This article aims to discuss how a state could best use its resources in resisting an aggressor when joint operations have failed. Focusing on the potential role of special operations forces (SOF) in resistance operations, the article examines scenarios where small states are attacked by a superior opponent. Based on the example of Sweden, currently still a militarily non-aligned country that nevertheless has adopted a security policy based on cooperation with other states, we explore how a small state not belonging to NATO might plan and prepare for alternative scenarios. Not being covered by Article 5, Sweden needs to be prepared to fight the war on its own. A better, but less likely, scenario would be fighting together with partners, at home, or in the near abroad. Since Ukraine shares similarities with Sweden in terms of its status as an enhanced NATO-partner, it will serve as an additional, and highly relevant, point of reference in the discussion. The developments in this war indicates that for a non-NATO member the primary alternative will be to conduct the fight on its own. Based on the above, the article will go on to investigate a number of old truths from the late 20th century as well as flipped lessons learned from twenty years of counter insurgency, primarily in the Middle East, South Sahel and South East Asia. Small states tend to have very limited size SOF which indicates that mission prioritization will be a key factor for the utility of SOF in resistance operations. There are, however, ways of finding other relevant roles, than the traditional ones, for SOF in resistance operations.
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.
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.
This article explores how comprehensive defence has been introduced in Latvia, and focuses on society’s involvement and tasks in the state defence. This approach envisages a significant change in society’s relationship with the armed forces and state defence. Differently from many other countries, Latvia maintains its system without introducing conscription and instead puts efforts towards youth education in defence. Additionally, the Ministry of Defence involves different society groups and NGOs in defining their role in state defence. This article also discusses the concepts of resistance and non-collaboration as part of comprehensive defence.
The article discusses the idea of comprehensive national defence from a wide historical and geographical perspective. Countries facing different security challenges have used the concept of involving the entire society in state defence. From a historical perspective, ‘total defence’, with an emphasis on military components, was used primarily by non-aligned states during the Cold War; the breakdown of the Soviet Union reduced the importance of ‘total defence’; however, the emergence of hybrid threats in the 21st century has contributed to the rebirth of the concept in the form of ‘comprehensive national defence’, for application in circumstances wherein potential adversaries use military and non-military means in an integrated manner.