In the weeks leading up to February 24th, 2014, Russia conducted large-scale military exercises on the border with Ukraine.

While NATO focused on that diversion, Russian intelligence services assembled a collective designed for hybrid warfare to facilitate an invasion of Crimea: ethnic Russians in the Crimea, Serbian militias, Chechen soldiers, the Night Wolves motorcycle club, Russian private military companies, and Russian regulars.

This ragtag force was later dubbed the “Little Green Men”—perhaps a reference to their green fatigues without any markings—or as Putin interestingly called them, “Polite People.” Crimea was practically overtaken by little green men, without firing a shot.

The Kings of the North: Meet Finland’s Readiness Units
Source: Wikimedia Commons

After the conflict, the Finnish Defence Forces, which have a rather unpleasant past with Russia, decided they needed to prepare for a hybrid war.

In a scenario where green men show up, nearly all countries would employ its special operations forces (SOF) elements. However, in most Northern European countries, the numbers just aren’t there. Even in Finland, home of the SOF Utti Jaeger Regiment—also referred to as Erikoisjääkarit, or “Special Jaeger”—doesn’t have those numbers. Finland can mobilize around 280,000 soldiers, including reserves, creating Northern Europe’s largest army, bar Russia. But it takes approximately four weeks to do so.

However, according to Finnish military blogger Robin Häggblom, aka Corporal Frisk, the number Finland can assemble in total lies at a dizzying 900,000—from a population of only five million. This is because of “readiness units”, or Valmiusyksitöt. Largely consisting of conscripts and led by professional soldiers, readiness units can mobilize within minutes of an alert in several places around the country.

The Kings of the North: Meet Finland’s Readiness Units
Source: Finish Defence Forces

Readiness units training consist of the following disciplines:

  • Several weapon systems, including anti-tank weapons
  • Communication and electronic warfare equipment
  • Nighttime operations
  • Field medicine
  • Close quarter combat
  • Close protection
  • Helicopter infiltration and exfiltration

While the airborne capability of these readiness units is hailed by experts, it’s the adaptation of armored elements from other units that showcase potent capability. In a North 2018 exercise, the public caught the first glimpse of this capability. The video shows CV90s, APCs, Leopard tanks, and combined arms fire.