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Chapter 2

Command, Control, Coordination, and Liaison

I was determined from the first to do all in my power to make this a truly Allied force, with real unity of command and centralization of administrative responsibility. Alliances in the past have done no more than name a common foe and 'unity of command' has been a pious aspiration thinly disguising the national prejudices, ambitions and recriminations of high ranking officers, unwilling to subordinate themselves or their forces to a commander of different nationality or different service.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower
The basic purpose of an MNF command is to direct the military effort to reach a common objective. This chapter discusses command structures that have been proven effective, command authorities, and the roles and responsibilities of participants. It also discusses rationalization, standardization, and interoperability; security assistance; information operations; coordination; and liaison.
Multinational operations are unique. Each national commander is responsible to the commander of the MNF, to his national chain of command and, ultimately, for accomplishing his mission. Units maintain a direct line of communications (LOC) to an appropriate national headquarters and thus to their own National Command Authorities (NCA) equivalent. See Figure 2-1.

Figure 2-1. Generic Multinational Command Structure


Multinational operations are categorized in one of two major groups: coalitions or alliances. Coalitions and alliances create a structure that meets the needs, diplomatic realities, constraints, and objectives of the participating nations. Since no single command structure fits the needs of all alliances and coalitions, several different models could evolve. Parallel and lead-nation command structures are discussed under coalitions with integrated command structure presented under alliances. This is normally the case, but not necessarily true for all situations.


Coalitions normally form as a rapid response to unforeseen crises. During the early stages of such a contingency, nations rely upon their own military command systems to control the activities of their forces. Hence, the initial coalition arrangement most likely involves a parallel command structure. As the coalition matures, the members will probably opt to centralize their efforts through the establishment of a command structure. Some nations call this a framework nation. Only the name is different, and since lead nation is better known and more commonly used, all further discussion uses lead nation.

If nations are very similar in cultures, doctrine, training, and equipment, or if extensive cooperative experience exists, an integrated command structure may be effective. This direct approach requires each armed force to receive, understand, plan, and implement missions in the same manner as the other nations. However, C2 of multinational operations compels commanders to accommodate differences in staff planning capabilities. Some armies have large staffs and the technical means to support planning. Others have austere staff structures and do not have the means to process, reproduce, or rapidly disseminate many contingency plans (CONPLAN). Moreover, decision authority of staffs and subordinate commanders varies among armies. These factors shape the type of command structure chosen. At Appendix A is a guide for coalition operations.

Parallel Command Structure

Under a parallel command structure, no single multinational army commander is designated. Member nations retain control of their own national forces, and the coalition partners write a plan effecting coordination among the participants. Parallel command is the simplest to establish and often the organization of choice. While other command structures emerge as the coalition matures, the parallel model is often the starting point.

The coalition coordination, communications, and integration center (C3IC) makes unity of effort among coalition members from dissimilar nations possible when unity of command has not been established. This concept proved effective during Operations Desert Shield/Storm. Initially, the C3IC is the focal point for support issues such as force sustainment, alert and warning, host nation support (HNS), movement control, and training. As a coalition matures, the role of the coordination center expands to include C2 activities.

When a C3IC is activated, member nations provide a staff element to the center comprised of action officers who are familiar with support activities such as those discussed above. Coalition nations augment this staff with linguists and requisite communications capabilities to maintain contact with their parent headquarters.

A parallel command consists of two or more headquarters with each having subordinate MNFs, such as during the 1991 Gulf War. Western coalition forces came under control of the US headquarters (thus an example of a command), and Arab forces were under control of the Saudi Arabian headquarters. A graphic depiction of such a parallel command is at Figure 2-2 which shows multinational coalition forces under the control of a dual headquarters. However, the model can be expanded to include additional controlling headquarters as the situation dictates. The C3IC provides commanders of the parallel commands the capability to bring representatives from all allied armies together quickly to work mutual support issues.

Figure 2-2. Coalition Parallel Command Structure

Participating commanders must agree to an internal C2 structure to oversee operations of the coordination center. During Operation Desert Shield/Storm, only US and Saudi (joint service) representatives staffed the coordination center. Other coalition forces kept abreast of coordination center activities by using LNOs. This proved effective for their situation. The most effective and appropriate way is for other coalition members to provide their own staffs to the coordination center.

US commanders should advocate creation of a similar coordination center in the early stages of any coalition effort operating under a parallel command structure. It is a proven and effective means of enhancing stability and interaction within the coalition as capabilities develop within the theater.

Lead-Nation Command Structure

The command structure concept recognizes that one nation is assigned the lead role and its C2 system predominates. Normally, the lead nation provides the largest amount of forces for the operation.

