Who is Corporal Frisk?

Who is Corporal Frisk?

Johan Danielsson Jubbila was born in Kokkola, Finland, in 1694. Sometime around 1720 (most probably in 1721) he married Carin Eriksdotter Lööf, the daughter of an old couple from the bourgeoisie in the nearby city of Nykarleby. After this, the newlyweds moved back to the Jubbila homestead, where Johan was noted as the master in 1724. They then lived a long life together, with Johan dying sometime around 1787 and his widow a few years later. 1721 he is noted as serving as a corporal, using Frisk as his last name during his service.

The details of his service are unconfirmed, but trough the general history of the Swedish Army units of Finland an educated guess can be made. Most probably he joined Kalajoki Kompani of Österbottens Regemente (the company from Kalajoki of the regiment of Ostrobothina) when it was reformed in 1710. The Great Northern War was by then going poorly for Sweden, and the original regiment had been wiped out in the years before. One battalion was stationed in Riga when it fell that same year, and the other battalion was lost in the surrender at Perevolochna that followed on the Battle of Poltava the year before that.

A Carloean soldier on a Finnish postage stamp from 1940. Source: Wikimedia Commons/Posti- ja telelaitos

In 1710, Johan would have been sixteen, and as such probably eligible for drafting, at least as Finland was getting short on manpower after several long years of war. In 1714 the regiment took part in the Battle of Storkyro (fi. Napuen taistelu), where it formed the centre of the Swedish battle line, being the strongest of the seven infantry regiments of Armfelt’s force. The battle ended in a decisive Russian victory, and after suffering a large number of casualties the remnants of the Swedish army had to retreat to Sweden, leaving Finland to be occupied by Russian forces until the end of the war in what is known as “The Great Wrath” (fi. Isoviha, swe. Stora ofreden). In 1718 the regiment joined the rest of the Finnish regiments as well as a few Swedish regiments (Hälsinge and Jämtland) as part of Armfelt’s corps that marched into Northern Norway to try to capture Trondheim. The main Swedish army operated in southern Norway, where it failed to capture Fredriksten. During the siege Charles XII died, and the whole campaign was called off. Armfelt received word of the failed siege, and ordered his units back into Swedish territory during the early days of January 1719. However, while crossing the mountains, a blizzard struck, and of the close to 5,800 men that set out, only around 2,100 reached the safety of the Swedish village of Duved, today a peaceful ski resort. The event has since become known as the Carolean Death March. By this time, Johan was 25 years old.

The Swedish ambitions had been crushed, and with the death of the king, no one was interested in trying to go for yet another round with the Russians. Peace was signed, and in 1721 the Finnish regiments could finally return home. By that time, the regiments were as ravaged by the war as their home country, with Johan’s Ostrobothnians numbering only 364 man, when the regiment had had 775 men on strength at Storkyro seven years earlier. At some point Johan had advanced to the position of corporal, but this should not be confused with the modern rank. The chain of command was markedly flatter and the room for individual initiatives far smaller in the age of line infantry. At Storkyro, the regiment had 20 officers and 34 non-commissioned officers commanding 721 soldiers, at a ratio of 1:1.7:36.

Okay, but who are you?

My name is Robin Häggblom, and I am the great-great-great-great-great-great-great-grandson of the real Corporal Frisk. Born and raised in the same city of Kokkola, my own military career is markedly less exciting, being limited to 362 days of conscription service as a skipper/machinist on the landing crafts of the Nyland Brigade in 2007. After this, I was sent into the reserve with the rank of Private, and took up studying mechanical engineering at the University of Oulu, before taking up a position at the local boatyard Kewatec AluBoat, where I worked in a number of different positions for three years, learning the ins and outs of modern aluminium vessels. This spring, I moved on to take up a position as contract manager for Rolls-Royce waterjets. In the meantime I had also married a wonderful girl, and we now have a small family with our three energetic kids.

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The glorious job of overhauling the batteries of a Jurmo-class landing craft: dark, cramped, and piquant yellow glasses…

I’ve also continued to spend a part of spare time in volunteer reservist organisation, in Oulu as part of Pohjanmaan Akateeminen Maanpuolustusseura ry (the academic defence association of Ostrobothnia, formerly the reserve officers’ club of the University of Oulu), and now in Kokkola as a board member of Keski-Pohjanmaan Meripuolustajat ry (the association of the naval reserve of Central-Ostrobothnia).

