Finnish officers fall short of being clausewitzian strategists
In his doctoral dissertation, Mika Aalto, MSc (Econ.), examines the capacities of Finnish officers to occupy leading strategic roles in the national Defence Force. Vom Kriege ("On War"), the war and strategy theory of the most important war strategist of all time, Carl von Clausewitz (1780-1831) forms the backdrop for the study.
In line with Clausewitz's original view, also Aalto's investigation examines strategic capability from the viewpoint of personality theory. Underlying the research is the wish expressed in 2005 by Admiral Juhani Kaskeala, the former Finland's Chief of Defence, that problems related to the Defence Force should be brought to the open to allow them to be fixed.
Based on Aalto's research, strategic capabilities of Finnish officers are not that good when compared, for example, with those of people with a typical academic background. The most important reason for the problem is, it seems, the National Defence University's entrance exam system which favours non-academic applicants.
As a result, especially after the 2001 officer training system reform, the selection has favoured persons whose capacity for academic study and strategic leadership is just mediocre.
Wrong kinds of individuals become selected for national defence training
According to Aalto, the significance of the problem is highlighted for two reasons. First, precisely at the time when the cadets' academic level has decreased the official status of the National Defence University as an academic university has significantly increased. Therefore, the National Defence University may be regarded as a science university which is short of academic students.
Second, especially in accordance with the research conducted by the US military forces, modern warfare requires good academic and strategic capabilities not only from officers operating on the actual strategic level but also from others. Thus also practical reasons support the view that wrong kinds of individuals seem to become selected at the National Defence University for training to satisfy the needs of modern warfare.
As the decline of Finnish officers' strategic capabilities is taking place just at the stage when those capabilities should be increasing, the matter is causing many kinds of problems, even major ones, for the Defence Force.
For this reason, the Defence Force at the moment is in a crisis that is more serious that it itself realizes. For example, the saving targets recently set for the Defence Force fade almost into insignificance in light of the impending collapse of national defence capability in the near future due the down-skilling of the officer corps.
Public examination of the thesis
The public examination of the doctoral dissertation, Tragedy of a strategist. Finnish officers as clausewitzian strategists, by Mika Aalto, MSc (Econ.), in the subject area of management and international business will take place at the Aalto School of Economics, on Thursday, 26th April 2012 at 12.
Professor at the Lappeenranta University of Technology and Dosent at the National Defence University Pauli Juuti, DSc (Econ.) and Mika Kerttunen, Dr. Pol.Sc., (Baltic Defence College, Tartu) will act as opponents and Risto Tainio, DSc (Econ.), as the custos.
Representatives of the media can inquire after free copies from the Communications unit of the School of Economics, viestinta-econ [at] aalto [dot] fi or tel. +358 (0)50 566 5673. The dissertation can be ordered by email from toolo [at] ayy [dot] fi.
mika.aalto3 [at] luukku [dot] com
tel. +358 (0)40 563 1845