An American warship begins naval exercises in the Baltic Sea today. The USS Kearsarge—a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship and flagship
An American warship begins naval exercises in the Baltic Sea today.
The USS Kearsarge—a Wasp-class amphibious assault ship and flagship of the US Navy’s Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group—will participate in a series of drills with Finland’s navy until August 19. The purpose of the exercises is to improve bilateral military operability ahead of Finland’s expected accession into NATO.
Helsinki’s entrance into NATO will materially benefit the bloc’s military strength but also poses defense liabilities. In manpower, Finland’s armed forces only consist of about 4,700 navy personnel, 22,000 active duty troops and just over 2,000 active duty air force personnel. Nonetheless, the country would tactically benefit NATO, for example by adding its brigade’s worth of advanced German Leopard 2A tanks and its artillery forces—arguably the strongest in all of Europe. On the other hand, Finland also shares an 830-mile border with Russia—raising concerns about the alliance’s Article 5 commitment—and has vocally criticized the Ukraine invasion.
In any event, NATO leadership has put aside accession-related concerns in favor of an opportunity to expand the alliance, in light of concerns over the invasion, Finland’s territorial integrity and the country’s historical integration into Europe’s economic and military-industrial complex.