Other nations participating in the operation provide liaison personnel to the headquarters. The commander, working in close consultation with the commanders of the other national contingents, determines appropriate command, control, communications, and intelligence procedures. Robust liaison is essential to developing and maintaining unity of effort in multinational operations. Depending on the size, complexity, and duration of the operation, personnel from the other national contingents can augment staffs. Staff augmentation may also be required if a partner has unique organizations or capabilities not found in forces of the lead nation. This augmentation provides the commander with a ready source of expertise on the respective partners' capabilities during planning and operations.

The command structure is the preferred C2 arrangement because it achieves unity of command (effort) and supports a more rapid operational tempo (see Figure 2-3). Unique circumstances are required in using the command structure because nations are reluctant to grant this degree of control to another nation. A command structure also presents special challenges for that nation's commanders. Allied counterparts will be particularly sensitive to actions that might be construed as preferential to the lead nation's interests.

Figure 2-3. Command Structure


In an alliance, instead of merely augmenting the staff with other national representatives, the entire staff is integrated. Each primary staff officer could be of a different nationality, and a deputy commander would usually represent the other major participants besides the lead nation. An integrated staff demonstrates greater burden-sharing and commitment, but may create more friction than an augmented staff.

An alliance organized under a multinational integrated command structure provides unity of command in a multinational setting. The NATO command structure is a good example. NATO has a Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR), who is designated from a member nation. His staff and the commands and staffs of subordinate commands several tiers removed are of multinational makeup.

In alliances, multinational commands are characterized by integrated multiservice staffs at echelons above corps (EAC), with national armies responsive to the multinational commander. This, however, does not negate the possibility of a multinational command and staff arrangement at corps and below. The key ingredients in an integrated alliance command are a single designated commander, a staff composed of representatives from all member nations, and subordinate commands and staffs integrated to the lowest echelon necessary to accomplish the mission (see Figure 2-4).

Figure 2-4. Integrated Command Structure

NATO's Allied Command Europe (ACE) Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC) is an existing multinational unit. It has some characteristics of an organization in that the United Kingdom (UK) provides most of the framework organization and part of the standing portion of the force. It is, however, an integrated unit, because the primary staff members are of different nationalities. Staffs are integrated (the ARRC G3 is a US brigadier general) and so are two subordinate units, the multinational division (central) and the multinational division (south). Other NATO nations provide forces for specific operations as the mission dictates. One US division has a habitual relationship of coordinating with the ARRC in peacetime for planning and training. The division is how the US fundamentally forms its warfighting capability. Figure 2-5 shows the complexity of the ARRC organization.

Figure 2-5. ACE Rapid Reaction Corps (ARRC)

CFC in Korea is an example of a formal multinational headquarters arrangement that has evolved over years of allied cooperation. The CFC staff and the staffs of its subordinate army headquarters (Ground Component Command [GCC]) are fully integrated (see Figure 2-6).

Figure 2-6. Combined Forces Command (Korea)


When participating in a multinational operation, the senior commanders must agree early on the type of C2 authority that will govern the operations of the forces. In any multinational operation, the US commander retains command over all assigned US forces. The US chain of command runs from the NCA to the combatant commander. The chain of command, from the President to the lowest US commander in the field, remains inviolate. The definitions shown in this section demonstrate the complexity of multinational operations. Subtle differences in terms, especially operational control, cause confusion even among allies with a long history of multinational operations.

Although political considerations are critical, a clear point must be established where political structure ends and military structure begins. The MNF commander should report to the combatant commander or a subordinate joint force commander (JFC), who acts as a buffer between political leadership and military structures. This might mean that a US corps commander designated as the commander of the joint task force (CJTF) is the political-military buffer, and the deputy corps commander controls military operations as a joint force land component commander (JFLCC). The combatant commander determines the specific relationship.


Authority vested in a commander must be commensurate with the responsibility assigned. In US-only operations, US military forces operate under one of four command relationships:

  • Combatant command (COCOM).
  • Operational control (OPCON).
  • Tactical control (TACON).
  • Support (not discussed here).

While US relationships are well defined in joint and service doctrine, they are not necessarily part of the doctrinal lexicon of other nations. NATO and CFC have developed their own terminology for command relationships that meet the needs of those alliances.

The US has approved the definitions of those alliance command relationships. Since the US Army in the future will be primarily a force-projection army, most units will find themselves under one of these relationships; a clear understanding of each is necessary. These definitions provide a framework for forces operating in a coalition force as well. Figure 2-7 depicts the authority inherent in each command relationship.

