Societal Resilience (16 DEC 2021)

‘Societal Resilience’ – Conceptual observations meet practitioners’ experience

Threats to society today are increasingly generated through non-conventional warfare which includes non-military or non-violent means. To counter such hybrid threats a much more complex approach is needed as in a hybrid environment our societies are the first line of defense. Therefore, enhancing resilience through civil preparedness is crucial as a resilient country becomes more difficult to target.

Within NATO resilience is understood as “a society’s ability to resist and recover easily and quickly from such shocks and combines both civil preparedness and military capacity.” By focusing on “Societal Resilience” our CCOE Seminar gave insight into how a more resilient society can enhance security and defense across the alliance.

The seminar entailed presentations by the renowned experts Ms Friederike Dahns, NATO HQ, Chair CEPC Working Group Civil Protection, Head of Unit DEU MoI, Professor Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv, Peace and Conflict Studies/International Relations and Security Studies Centre for Peace Studies (CPS) and Ph.D. Nicholas Krohley, principal of FrontLine Advisory. By bringing together their background from NATO HQ, academia and the field, the seminar provided conceptual and practical expertise.

The presentations and moderated discussion round afterwards focused on the following four guiding questions:

  • What is Resilience in general, and what is Societal Resilience in particular?
  • What does it need to strengthen Allied Nations societies?
  • How can NATO operationalise Societal Resilience?
  • How can Civil-Military Cooperation contribute to strengthening Societal Resilience?

Feel invited to discover background information about the seminar and our speakers by approaching the speakers’ presentations and biographies as well as the seminar minutes and video recordings.

For a short and comprehensive introduction on how Resilience relates to NATO and CIMIC, feel free to have a look at our CCOE Fact Sheet on Resilience through Civil Preparedness.

Friederike Dahns

Friederike Dahns is Head of Counter Intelligence in the Federal Ministry of the Interior in Berlin, Germany. Since 2016, Mrs Dahns is Chair of the NATO-Civil Protection Group. Mrs Dahns is an expert in capacity building and civil defence. From 2010-2017 she covered all NATO-related issues in the field of Civil Preparedness and Crisis Management between capital and the HQ in Brussels. Mrs Dahns has represented Germany at Director General’s Level for Civil Emergency Planning multiple times at NATO.

In addition, she has headed expert teams in Jordan and Tunisia, projecting resilience abroad in all fields of civil protection. As a member of the Multilateral Resilience Policy Group, she co-published ”Strategies for Supporting Community Resilience” (2015).

Additional literature:

Prof Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv

Gunhild Hoogensen Gjørv is Professor in Security, Peace and Conflict Studies, at The Arctic University of Norway in Tromsø. Her research examines tensions between state, societal and human security, focusing on hybrid threats and warfare, civil-military interaction (out of area operations, and Norwegian defence), and security in the Arctic. She addresses performances of a civilian agency, drawing upon intersectional approaches to better understand agency, “everyday” security, and implications for peace and war.
She currently leads the NATO funded project Resilient Civilians examining civilian agency in population-centric and hybrid warfare scenarios. Furthermore, she is partner and core theme leader for EU-HYBNET, a European network of researchers and practitioners focused on the mitigation of hybrid threats. She is a partner of the Research Council of Norway funded THREAT DEFUSER project examining how language is manipulated for the purposes of disinformation, and most recently has been awarded funding for the FAKE NEWS project that examines trust and resilience as tools against hybrid threats.

Additional literature:

Dr Nicholas Krohley

Dr Nicholas Krohley is the principal of FrontLine Advisory. He advises clients in the public and private sectors on the human environment of their operations, including civil oriented military and intelligence capabilities in the United States, United Kingdom, Iraq, Ukraine, and Nigeria.
He has held fellowships with the Modern War Institute at West Point and King's College London and served previously with the U.S. Army's Human Terrain System. He holds Ph.D. and M.A. degrees in Middle East & Mediterranean Studies from King’s College London, and a B.A. in History from Yale University. 

If you would like to find out more about FrontLine Advisory follow this link:

Additional literature:

 Additional literature - CCOE on Societal Resilience: