The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW



Planning Framework

While the planning process is essentially the same at most levels of command, subordinate planning at the operational level demands a broader perspective over the whole range of military operations. Joint Pubs 3-0 and 5-00.l describe the conditions under which subunified and JTF commanders write campaign plans to support the theater campaign plan. Functional and service components of the joint force conduct subordinate and supporting operations--not independent campaigns.

Operational-level Army planners use major operations as tools to synchronize ends, ways, and means to support the joint operations of a subordinate joint campaign. These major operations sequence tactical battles or activities to attain theater strategic and supporting operational-level objectives and guidance from the unified theater campaign. Theater strategic planners use unified operations to synchronize the ends, ways, and means of the theater combatant commander's theater strategic purposes.


Though commanders traditionally apply campaigns to conflict and war, they can also design them to accomplish theater strategic objectives in peacetime. A subordinate joint campaign plan serves as the key employment plan to be implemented in subordinate operating areas such as a theater of operation or other JOA. This plan is the basis for planning among the staff and various subordinate service component commands.

This campaign plan provides the subordinate commander's vision and intent. It does this through broad, operational concepts for operations and sustainment throughout the time frame necessary to achieve the theater commander's assigned strategic concept and objectives.

The subordinate JFC, in his campaign plan, considers an orderly schedule of theater strategic decisions and directions and the supporting operational focus of the theater campaign plan. He then provides a series of related joint operations within the joint campaign. The plan comprises subordinate forces and designates command relationships, subordinate tasks, and objectives.

The subordinate plan ensures synchronization and integration of joint and single-service forces but can integrate, when delegated, specific (special operations) and other supporting forces. The subordinate JFC might consider relationships, also delegated, with multinational, interagency, international, and UN forces. However, normally the theater commander first integrates these types of forces into his unified operations to achieve unity of effort in the theater. Integrating these forces to achieve designated objectives, either directly or indirectly, contributes to obtaining the CINC's strategic objectives.

Theater-level or subordinate campaign planning is a dynamic and continuous process that occurs in peacetime, conflict, or war. It guides the development of supporting operations or campaign plans and facilitates the implementation of national strategic direction, priorities, and resources allocations.

Deliberate planning is designed as a cyclic process during peacetime conditions. Deliberate planning allows the opportunity to develop and refine plans (OPLANs, concept plans [CONPLANs], and concept summaries) to be used in wartime. Crisis action planning (CAP) procedures provide for the transition from peacetime to hostilities or war. Deliberate planning supports CAP by anticipating potential crises and developing the contingency plans that facilitate the rapid development and selection of a COA and execution planning during a crisis. The deliberate theater and supporting plans are based on evolving assumptions and/or an intelligence buildup.

The intelligence buildup is continuous throughout the range of military operations. Intelligence readiness begins in peacetime, before any crisis. The commander establishes intelligence requirements that direct peacetime intelligence operations supporting contingency planning. Two specific elements--staying out front in intelligence planning and understanding how to get intelligence support--are key components to contingency planning. As contingency plans are activated, the commander focuses intelligence and targeting to support specific mission decision and planning requirements. In addition, the commander begins planning for the crossover point in intelligence when initial reliance on higher echelon intelligence is augmented by tactical intelligence and electronic warfare (IEW) assets within the AO.

Intelligence readiness means that intelligence organizations must develop broad knowledge of priority contingency areas, update those data bases daily, and be prepared to surge in support of emerging missions. Commanders and J2s must direct the intelligence effort daily to ensure data bases are available if alerted to support contingency planning and execution. The intelligence staff must provide commanders routine, direct, and habitual links into the intelligence system. These links provide an early focus on the commander's tactical and operational intelligence needs. When a regional crisis occurs, the intelligence system focuses on pushing intelligence and tailored products to the users and prepares for the unit to pull needed intelligence.

When a crisis develops, the CJCS issues a warning order. The supported CINC, subordinate force commanders, and supporting commanders adjust their plans as time permits and the probability of conducting operations increases. The supported commander develops COAs and recommends a specific COA to the NCA. The NCA selects a COA and the CJCS issues an alert order. During the execution planning phase, the supported CINC and his staff prepare the campaign plan and an OPORD, normally by modifying an existing OPLAN, to initiate the first phase of the theater campaign. Execution begins with the NCA decision, via the CJCS execute order, to execute the campaign plan and continues until the campaign reaches an end state favorable to the US and its allies.


Campaign planning can be directed by the NCA, assigned in the JSCP, undertaken by the theater commander, or undertaken to support the sequential requirements of subordinate JFCs. Existing OPLANs or CONPLANs may provide the basis for development of campaign plans.

The campaign plan is the basis for action within a hierarchy of decision making and guidance. That guidance links national security strategy and policy directives to tactical-level battles and engagements. Both levels of campaign plans ensure the linkage of those battles and engagements toward the accomplishment of the desired strategic end state. See Figure 4-1.

