Major General Petri Hulkko assumed the post of Commander of the Finnish Army on 1 August 2017. The Army Commander Change of Command Ceremony was held on 31 July 2017 in Mikkeli.
Major General Hulkko transfered to his new position from the post of Chief of Staff of Army Command Finland. Lieutenant General Seppo Toivonen, who has led the army since July 2014, has transfered to the reserve.
Lieutenant General Seppo Toivonen has developed the army and its readiness in accordance with the demands brought about by rapid change in the security environment. In his speech at the ceremony, Major General Hulkko thanked his predecessor, saying that the Defence Forces Reform planned under his leadership has created a good foundation for the operations and further development of the Finnish Army.
Under Lieutenant General Toivonen, the army has changed from a trainer of conscripts into a true readiness and training organisation. The use and training of personnel as well as the exercise system has been refined in order to respond to even more rapid and unexpected situational development.
Lately, the army has implemented both functioning and cost-effective solutions for materiel development. This decade has been one of development for the Finnish Army, while the strategic projects of the Navy and Air Force are to begin in earnest at the turn to the 2020s.
“From the army’s point of view, we must also look towards the future beyond strategic projects. The next time that army capabilities become outdated will be in the 2030s. Building capabilities takes on average ten years. Already at the beginning of the 2020s, we should be able to see the alternative solutions towards which we will have to begin to move”. Major General Hulkko said.
“Also in the future, national defence will be built upon general conscription. Personally, I see no other alternatives. Together, we must continue to do our utmost, so that as many Finnish men and female volunteers as possible enter military service and honourably complete it. This is not a demand stemming only from military need, it is also of great benefit to our entire society”. Major General Hulkko emphasised.
The change in the international security environment has placed significant expectations also on the army. As part of the Defence Forces, and in cooperation with other authorities, the army must continuously be prepared, and have the capability to react to traditional military threats as well as to more complex threats than earlier.
The army’s participation in military crisis management and the significantly increased amount of international cooperation are part of displaying and developing the credibility of national defence. Lieutenant General Toivonen emphasised the exceptional dedication to their tasks of the army’s personnel.
“I would like to thank everyone serving in the army for their efforts in furthering our readiness capability. The army’s salaried personnel and conscripts are an important resource both in disturbances in normal conditions and in case of unexpected changes in the security environment. The army’s extended capability rests naturally on our reservists”. Lieutenant General Toivonen said in his speech.
“With great gratitude I would like to commemorate the sacrifices made by our veteran generation. Without their struggle and post-war rebuilding, Finland would be very different from what it is today. I am certain that the chain of defenders of our independent fatherland will carry on strong also in the future”, he continued.
The change of command ceremony included the unveiling of the portrait of the retiring commander Lieutenant General Toivonen, a luncheon for invited guests and the handover ceremony in the courtyard of the Mikaeli concert and congress centre. All of the army’s brigade-level units were represented at the ceremony. After the ceremony the Conscript Band of the Defence Forces performed for invited guests in the Mikaeli concert hall.