Strengthening Baltic Societal Resilience and Military Defence

The Annual Baltic Conference on Defence (ABCD) 2020, 30 September in Tallinn, Estonia


The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of societal resilience both in a pandemic and also as an integral part of national defence against military threats. Despite the significant impact of the Corona virus on the global economy, military threats have not disappeared. Since 2017 NATO’s conventional deterrence of Russian aggression in the Baltic region has relied on a limited forward presence (eFP) together with national forces that are backed up with conventional forces deployed in home nations but ready to reinforce, if need be. In case of an armed attack, or its imminent threat, nations would need to mobilise their resources to strengthen both their military capabilities and their societal resilience. Military and civil structures would require augmentation by reservists and volunteers.

At ABCD 2020 we will discuss:

  • the initial lessons identified for nations, NATO and the EU from the COVID-19 crisis and their relevance to collective defence, national defence and societal resilience;
  • different examples of military support to civil authorities during the COVID-19 crisis;
  • the role of reserves, including members of voluntary defence organisations, in the foreseeable security environment addressing both military threats and civil emergencies, such as the COVID-19 crisis;
  • how the US and NATO Allies could effectively deter and defend against Russian aggression;
  • what options for capability and force structure changes the Baltic states could consider to enhance their ability to deter and defend against Russian aggression as part of an integrated NATO approach;
  • the extent to which reserves can meet the higher qualitative requirements placed on our forces;
  • the impact of societal change, including population mobility, since the end of the Cold War on the credibility of force structures that rely on reserves;
  • innovative ways in which the defence forces can draw upon the whole-of-society resources in a military crisis.

ABCD 2020 is organised by the International Centre for Defence and Security and the Ministry of Defence of Estonia in cooperation with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS) and the Interallied Confederation of Reserve Officers (CIOR). KAS was established in 1955 and focuses on consolidating democracy, the unification of Europe and the strengthening of transatlantic relations, as well as on development cooperation. CIOR has since 1947 represented the interests of up to 1.3 million reservists in NATO member nations who stand ready to reinforce the Alliance in times of emergency, not only military emergencies but also humanitarian.

The main sponsor of the ABCD 2020 is EuroSpike. Nammo, BAE Systems, DefSecIntel and Milworks are also supporting the conference.