Development of Territorial Defense: Foreign Experience

The organisation and conduct of territorial defense are crucial functions for every state in ensuring its military security.

10/10/2023 - 10:53
Source: MoD of RK
Source: MoD of RK

The primary objective is to protect the population, assets, communications, material, and cultural values from enemy actions, sabotage, terrorist acts, and the hazards arising from military operations or as a consequence of such actions. Within the framework of territorial defense, the protection of the population is organised and implemented using armed means through the execution of a planned set of measures. has explored the topic in detail, drawing on examples of foreign nations and their approach to territorial defence. 

In most countries, territorial forces are entrusted with tasks such as covering the mobilisation deployment of the armed forces, safeguarding strategic objects and elements of military and civilian infrastructure, and the actual conduct of territorial defense.

The system of territorial defense in foreign countries is in a constant state of development. In discussing the perspective, it becomes abundantly clear that further development of territorial defense and its preparation must be entirely subordinated to the main goal of ensuring the security of individuals, society, and the state at all times and under all conditions. Among the most important priorities for further construction and development of this system, it is necessary to emphasise that the foremost task of leaders at all levels is to improve the system of patriotic and moral-ethical education of the population, based on instilling a sense of personal responsibility for the defense of the Fatherland. This task should take precedence in organising ideological work with all categories of citizens, dominate in the educational process and educational institutions, and within the country's enterprises. Every individual should be capable of defending themselves, their family, the enterprise they work for, the area they live in, and thus, the state to which they belong as a citizen.

It is essential to cultivate a broad understanding among the general public that territorial defense is a necessity of our time. Its elements should already be present in the national security system of the state.

In addition to their regular armies, most countries have territorial forces as part of their wartime military. Examples include Austria, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany, Denmark, Italy, Lithuania, Latvia, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, France, Sweden, Finland, and many others. Citizens of these countries traditionally take pride in their affiliation with these forces, and participation in planned combat training events is seen as an honorary privilege.

For example, let's consider the models of foreign countries both near and far.

United States of America

The National Guard holds a special place in the U.S. Armed Forces system. It is one of the components of the U.S. Army reserve, serving for the mobilisation deployment of the Armed Forces, the creation of new units and formations, and replenishment of losses during combat operations. At the same time, the National Guard troops are used to address domestic tasks, performing a range of essential law enforcement functions.

It can be utilised to support the U.S. Army and Air Force during armed conflicts, as well as to carry out various domestic tasks within the country, such as disaster relief, maintaining order during mass disturbances, effectively functioning as the equivalent of internal troops in such cases.

National Guard units are present in all states and, during peacetime, are under the control of the state governors, who can call upon them to respond to disasters, ecological and technological catastrophes, control unrest, protect private property, and perform other tasks as needed.

The personnel strength of the National Guard for each state is established in proportion to the total population of that state. During peacetime, its units and formations are located in all 50 U.S. states, as well as in the District of Columbia.

During mobilisation and when the National Guard is incorporated into regular troops, its formations are released from the jurisdiction of state governors and come under the control of the Secretary of Defense.

The activities of the National Guard in ensuring U.S. national security are reflected in its functions. American specialists divide these functions into two categories:

  • External, in terms of countering security threats to the United States from outside.
  • Internal, in terms of ensuring the country's security during domestic conflicts and emergencies.

The dual subordination of the National Guard and the absence of organisational and legal capabilities for it to act independently of other U.S. government institutions, as well as the clear legal regulation of its activities in ensuring national security, guarantee the public character of its functioning.

National Guardsmen participated in both the Korean and Vietnam Wars, primarily fulfilling rear support roles and rarely engaging in combat.

With the commencement of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, the U.S. Armed Forces command, facing an increasingly dire shortage of manpower, was compelled to more extensively involve the National Guard in combat missions.

In essence, the Iraq War led to a fundamental change in the traditional role of the National Guard. Today, National Guardsmen serve worldwide, from Baghdad to Kosovo. Most of them are engaged in military service for up to 100 days a year.

Reserve formations are organised into battalions, companies, and platoons based on territorial principles, taking into account the interests of state authorities, the place of residence of reservists, and the availability of training facilities. U.S. citizens (both men and women) between the ages of 17 and 59 are recruited if they have previously served in the military, and up to 35 years old if they have not. The officer corps is formed from the reserve military personnel and graduates of non-military reserve officer courses at civilian universities. The permanent reserve comprises 40,000 reservists (about 5% of the total personnel).

Federal Republic of Germany (FRG)

The inclusion of the FRG in the NATO operational-strategic system necessitated the division of its Armed Forces into two parts: regular units, which are subordinate to NATO command, and territorial and civil defense units, which remain under national command. At the same time, communication and interaction are ensured both among its units and with the relevant NATO bodies.

Thus, the structure of the Armed Forces of the FRG consists of three major components:

  • Regular forces.
  • Territorial defense forces.
  • Civil defense forces.

Tasks for the defense of the entire country are distributed among these three main components.

The task of regular forces, which must be in a constant state of combat readiness, is to jointly, with NATO allies, repel aggression and defeat the aggressor.

The tasks of territorial defense forces include conducting anti-air defense, localising individual enemy invasion attempts by land, sea, or air (combatting landings), providing reinforcements for the front, and organising supplies for active troops.

