Totalforsvar 2.0: Netværk mod nye trusler

Jens Svensson

Student thesis: Master executive thesis


Malign influence operations and hybrid threats are the primary tools in a new kind of warfare, where actors seek to project power through non-military means.
The US election in 2016 clearly illustrates the potential consequences of hostile, foreign intervention and influence as Russian “trolls” succeeded in creating division and turmoil among the US population. These new threats can be characterized as “wicked problems” – spanning across sectors, societies and borders with no clear solution within reach. Hostile influence operations and hybrid threat are designed to be covert, moving below the radar and avoiding direct, military confrontation in favor of sowing dissent and confusion, undermining democratic institutions in western democracies.
Traditional approaches to strategy and analytical processes are not suited to handle these complex issues. This thesis proposes a network approach, where military, civilian, public and private actors engage in close cooperation in order to resolve this complex issue of countering hybrid threats and influence operations. This calls for an “all-of-government” and “all-of society” approach to national defense. There are already in Denmark existing networks, but there seem to be little coordination and the role of the Danish Defense appears to be minor. This thesis proposes a more prominent role for the Defense in a future network.
Although a network approach has many advantages, it is not without challenges. With a network comprised by many actors, uncertainties are expected to arise within the network due to the many different perceptions, strategic dispositions and institutional backgrounds among actors. There are no simple solutions when facing these uncertainties – establishment of rules, focusing on trust among the actors and a fair amount of patience seems to be the way forward.
Another major challenge to this approach is leadership and the distribution of responsibility. Governance networks are in their nature horizontal and lack hierarchy which is essential when creating strategies and solutions but impractical as soon as crisis arise, and decisions must be made. This thesis proposes a mixture between pure network governance and centralized leadership. With the Danish Ministry of Defense, by mandate of the government, as the lead actor, the network should be fully autonomous until a major crisis arrive. Then the Ministry assumes control of the situation until it is stabilized after which the network will return to its horizontal structure and resume coordination in order to reach a feasible solution to the problem.

EducationsMaster of Public Governance, (Executive Master Programme) Final Thesis
Publication date2019
Number of pages49