In preparation for gray zone or conventional warfare conducted by Russian or Chinese adversaries and their proxies, threatened nations can apply a Total Defense approach to safeguard their territorial integrity and political sovereignty. Two key components for any effective Total Defense concept are national special operations forces (SOF) and volunteer, citizen-soldier territorial defense forces (TDF). This article examines the role of special operations forces as significant multi-dimensional, entrepreneurial integrators in Total Defense. In particular, it demonstrates the symbiotic relationship between special operations and territorial defense forces in the complex mission of national resistance during crisis and occupation.
Due to Russia’s continuous malicious actions against the Baltic and Scandinavian countries, as well as its ongoing war against Ukraine, most European countries have recently been forced to take a critical look at their national defense strategies and military capabilities. These reviews unearthed serious capability gaps, resulting in the emergence of so-called total defense strategies based on peacetime social resilience and war time resistance. This article focuses on resistance, arguing that the current manifestations of such a strategy do not ensure maximum results for the countries because their fundamental characteristics and principles were derived from cases that are limited in spatial and temporal scope. The article suggests that lessons must be also learned from recent experiences such as the Chechen resistance against Russia, Hezbollah’s fight against Israel, the Iraqi and Taliban insurgencies, the Syrian insurgency, and other similar cases. This article offers a starting point for identifying such critical lessons by analyzing the First Russo-Chechen War through a research model built on the common principles of Mao Zedong, Ernesto ‘Che’ Guevara, and General Vo Nguyen Giap.
This paper will discuss the Resistance Operating Concept and how nations should prepare to resist a potential enemy before an invasion takes place. Oriented towards the self-defense of small countries by a resistance or partisan force, it describes past examples of resistance groups in Europe. Specifically, by discussing the long-term survival of resilient organizations, its focus will be on the basic factors crucial for an underground resistance, including security, organization, and training. It also considers the need for a practitioner-oriented manual that can be disseminated at the widest levels to guide and enable future resistance operations.
Dr. Asta Maskaliūnaitė identified five concerns related to the promises and pitfalls of developing underground resistance organisations (URO) before a crisis in her excellent and timely 2021 Journal on Baltic Security article, ‘Exploring Resistance Operating Concept. Promises and pitfalls of (violent) underground resistance’. These pitfalls or areas of concern are: (1) Command and Control (C2), (2) Legitimacy, (3) Recruitment, (4) Potential Long-Term Problems, and (5) Strategic Communications. This study will address these five concerns from a non-military perspective, focusing on civilian control, political conditions, capabilities of the state, and legislated safeguards for each concern to accentuate promises and minimize risks. The study is based on a case study analysis of the Polish Underground State and highlights its legitimacy, enjoyed due to the legally organized, civilian-led URO and its shadow government leading the resistance in Poland and the Polish Government-in-Exile providing the legitimacy and organizing external support.
This study focuses on the unique characteristics in integrating the historically overt Territorial Defence Forces (TDF) with clandestine underground resistance organisations as part of efforts by various countries to build national resistance capacities prior to a conflict. This paper provides the theoretical and historical underpinnings of the concept of TDF and underground integration, including observations from the 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine. Case studies of the Polish Home Army’s integration into the Polish Underground State in WWII under primarily German occupation and subsequently the Polish Independent Underground until 1963 under Soviet occupation are used to better understand the unique aspects of TDF and underground integration. In both cases, the respective TDFs were operating against equally brutal but distinctly different occupiers. The case study analysis identifies and discusses three key lessons for integrating military and civilian capabilities in national resistance programs built prior to a conflict: 1) the criticality of civilian control, 2) ambiguity, protractedness, and the TDF, and 3) the scaling the TDF and underground. Finally, recommendations are offered to support the implementation of the lessons learned. While these lessons and recommendations are focused on TDF and underground resistance organisation integration, they also similarly apply to every ministry, department, and agency of nations developing similar capabilities and may enable the successful implementation of related efforts. No single ministry or department can effectively establish a viable national resistance organisation in a vacuum. This research also sets the conditions for further distinct analysis to increase the theoretical understanding of these concepts.
This article examines how a state that chooses to authorize a resistance organization as part of its national defence plan in order to increase its national resilience legitimizes that organization through the three phases of pre-conflict, conflict and occupation, and resumption of sovereignty. It will demonstrate the necessity of a legal framework for its authorization to obtain both domestic and international legitimacy. It will also cover the necessity of compliance with the Law of Armed Conflict (LOAC) during hostilities. Furthermore, it will touch on how this legal framework functions on behalf of the legitimate government in occupied territory against an adversary by not allowing adversarial political consolidation, while also assisting in the prevention of the creation of competing organizations in occupied territory with goals that deviate from those of the sovereign and legitimate government.
Small nations, facing expansionist-minded and intrusive neighbors such as Russia or China, are revising their total defense strategies and plans. Within these total defense plans, nations are pre-planning citizen-based resistance schemes that rely on non-professionalized, civilian population segments to take an active role in resisting an occupying foreign power. Ukraine, invaded by Russia in February 2022, is one such nation enacting a whole-of-society resistance scheme under a brutal, high-intensity assault. How then, does a nation-state conceptualize, craft, and execute command and control for distributed resistance operations? This article first analyzes the substance and challenges of resistance and command and control. Next, a framework is presented on how to conceptualize an appropriate command and control scheme. Finally, practical examples are given of how resistance command methods proved effective or ineffective, and why. This article is designed to assist in the conceptualization, development, and implementation of national resistance command and control schemes.
Russia’s aggressive actions in the vicinity of the borders of the Baltic states have stirred the discussion on the Comprehensive defense concept. This concept is based on whole-of-government and whole-of-society involvement in resistance against occupying power. This article examines the role of the armed forces in the resistance movement from a small state perspective. To define the role of the armed forces, this article scrutinizes the historical experience of the Latvian Forest Brothers and the traditional development phases of the resistance movement. The article argues that the armed forces must form the backbone of the armed resistance, which integrates the other security forces and the civilian population into the national level resistance movement.
In response to the power redistribution in the international system, the United States prepares for long-term Great power competition. It is aiming at strengthening America’s network of alliances and partnerships in order to counter a rising China and revisionist Russia. The other states react to greater or lesser extent to the changing constraints and opportunities in the international system. The article examines how Lithuania, being a small state that belongs to the North Atlantic Alliance, is adapting to these systemic pressures. Current NATO’s deterrence posture in the Baltic region is something akin to deterrence by the assured response – NATO is sending a signal that if the Russians attacked, NATO would respond in the Baltics. Lithuania, as well as other Baltic countries, has undertaken many legal, procedural, financial and technical measures to boost resilience and deterrence. However, there are not enough national or NATO military forces that would be able to counter conventional Russian forces deployed in the region. There are challenges such as air defence and control of the Baltic Sea. Also land forces are not present in adequate quantities. As a result, Lithuania has to strengthen its own capabilities with the help of the allied countries. It argued in the article that building up a total defence system in Lithuania would be a right effort in this regard.