Video of tank driving over Finnish conscripts in drill raises eyebrows on social media

The Leopard 2A4 battle tank weighs more than 55 tonnes.

Panssarivaunut odottivat torstaina paraatia Karkialammen varuskunta-alueella.

A video posted on social media of a Leopard 2A4 battle tank driving over Finnish conscripts has led to a variety of reactions on social media.

The Jaeger Brigade conscripts were seen lined up on the ground between the 55-tonne war machine's giant treads — but untouched by the vehicle — as they took part in a drill in the Rovajärvi area of Lapland.

The video was uploaded to Twitter by the brigade's commander, Colonel Sami-Antti Takamaa, who said he was a bit surprised by the stir that the footage caused.

"It's not such a strange thing after all, but of course the tank is pretty heavy duty, so that may be why it evoked emotions and in some cases even a little bit of horror," Takamaa said.

Some of the people commenting on the video said that the exercise could be dangerous if the tank had a technical problem.

But according to Takamaa, the drill is a completely safe exercise, as there is half a metre of clearance between the bottom of the tank and the ground and that it moves slowly.

Takamaa said the point of the drill is more of an experiential, than practical, exercise.

'More of a manhood test'

"In terms of modern warfare, it hardly [has much relevance]. Perhaps it's more of a manhood test, an experience providing a memory of [the conscripts'] time in the military," he explained.

He noted that female conscripts were also seen taking part in the drill, and referred to the wider goal of getting more women into military service.

"I wanted to show that women can do the same things as men," he said.

Takamaa said that one aspect of the exercise was to familiarise the conscripts with the tank up close, as they also were able to view the vehicle's interior — as well as its undercarriage.

Story continues after tweet.

The colonel said that the participants were very enthusiastic about the exercise, adding that the brigade plans to continue with the drill in the future.

"Yes, it will continue. But the experience is one that the soldiers will remember for the rest of their lives — something that they will never experience again," he said.

Takamaa also posted a video of himself taking part in the exercise.

"Yes, a Finnish officer and commanders in general need to set an example," he added.

Conscripts took part in another exercise with the tank, with drill participants waiting ahead of the approaching vehicle and then, at the instructor's command, rolled out of the way of its path.

Takamaa said this exercise was also not dangerous, as the order to move out of the way is given in good time, adding that the conscripts are pulled away by the trainer if necessary.

The drills were part of the Puukko 21 exercises, which was being observed by 48 military representatives from 24 countries. At times they were conducted in temperatures as cold as -25 degrees Celsius, with Takamaa saying the exercises sent a message that one can be proud of Finland's conscripts.

Some 1,020 personnel and 205 vehicles took part in the drills, including members of the Jaeger Brigade, Air Force, Border Guard and the Centre for Military Medicine.