Special Forces in Focus: The Finnish Coastal Jaegers

Finnish coastal jaegers

The Baltic Post, 26 June 2017

The Finnish Coastal Jaegers (Swedish: Kustjägarna, and Finnish: Rannikkojääkärit) are the amphibious arm of the Finnish Navy. The unit consists of both regulars and conscripts, predominantly Swedish-speaking, and is located at Nyland Brigade (Uusimaa Brigade) in Dragsvik, near Ekenäs.

The Finnish Coastal Jaegers primary role is to conduct counter attacks against enemy landings in the Finnish archipelago, an environment known for small islands and skerries. Jaegers can function independently or with the support of artillery units, including light or heavy mortars. A number of Coastal Jaeger troops receive training for unconventional warfare and reconnaissance behind enemy lines.

Finnish Coastal Jaegers during an amphibious landing

Conscripts are selected for training at 1. & 2. KustJK (the Coastal Jaeger companies, Swedish; 1. & 2. Kustjägarkompaniet) in Dragsvik on the basis of the physical review taken by all conscripts before they enter military service. After 8 weeks of basic training, privates are assigned to further training. The number of jaegers trained varies per intake, but usually about 30-50% of the conscripts in the two KJKs go on to receive marine training, with approx. 40% of them selected for training as NCOs or officer candidates. The other half of KJK recruits receive training for support roles such as cooks, medics, drivers and boatsmen, for easier combat roles and may even be transferred to other units.

Conscripts are selected for NCO (Stage 1) education during basic training. Candidates for officer training are selected during the 7-week-long Stage 1 of NCO training. About 10-20% of Stage 1 NCO candidates are sent to the Reserve Officer’s School for the 14-week-long course and become officer candidates upon return to Dragsvik.

Finnish Coastal Jaegers approaching the island Gyltö, Northern Coast in Finland

The main elements of Jaeger training are combat training, weapon handling, endurance and mobility. For privates the training is 5.5 months and encompasses the fundamental elements of amphibious/marine warfare, urban operations and individual military operational specialty. NCO and officer training lasts for 11.5 months, incorporating urban combat training. A Jaeger candidate is more likely to spend time marching with a heavy rucksack than doing push-ups. Marches are usually carried out with “full field equipment” (meaning 40-50 kg) and can be as long as 80-90km. NCO and officer trainees can go with as little as 2–4 hours of sleep during a 4-day exercise.

The difference in length, quality, and intensity of training is reflected in the composition of units used for international duties. These usually consist almost exclusively of NCOs and officers.

An international Corps of Marines from Sweden, Finland, and the U.K. conduct amphibious assaults on a beachhead in Ravlunda, Sweden, for local media outlets during BALTOPS 2015, June 13. The amphibious forces are part of 17 NATO Allies and partner nations that are integrated in air, land, and sea operations to improve their combined-force capability to work together and to respond to threats in the Baltic region. Featured is a Finnish Coastal Jaeger in action.

Coastal Jaegers obtain the right to wear the unit’s green beret (jaeger green beret with a golden sea eagle) by reaching the required standards in shooting, running, swimming, strength, completing all major exercises and completing the beret march. The beret march is approximately 80 km in length, over which the Jaeger candidates must navigate by foot, carrying 40–45 kg of equipment. Every 5–10 km the candidates stop to complete tasks, such as medical evacuation of “wounded” soldiers, shooting, weapons handling and map reading. At one point, candidates are put on a boat and driven to an unknown location. They must locate themselves on a map and find their way back to the route.

The coveted Finnish Coastal Jaeger Green Beret

The primary form of transport used by the Finnish Coastal Jaegers is:

Jehu-class landing craft

U-701 Jehu-class transport boat

Jehu-class landing craft (also referred to as U-700 class) are a class of military transport vessels used by the Finnish Navy. Manufactured by Marine Alutech under the designation Watercat M18 AMC, the boats can perform a multitude of tasks ranging from troop transport and landing operations to patrolling and escort tasks as well as combat and battle support operations. The Jehu-class boats are considerably larger and better armed that the preceding Jurmo-class landing craft.

The new class of landing craft was ordered in October 2012 to supplement the existing Uisko and Jurmo classes as part of a project to improve the performance and equipment of the coastal troops. The cost for the first batch of 12 boats was about 34 million euro.

Ceremony of the Finnish Navy recieving the first three Jehu-class transport boats

Jehu-class boats are 19.9 metres (65 ft) long and 4.3 metres (14 ft) wide, and have a draugth of 1.1 metres (3.6 ft). Their displacement at full load is 32 tons. The boats are powered by two Scania DI16 007 diesel engines, each with an output of 900 horsepower (670 kW), driving two Rolls-Royce 40A3 water jets. This gives the boats a maximum speed in excess of 40 knots (74 km/h; 46 mph) and a cruising speed of 35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph) at full load. The boats have an aluminium hull and a superstructure made of composite materials, and offer a ballistic protection which is at same level or even exceeds that of the Patria Pasi APC.

Jehu Class (Watercat M18 AMC) Landing Craft, Finland

Served by a crew of six (two professional officers and four conscripts), the Jehu-class boats are designed to transport 25 troops in the enclosed cabin. In addition to landing and combat operations, the boats can be quickly converted for medical and evacuation tasks as well as act as command launches. The onboard amenties for the crew include a microwave oven, water boiler and a water toilet as well as heating and air conditioning systems.

Jehu-class landing craft interior

For combat operations, the Jehu-class boats are armed with a Saab Trackfire Remote Weapon Station (RWS) fitted with either 12.7 mm NSV machine gun or a 40 mm Heckler & Koch GMG grenade machine gun, and a coaxial 7.62 mm PKM machine gun. In addition, the boats have pedestals for two crew-operated NSV machine guns. In future, the modular construction allows fitting of naval mine rails or a light anti-ship missile system.

Saab Trackfire Remote Weapon Station
Class overview
Name: Jehu-class landing craft
Builders: Marine Alutech
Operators:  Finnish Navy
Preceded by: Jurmo-class landing craft
Cost: 34 million euro (12 vessels)
Built: 2012–
In service: 2014–
Building: 12
General characteristics
Type: Landing craft
Displacement: 32 tons (full load)
Length: 19.9 m (65 ft)
Beam: 4.3 m (14 ft)
Draught: 1.1 m (3.6 ft)
Installed power: 2 × Scania DI16 007 (2 × 1,150 hp)
Propulsion: Two Rolls-Royce 40A3 water jets
Speed:
  • Over 40 knots (74 km/h; 46 mph) (maximum)
  • 35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph) (full load)
Range: 200 nautical miles (370 km; 230 mi)
Troops: 24
Complement: 5-6
Armament:
  • Saab Trackfire Remote weapon station (RWS) with either 12.7 mm NSV machine gun or 40 mm Heckler & Koch GMG, and a coaxial 7.62 mm PKM machine gun
  • 2 × 12.7 mm NSV machine guns (crew-operated)
Armor: Ballistic protection

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