First extensive military exercise as a NATO member was successful – Millog prepared equipment loaned to the French ready for use in record time

During 4–15 March 2024, NATO members and partners trained their collective defence capabilities in the northern parts of Finland, Norway and Sweden. The Finnish Defence Forces was satisfied with Millog’s successful maintenance activities and support for the French troops during the Nordic Response 24 exercise.

In March 2024, Finland participated for the first time as a NATO member in exercising collective defence of the Alliance’s northern regions. A huge number of troops were on the move; over 20,000 soldiers from 14 participating countries trained in arctic conditions in the areas of northern Finland, Norway and Sweden. Part of the Steadfast Defender 24 exercise drills, Nordic Response 24 occupied the Finnish Defence Forces long before it began.

“Cooperation meetings were held with e.g. representatives of Customs, the Finnish Border Guard and the municipal authority of Hetta for over a year. In Nordic Response, we introduced new functionalities and levels of leadership and equipped a foreign member state battalion operating in Finland. The exercise activities did not end there, as there are several other exercises in the spring,” says the Commander of the Finnish Army, Lieutenant General Pasi Välimäki.

He is satisfied with the exercise, as the participants were able to learn a lot and make observations about both successes and what could be done even better in future.

“The exercise had to take into account a huge number of details related to logistics, such as border formalities and customs clearance in the three countries, as well as the transfer of troops and vehicles from one country to another, for instance. I think it went quite well, after all, we’ve been practising these kinds of actions for a long time,” he says.

Also, according to the Commander of the Logistics regiment, Colonel Petri Rantanen, the exercise was successful overall.

“What was new for us, was the very active and standardized reporting and evaluation already during the exercise. The membership was also reflected in the atmosphere of the exercise: in Nordic Response 24 we really felt part of the NATO. The conditions were demanding, as the distances were long, there was a lot of snow and the road networks are sparse. The mild weather, however, certainly contributed to the exercise being carried out,” Colonel Petri Rantanen depicts.

Hats off to conscientiousness

Petri Seppälä, Millog’s Preparedness Director, describes the exercise as a solid performance with an “international twist”, and thinks that Millog’s employees participated in the exercise with excellent spirit. The Finnish Defence Forces leased a large number of military vehicles to French troops during the exercise. The lease also included training.

Captain Jussi-Pekka Koskinen, Chief of Maintenance at the Finnish Defence Forces’ Logistics Command, led the preparation of the loaned equipment on a tight schedule.

“Millog played a significant role in the supply chain of the exercise, and they prepared almost 70 vehicles ready for operation on a record-fast schedule before the exercise. Millog also sent maintenance technicians to support the French troops. They were very pleased with Millog’s support,” he says.

“How much and with what dedication and conscientiousness the people at Millog did their work, I can only take my hat off and thank them”

Captain Sami Korhonen, Chief of Maintenance of the Finnish Defence Forces’ Logistics Command

Captain Sami Korhonen, also Chief of Maintenance of the Finnish Defence Forces’ Logistics Command, says that Nordic Response 24 went extremely well in terms of maintenance: “There were minor problems, as always, but everybody tried to do what had been agreed. And how much and with what dedication and conscientiousness the people at Millog did their work, I can only take my hat off and thank them. The end result was very good! And things that didn’t go quite as hoped during the exercise, we will fix in the spring in the Northern Forest 24.”

Colonel Petri Rantanen also has positive things to say about Millog’s support. The exercise gave idea of what the need for maintenance support is like at different stages of a long exercise. In his opinion, learning from observations and seeking jointly agreed operating models is the first and foremost cornerstone of making progress as partners now and in the future.

“Naturally, the equipment wears out more during a long exercise. The support we received from Millog was very effective. Together, we have developed a functioning supply chain with clear operating principles. Maintenance patrols also play a key role in the exercises, so that the troops can continue to operate despite equipment failures,” he says.

Increasing importance of maintenance

During the exercise, the Commander of the Finnish Army noticed that there was a lot going on when visiting Millog’s Tervola site. He predicts that the pace will continue to be intense for both the Finnish Defence Forces and its partners. In his opinion, Millog will certainly need new kinds of expertise in future.

“Time will tell what kind of equipment will be deployed for the exercises and what kind of procedures each country has for moving its own systems and troops. We try to connect Millog to the planning of entities and maintenance tasks as soon as it is rational,” Lieutenant General Pasi Välimäki says.

“As a member of NATO, the Finnish Defence Forces and its partners commit more time and financial resources to the exercises. The tasks there are more diverse and wide-ranging. The importance of maintenance is increasing all the time, and we need to think about how we can achieve the best result together as cost-effectively as possible so that we use the tax euros we receive sensibly,” he emphasises.