Chief of Defence (Finland)

Chief of Defence of the Republic of Finland
Puolustusvoimain Komentaja
Kommendören för försvarsmakten
Flag of the Chief of Defence
General Jarmo Lindberg

since 1 August 2014
Finnish Defence Forces
Reports to President of the Republic
Minister of Defence
Nominator The Government
Appointer President of the Republic
Formation 1918
First holder Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim
Deputy Chief of Staff of the Defence Command

The Chief of Defence (Finnish: puolustusvoimain komentaja; lit. Commander of the Defence Forces, Swedish: kommendören för försvarsmakten) is the Chief of Defence and commander of the Finnish Defence Forces, under the authority of the President of Finland.

The Chief of Defence commands the Finnish Army, the Finnish Air Force, the Finnish Navy and is assisted by the Defence Command. He is the highest-ranking officer of the forces (Admiral or General) and his deputy is the Chief of Staff of the Defence Command (Finnish: pääesikunnan päällikkö).

The current Chief of Defence is General Jarmo Lindberg.

Role and functions

In contrast to many other Western countries, the Finnish Defence Forces have an actual military commander with direct authority over all forces, and the Chief of Staff is a separate position. The Chief of Defence is responsible for all operative aspects of the Defence Forces, while the Ministry of Defence, headed by the civilian minister, plans the long-term economical aspects. In administrative matters, the Chief of Defence has the authority to form or disband any unit below brigade level and to make any necessary reorganization to the command structure of the Defence Forces, unless such changes have wide impacts on the Finnish society, on the finances of the state or on the personnel of the Defence Forces.[1] In command matters, the Chief of Defence has the authority to make any command decision that is not reserved to the President of Finland.[2] In matters reserved to the Minister of Defence or to the President of Finland, the Chief of Defence prepares the decision and introduces his proposal to the Minister or to the President.

The immediate subordinates of the Chief of Defence are [3]

The Chief of Defence is appointed by the President on the nomination of the Finnish Council of State and may be asked to retire whenever a reason occurs. However, since 1972, all Chiefs of Defence have retired only after fulfilling the statutory retirement age of 63.

List of Finnish Chiefs of Defence


Chief of DefenceTook officeLeft officeTime in officeDefence branch
Mannerheim, CarlField marshal
Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim
(as Supreme Commander of the forces of the Republic of Finland)
28 January 191830 May 1918122 days Finnish Army
Wilkama, KarlMajor General
Karl Fredrik Wilkama
(as Supreme Commander of the Finnish Military Forces)
31 May 191812 August 191874 days Finnish Army
Thesleff, VilhelmMajor General
Vilhelm Aleksander Thesleff
(as Minister of Defence)
13 August 191827 November 1918106 days Finnish Army
Walden, RudolfColonel
Rudolf Walden
(as Minister of War)
27 November 191831 December 191834 days Finnish Army
Wilkama, KarlMajor General
Karl Fredrik Wilkama
(as Commander of the Finnish Army)
1 January 191919 June 1919169 days Finnish Army
Kivekäs, KaarloMajor General
Kaarlo Edward Kivekäs
(as Commander of the Finnish Army)
1 January 191911 September 191983 days Finnish Army
Wilkama, KarlMajor General
Karl Fredrik Wilkama
(as Commander of the Hosts)
12 September 19197 August 19244 years, 330 days Finnish Army
Nenonen, VilhoLieutenant General
Vilho Petter Nenonen
(as Commander of the Hosts)
8 August 192416 April 1925251 days Finnish Army
Malmberg, LauriColonel
Lauri Malmberg
(as Commander of the Hosts)
16 April 19251 October 1925168 days Finnish Army
Wilkama, KarlLieutenant General
Karl Fredrik Wilkama
(as Commander of the Hosts)
2 October 192521 May 1926231 days Finnish Army
Sihvo, AarneLieutenant General
Aarne Sihvo
(as Commander of the Hosts)
21 May 192615 January 19336 years, 239 days Finnish Army
Österman, HugoLieutenant General
Hugo Viktor Österman
(as Commander of the Hosts)
15 January 193316 October 19396 years, 274 days Finnish Army
Mannerheim, CarlField Marshal
Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim
[5][note 1]
17 October 193920 November 193934 days Finnish Army
Mannerheim, CarlMarshal of Finland
Carl Gustaf Emil Mannerheim
[5][note 2]
(as Commander-in-Chief )
20 November 193912 January 19455 years, 53 days Finnish Army
Heinrichs, ErikGeneral of the Infantry
Erik Heinrichs
12 January 19451 July 1945170 days Finnish Army
Lundqvist, JarlLieutenant General
Jarl Lundqvist
2 July 19453 June 1946336 days Finnish Air Force
Sihvo, AarneGeneral of the Infantry
Aarne Sihvo
4 June 194631 May 19536 years, 361 days Finnish Army
Heiskanen, KaarloGeneral of the Infantry
Kaarlo Heiskanen
1 June 195328 October 19596 years, 149 days Finnish Army
Simelius, SakariGeneral of the Infantry
Sakari Simelius
29 October 195912 November 19655 years, 348 days Finnish Army
Keinonen, YrjöGeneral of the Infantry
Yrjö Keinonen
13 November 196530 April 19693 years, 199 days Finnish Army
Leinonen, KaarloGeneral
Kaarlo Leinonen
1 May 196914 March 19744 years, 317 days Finnish Army
Sutela, LauriGeneral
Lauri Sutela
15 March 197411 October 19839 years, 210 days Finnish Army
Valtanen, JaakkoGeneral
Jaakko Valtanen
(born 1925)
12 October 198328 February 19906 years, 139 days Finnish Army
Klenberg, JanAdmiral
Jan Klenberg
(born 1931)
1 March 199031 October 19944 years, 244 days Finnish Navy
Klenberg, JanGeneral
Gustav Hägglund
(born 1938)
1 November 19943 June 20016 years, 214 days Finnish Army
Kaskeala, JuhaniAdmiral
Juhani Kaskeala
(born 1946)
4 June 200131 July 20098 years, 57 days Finnish Navy
Puheloinen, AriGeneral
Ari Puheloinen
(born 1951)
1 August 200931 July 20144 years, 364 days Finnish Army
Lindberg, JarmoGeneral
Jarmo Lindberg
(born 1959)
1 August 2014Incumbent4 years, 30 days Finnish Air Force


  1. Laki puolustusvoimista. (551/2007) §29. Retrieved 30-10-2008. (in Finnish)
  2. Laki puolustusvoimista. (551/2007) §£30, 33. Retrieved 30-10-2008. (in Finnish)
  3. Tasavallan presidentin asetus toimivallan jaosta sotilaskäskyasioissa (1089/2007) § 2. Retrieved 30-10-2008. (in Finnish)
  4. Suomen itsenäisyyden ajan puolustusvoimain komentajat. Finnish Defence Forces. 2014-08-01. Retrieved 2016-01-16. (in Finnish)
  5. 1 2 Klinge, Matti (1997) Gustaf Mannerheim. Kansallisbiografia. Retrieved 2016-01-15. (in Finnish)


  1. The official list of Chiefs of Defence on the Finnish Defence Forces site (Retrieved 2016-01-15) does not list Mannerheim as a Chief of Defence. This is because the position of sotaväen päällikkö (Commander of the Hosts) was not abolished. Instead, the newly formed position of puolustusvoimain komentaja was the commander of puolustuslaitos, the contemporary name of the Defence Forces, the Finnish Border Guard and the White Guard.
  2. From 1942 onwards, prior to that, Field Marshal
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