Joint Planning

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Joint planning is the deliberate process of determining how to implement strategic guidance: how (the ways) to use military capabilities (the means) in time and space to achieve objectives (the ends) within an acceptable level of risk. Ideally, planning begins with specified national strategic objectives and military end states to provide a unifying purpose around which actions and resources are focused. Leaders conduct joint planning to understand the strategic and operational environments to determine the best methods for employing the Department of Defense’s (DOD’s) capabilities to achieve national objectives. Joint planning identifies military ways and means the President can align with other instruments of national power (diplomatic, informational, economic). In the process, joint planning frames the problem; aligns ends, ways, and means; develops operational approaches; accounts for risk; and gives leaders decision space with proposed military options. Combatant commanders (CCDRs) may propose objectives for the President and Secretary of Defense’s (SecDef’s) consideration before beginning detailed planning. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (CJCS), as the principal military advisor to the President and SecDef, may offer military advice on the proposed objectives and global prioritization.

Joint planning serves two critical purposes at the combatant command (CCMD) and subordinate joint force level:

At the strategic level, joint planning provides the President and SecDef with options and advice to achieve the National Security Strategy of the United States of America [short title: National Security Strategy (NSS)] objectives through the employment of the joint force. Planning supports decision making by identifying courses of action (COAs) available along with probable outcomes, costs, and risks.

At the operational level, joint planning translates national-level guidance into specific activities aimed at achieving strategic and operational objectives and attaining the military end state as directed in the (U) National Military Strategy of the United States of America, 2018; 2018-2020 Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG); and Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction (CJCSI) 3110.01, (U) 2018 Joint Strategic Campaign Plan (JSCP).

Planning Products

Joint planning encompasses the preparation of a number of planning and execution-related products. While the planning process is generally the same for campaign, contingency, or crisis planning, the output or products may differ. Campaign and contingency planning encompasses the preparation of plans that occur in non-crisis situations with a timeline generally not driven by external events. Crisis planning uses the same process but is typically driven by external events and is almost always time-constrained. Combatant command campaign plans (CCPs) provide the means to translate strategic guidance into activities executable by CCMDs. CCPs link current operations to contingency plans. The planner needs to know the type of plan and the detail required. The two basic types of plans are campaign and contingency plans. Both can have four levels of detail: commander’s estimate, base plan (BPLAN), concept plan (CONPLAN), and operation plan (OPLAN).

A. Campaign Plans

Campaign plans organize the day-to-day operations of the joint force to shape the OE and achieve national objectives. They establish objectives, conditions, and tasks under which the CCMD and Service components build operations, activities, and investments to achieve objectives (set conditions) in support of national policy. CCMD campaigns are proactive and rarely feature a single measure of military success implying victory in the traditional sense.
A campaign is a series of related military operations to achieve strategic and operational objectives in a given time and space. Campaigns are planned when contemplated objectives exceed the scope of a single operation. Thus, campaigns are often the most extensive joint operations in terms of time and other resources. CCDRs document the full scope of their campaigns in plans that include the campaign plan and all of its subordinate and supporting plans.
CCDRs plan and conduct campaigns and operations, while Service and functional components conduct operations, activities, battles, and engagements but not independent campaigns. CCDRs can plan and conduct subordinate campaigns or operations in support of another CCDR’s campaign. While intended primarily to guide the use of military power, discussions and decisions at the national level provide guidance for employing the different instruments of national power and should be included in the campaign plan, as should the efforts of various interorganizational partners, to achieve national objectives.

B. Contingency Plans

Contingency plans are typically prepared in advance to address an anticipated crisis and must be modified during execution to respond to conditions at the time of execution. If there is an approved contingency plan that closely resembles the emergent scenario, that plan can be refined or adapted as necessary and executed.
Contingency plans are branches of GCPs, FCPs, or RCPs that are planned for designated threats, catastrophic events, and contingent missions without a crisis at-hand, pursuant to the strategic guidance in the Unified Command Plan (UCP), CPG, and JSCP and guidance given by the CCDR. The UCP, CPG, and JSCP guide the development of contingency plans, which address potential threats that put one or more national interest at risk in ways that warrant military operations. Contingency plans are built to account for the possibility that campaign activities could fail to prevent aggression, preclude large-scale instability in a key state or region, or respond to a natural disaster. An integrated contingency plan coordinates the activities of multiple CCMDs in time and space to respond to a single contingency that spans CCMD geographic boundaries or functional responsibilities. Designated coordinating authorities lead planning and assessments across CCMDs and provide recommendations to the CJCS for specific problem sets or missions.

JFODS6: The Joint Forces Operations & Doctrine SMARTbook, 6th Ed. (Guide to Joint Warfighting, Operations & Planning)This article is an extract from "JFODS6: The Joint Forces Operations & Doctrine SMARTbook, 6th Ed. (Guide to Joint Warfighting, Operations & Planning)" by The Lightning Press. Download a free PDF sample and learn more at:  JFODS6: The Joint Forces Operations & Doctrine SMARTbook, 6th Ed. (Guide to Joint Warfighting, Operations & Planning).

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