Upon approval by the NCA of a proposed military option with alternatives, the CJCS designates the supported and supporting combatant commanders and issues further planning guidance. The supported CINC has primary responsibility for all aspects of theater campaign plan development. The supported CINC develops his strategic estimate and intent, then prepares the recommended strategic concept as the preferred COA, which, upon approval, becomes the basis of his campaign plan.

When the CJCS approves the campaign plan, the supported CINC provides a copy of the plan to supporting CINCs and subordinates for their use as a basis for developing their supporting plans. In practice, the process is sequential only in meeting formal approval dates. All parties conduct concurrent planning throughout the process, via working papers, informal and formal drafts, liaison efforts, and action officer and commanders' conferences.

The supported CINC ensures that his theater organizational staffs can coordinate effectively with supporting CINCs. The CJCS outlines to all involved CINCs the degree of coordination and cooperation required.

Unless limited by the establishing directive, the supported commander exercises general direction over the supporting effort. General direction includes--

  • The designation of targets or objectives.

  • Timing.

  • Duration of the supporting action.

  • Other instructions as necessary for coordination and efficiency with the unity of effort between supported and supporting efforts and plans.

The supported commander should consider the accepted operational and tactical practices of the services of the supporting forces.

The supporting commander is responsible for ascertaining the needs of the supported force. He fulfills those needs with existing capabilities and in keeping with the priorities and requirements of other assigned tasks. Normally, the supporting commander is permitted to prescribe the operations, tactics, methods, communications, and procedures the supporting force employs.

Occasionally, the NCA or CINC requires more rapid translation of strategic aims into direct, tactical execution, with an abbreviated operational-level link. This typically occurs during specific incidents or sensitive situations requiring NCA control. These direct actions of special operations are usually of short duration, requiring nearly simultaneous operations. The 1986 US raid on Libya is an example. As conventional operations become longer in duration or more complex in execution, they are likely to require an expanded operational-level link between the strategic aim and tactical execution.


The theater strategic environment significantly affects campaign design at the theater strategic or operational levels. Alliance and coalition requirements are obviously key factors to consider. The availability and capabilities of forward-presence forces--to include allied and international forces, interagency organizations, and NGOs and PVOs--influence force apportionment decisions. Mobilization, deployment, sustainment, and force-generation capabilities influence the type and timing of operations. ROE may impose limitations, constraints, or restraints.

Campaign plans are designed to conduct a series of related military operations to achieve strategic objectives in a given time and space. Theater campaigns achieve national strategic objectives, whereas subordinate campaigns achieve the CINC's theater strategic objectives. Campaign plans are the theater strategic and operational extensions of the CINC's theater strategy. They translate theater strategic or operational concepts into theater or subordinate campaign plans for military action by specifying how intelligence, operations, logistics, and C² is used over time to attain national or theater strategic objectives.

The key to designing the theater campaign plan is understanding the desired strategic end state, determining the military end state, identifying the enemy's strategic center of gravity, and--having achieved the strategic advantage by strategic concentrations and subsequent strategic maneuver--attacking the center of gravity to achieve the end state. Though theater and subordinate campaigns have different levels of scope, purpose, and perspective, they share common fundamentals.

  • They describe the situation affecting the conduct of military operations.

  • They describe the strategic end state and conditions that constitute that end state.

  • They orient on the enemy's strategic center of gravity and/or successive decisive points at all levels of war and levels of depth.

  • They provide an orderly schedule of theater strategic or operational decisions--the commander's vision and intent.

  • They provide concepts of operations and sustainment to achieve national or theater strategic objectives within a theater organization--the basis for all other planning.

  • They describe the series of related unified or joint operations and major operations that lead to the campaign end state, to include objectives and conditions necessary to begin each subsequent sequence of operations.

  • They phase the levels of campaigns to clearly define or focus sequential activities. Phases often correspond to changes in the purposes of unified or joint major operations.

  • They identify the strategic center of gravity and/or key decisive points during the campaign. Key decisions are often based on attainment of conditions identified as necessary to begin phases or shift operations. Other key decisions involve shifting priorities and resources.

  • They provide the CINC's or subordinate's design for synchronizing efforts.

  • They describe the terms of priority of effort and resources by phase or subsequent operation. This aspect includes a description of the supporting capabilities and their intended affect on operations.

  • They provide the organization of the unified or joint force and designate command relationships between the theater CINC and his subordinates.

  • They identify specific objectives and assign tasks and concepts for each subordinate that are sufficient to serve as the basis for subordinate planning.

  • They synchronize and integrate joint, single-service, supporting, and special operations forces in conjunction with multinational and UN forces; international and interagency organizations; and NGOs and PVOs into a cohesive and synergistic whole that is unified in nature.

Campaign planning is the primary means by which the CINC provides for strategic unity of effort and through which he guides the planning of unified and joint operations within his theater and its subordinate operating areas.

Theater Campaign Plan

Through the theater campaign plan, the CINC--

  • Defines theater strategic objectives.

  • Describes a strategic concept of operations and sustainment.

  • Sequences unified operations.

  • Allocates subordinate forces.

  • Establishes command relationships and delegates authority.

  • Assigns objectives and tasks.

  • Synchronizes joint, single-service, supporting, and special operations forces with allied, UN, NGO, PVO, and interagency or international efforts.

A theater campaign plan includes the CINC's strategic vision of the unified operations sequence necessary to attain the national strategic objectives assigned by higher authority. It orients on the enemy's strategic center of gravity; achieves unity of effort with the armed forces allocated by the nation; clearly describes the strategic end state; and serves as the basis for subordinate planning. Two of the most important aspects of this plan are the synchronization of forces in operations and the concept for their sustainment.

Integration and Synchronization of Forces and Operations

The campaign plan integrates and synchronizes unified, joint, and multinational/coalition operations by serving as the unifying focus for the conduct of operations. The CINC coordinates from among the total US, allied, or interagency and international capabilities and applies or focuses those necessary to prosecute the campaign. He orchestrates this application of force so that a variety of supporting capabilities is complementary and reinforcing--all oriented on achieving campaign objectives.

Concept for Sustainment

The campaign plan integrates and synchronizes unified, joint, and multinational logistics and support operations. It ensures that logistics and support planning are centralized, comprehensive, and continuous. Although implementation and execution of logistics functions and support are normally a national and, specifically, a service responsibility, the CINC coordinates from among the total US, allied, or interagency or international capabilities and applies or focuses those necessary to prosecute the campaign. Logistics and support considerations are vital to the successful execution of the campaign plan.

Gaining the initiative at the operational-level has a momentum of its own that multiplies the value of tactical victories and ultimately leads to theater strategic advantage and conflict termination. The German victory in France during 1940 illustrates this phenomenon. Though they fought relatively few major engagements, the Germans sequenced and synchronized their tactical operations in such a manner that the operational-level result was much greater than the sum of these tactical battles. The momentum gained by the Germans during these operations led the French to believe their situation was hopeless, despite having major uncommitted combat forces.

Supporting Campaign Plans

Theater combatant commanders and their staffs prepare campaign plans. In addition, principal subordinate JFCs prepare subordinate or supporting campaign plans as required against multiple strategic threats. These include subunified and JTF commanders and their staffs.

The theater commander may decentralize the joint force by establishing theaters of operation or JOAs for subordinate JFCs who directly command the warfighting service forces. Subunified or JTF commanders, when assigned a strategic mission, prepare subordinate campaign plans that support the higher CINC's concept and contribute to the unified effort in the theater.

A JTF is established usually for different levels of command to achieve specific objectives of limited scope. The JTF mission may be of sufficient scope to achieve a strategic objective. In such a case, under direction of the theater CINC or, in certain circumstances, under direction of the NCA (through the CJCS), the commander of the JTF may be responsible for establishing a subordinate campaign plan.


Strategic decision making that affects campaign planning occurs at three levels: national security level, national military level, and theater level.

National Security-Level Planning

At the national security level, the NCA uses the national security system to design national security objectives and guidance reflecting a strategic end state.

National Military-Level Planning

At the national military level, the CJCS uses sequential planning systems, such as JSPS and JOPES, to provide further national strategic direction affecting the theater campaign plan process.

Joint Strategic Planning System

The JSPS is the primary formal means by which the CJCS, in consultation with other members of the JCS and CINCs, assists the NCA in providing national strategic direction. The JSPS is used to assess the strategic security and specific theater environments, evaluate the threat, and propose the national military objectives, strategic concepts and guidance, and force capabilities to support the achievement of national security objectives. It provides strategic rationale for the initiation of joint operations planning.

Joint Operation Planning and Execution System

Campaign planning occurs within the established deliberate or execution processes of JOPES. Campaign logic, sequence, and fundamentals go into the OPLAN format within JOPES. JOPES provides procedures to translate strategic direction into a plan of operations. A CINC can use JOPES to develop and select appropriate COAs. This COA development process can be also applied to campaign plan development.

Theater-Level Planning

At the theater level, within JOPES guidelines, the CINC employs a theater design process to develop the theater campaign plan. This design process--

  • Begins with receipt of current national strategic direction.

  • Follows with evaluation of the theater strategy and strategic estimate.

  • Continues with specified planning considerations of operational art and a series of related sequential planning actions.

  • Leads back to the national strategic guidance and end state to ensure that it can be successfully employed.

Subordinate JFCs receive guidance through the JOPES-related, theater-level campaign planning process. They formulate supporting plans based on the theater CINC's strategic guidance and intent. While campaign planning is a responsibility of the theater CINC and subordinate JFCs, it has a specific relationship to JSPS and JOPES. These systems provide a process for the theater commander to receive strategic guidance from and provide input to the NCA and CJCS, as well as a methodology for developing the campaign plan.

Theater campaign planning (Figure 4-2) portrays an orderly series of related actions and operations that occur in the campaign design considerations within JOPES. The broad process begins when the CINC receives current strategic guidance and then systematically considers--

  • Derived mission.

  • Revised theater strategy and estimate.