Since being a child I’ve interested in aviation (blame Biggles!) and defence forces. With time, the interest in warfare matured into a more dedicated interest in the field of the art of war. This is still one of my main areas of interest, and you can blame Field Marshal Montogmery’s “A History of Warfare” for that, the 700-something page book is found at the public library of Kokkola in both Swedish and Finnish, and provides for a very interesting read for a teenager. Today, I’ve got my own little library, with some 500+ books on topics related to those dealt with on the blog.

During my teenage years I bought a naval warfare simulation (a.k.a. “a computer game”) Dangerous Waters, which safely and securely made me hooked on maritime warfare. Here my interest in tactics and technology found a common ground, and guided my choice of service branch a few years later.

By the time I was at the university, I found out that there was a very active circle of Swedish blogs dealing with defence and national security. They were extremely interesting, and offered up to date information on current issues. I found myself wanting to add my own voice to the discussion, but also questioned how much of value a grad student/private in the reserve would have to add to the information shared by active duty officers and research fellows. After a few years, I decided to launch a Twitter-account with associated blog under pseudonym. I chose to use a pen name to let the texts be judged on their own merits, especially given my lack of formal credentials.

In hindsight, I don’t know if that was necessary. The people I have gotten to “know” on both sides of the Gulf of Bothnia, and in some cases from further abroad, are a warm-hearted and inclusive bunch, and do not distinguish between officers, academics, and “normal people”. As long as you present your message in an orderly fashion, and respect others and their opinions, you are almost always welcome to discuss matters of defence and national security. A big thank you to you all who welcomed me into your community!

However, after just over half a year, I noticed that people seemed to assume that I was an active duty officer in the navy. This meant that whether I wanted it or not, my choice of operating under a pen name also became a part of the ongoing discussion about to what extent officers on active duty in the Finnish Defence Forces openly could express views diverging from the official view, something which has been discussed after a few cases where senior officers have clashed with leading politicians over contemporary topics, e.g. Finnish politics vis-à-vis Russia.

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The author during last year’s visit to London, intensely studying either the National Firefighters Memorial or the menu of some restaurant (probably the former, if my pictures are completely mixed).

In addition, I also felt that I wanted to take part in the discussions held in other forums, such as newspapers and debates/discussion. The last straw was my new work, which meant that a number of topics that otherwise would fit into the topic of this blog, i.e. certain military fast craft equipped with our waterjets, would be left out due to me now having insider information on these, which I naturally will not share, either due to these being under NDA’s or due to normal courtesy towards customers (you don’t disclose information that there’s even slight possibility that your customer might not want to share openly, which basically means that I prefer to not discuss them at all unless there is readily available open-source material). For the benefit of openness, I also prefer to be open about my connections to the marine and defence industry.

All in all, I decided it was time to step out into the open, which I have now done.


Robin Häggblom / Corporal Frisk

Blog Update

This will be an update about the Corporal Frisk-blog rather than a post about current events.

Much the same as last year, spring is shaping up to be a quite intensive period for me, which as you have noticed have meant that some time have passed since my last post. I expect this to continue for a few months, but I will try to get in a blog post every now and then, even if it will not be with the frequency I would like to maintain.

Rest assured, these real-life issues are neither that dramatic nor in any way tragic, but I can naturally not disclose their nature any further while retaining my anonymity. There will, however, be a major shift in my professional life, which indirectly will affect certain areas that I cover on the blog, mainly through me having (further) access to material which is not necessarily open-source. I always strive towards my posts being as objective as possible, as well as clearly stating which open sources my texts are based upon, so this will not cause any major changes in the way I write or collect information.

I should again emphasize that the effects of this abovementioned shift will remain minor, out of my 40+ posts so far, I believe only one post would probably not have been written under these new conditions. However, for the sake of openness and the blog’s trustworthiness, I am seriously contemplating whether I should continue under my pen name or not. I am starting to feel that while it probably was the right choice to begin with, at this point a full disclosure of my credentials and experience might be of more value to the reader. I will not make any changes on the issue for the moment, but for those of you that have given more or less subtle hints on the subject, I can assure you that I am not completely oblivious to your arguments. But, all this remains an open topic for now. Meanwhile, make sure to follow the defence and security discussion (and me!) on Twitter.

