Gustav Hägglund

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Gustav Hägglund
Gustav Hägglund.jpg
Born (1938-09-06) 6 September 1938 (age 81)
Viipuri, Finland (now Vyborg, Russia)
Allegiance  Finland
Service/branch Finnish Army seal Finnish Army
Rank General

Johan Edvin Birger Gustav Hägglund (born 6 September 1938, Viipuri) is a retired Finnish general. He was the Chief of Defence 1994—2001, and Chairman of the European Union Military Committee 2001–2004.

Hägglund's father was General Woldemar Hägglund, commander of the Karelian front in the Second World War. He was born in Viipuri, an area ceded to the Soviet Union in the Second World War. Despite his Swedish-speaking family background, the Finnish language immersion was total in his youth, and he ultimately had to learn Swedish at school. He was educated not only at the Cadet School in Finland, but also in the United States Army Command and General Staff College in Leavenworth, Kansas. He is also a fellow of the Harvard University.

He commanded United Nations troops in 1978 as the commander of the Finnish battalion (FINBATT) in UNEF II in Sinai, and as the commander of UNIFIL in Southern Lebanon in 1986–88.

Hägglund served under Presidents Martti Ahtisaari and briefly under Tarja Halonen. Hägglund's command of the defence forces was characterized by the general modernization of the force and refocusing from quantity to quality. In the Army, three large "readiness brigades" were formed, and the Air Force upgraded to Hornet F/A-18 fighters. Finland entered NATO's Partnership for Peace programme during Hägglund's command.

A major change was made in the terms of conscription service: reserve officers and NCOs would serve 12 months (lengthened from 11 months), but rank and file would serve 6 months (shortened from 8 months), with some specialists such as military police serving 9 months. Previously the rotation had been thrice per year, in order to maintain a contingent that had been trained at least 4 months. The rotation was changed to twice per year.

Within the military, Hägglund was also a strong proponent of peacekeeping operations, worked to improve their appreciation and opined that officers should necessarily participate. Since Finnish law requires that all participants are volunteers, this brought him into conflict with the officers union, whose opinion was that peacekeeping experience could not be a requirement for career advancement.

Officer training went through a major improvement through to his actions. The cadet school was promoted into university status as Finnish National Defence University, and degrees formalized.

He has published three books, one concerning defence of Finland, one about defence of Europe and an autobiography. In the 2000s, Hägglund has promoted the development of the independent defence of Europe, and estimated that the United States shifts its focus away from Europe, changing the role of NATO.

Hägglund caused controversy in his book Rauhan utopia (Utopia of Peace) by stating that in his opinion Jews were intellectually superior to Arabs.[1]


Military offices
Preceded by
first in office
Chairman of the European Union Military Committee
Succeeded by
General Rolando Mosca Moschini
Preceded by
Admiral Jan Klenberg
Chief of Defence
Succeeded by
Admiral Juhani Kaskeala