  • Commander's estimate.

  • Commander's concept.

  • Objectives, tasks, and concepts for subordinates.

  • Command relationships.

  • Theater organization.

  • Requirements for supporting plans.

The final link in the process is a determination of plan feasibility and requests for change or augmentation. Planning may be self-regenerating, depending on changing conditions of the above actions or events.

Derived Mission

Specified and implied strategic tasks are determined from specific NCA guidance; from national or alliance documents, such as the JSCP, the UCP, or Joint Pub 0-2, or from CINC initiatives. The national military objectives form the basis of the campaign's mission statement. Using these guides, the CINC derives his theater campaign mission--a strategic mission that accomplishes the purpose of national strategic direction.

Initially, the mission may be a general statement of the theater strategic objectives and their purposes, but it may later be refined after specific tasks and phases have been developed and delineated as a result of the commander's estimate. The mission evolves.

From the derived mission, the CINC determines what is to be done, what resources are available, and what obstacles or actions may prevent mission accomplishment. The CINC states this derived mission in succinct terms that are understandable to superiors and subordinates alike. The CINC provides guidance to subordinate commanders through his application of operational art and the description of his strategic intent.

The commander's intent is a concise expression of the purpose of the unit's activities, the desired results, and how operations progress toward that end. In his intent, the commander clarifies the why element of the mission statement for his subordinates. This helps them pursue the desired strategic end state without further orders, even when operations do not unfold as planned.

Revised Theater Strategy and Estimate

The national and multinational strategic guidance the C][NC receives from higher authority, whether explicit or implicit, drives the campaign planning process. Guidance is expressed through national security strategy and national military strategy relative to the deliberate or crisis-action attainment of strategic objectives and guidance. During CAP, assumptions change and plans are adjusted.

The theater campaign plan must be flexible. It must be able to accomplish its designed purpose and adapt to changing assumptions, guidance, or situations affecting the desired outcome. The plan should be subjected to continued, detailed review and revised as required so that it does not become outdated, is not overcome by critical events, or does not become unworkable. Major components of the CINC's strategic estimate are strategic direction, the theater strategic situation, strategic concepts, specific COAs, and decisions. Joint Pub 5-00.1 describes these in detail.

Commander's Estimate

The CINC's study of the situation, coupled with his review of existing theater strategy and strategic estimate, is a continuous process from which strategic concepts are formulated and COAs are derived to become the basis of the theater campaign plan. In practice, the commander's views, as expressed in the commander's estimate during deliberate or CAP, contribute to NCA deliberations in forming strategic guidance. As a minimum, the commander's estimate will include--

  • The mission, situation, and COAs.

  • Considerations that affect the COAs.

  • Enemy capabilities.

  • Analysis of enemy capabilities.

  • Comparison of own COAs.

  • Recommended COA.

For each COA, the estimate should address--

  • Combat forces required; for example, airborne brigade, tank battalion. Identify types of units.

  • The force provider.

  • The destination.

  • Required delivery dates.

  • A coordinated deployment estimate.

  • An employment estimate.

  • Strategic lift requirements, if appropriate.

Concepts of Operation

The CINC's strategic concepts of operation and sustainment in the theater campaign plan are linked closely and derived from his strategic intent. They accomplish the following:

  • Describe the strategic end state and requirements and conditions that constitute that end state.

  • Design the theater strategic concept, objectives, and tasks and supporting operational direction, objectives, tasks, and concepts for subordinates to carry out their campaigns or operations.

  • Organize joint, single-service, supporting, and special operation forces, in conjunction with multinational or UN forces, interagency organizations and NGOs and PVOs into a cohesive, unified force designed to plan and execute subordinate campaigns and operations.

  • Retain strategic reserves.

  • Establish command relationships.

  • Integrate the nations's mobilization, deployment, and sustainment efforts into the CINC's employment and logistics concepts.

  • Concentrate forces and materiel resources strategically so that the right force is available at the designated times and places to conduct decisive, winning operations.

  • Seek to gain the strategic advantage over the enemy that affords an opportunity to take the strategic initiative through offensive operations.

  • Defeat or destroy the enemy's strategic center of gravity to achieve the strategic end state.

In his strategic concept, the commander describes how he visualizes subordinates conducting campaigns, major operations, and the decisive battle, focusing on the employment of his force as a whole. This description includes conditions to be achieved, sequence of events, and expected enemy reactions to friendly forces as the battle progresses. Above all, the commander should specify the desired military end state--the results he expects the battle to achieve, including effects on the enemy and the desired posture of friendly forces after the fight. The commander should describe how this posture will facilitate transition to future operations or postconflict operations.

Objectives and Subordinate Tasks

The theater strategic and supporting operational objectives assigned to subordinates are critical elements of the theater strategic design of the theater campaign. These objectives establish the conditions necessary to reach the desired end state and achieve the national strategic objectives. The CINC focuses on national military or alliance strategic objectives to select his theater strategic and supporting operational objectives. Subordinate JFCs, in turn, are assigned specific theater strategic and supporting operational objectives for subordinate campaigns. The CINC carefully defines the objectives to ensure clarity of theater strategic and operational intent and to identify specific tasks required to achieve those objectives.