Traffic Patterns on the Blog

After the first year of blogging, I will now take a brief look at the traffic patterns of the blog. In other words, this will be a rather boring post with lots of names and numbers, but I promise I will soon get back with some “real” stuff. After all, there are plenty of darks clouds on the horizon these days…

So, you may ask yourself, how did I get here? Chances are, you either found this site through a search engine or by stumbling upon a link on Twitter. These two together accounted for over a third of all traffic, or around 11,500 views, with a rough 50-50 split between them. The next tier of referrers consists of Facebook and Random Thoughts, which also generated more or less the same amount of traffic, but in the span of 1,100-1,300 views.

These constituted the far largest groups, but a number of interesting smaller referrers can also be mentioned. Amongst the forums, Swedish forum Soldf.com narrowly beat Finnish Maanpuolustus.net by 171-168, and I have no idea why Spacebattles.com is the third largest forum in this category. Austrian Der Standard was largest contributing media/newspaper, contributing 182 views.

Finnish Institute of International Affairs also made a slight contribution to my traffic, as did Reddit and Zeit.de.

And where did you go next? To Wikipedia, of course! The second tier in clicks is made up by Swedish blogger Oplatsen, Twitter, and Finnish blogger Lt.(N) James Mashiri and his abovementioned Random Thoughts. Swedish boatyard Dockstavarvet managed to get seventh place overall, and first amongst companies, with 123 clicks. Amongst defence companies, British BMT Group had almost half that amount, with AgustaWestland, Airbus Helicopters, Damen, and Russian Pella Shipyards all having 34-28 clicks each. Saab was only mentioned towards the end of the year, and as such managed 11 clicks.

Of the rest, AIS-viewer Marine Traffic narrowly missed top-five, being sixth overall with 137 clicks. Amongst bloggers, Oplatsen and Random Thoughts were followed by Cornucopia?, Wiseman’s Wisdoms and Jägarchefen, all three being Swedish. The abovementioned Finnish Institute of International Affairs received a fair amount of clicks, with 63 in total.

All in all, I must say I am surprised by the small amounts of clicks. As I personally like to check the source for statements made in written texts, be it in books, blogs, Wikipedia, or some other forum, it is interesting to notice that this does not seem to be the case for the average reader. Many of the clicks are also not source-checking per se, but rather links to further reading. In this second category falls e.g. most of the links to Wikipedia, which I often link to when I mention certain vehicles and systems that I can assume that not all readers are familiar with (S-75 Dvina was the most popular one btw).

By this time, the question, “where am I?”, might come to mind. During the better part of the year, Finnish and Swedish visitors were surprisingly equal in numbers, but towards the very end of the year the number of Finnish visitors rose slightly, and by the end of the year the blog had had 9148 Finnish visitors compared to 7182 Swedish. United States (3454 visitors) and the United Kingdoms (1296 visitors) where the other two countries with more than 1000 visitors. After this follows a number of countries in more or less the expected order, with perhaps the most interesting exception to the anticipated order being that Puerto Rico (276 visitors) beat Estonia (230 visitors). Clearly, I am not as connected to the Estonian #Julpo(?)-scene the way I would like to be. After all, in the same way as is the case with Sweden, the decisions Estonia takes in this field directly affects us as neighbours.

Corporal Frisk – A Chronicle of the First Year

As of today, it is exactly one year since I published the first post here on this blog, as well as made my first appearance on Twitter. To celebrate this occasion, here comes a look back at some of the posts of the first year. I will probably follow this up with a post on some traffic patterns, ie. how did people get here and where did they go.

The first post published was a simple “Welcome”-post, and largely corresponds to the “About”-page. My original idea had been to start small and slowly pick up speed, probably already having a few posts by the time anyone really started to notice the existence of my little turf of the blogosphere.

It didn’t quite work out that way, as Lt.(N) Mashiri found the blog almost immediately, and happily spread the word to anyone that cared to listen. This “forced” me to write a quick “real” post, the one and only so far dealing with Indonesia. I had the luck, if that word can be applied here, of starting my blog just before the Maidan really heated up, and my posts on the lack of a “red line” by the West and Belbek airbase during the Crimean invasion were some of the first posts that started to get a bit of attention.

