National mobilisation involves purposefully using a society’s resources to support achieving national objectives in time of war, crisis or disaster. In the case of war, national mobilisation will usually be focused on enhancing the nation’s defence forces including increasing their capabilities, size and ability to generate higher activity levels. The additional workforce, money and material needed for these changes to the armed forces can, in almost all cases, only be generated by the civil sector of society.
This paper aims to provide a structured way of thinking about mobilisation policymaking and planning that takes this inherent uncertainty into account. It uses two approaches: alternative futures and historical case studies. By projecting the known past into the uncertain future, the paper generates key insights on national mobilisation issues relevant to defence strategic thinking, doctrine and processes across a range of strategic circumstances.
- National mobilisation concerns total national resources.
- National mobilisation also concerns international resources.
- National mobilisation must balance essential military and civilian requirements.
- National mobilisation and military strategies are interdependent.
- National mobilisation must be flexible in its use of controls.
- National mobilisation planning in peace and war is a deeply political issue.
- National mobilisation is an integrated activity.
- National mobilisation must consider the pre- and the post-war.