Command Relationships and Organization

The CINC organizes the subordinate operating areas within the theater and establishes the command relationships for these areas to support the campaign. Organizations and relationships are based on the campaign design, complexity of the campaign, and degree of control required. Within the campaign planning process, the CINC determines the organization and command relationships before assigning tasks to subordinates.

To establish command relationships the CINC must determine the types of subordinate commands and the degree of authority to be delegated to each. This further clarifies the intent of the CINC and contributes to decentralized execution and unity of effort. The CINC selects the types of subordinate commands from the six doctrinal options, for example, service components, subordinate joint commands, and so forth. The options for delegating authority emanate from COCOM and range from OPCON to support.

Requirements for Supporting Plans

The CINC considers a total resource support concept that is integrated both vertically and horizontally into supporting plans for theater and subordinate campaigns or operations. The CINC and subordinate JFCs and their staffs develop these plans based on unified support that can be provided from national-level assets, supporting CINCs, services, alliance or coalition partners, other government agencies, NGOs and PVOs, international agencies, UN agencies, and host nations. Supporting plans may--

  • Address tasks and support requirements during mobilization, predeployment, deployment, entry, operations, postconflict operations, redeployment, and demobilization.

  • Address requirements for diplomatic, informational, and economic coordination and support.

  • Detail support during the various phases of the theater campaign.

Supporting commanders synchronize their plans with the theater campaign plan. They time-sequence mobilization to support deployment, deployment with execution, execution with sustainment, and vice versa. They identify resources and necessary liaison early--as the plan is being developed. Supporting plans provide for liaison from the supporting CINC to the supported CINC, who has control over all support in the theater.

Coordination is required with allies, coalition forces, and host nations on intratheater movements. Plans to effect intratheater movement should provide the CINC maximum control of the movement and concentration of forces and materiel, which will permit rapid response to changing situations as the campaign develops.

The CINC identifies intelligence support requirements for the campaign through the development or revalidation of a supporting intelligence plan. This plan identifies requirements for national-level support from DOD intelligence agencies and military services.

Supporting and subordinate commanders and supporting US departments and agencies use the CINC's strategic concepts of operation and tasks for subordinates as the basis for determining the necessary support for each phase of the campaign plan. Supporting and subordinate commanders respond to the identified tasks by preparing supporting plans and by submitting them for approval to the supported CINC.

National Agencies and Industrial Resources

National-level intelligence organizations are essential to campaign planning and execution because of the need for access to different data bases, reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities, and finished intelligence. During the development of the theater campaign plan, the CINC should identify intelligence and mapping support requirements and request support from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), the Defense Mapping Agency (DMA), and other national-level intelligence agencies. Such other federal agencies include the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the National Security Agency (NSA), and the intelligence staffs of the Department of State (DOS) and military services.

The list of agencies with which the Army may find it necessary to establish linkage varies based on the mission. FM 100-19 discusses MOOTW conducted to support US civil authorities and identifies the US agencies that must be considered. These agencies can determine foreign counterpart organizations with which the Army may need to establish linkages.

The capacity of the nation to expand its industrial base may ultimately have a constraining effect on the campaign plan. The CINC must compare the expected consumption rates with the projected availability of critical supplies to ensure that the campaign plan is logistically feasible. To manage projected shortages, the CINC may plan to restrict or control the use of critical assets. The CINC may recommend that DOD implement industrial production and repair surge for specific shortfall systems.

Defense Intelligence Agency. The DIA is responsible for coordinating national-level support to the unified efforts of the CINC. DIA is also responsible for deploying national intelligence support teams to the theater to facilitate the flow of quality intelligence to the CINC. When actual operations commence, increased strategic intelligence support may be provided by a DOD joint intelligence center (JIC) to furnish an integrated defense intelligence position to the CINC.

Defense Information System Agency. The Defense Information System Agency (DISA) is responsible to the CINC for the employment of communication resources at designated defense communication system (DCS) entry stations and gateways to terminate long-haul trunks and circuits from the JOA. DISA ensures that the required entry station, gateways, and switching centers have appropriate equipment and cryptographic devices to assure worldwide interoperability of the CINC's command, control, communications, and computers (C4) assets.

Department of State. DOS involvement extends from policy formulation at the highest level to mission execution at the host nation and country team levels. At the country team level, the US ambassador is responsible for directing, coordinating, and supervising all US Government elements, except those under the command of an established US theater commander.

At the theater level, the CINC may use his diplomatic advisor to coordinate with US ambassadors and their country teams to plan and conduct campaigns. Throughout the range of military operations, the ambassador remains an important player in the conduct of unified operations. The role of establishing and maintaining interagency linkage to this representative of the President is vital for accomplishing the strategic objectives.