Two months after the launch of the blog I wrote my first post about MTA2020. These have been highly popular, partly given the lack of information released by the Navy. This has meant that there is ample room for happy bloggers trying to piece together the bigger picture based on smaller insights, something which I failed horribly at on the first try. In hindsight, I placed way too much emphasize on the fact that the Swedish L10-support ship had been quoted as a project which could benefit from sharing data with, as well as the fact that the Hämeenmaa-class was to be replaced along with the Rauma’s.

After this followed a longer period of silence on the blog, but by June I published a post on the Russian Project 03160 “Raptor”, a design launched by Pella Shipyard that bears a striking resemblance to the Swedish CB90. The posts on the Raptor have also been longtime favorites on the blog, still regularly getting traffic.

July was a rather tense month in several corners of the world, with the downing of MH17 and the Israeli Operation Protective Edge in Gaza. I covered the downing of MH17 in two posts, The Buk and MH17 followed by Comment on the US assessment of the Downing of Flight MH17. Of these, the first post was the major watershed for the blog, generating more traffic than anything I had seen before (thanks again largely to Lt.(N) Mashiri). In fact, July alone had more than three times the views compared to the first six months of the year summed up. The Buk and MH17 is still by a large margin the most popular post on the blog, with Comments on the… having now slipped to six after being a top-three post for a large part of last summer/autumn.

The nice thing from my point of view was that the traffic continued to flow to the blog also after the immediate interest in the downing of MH17 had waned, with the blog keeping a steady stream of visitors reading about varied topics including the light machine gun 7.62 KvKK 62, the Outstanding Ships of the Finnish Navy, and the upcoming HX-project to replace the capabilities of the Hornet.

Next major jump in traffic came with the Swedish anti-submarine operation in October (the so called Red October-incident). This spawned a number of posts, with some very good viewer stats. The most popular posts commented on the situation as it was developing, and are therefore somewhat obsolete. However, my comment on Finnish Assistance and Russian Media is still very much up-to-date, and the bottom line is as important now as it was in October:

A journalist should indeed strive to present both sides of a story, but not all sources are created equal, and a failure to properly explain this gives the casual reader a tilted view of the story.

Despite being a rather cynical person, I am still sometimes struck by the sheer audacity displayed by some Russian officials and news sources, who presents blatantly false stories as truths or “second opinions” (the “Su-25 downing MH17” and “Dutch sub in Stockholm” comes to mind).

December brought the appearance of Russian Tu-95 strategic bombers over the Baltic Sea for the first time since 1987, which warranted a post on the aircraft in question. This was followed by a more general air spotter’s guide for the Russian aircraft that participated in the snap drill in question, which received favorable reviews from quite a number of readers, thank you for that!

The New Year has so far included two submarine-themed posts. The first was a post explaining why Finland doesn’t operate submarines, and probably will not do so for the foreseeable future. The second was my first Swedish post, which was written together with Swedish bloggers Reservofficer and Klart Skepp. This one dealt with joint Finnish-Swedish anti-submarine exercise/operations, and I must say that it was a fun and interesting experience to step out of the box and do something a bit different!

Welcome to my new readers

I have received a fair amount of new traffic during the last week. Most of you have come to read my post about the technical abilities of the 9A310M1 Buk-M1, and the evidence surrounding its use against the Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 that was tragically brought down over Ukraine. I hope you have enjoyed the read, and would like to take a moment to say a very warm Welcome, and give a brief presentation of this blog as a whole.

Corporal Frisk is a pseudonym, my nom de plume, which I’ve borrowed from an 18-century ancestor. At some point I will probably give more details about who I am, but until then you are free to read my posts and decide for yourself if you find them trustworthy or not.

My main interest is in the naval field, but due to the current hot spots in Ukraine and Gaza, there have been quite a number of posts which have no relation whatsoever to the sea. There will probably be more naval material, if and when these two current crises are over. The tags and categories are found to the left, click on them to get to the posts that interest you.

