The concept of a “stay-behind force” is becoming a key element in the defense strategies of smaller nations facing threats from powerful adversaries like Russia or China. These forces, which are intended to operate behind enemy lines if their countries are invaded, serve as a means to disrupt and demoralize the occupier. The article discusses the decision-making framework for when these forces should stay and fight or evade, examining various types of stay-behind forces and occupation environments.
- Stay-behind forces are specialized military units or clandestine networks designed to operate behind enemy lines, offering asymmetric defense options for smaller nations against superior forces.
- The investment in and development of stay-behind forces are indicative of a nation’s acknowledgment of the possibility of occupation, despite the contentious nature of preparing for such a scenario.
- Four occupation environments affect the decision-making of stay-behind forces: decapitation, pacification, subjugation, and liberation, each presenting different challenges and strategies for resistance.
- Historical examples like the French Resistance, the Polish Underground State, and the 10th Special Forces Group provide context for the effectiveness and organization of stay-behind forces.
- The U.S. military supports the development of stay-behind forces in allied nations as a form of unconventional warfare, providing an asymmetric advantage and potentially deterring aggressors.