Browse by


March 10, 2023

Societal Security and Total Defense: The Swedish Way

Sweden has recovered from several severe security challenges over the past two decades. In 2004 more than 500 Swedish citizens died in the Boxing Day tsunami in Southeast Asia. During the suddenly escalating Lebanon conflict of 2006, more than 8,000 citizens were hastily, but successfully, evacuated out of harm’s way. Days before Christmas 2010, the first suicide bomber in the Nordic region, luckily prematurely, exploded his bomb near a crowded shopping street in the city center of Stockholm. Sweden’s neighbor Norway experienced a terrible mass murder in July 2011 undertaken by a solo terrorist. In April 2017, terror struck with deadly force in the shopping area of the city center of Stockholm. Dramatic forest fires rampaged in the summers of 2014 and 2018. In the fall of 2015, a massive flow of migrants poured into the country, with major immediate effects and long-term consequences for Swedish society. Most recently, the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, which began in March 2020, became a stress test of endurance and societal resilience for the Swedish population. Compared with the other Nordic states Sweden has suffered much higher rates of infections, and it has seen more than 14,000 deaths, putting into question the Swedish strategy for managing this public health disaster.

March 10, 2023

Poland's Threat Assessment: Deepened, Not Changed

Polish-Russian relations are traditionally difficult, shaped by geostrategic locations in Europe and shared history. Russians have stereotypes about Poland that color their perception of Polish issues. This, combined with ongoing political and economic disputes, creates a situation where hopes for improvement are slim.

March 10, 2023

Finnish Defense "Left of Bang"

Finland has a long tradition of combining military and non-military aspects of defense. During the Cold War this crystallized within the concept of “total defense,” the mobilization of the entire society for the potential purpose of war. Throughout the Cold War, the all-penetrating threat from the Soviet Union was felt constantly within Finnish society. This threat was not only military in nature but also contained political, economic, energy-related, and even cultural aspects. In today’s parlance, the Soviet Union prosecuted an aggressive campaign of information warfare, hybrid war, and political warfare against Finland.

March 10, 2023

Latvia: From Total Defense to Comprehensive Defense

Latvia sees national security through the lens of the threat from political warfare as practiced by the Russian Federation. During the post–Cold War era, Latvian views were more conventional. As Russia conducted operations against Estonia, Georgia, and Ukraine, Latvia developed a new perspective. Because Russia’s “new generation warfare” focuses on all potentially vulnerable sectors of society, Latvia has developed a whole-of-society approach towards national security. Although cleavages still exist that revolve around ethnicity, language, education, and citizenship, Latvia actively seeks to address those issues while also pursuing economic development. At the same time, Latvia teams with the other two Baltic states to connect with the EU, NATO, and the United States to ensure that they will receive assistance in maintaining their sovereignty and independence.

March 10, 2023

Lithuania’s Total Defense Review

This article describes the development of Lithuania’s total defense policy, which focuses on a whole-of-government and whole-of-society approach. It discusses the major changes in the Lithuanian security and defense policy during the last 8 years, concentrating on political-military and strategic issues. The article is organized in three parts. The first discusses major conceptual debates concerning the best options for the state defense. These discussions mainly circled around the ideas of hybrid warfare, total defense, and the Suwalki Corridor dilemma. The second part focuses on institutional and political changes in Lithuania’s defense sector with an emphasis on such issues as Lithuania’s international cooperation and conscription. The third part deals with the dilemma of society’s engagement in defense issues and the challenges that presents.

March 10, 2023

Estonia: Size Matters

Despite its small size, Estonia has had some success in the application of instruments of national power across the whole DIMEFILPSI spectrum to counter Russia. In recent years, infrastructure considerations have been included, with well-advanced plans for Rail Baltica to connect the Baltic states to the wider European and the more speculative idea of a tunnel to connect Tallinn and Helsinki. Aside from the economic benefits of such projects, there are security advantages to be gained from closer integration with other European states.

March 10, 2023

The Baltic Sea Region at an Inflection Point

Russian President Vladimir Putin, seeking to reverse the tide of NATO expansion and to dominate a sphere of influence resembling that of the defunct Soviet Union, has inadvertently catalyzed a major inflexion point in global geopolitics resulting in fundamental political re-alignments.

March 10, 2023

If You Want Peace...

This issue of PRISM—titled “Forward Defense”—examines the security transformations taking place in these diverse but aligned countries. As distinct as these nine countries are they are each reinforcing, or in some cases rebuilding, their armed forces and reviving the Total Defense or Comprehensive Defense concepts they embraced during the Cold War. Total or Comprehensive Defense is a strategic approach that recognizes the multidimensional threat posed by autocratic countries and the existential threat to the liberal, rules-based world order. It understands that effective deterrence depends on both resistance and resilience and codes those into the respective security and defense strategies.

Feb. 7, 2023

Joint Force Quarterly 108 (1st Quarter, 2023)

The latest issue of Joint Force Quarterly features articles on assessing Russian biological R&D, America's special Operations problem, and the fight for strategic cognitive terrain.

Jan. 18, 2023

The Joint Force Remains Ill-Prepared to Consolidate Gains

A popular policy myth remains rooted in the U.S. mindset: that the military’s mission in combat is complete when the coalition is militarily successful in large-scale combat operations (LSCO) and that once the former regime’s forces have left the battlefield, civilian agencies can immediately move in and begin leading the difficult task of stabilizing the defeated nation. A study of history demonstrates the fallacy of this myth. Yet national policy and joint doctrine enable it to endure. Until joint doctrine incorporates consolidation of gains, the joint force will remain ill-prepared to translate fleeting military successes into long-term U.S. strategic victories