Finland, Intelligence and Security
Finland's geographic location made the nation one of the key strategic intelligence points during the twentieth century. Its position on the Baltic Sea, and proximity to both Russia and Western Europe, influenced the development of its national political character and intelligence community.
During World War II, as the Nazis planned their invasion of the Soviet Union and sought to stop operations of the Soviet Navy in the Baltic region, the Finnish government feared invasion. With the aid of the United States Office of Strategic Services, the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), members of Finland's intelligence community were smuggled into neighboring Sweden. The operation was known as Stella Polaris. There, agents sold the United States information on both Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union. However, Finnish intelligence also sold the same information to several other nations.
During the Cold War, Finland again was a key espionage and intelligence outpost. Both American and Soviet agents operated in Finland. Finland did not join the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), but provided western European and United States intelligence forces with crucial information on Soviet operations. As well, many Soviet defectors were smuggled through Finland.
Today, Finland maintains a few strategic intelligence services. Finnish intelligence's specialty is electronic and remote intelligence systems. As Finland is a member of the European Union (EU), its intelligence community is aiding the development of EU military intelligence.
In Finland, all intelligence services operate under the direction of the ministry of defense or the ministry of the interior. The national intelligence community makes the traditional distinction between internal and external intelligence, and divides its military and civilian agencies accordingly. Finnish military intelligence service is the General Staff Intelligence Division (PT). The agency is responsible for boarder control and foreign intelligence surveillance. Signals intelligence is gathered and processed at the agency's Communications Expertise Facility (VKL).
The civilian intelligence service, charged with domestic intelligence and internal security, is the Security Police (SUPO). The agency maintains extensive counter-espionage and counterintelligence units and aids development of security structures within the other national intelligence organizations. The agency maintains three operational divisions, the Unit of Development and Supportive activities, the Security Unit, and the Counter-espionage Unit.
In 2001, Finnish intelligence services began a two-year project to upgrade their existing electronic and remote surveillance equipment. Within the international community, Finnish intelligence pledged the use of this equipment to aid in global anti-terrorism efforts.