The five dimensions of a threshold defence


  • Robert Dalsjö

Publish date: 2017-10-31

Report number: FOI-R--4458--SE

Pages: 24

Written in: Swedish


  • defence policy
  • defence planning
  • security policy
  • concept
  • analysis of concepts
  • threshold
  • threshold defence
  • threshold capabilities
  • deterrence


This study focusses on the term "threshold", which has become something of a buzzword within the Swedish defence sector in recent years, and explores its possible meanings. The objective is to create greater conceptual clarity and to sketch an analytic framework that might be useful in considering and evaluating measures to strengthen the military defence capabilities of small states. Using two recent FOI-studies on the threshold concept in relation to Sweden's defences as the point of departure, the study explores the possible interpretations or aspects of a "threshold" in the context of the military defence of a small state against a stronger aggressor. The main conclusion is that it is too simplistic to equate "threshold" with "deterrence" and that it is useful to consider threshold as having five dimensions: deterrence, defence/obstacle, marker, alarm-bell, and trip-wire.