//Corporal Frisk

Puheloinen and NATO

The Finnish Chief of Defence*, General Ari Puheloinen, held the opening speech at the 208th National Defence Courset his week (20.1). The speech was widely reported in Swedish media with the headline: “Finnish C-in-C says no to NATO”. To put this statement into context, a recent study (14.01) showed that a majority of the Finnish officers supported the idea of Finland joining the alliance, with the higher-ranking officers (Colonels and above) being more in favor than the lower ranks.

The speech is found in its entirety on the Finnish Defence Forces home page in the form it was given (mostly in Finnish, with a brief ending paragraph in Swedish).

Puheloinen begins by talking about the defence cuts that are taking place, and the consequences they have had to date. He praises “his” personnel, and talks about the need to reform the defence forces as the organization changes. He also takes care to point out that the number of Generals is being lowered correspondingly, and that Finland has a rather low ratio of higher officers compared to other countries.

After this more or less expected introduction, he restates his point from a national defence course held back in 2012: If the defence budget is not raised by 2015, Finland will no longer have a credible defence by 2020. This is where he mentions NATO, once in the whole speech. “Being a member of NATO would not solve this challenge.” (fi. “Naton jäsenyys ei ratkaisisi tätä haastetta.”), after which he moves on and continues to note that neither will collaboration amongst the Nordic countries. However, Puheloinen states, we should still cooperate even if we didn’t experience financial troubles, as it has several benefits. The Finnish-Swedish relationship has received much attention recently, and is brought up as a prime example of this kind of work. In Puheloinen’s view, it is important that it is based on common needs and interests, and that both the contribution and benefits are shared equally by both participants. In spite of our differences, he strongly believes that fitting areas of collaboration will be found.

However, he also warns against expecting that all joint projects will bring financial savings, and cautions that although joint procurements are often brought forward as possible examples of collaboration, they are in fact amongst the hardest to coordinate (for an excellent summary of recent joint procurements by the Swedish armed forces, read this excellent post by Skipper).

To sum it all up, he ends by noting that “Through collaboration between Finland and Sweden it is possible to achieve good results, but it will require time, patience, being ready to move forward one small step at a time, and being prepared to make compromises.”

I noted with delight that he also brings up the importance of reservists, and that the training of these will again be brought up to the “appropriate” level.

I believe that interpreting Puheloinen’s statement as being a no to NATO is to read too much into the single sentence. Rather, I believe it is a reminder to our politicians that joining NATO will not make the need for defence spendings go away. I personally think it is a good speech. Puheloinen manages to take up several current issues in a short time, and he continues his custom of honestly and clearly speaking about the needs of the defence forces, in spite of the no doubt considerable political pressure to accept further cuts.

*Contrary to what some Swedish sources stated, Gen Puheloinen is in fact not the Commander-in-Chief of the Defence Forces, a position held by the President of Finland.



Swedish corvette HSwMS Sundsvall (K24) taking part in a joint exercise in the Finnish archipelago. Source: the author.

Welcome to the blog of Corporal Frisk! Let me start by introducing myself: I am not mr Frisk, and neither am I a Corporal. That is only a pen name, which I’ve ‘borrowed’ from an 18-th century ancestor who had the dubious joy of serving in the army in an age when wars were a common sight in northern Europe.

The aim behind this blog is to take part in the (Finnish) defence debate, which I plan to do by posting news, analyses, and my own opinions. This idea was born after following some of the major Swedish defence bloggers for a few years. I found that they became an important feature of the Swedish defence debate, and while I do believe that, as a general rule, questions regarding national security and the armed forces have been handled better in Finland than in Sweden, I still think that there is room for more discussion here too.

I come from the Swedish-speaking minority in Finland, meaning that I have the possibility of following the discussion in both countries without the problems of a language barrier. I also believe that much of what is written in one country could be of much use to the other, but that the language barrier often hinders or at least slows this transfer of knowledge. Though I am by no means unique in understanding both languages, I still feel that there is room in the blogosphere for yet another place that acts as a kind of a ‘bridge’ between the debate in Sweden and here in Finland.

Although events in our corner of the world, i.e. the countries surrounding the Baltic Sea, will probably be the most important for this blog, I am going to write about events I find interesting regardless of their geographical location. In the same way, while the posts probably will be tilted towards the naval field, I will not set down any strict ‘rules’ for what I will report on or not. Also, as this is a newcomer, these outlines can and will evolve over time, depending on what I feel works best.