Finland observes centenary of defense forces
HELSINKI, June 4 (Xinhua) -- The Finnish defense forces on Monday celebrated their centenary with a parade in Seinajoki, central-western Finland.
Colonel Asko Valta from the Pori Brigade said the parade was "a celebration of the national service and conscript system" and "not a show of force" as comparable parades in some other countries.
The parade was received by general Jarmo Lindberg, the commander of defense forces.
Interviewed on national broadcaster Yle, Lindberg said that surface-to-air defense are still under consideration as future option, but he indicated a combination of jet fighters and missiles is likely.
"No country has a missile system that covers the whole area", he said. He noted that in neighboring Sweden the planned Patriot missiles would protect only the Stockholm area.
Lindberg said the operational budget of the defense forces would be sufficient to cover the plan of deploying new ships and aircraft. Finland will order 60 fighters to replace the aging F18 Hornets. The type to be purchased has not been decided.
Contrary to most western European countries, Finland has a national service system that enables the call-up of a war time strength now given as 280,000 men and women. The numbers were upgraded some years ago from 230,000.
During the cold war, the Finland's deployable reserve was at 500,000.
Armed forces day is celebrated on June 4, which is on the birthday of Marshall C.G.E Mannerheim. He was the commander in the civil war and in World War Two. He also served as the country's president in 1944-1946.