The tasks of civil defense forces encompass the immediate protection of the civilian population, ensuring the functioning of transportation, supply, and the production of necessary goods for both the military and the entire population of the country.

United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

The organisational and staffing structure, as well as the armament of territorial forces, are analogous to the organisation of units and formations of regular Land Forces. During peacetime, they typically consist of an average of 20 regular military personnel responsible for training reservists and administratively managing the units.

Territorial forces units and formations are composed of volunteers aged 17 to 46 who initially sign contracts for three years with the possibility of subsequent extensions for longer terms.

Support units are typically staffed by individuals with civilian professions related to military profiles. Up to 50% of reservists are over 36 years old. Individuals reaching the age of 50 are subject to discharge from territorial forces. Service involves combining reservists' primary jobs with systematic military training.

The modern structure of the British Army envisages division into:

  • The Regular Army.
  • The Territorial Army.
  • Reserves.

The Regular Army serves as the backbone of the British Army. Its purposes include safeguarding British interests in colonies and dependent territories, fulfilling its plans as part of NATO forces, and preparing military personnel for the mobilisation deployment of land forces in case of war.

The Territorial Army serves as the first-line reserve for the British Army. It is intended for reinforcing regular land forces, defending the metropolis, mitigating the consequences of nuclear strikes on the metropolis, and performing internal service. During the mobilisation deployment of the Armed Forces, the territorial army becomes part of the regular land forces.

Russian Federation

Territorial defense is organised with the goal of protecting the population, facilities, and communications within the territory of the Russian Federation from enemy actions, sabotage, or terrorist acts, as well as the establishment and maintenance of states of emergency and martial law.

The common tasks and organisation of territorial defense are determined by the President of the Russian Federation, who also approves the Regulations on Territorial Defense. The Government of Russia defines the organisation, tasks, and conducts general planning for territorial defense. The General Staff of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation organises and coordinates the actions of forces and the use of means during the execution of territorial defense tasks.

The organisation of territorial defense is entrusted to federal bodies of state authority, the bodies of state authority of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation, local self-government bodies, institutions, and organisations.

The bodies of executive authority of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation and local self-government bodies participate in planning and ensuring the implementation of territorial defense measures.

Territorial defense is an integral part of the complex of measures for the defense of the country and is one of the main tasks of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and other troops.

Territorial defense is implemented on a territorial basis and is directly entrusted to specially allocated forces and means of military units and institutions of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation, other federal bodies of executive authority having military formations.

The organisation of territorial defense, in accordance with the provisions of the Military Doctrine of the Russian Federation, is one of the main tasks of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation and other troops.

Republic of Belarus

Territorial defense is one of the components of the system ensuring the military security of the Republic of Belarus. It is organised in Belarus based on territorial-zone criteria. Territorial forces are intended for the accomplishment of specific combat tasks, the implementation of organisationally supporting activities, and work in the interests of the armed defense of the state. They are organisationally composed of military units and divisions.

The staffing of territorial forces is carried out during a threatened period or at the beginning of hostilities. This system includes not only bodies of military command but also executive bodies of authority in the regions and districts of the Republic of Belarus.

The overall leadership of territorial defense is exercised by the Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces of the Republic of Belarus through the General Staff. The organisation of territorial defense and guidance on the execution of its tasks are entrusted to the Main Staff of the Ground Forces, for which a territorial defense control center is established.

Direct leadership of territorial defense in the zone (district) is carried out by the heads of local government bodies through the staffs of territorial defense zones (districts). The head of the territorial defense zone is the chairman of the regional executive committee, and the chief of staff is the regional military commissar.

Provision of territorial defense includes:

  • Belarusian Armed Forces: they provide armament and military equipment stored in the depots of the Belarusian Armed Forces.
  • Local executive authorities (regional and district executive committees): they procure personal equipment on a minimal scale for conducting training exercises and also conclude indefinite-term contracts for the acquisition of personal, food, and other material resources for the needs of territorial defense during a special period, which come into effect upon the declaration of martial law.

Territorial defense units are organised as follows:

  • In cities and districts, rifle battalions are formed. The number of battalions depends on the number of protected objects.
  • The head of the territorial defense zone (district) determines the number of units to be staffed, develops deployment orders for territorial forces, and organises their staffing.

The planning and execution of tasks for territorial forces are entrusted to the Ground Forces of the Republic of Belarus.

In this way, various states have developed different models of territorial defense. The states of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which are part of the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, share common features and characteristics in their territorial defense systems.

In this regard, the organisation of territorial defense in the Republic of Kazakhstan is closely related to the development and modernisation of the Armed Forces.

The main factors that necessitate its creation are:

  • The limited size of regular armed forces and other power structures of the state that are unable to fully address the range of tasks arising in repelling external aggression.
  • The existence of positive international experience in the creation and use of territorial forces and the possibility of adapting this experience to local conditions.

Conditions ensuring the sufficiency of the formation of territorial defense units include:

  • The availability of mobilisation resources exceeding the needs of the regular army.
  • The availability of the necessary reserves of armament and military equipment.
  • The availability of financial resources necessary for the creation, maintenance, and training of territorial forces.

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