Chief of Plans and Policy Division, Defence Command Finland
Brigadier General Vesa Virtanen has held his current position as Chief of Policy and Plans at the Defence Staff since 2017. He has spent his entire career working for the military. In the 1990s he served as an instructor at the National Defence University and served as a UN Military Observer in UNPF and in UNTAES in the Balkans. In the 2000s he served as Staff Officer in the Operations Division of the Defense Command Finland and as Aide-de-Camp (ADC) to the Chief of Defence Finland. When the Chief of Defence of Finland was appointed the First Chairman of the EU Military Committee, Brigadier General Virtanen was asked to serve as ADC to the Chairman of the EU Military Committee in Brussels (2001-2004).
After his work with the EU he served as a Senior Staff Officer focused on long-term planning for the Finnish Defence Forces. In 2007 has was nominated Commander of the Uusimaa Jaeger Battalion. In 2009 he was asked to be the secretary of a working group on the future of general conscription in Finland. The report formed one corner stone for the development of Finnish defence. In 2010 he became Chief of the Training Sector in the Personnel Division of the Defence Command. Just before assuming his current position he worked as Secretary General of the Security Committee, and as the Commander of Kainuu brigade.
Vesa Virtanen holds a master’s degree in Social Sciences (International Relations) from the University of Helsinki. He is a Fellow of the Weatherhead Center for International Affairs at Harvard University (in residence 2012-2013). His most recent publications are The Arctic in World Politics (2011) and The United States, Russia, and China in the Arctic – implications for Finland (2013).
His awards include the Commander of the Order of the White Rose of Finland, Knight, First Class, of the Order of the Lion of Finland, Medal for Military Merits, Civil Defence Medal of Merit 1st Class, Medal of the Reservists Association, the Infantry Cross of Merit with swords, UN medals UNPF and UNTAES.
There is a growing awareness in Western defence forces that operation planning must evolve, making it necessary to understand the environment in its totality. This will require close cooperation across all possible domains both within and between countries. How do military commanders envisage their place and role within this realm? What will their requirements be for the information preparation of the environment they will be operating in? Developing practical ways to integrate inﬂuence activities into combined arms planning and assessment will improve the effectiveness of combined and joint operations. How must commanders change their strategic communication approach to have an effect in their operating environment?