Pentagon Mulls Plans to Boost Military Drills With Finland and Sweden

Gen. Milley is visiting Finland and Sweden in a show of support for the Nordic nations' NATO bids

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Mark Milley said Friday that the US military is weighing plans on how to increase participation in planned exercises with Sweden and Finland as the two nations are seeking NATO membership.

Milley made the comments from Helsinki, where he pledged US support for Sweden and Finland’s NATO bid. He said the Nordic countries would bring a “significant military capacity to NATO.”

Sweden and Finland are currently considered partners of NATO and have a history of participating in some of the alliance’s military exercises. This month, Sweden is hosting NATO’s Baltic Operations exercise, which starts on June 5.

Milley will be in Sweden for the start of the Baltic Operations and said the US plans to increase participation in drills with the Nordic countries. “We are developing plans in order to not only sustain the exercise programs we’ve been doing but to modestly increase those,” he said.

Sweden and Finland need the approval of all 30 NATO members in order to join the alliance, but Turkey has objected to their application. Ankara’s main issue with the two nations is their alleged support for the PKK, a Kurdish militant group that Turkey, the US, and the EU consider a terrorist organization.

Swedish and Finnish officials traveled to Ankara last week to discuss the issues, but reports said little progress was made. Turkish officials have said since that the two countries have received Turkey’s demands in writing and that it’s now up to Helsinki and Stockholm to take action.

The US and NATO have tried to downplay Turkey’s objections, but Ankara has made clear it’s serious about its demands. Writing in The Economist this week, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he believes admitting Sweden and Finland would be a security risk for Turkey and NATO.

Author: Dave DeCamp

Dave DeCamp is the news editor of, follow him on Twitter @decampdave.