On April 4, 2023, NATO’s Headquarters in Brussels, Belgium raised a white flag with sea blue Nordic cross, and Finland became the newest member to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
Since the integration, Finland’s national flag is also flying proudly at Headquarters, Supreme Allied Commander Transformation in Norfolk, Virginia as NATO’s 31st ally.
This September, NATO’s Allied Command Transformation welcomed its newly appointed, full-fledged Finnish members from Finland into the NATO alliance.
“I am very happy and excited to be here,” said Lt. Cmdr. Kim Kalima from the Finnish Navy. Kalima is a veteran in NATO-related headquarters assignments, currently assigned as a Medical Officer for the Command since Sept. 1.
Kalima arrived from the Defence Command Finland and is now part of the Allied Command Transformation Medical branch team. This position is Finland’s first actual assignment to the Command structure outside of the National Liaison Representative function.
“We just felt that it is vital for the integration of Finland’s military medical system to have a representative to align doctrines and concepts of military medical support of the Finnish national defence system with the alliance,” said Kalima.
Kalima explains the significance of having a medical branch team at Allied Command Transformation and how Finland supports the Command’s mission by promoting interoperability among Allied nations.
“I think Finland has a lot to contribute when it comes to large-scale medical planning and also special know-how on civilian military co-operations, cold weather operations, and the specifics of field medical treatment in cold weather, just to name a few.”
Finland has a way of living called “sisu”, a 500 year-old concept that focuses on grit and determination.
How does being an ally strengthen Finland’s partnership with NATO?
“Never alone again,” said Kalima as he reflects on Finland’s history.
“During World War II, we were alone fighting a superior enemy. Being neutral isn’t really working anymore.”
Finland, being part of the alliance now is very much like science, Kalima said. It is part of what he says is a “natural” process.
“Finland has been part of the western world for decades. We belong to every other western alliance economically and legislatively; and we are part of the European Union. So, in my opinion it makes total sense to belong to NATO.”
Kalima and his staff said that they are looking forward to building more professional relationships and camaraderie with the NATO community.
“I consider the allied countries to have those bits of discovery as everybody is trying to solve the same problems with different approaches and that might be the best truth right now when you combine all of that,” said Kalima.
Kalima said that he was fortunate to participate in Finland’s accession and integration work group. This spring, when Finland flew its flag on NATO grounds and played its national anthem —it was a historic experience for the attendees.
“We were waiting for that and it was a fantastic day,” said Kalima. “The speeches were fantastic and it was a proud moment.”