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NEWS | April 10, 2024

Commander of Finnish Air Force meets with VNG leaders

By Mike Vrabel | Virginia National Guard Public Affars

Finnish Maj. Gen. Juha-Pekka Keränen, commander of the Finnish Air Force, met with Virginia National Guard leaders April 8, 2024, during a visit at Joint Base Langley-Eustis in Hampton, Virginia. Maj. Gen. James W. Ring, the Adjutant General of Virginia, Brig. Gen. Catherine M. Jumper, commander of the Virginia Air National Guard, and other senior VaANG leaders hosted the visit. 

Keränen was joined by Finnish Col. Markus Mecklin, the Defense Cooperation Attache, and Maj. Mikko Kankaisto, Keränen’s military assistant. The trio flew from Fort Belvoir, Virginia, to Langley on a UH-60 Black Hawk, flown by VNG aviators assigned to the Sandston-based 2nd Battalion, 224th Aviation Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. 

Upon arrival, Ring and Jumper greeted the Finnish detachment, and introduced them to senior leaders with the 192nd Wing, who provided an overview of the Wing’s operations and capabilities, and answered questions from their Finnish partners. 

During a tour of the installation, the Finnish leaders were able to see one of the Wing’s F-22 Raptors, as well as the 185th Cyberspace Operations Squadron, 192nd Operations Group’s new purpose-built facility, which was officially opened in December 2023. There, Wing leaders briefed the Finns on their cyber defense and intelligence capabilities.  

According to Ring, the visit served to further strengthen the already-solid relationship between the Finnish military and the Virginia National Guard. 

“The Virginia National Guard values our partnership with the Finnish Defence Forces,” said Ring. “We are stronger together training as a multinational joint force across all domains.  The Virginia National Guard welcomes the opportunity for continued training opportunities with our Finnish partners, both at home and abroad.”

Keränen agreed, saying he looked forward to continues opportunities to strengthen the bond. 

“It’s always great to see our friends and discuss how to operate together and how to expand our cooperation,” said Keränen. “Hopefully in the future we will cooperate even more than we have now.”

The VNG enjoys an enduring relationship with Finland that includes military training exchanges between Finnish Defence Forces and VNG Soldiers and Airmen. 

Finnish troops served with Virginia’s 29th Infantry Division during the Stabilization Force 10 rotation in Bosnia-Herzegovina in 2001-2002, sparking enduring friendships, and VNG personnel have trained shoulder-to-shoulder with their Finnish counterparts for many years, building deep professional and personal bonds.

In recent years, Soldiers and Airmen conducted cyber training with their Finnish counterparts, competed in a Finnish sniper competition, and learned from Finland’s expertise operating and thriving in Arctic conditions, among other exchanges. VNG Army and Air cyber warriors were also traveled to Finland to take part in the Elements of Cyber exercise.

Finland and the United States have a shared commitment to peace and stability, and security cooperation efforts have broadened over almost 30 years. National Guard leaders believe they will only be strengthened in the years ahead.

Read more about the VNG’s partnership with Finland at

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