Civil defense

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Civil defense, civil defence (see spelling differences) or civil protection is an effort to prepare non-combatants for military attack. It uses the principles of emergency operations: prevention, mitigation, preparation, response, or emergency evacuation, and recovery. Programmes of this sort were initially discussed at least as early as the 1920s but only became widespread after the threat of nuclear weapons was realized.

Since the end of the Cold War, the focus of civil defense has largely shifted from military attack to emergencies and disasters in general. The new concept is described by a number of terms, each of which has its own specific shade of meaning, such as crisis management, emergency management, emergency preparedness, contingency planning, emergency services, and civil protection. In some countries, the all-encompassing nature of civil defense is denoted by the term "total defense" such as the Swedish word totalförsvar. The name suggests committing all resources, hence the term total, of the nation to the defense.

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