Finnish Jäger troops


The Jäger troops were volunteers from Finland trained in Germany as Jägers (elite light infantry) during World War I. It was one of many means by which Germany intended to weaken Russia and to cause Russia's loss of western provinces and dependencies.

The recruitment of the Jäger volunteers from the Russian Grand Duchy of Finland had to be secret, and was dominated by Germany-influenced circles, such as university students and the upper middle class. The recruitment was however in no way exclusive.

The recruits were transported across Finland's western border via Sweden to Germany, where the volunteers were formed into the Royal Prussian 27th Jäger Battalion. The Jäger Battalion participated in the ranks of the German Army from 1916 in the battles on the northern flank of the eastern front.

After the outbreak of the Civil War in Finland Jägers who intended to engage on the "White" (non-socialist) side in the war were released. In Finland, these 2,000 volunteers were simply called The Jägers (Finnish pl. Jääkärit).

Their contribution to the White victory was crucial, not least through improving morale. Educated as elite troops they were also fit to assume command as officers over the untrained and uneducated troops of the Civil War.

Immediately after the Civil War, they were afforded the right to use the word "Jäger" in their military ranks. Many of the Jägers continued their military careers. In the 1920s a long feud between officers with Jäger-background and Finnish officers who had served in the Russian Imperial army was concluded in favor of the Jägers: Most of the commanders of army corps, divisions and regiments in the Winter War were Jägers. The Jäger March composed by Jean Sibelius to the words written by the Jäger Heikki Nurmio, was the honorary march of many army detachments.


At the present time, infantry in the Finnish Army are designated as Jäger troops, specifically mechanized infantry using APCs. Mechanized infantry using IFVs are called "panssarijääkäri" or Armor Jägers. Several other variations exist, including Finnish Navy Coastal Jaegers, Guard's Jaegers of the Guard Jaeger Regiment, in special forces (Para) Jaegers, Special Jaegers, and in the Border Guard border jaegers and special border jaegers.

"Jäger" Jaeger is also the lowest basic rank in the infantry of the Finnish Army and Finnish Navy. Also, a driver, medic or mortar man may hold the rank of Jaeger. In other troops, special ranks such as "tykkimies" "Gunner" are equivalent (see Finnish military ranks). The older rank of "sotamies" "Private" is no longer used in peace time educational units but remains in war time infantry use.

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