Reflections on Territorial Defense

by Horst Mendershausen

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A territorial defense posture is a system that (1) is defensive, unsuited to attack across borders, and unlikely to be perceived as a threat by other states; (2) relies principally on latent rather than standing forces, involving many citizens; (3) relies on weapons and technologies different in type and composition from those of intervention and bombardment systems; and (4) relates the military resources of a society so closely to the defense of its own territory and institutions that it constrains the country's participation in an international military alliance, especially one that calls for an integration of alliance forces. A territorial defense doctrine goes with a military function or type of force that plays a greater or smaller role in a country's total military establishment, besides other functions or force types that have doctrines of their own. Aside from international political and strategic conditions, domestic political factors may increase or reduce the prominence given to territorial forces in a country's military system.

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