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Guerrilla Deterrence: Can Small-State Resistance Preparations Help Fend Off Bigger Threats

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Naval Postgraduate School Monterey United States

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Given the rise of revisionist states and recent challenges to existing alliance structures, small states now see a real possibility of having to deter their larger neighbors on their own. Some countries, specifically those in the Baltics, have established guerrilla forces and civil resistance groups as a cost-effective solution to the threat of invasion but do predatory states understand the pain that such efforts can inflict This project seeks to establish whether overtly prepared resistance, intended to activate after an occupation, can deter aggressors. This study examines the crises of 1968 Czechoslovakia and 1981 Poland, as well as an exploratory case of 1940s Norway. The two crisis cases use demonstrated protest potential as a stand-in for resistance capacity and to highlight functional capabilities that might clearly signal potential costs the invader would suffer. Aggressor context, if it has strategic flexibility, the proximity of some sort of sponsor, and the availability of conventional military power all factor greatly into the deterrence outcome. However, given the right recognized capabilities, like effective communication, apparent social cohesion, and demonstrable cognitive liberation, protest potential may provide a significant aid to deterrence.

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Technical Report



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Approved For Public Release;

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