United States Information Agency. The United States Information Agency (USIA) is responsible for supporting US foreign policy objectives by informing the public in other nations about US programs and policies. The USIA can advise the CINC on the implications of foreign opinion on the execution of present and future campaigns.

Defense Logistics Agency. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) is the CINC's link to the national industrial base. DLA provides supplies to the military services and supports their acquisition of weapons and other materiel. Support begins with joint planning among the services for weapons systems' parts, extends through production, and concludes with the disposal of materiel that is obsolete, worn out, or no longer needed. DLA provides supply support, contract administration services, and technical and logistics services to all military services.

US Army Materiel Command. The U S Army Materiel Command (USAMC) operates the Army's national logistics system through its major subordinate commands and separated reporting activities (SRAs) to fulfill the Army's need for logistics support. USAMC--

  • Performs assigned materiel functions and related functions for research, development, test, and evaluation (RDTE).

  • Provides acquisition, logistics support, and technical assistance for materiel systems.

  • Performs other materiel acquisition management functions.

  • Provides the Army's national logistics system-level maintenance support for items of materiel used by the Army.

  • Serves as the DOD single manager for conventional ammunition.

  • Provides management of operational policies, programs, objectives, and resources associated with its worldwide Logistics Assistance Program.

Additionally, USAMC accounts for and manages Army Reserve and operational projects (OP) worldwide. These functions and capabilities may be provided to the Army component command through the logistics support element (LSE).

Logistics Support Element. LSE is a flexible, deployable multifunctional unit. It commands and controls forward elements of the strategic base. These forward elements are composed primarily of DOD civilians and contractors. The LSE is structured to link the industrial base with the operational-level units and, through the logistics assistance representatives, with tactical logistics. The CINC and ASCC require a tailorable logistics C² element for forward elements of the national base. The LSE supports these needs by using a flexible combination of military, DOD civilian, and contractor personnel that allows it to alter its mission and size based on METT-T. The objective of the LSE is to sustain readiness by operating as far forward as feasible, minimizing the evacuation of critical reparables from the theater of operations and thus reducing the flow of replacement materiel.

Military Resources

CJCS considers theater strategies and plans when prioritizing and apportioning forces and resources among the combatant commanders. National strategic planning for mobilization, predeployment, deployment, entry operations, postconflict operations, redeployment, and demobilization is based on the planned employment and sustainment of forces by the various combatant CINCs.

The strategic concept of operations of the theater campaign plan imposes requirements on mobilization timing and generation of necessary force capabilities. Campaign planners and mobilization planners must coordinate and integrate closely. Strategic deployment planning focuses on intertheater movement of forces and sustainment of the theater for intratheater deployment, concentration, and employment to support the theater campaign plan. The CINC's priorities are the basis for either movement.

The NCA may direct the use of strategic forces or reserves to support the CINC's employment concept. The CINC considers that these forces may be apportioned to generate decisive combat power and provide protection and security for deploying theater forces or be used against external threats that could affect the outcome of the campaign.

Additionally, national-level assets may support the CINC's employment concept for conducting operations security (OPSEC), deception, psychological operations (PSYOP), SOF, civil affairs (CA) operations, and other operations as unique operations within unified operations.

Each service is responsible for providing personnel, administrative, and logistical support to its forces. The ASCC, in conjunction with his subordinate senior army commanders assigned to the unified or subunified command, develops supporting plans to provide and maintain adequate logistical support to Army service forces and other forces as directed throughout all phases of the campaign.

As a rule, the JTF does not have an ASCC. However, the CINC may designate the ASCC as the subunified commander or CJTF. The JTF has an ARFOR headquarters that provides requisite support to ARFOR within the JTF and requests additional support from the controlling unified or subunified command ASCC. Based on the supporting plans developed by the controlling unified, subunified, or JTF command, the ARFOR headquarters develop its logistical plan.

In the event that national mobilization of forces accompanies campaign plan execution, special plans and management may be required to ensure available supplies to meet campaign priorities. In addition, as these mobilized forces deploy, planners develop theater distribution plans to eliminate bottlenecks at arrival and intratheater movement points. The CINC coordinates and effects support agreements with the host nation and allies for logistics, facilities acquisition, transportation, and other operations support.


A major operation is the ARFOR's coordinated execution of land operations of a joint operation that is part of a particular phase of a subordinates or CINC's campaign. A major operation sequences Army activities, battles, and engagements to attain operational-level objectives. Senior army commanders, as subordinates to a subordinate JFC, and their senior staff officers execute operational art through the design and conduct of major operations, including contingency operations.

Often the ASCC/ARFOR is the supported commander planning and executing a major operation. Then, the execution of the operation's general direction is exercised by the ASCC/ ARFOR. This impacts in particular on the planning of deep operations; deep fires; interdiction; Army airspace command and control (A²C²); and reconnaissance, intelligence surveillance, and target acquisition (RISTA) within the senior army commander's AO.

Sometimes, the ARFOR commander is a supporting commander who plans and executes major operations of the campaign. For example, the ARFOR may be the supporting commander to the JFACC and the supported commander for the JFC's overall air interdiction effort.

