Author: The Development, Concepts and Doctrine Centre (DCDC)
Institution: Ministry of Defence
Publication Date: December 2008
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JDP 5 describes the UK’s defence crisis management process and the fundamentals of military operational planning. It provides guidance on operational level military planning to UK military staff. Particularly useful from a planning point of view is its summary of the 6-Step Operational Estimate and its introduction of key planning tools used by the UK military throughout the process. JDP 5 is divided into three chapters: analysis (understanding the strategic context), planning (the campaign planning process) and defence crisis management (development of military strategic direction and operational planning).
Analysis is a fundamental first stage of the planning process. Understanding the nature of a crisis situation helps to identify the problem as part of the process of planning. Both of these should precede the determination of the solution. Analysis of the current situation should be undertaken in terms that promote shared understanding for as many stakeholders as possible. The time available for analysis will almost always be limited, demanding a trade off between the improvement of understanding and the imperative to develop clear orders and instructions.
Military operational planning should address three main questions: what are the features of the current situation; what should the more favourable situation look like in future; and what is the commander’s theory of change?
Campaign planning is command-led and dynamic. While staff may assist a Joint Force Commander (JFC), ultimately it is his plan and he drives its development. The essence of this relationship is based on an acknowledgement that planning is a mental activity, aided but not driven by process. Although each individual campaign has a unique context, scale and mix of military activities, all campaigns share a common purpose: to translate strategic intent into tactical activity.
Armed with situational understanding and a working definition of the national strategic aim, a JFC starts his planning with detailed consideration of the problem and analysis of two campaign planning concepts in particular: the end-state and Centre of Gravity (CoG). CoG analysis seeks to determine the relative strengths and weaknesses of the principal protagonists. In doing so it identifies those attributes of friendly forces that need to be safeguarded and promoted, and those attributes of an opponent that need to be neutralised or overcome.
A military estimate encompasses: an understanding of the situation and the problem; ascertaining what it is necessary to achieve and by when; identification of possible courses of action; selection of the optimum course of action and a decision as to how it should be executed. The UK military uses a six step military estimate process (Figure 2.9). A JFC should view the various steps as depositories for his ideas and findings, rather than as a bureaucratic process.
Moltke the Elder wrote that ‘no plan of action reaches with any certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy’s main force’. War and conflict are inherently complex and unpredictable. Successful armed forces therefore tend to avoid planning in detail and do not expect the enemy to behave in a given way. As a consequence, a campaign plan should be kept under review throughout its execution. This may be done by dedicated staff on a continuous basis or by a bespoke group or forum on a periodic basis.
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