Överste (eversti in Finnish) is an officer rank in Finland and Sweden, immediately above överstelöjtnant (everstiluutnantti) and below brigadgeneral (prikaatikenraali). It literally means “the highest” and has originally been a rank for regiment commanders. In Finland, brigades are also commanded by holders of this rank. It is the highest rank below general officers.
Finnish Defense Forces rank of Eversti is comparable to Ranks of NATO armies officers as OF-5
Commander of a regiment that consisted of 1200 troops split into eight companies held this rank. One of the companies was called lifeguard company and was commanded by the överste himself with a kaptenlöjtnant as his deputy. However, the command of the lifeguard company was mostly delegated to the kaptenlöjtnant during battle. The regiment was split into two battalions during battle where the överste was in command of the first battalion. The holder was not paid by his rank but by his line of command. Thus, he received three salaries: salary for being the head of the regiment, the head of a battalion as well as being the head of a company.
The holder of the rank who served as a commander of a regiment was also assigned a wartime position as commander of the corresponding brigade. A regiment is a pure training institution and produced about one battalion a year to populate the brigade.
The war organization has drastically been reduced from about 30 brigades to a few battalions (Military units of the Army). As a result, there is a major surplus of officers with 330 officers in this rank. Almost all do not command any military battle units; but take up senior tasks related to administration, staff, education, training, planning.
Some holders of the rank are also seen as heads or deputy heads of training centers (called regiment) that employ about 600 military and civilian staff and train about 1200 conscripts.
Colonels (eversti) have usually fulfilled roles similar to Brigadier General in other armies. Indeed, the rank of Brigadier General (prikaatikenraali) has been introduced relatively recently, enabling better compatibility of ranks in peacekeeping operations. In most large military installations such as training brigades, the commander is a Colonel, and several officers of the General Staff, such as inspectors of services, are also Colonels. Promotion to colonel requires graduation from a general staff officer course (80 study credits).
Fältöverste (fält “field”) is an obsolete rank that used to denote the highest commander, equivalent of a general.