A Strategic defence is a type of military planning doctrine and a set of combat activities used for the purpose of deterring, resisting and repelling a strategic offensive, conducted as either a territorial or airspace invasion, or a naval offensive to interrupt shipping lane traffic as a form of economic warfare. Strategic defensive need not be passive in nature, and often involves military deception, propaganda and psychological warfare, as well as pre-emptive strategies. All forms of military force are included in the planning, and often civil defence organisations are also included.
In terms of military theory, strategic defensive thinking seeks to understand and appreciate the theoretical and historical background to any given war and conflict scenario facing the decision-makers at the national level. The requirement of the decision makers for the strategic defence analysts is usually for providing a detailed understanding of strategic and defence issues of relevance to the national and regional relations and intentions.
Some of the more common issues encountered by strategic defence planners include:
- Problems of security and confidence-building in interstate relationships in the strategic neighbourhood
- National defence policy
- Arms proliferation and arms control in the immediate strategic region, or within reach of the weapon systems in question
- Policy advice to the higher levels of the national Defence organisation
- The strategic implications of developments in the nation's geographic region
- Reviewing security agenda, and formulating a new one if necessary
Strategic defensive is also a predominant peace-time posture of most nation-states in the world at any one time, although the national military intelligence services are always conducting operations to discover offensive threats to security to ensure adequate warning is provided to bring armed forces to a state of combat readiness.
In terms of scale of combat, the strategic defensive is considered either a war that can last from days to generations,1 or a military campaign as a phase of the war, involving a series of operations delimited by time and space and with specific major achievable goal allocated to a defined part of the available armed force. As a campaign, a strategic defence may consist of several battles,2 some of which may be offensive in nature, or may result in the conduct of withdrawals to new positions, encirclements, or sieges either by the defender or attacker as a means of securing strategic initiative. The strategic goal of a strategic defensive may require a conduct of an offensive operation far removed from the main national territory, such as the case with the 1982 Falklands campaign, which sets logistics apart as the dominant consideration in strategic defensive as a doctrine.3
- p.64, Dupuy
- p.64, Dupuy
- pp.249-288, Thompson
- Dupuy, Trevor N., Understanding War: Military History And The Theory Of Combat, Leo Cooper, New York, 1986
- Thompson, Julian, Lifeblood of war: logistics in armed conflict, Brassey's Classics, London, 1991
- The Adelphi Papers, Volume 359, Number 1, August 1, 2003 S.J. Lukasik; S.E. Goodman; D.W. Longhurst, Chapter 2: Strategic Defence Options, pp. 15–24(10)