From ‘Total’ to ‘Comprehensive’ National Defence: the Development of the Concept in Europe


Abstract: 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.

Keywords: total defence; comprehensive national defence; Finland; Sweden; Switzerland; Austria; Yugoslavia; Latvia; NATO