Operational-level planners develop major operations to support the series of related joint operations of the joint campaign plan. These major operations also support the unified operations of the theater campaign when subordinate missions require a phased, related series of joint operations to achieve theater strategic objectives. Major operations that support joint campaigns occur under certain circumstances.

  • First, a CINC assigns theater strategic objectives and provides strategic guidance and operational focus to an immediate subordinate.

  • Second, the CINC may establish multiple operating areas within a theater. Under both sets of circumstances, the strategic importance of the objectives, the guidance, and the complexity of the joint operations require the development of joint, single-service, supporting, and special operations forces that complement both the subordinates' joint campaign and the CINC's theater campaign.


Operational-level plans can include subordinate campaign plans and plans for major operations. These plans support the theater strategic objectives by linking those objectives to tactical-level operations.

Subordinate Campaign Plans

The combatant commander may opt to divide the theater of war into theaters of operations. When directed, principal subordinate JFCs develop subordinate campaign plans or OPLANs that accomplish or contribute to the accomplishment of theater strategic objectives. These plans support and extend the theater CINC's concept of operations in a sequence or set of joint operations composed of integrated major operations and battles. These plans support the theater campaign plan by achieving specific strategic objectives or by establishing conditions for further operations that lead to the specified end state.

The principal CINC reviews subordinate campaign plans, along with the necessary supporting plans, to ensure they are valid synchronized, and support the concept and objective of the theater campaign plan. Appendix B provides an example of a subordinate campaign plan.

Major Operations Plans

ARFOR with employment roles that support JFCs develop major operations plans to support the theater or subordinate campaign plans. Plans are objective-driven and, when applied collectively to the joint force, provide the integrated and mutually supported effort to generate and concentrate combat power at the operational level of war. Appendixes C, D, and E provide examples of major operations plans for peacetime, conflict, and war, respectively.


The ASCC's planning responsibilities are contingent on the Army's role in supporting theater-level unified operations. These responsibilities can range from planning, to participating in joint operations with other components, to participating in major operations, to planning only for the service support of Army forces of the subordinate joint commands.

Major Operations Plans

The ASCC's responsibilities for planning and conducting major operations depend on how the combatant commander exercises his COCOM options. If the combatant commander elects to exercise COCOM through the ASCC by delegating OPCON to him, then the ASCC conducts major operations in conjunction with the other service components and also provides logistical support for all ARFOR assigned to the theater and to other services as required. The ASCC plans and conducts major operations as directed by the CINC. In those instances where the CINC elects not to use the ASCC to plan and execute major operations, the ASCC, while providing logistical support for the Army forces, also recommends to the CINC the proper Army force composition and employment as part of the operational-level commander's delineated requirements.

Sustainment or Reinforcement Plans

The capability to sustain the campaign from beginning to end sets the tempo of operations. Sustainment or reinforcement planning--part of logistics-preparation-of-the-theater (LPT) process--identifies and provides the available supplies, equipment, materiel, replacement personnel, and HNS infrastructure to sustain the involved forces according to the CINC's concept of operations. LPT plans, developed by logisticians at all echelons, must include provisions for infrastructure development and defense and be consistent with the strategic aims and CINC's intent. FM 100-16 describes the LPT process in detail.


Achieving unity of effort in multinational operations is critical for success. Multinational operations planners ensure success by determining how US campaigns integrate with alliance or coalition forces and how intelligence and logistics resources are shared. Understanding the personalities and sensitivities of the senior commanders and the national character of each of the allied armies is the key to successful leadership in multinational army operations. In addition, understanding their capabilities, personal and professional habits, and training background is important.

Commanders must establish effective working relationships among themselves. They must establish rapport, mutual respect, and unity of effort; use liaison officers; develop standardization agreements; and overcome language barriers. History has shown that it is possible for military leaders having a wide divergence of cultural backgrounds to cooperate effectively while conducting multinational military operations.

Military capabilities of nations differ based on doctrine, training, and equipment. Even in the US Army, differences exist among commands concerning interpretation and execution of doctrine. Some doctrines may emphasize offensive operations; others defensive. Some nations prepare for highly mobile, mechanized operations, while others concern themselves with insurgent or other forms of warfare.

The multinational commander must recognize the relative strengths and differences of the multinational force cultures. Decisions on employment must include the capabilities of the multinational force. They must be made in consultation with the military leadership of those forces.

The multinational commander must carefully balance the allocation of capabilities. Subordinate commanders may have a tendency to request control of forces that provide capabilities not organic to that nation's forces. The guiding principle is not to hold assets that are needed by others, while at the same time not diluting the concentration of critical capabilities.

Relationship to Campaigns

Campaigns may be conducted within the context of an alliance, coalition, or other international arrangement. Planning is accomplished through US, multinational, or international channels. Coordinated planning on such matters as operations, logistics (including infrastructure), intelligence, deception, electronic warfare [EW], communications (including infrastructure), ROE, and diplomatic ends is essential for unity of effort. The preparation of supporting plans addressing coordination and liaison, HNS, and the provision of mutual support are examples of essential tasks that the theater CINC must accomplish.


