Adding these 2 nations to NATO seen as strategic advantage for U.S.

By Andrew Powell

Marines fire their rifles during chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear night operations in preparation for Exercise Freezing Winds 22 in Syndalen, Finland, Oct. 13, 2022. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Meshaq Hylton)
U.S. Marines fire their rifles during chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear night operations in preparation for Exercise Freezing Winds 22 in Syndalen, Finland, Oct. 13, 2022.

A new report from the Heritage Foundation shows the addition of Finland and Sweden into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, is a win for the U.S. and will provide a strategic advantage.

The report states both Finland and Sweden have “demonstrated significant capacity and will as NATO members by investing in their militaries and by providing substantial amounts of aid to Ukraine,” further noting the membership enhances the alliance and adds critical assets – Finland provides substantial reserve forces, while Sweden has a robust defense industry.

NATO has a 2% defense budget GDP guideline for its members. Both countries have exceeded this and are now participating in NATO military exercises, according to the report.

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“Finland demonstrates a steadfast commitment to enhancing its defense capabilities by substantially increasing its defense budget. Finland’s fiscal year 2024 defense budget increased by $6.6 billion, constituting 2.3 percent of its gross domestic product.

“This exceeds NATO’s 2 percent of GDP investment guideline, an indicator of political resolve to contribute to NATO’s common defense,” the report states.

The report points out Finland gains significant strength from manpower, despite its relatively small population of 5.5 million people. It has one of the largest fully mobilized armies in NATO with 280,000 troops.

A Finnish soldier fires a mortar under the supervision of U.S. soldiers assigned to the Army's 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade, 4th Infantry Division during a cross weapons training at Niinisalo, Finland, July 21, 2022. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Tobias Cukale)
A Finnish soldier fires a mortar under the supervision of U.S. soldiers assigned to the Army’s 4th Squadron, 10th Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade, 4th Infantry Division during a cross weapons training at Niinisalo, Finland, July 21, 2022.

Finland’s army, navy, and air force are also heavily equipped with tanks, heavy and light rocket launchers, anti-aircraft weapons, command vessels, minesweepers, jets, and long-range surveillance radars.

Sweden has an extensive domestic defense industry, submarines, and Sweden’s Air Force is the largest in Scandinavia, and one of the largest in Europe.

“Like Finland, Sweden demonstrates a steadfast commitment to enhancing its defense capabilities by substantially increasing its defense budget. Sweden’s FY 2024 defense budget increased by $2.44 billion, constituting 2.1 percent of its GDP. This budget is double that of its FY 2020 defense budget,” the report states.

Finland and Sweden as members of NATO also present two distinct strategic advantages for the U.S. – the ability to dominate the Baltic Sea, while contributing to the defense of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania; and the extensive border Finland shares with Russia, which presents a challenge to the Kremlin because of Finland’s large military reserves.

Finland shares a 830-mile border with Russia, adjacent to the Kola Peninsula, a critical region known to be home to Russia’s Northern Fleet, which includes attack submarines, ballistic missile submarines, and other surface ships.

The report notes Finland and Sweden’s proximity to Russian naval forces in the Baltic will pose a significant threat to Russia, and will likely force Russia to move in more conventional military assets into the region it previously considered secure.

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