aviation and naval duties important to ensuring our territorial integrity. It reflects the wide range of roles for which you have been trained during the past three years.

Most of you will work as trainers of conscripts, who will subsequently transfer into the reserve and be assigned to their designated war-time units. The knowledge, skills and attitudes that you will be able to instil during conscript training will create the basis for efficient combat troops.

Young conscripts and female volunteers entering the national service come with difference capabilities and from different backgrounds, yet all are equal in terms of their rights and responsibilities. Your role as trainers and educators is essential. By your own example, you will give your troops a solid professional skills base and instil a strong will to defend this country that will also be sustained in the reserve.

Our national defence concept is based on universal conscription that we have held onto in the face of global changes. And rightly so. It is a transparent, familiar, cost-efficient and highly functional model. But even the universal conscription system is evolving in response to the times. In recent years, the Finnish Defence Forces have improved preparedness, developed conscript and reservist training and enhanced the performance capabilities of both troops and technical systems. Ultimately, our capability and strength are based on efficient war-time reserves, of which you form the core as professional soldiers.

Rector of the Finnish National Defence University, lecturers and staff,

I thank you for a job well done. The degree of Bachelor of Military Sciences provides a sound basis for young officers to serve in this demanding profession. Thanks to your efforts, the skills and capabilities of the Finnish Defence Forces and the Border Guard will continue to be maintained at a high level.

Young Officers,

I congratulate you and your next of kin on this memorable day and wish you every success in your future duties