During multinational operations, the multinational chain of command performs detailed employment planning, to include employment of national and international agencies. These multinational plans may serve as the basis for the US campaign plan and supporting plans, or the US campaign plan might provide the basis for employment planning of multinational or coalition forces. Subordinate commands, such as service and functional component commands, subunified commands, and JTFs, prepare the necessary supporting plans for the conduct of joint operations that support multinational objectives.

Logistics Support

Traditionally, the responsibility for logistics support to national component forces remained with the responsible authorities of the nations concerned. In a multinational environment, logistics support must be the collective responsibility of the nations involved. The logistical objective in a multinational environment is to achieve the greatest degree of logistical standardization that is realistically achievable, given operational constraints, diplomatic and legal demands, and the existing capabilities of the multinational participants. Logistical standardization is affected by such factors as compatibility and interoperability of equipment, interchangeability of combat supplies, and commonality of procedures. Also, planners must develop methods to prevent competition for resources, particularly infrastructure and LOCs, that could adversely affect operations.

Planners should consider options for contracting, acquiring HNS, obtaining support from other national forces, and integrating such support within the multinational force. These options can furnish critical support and resources that are not available through normal organizational means. Planners should understand and consider rationalization, standardization, and interoperability (RSI) during planning.


Multinational commands include national and alliance intelligence systems. In keeping with the NCA guidance the CINC receives, intelligence information should be integrated and shared with the multinational command. If possible, the multinational command and other involved national forces must agree on these procedures well in advance of commencement of the campaign. Supporting plans should address such matters as information-sharing, complementary intelligence operations, and liaison. These plans also should address interaction with the multinational intelligence center (when established).

Information Operations

The Army applies information war/operations technology to support the CINC to enhance his battle command, improve battlefield agility, and make split-based operations possible. Effective use of information operations can prevent the initiation of hostilities by imposing the perception that taking hostile actions against the US or its allies would not be in the best interest of the potential adversary. Space-based systems offer an unrestricted environment to affect these operations.

Commanders must be able to access the global grid of worldwide information resources at any time and at any location in the world. The Army often takes the lead among service components for the entire joint and multinational theater signal support infrastructure. Essential planning considerations must include--

  • Wide area network planning/management.

  • Frequency management.

  • Communications security (COMSEC) key management/distribution.

  • Interfaces from theater systems to sustaining base.

  • Integration of signal support assets in theater among joint and multinational forces.

The joint signal support architecture provides vertical and horizontal integration for army battlefield operating systems, as well as the interfaces that provide interoperability with joint and multinational forces' systems and the sustaining base. The key to future success is a seamless communications architecture that ties the many distributed communications and automation elements into an integrated, interoperable, and cohesive C4 network.


Interagency operations facilitate the implementation of all elements of national power. Interagency operations are critical to achieving the strategic end state, especially in MOOTW. The Army often operates in an interagency environment alongside other institutions of the US Government. This occurs when the military is the prime strategic option, as it is in war, but also when other instruments of national power are the preferred option and the military assists with forces.

Army forces must be prepared to conduct a variety of operations that integrate warfighting and MOOTW with a variety of government agencies, other services, and forces of other nations. These operations could include stability operations, NEO, counterterrorism, security, or arms control and verification.

Interagency operations facilitate unity and consistency of effort, maximize use of national resources, and reinforce primacy of the diplomatic element. DOD and CJCS coordinate interagency operations at the strategic level. This coordination establishes the framework for coordination by commanders at the operational and tactical levels. In some cases--such as peacekeeping---DOS is the lead agency and DOD provides support. In others--such as peace enforcement--DOD is the lead agency.

The CINC is the central point for planning and implementing theater and regional strategies that require interagency coordination. The CINC may establish an advisory committee to link his theater strategy to national policy goals and the objectives of DOS and concerned ambassadors. The CINC establishes a joint headquarters to conduct interagency coordination and planning. Military personnel may coordinate with other US Government agencies while operating directly under an ambassador's authority, while working for a security assistance organization or while assigned to a regional CINC.

Coordination among DOD and other US Government agencies may occur in a country team or within a unified command. Military personnel working in interagency organizations must ensure that the ambassador and CINC know and approve all programs. Legitimizing authorities determine specific command relationships for each operation. The command arrangement must clearly establish responsibility for the planning and execution of each phase of the operation.

Besides extensive US Government agency coordination, commanders also must fully integrate operations into local efforts when appropriate. Such integration requires close coordination with local government agencies and bureaus; local military, paramilitary, or police forces, and multinational partners. A structure such as a mixed military working group comprised of senior officials of the military and other agencies may assist such an effort and include belligerent parties as appropriate.

As relationships among interagency participants mature, increased effectiveness can result. Interagency operations do not necessarily lend themselves to the joint geographic subarea of responsibility previously discussed. Overlapping operational and interagency boundaries can be a source of confusion.

Join the mailing list