Figure 2-7. Comparison of Command Authority

Combatant Command

COCOM is the command authority authorized by Title 10, United States Code, Section 164, or as directed by the President in The Unified Command Plan (UCP) to combatant commanders (unified or specified). COCOM provides full authority to the combatant commander to organize and employ commands and forces as he considers necessary to accomplish assigned missions. This authority enables the commander in chief (CINC) to organize and employ his commands and forces, assign tasks, designate objectives, and give authoritative direction over all aspects of military operations, joint training, and logistics necessary to accomplish the assigned missions. The CINC normally exercises COCOM through his JFCs and service and/or functional component commanders. COCOM is not transferable. Thus, US commanders should anticipate either operating under OPCON of an MFC or being the overall commander of that force.

The combatant commander exercises COCOM authority through one of a combination of six organizational options. These include--

  • Service components.
  • Functional components.
  • Subordinate unified commands.
  • Single-service forces.
  • Joint task forces (JTFs).
  • Direct control over specified operational forces.

Operational Control

Commanders at or below the combatant commander exercise OPCON as their command authority. OPCON is inherent in COCOM and is the authority to perform the function of command over subordinate forces. The CINC may delegate OPCON to his subordinates. OPCON is the most authority with which subordinates can direct all aspects of military operations and joint training needed to accomplish any assigned mission. A commander with OPCON may control forces from one or more services. OPCON does not normally include the authority to direct logistics, administration, discipline, internal organization, or unit training. It does include the authority to prescribe the chain of command and organize commands and forces.

Subject to prior NCA approval, an MNF commander may exercise appropriate and negotiated OPCON over US units in specific operations authorized by a legitimizing authority. One such legitimizing authority is the UN Security Council. In other circumstances, another regional body could be the legitimizing authority. In addition to these control considerations, support relationships and arrangements may often be more appropriate.

Careful judgment of each situation guides actions. Generally, however, the US Army preference is to send a fully capable combined arms force. This force is employed as such under the terms of reference established. If a non-US portion of the MNF requires a certain US-unique capability, the US commander should receive a mission order to support another element for a specific mission and/or operation. Allowing the US to plan and execute the mission reduces friction and simplifies C2 arrangements.

The degree of OPCON exercised over US units must be coordinated and agreed to between the superior MNF commander and the US-theater CINC who provides the US forces. This agreement must be in consonance with the NCA criteria for the operation's C2 arrangements. These criteria establish limits to the OPCON that may be exercised over US units. Within these limits, and with few exceptions, a foreign commander cannot--

  • Change the mission or deploy US forces outside the area of responsibility (AOR) agreed to by the NCA.
  • Separate units, redirect logistics and supplies, administer discipline, promote individuals, or modify the internal organization of US units.

The US commander is ultimately responsible to the MNF commander and to his national chain of command. US units maintain a direct LOC to an appropriate US headquarters--normally the theater combatant commander. Other participants in a coalition maintain similar LOCs.

Tactical Control

The CINC uses TACON to limit the authority to direct the tactical use of combat forces. TACON is authority normally limited to the detailed and specified local direction of movement and maneuver of the tactical force to accomplish an assigned task. TACON does not provide organizational authority or administrative and support responsibilities. The US service component continues to exercise these authorities. TACON differs from TACOM in that TACON involves only the necessary control of movements and maneuvers to accomplish a previously assigned mission.


NATO control of multinational operations is categorized into five groups--

  • Full command.
  • Operational command (OPCOM).
  • OPCON.
  • Tactical command (TACOM).
  • TACON.

These NATO definitions do not differ greatly from established US definitions of operational control measures. NATO, using the standardization agreement (STANAG) process, has developed, staffed, and gained NATO approval of these definitions, which ensures unambiguous use of these measures, ensuring operational interoperability.

Full Command (NATO)

The NATO equivalent of USCOCOM is full command. It is the military authority and responsibility of a superior officer to issue orders to subordinates. It covers every aspect of military operations and administration and exists only within national services. It follows that no NATO or other MNF commander will have full command over other national forces.

Operational Command (NATO OPCOM)

In NATO, OPCOM is the authority granted to a commander--

  • To assign missions or tasks to subordinate commanders.
  • To deploy units.
  • To reassign forces.
  • To retain or delegate OPCON and/or TACON as deemed necessary.

OPCOM does not include responsibility for administration or logistics and may denote the forces assigned to a commander. OPCOM allows a commander to specify missions and tasks, assign separate employment to components of assigned units, and reassign forces away from his own force. It does not carry the authority to disrupt the basic organization of a unit to the extent that it cannot readily be given a new task or be redeployed elsewhere. In this area, NATO OPCOM coincides with US OPCON and its authority to organize and employ commands and forces. OPCOM allows changing overall organizations and command relationships, but the basic building blocks remain intact. Short of full combat operations, to meet an attack upon NATO territory, US forces will not normally fall under OPCOM of foreign commanders.

Operational Control (NATO OPCON)

OPCON is a defined NATO term. In NATO, OPCON is the authority delegated to a commander to direct forces assigned so that the commander may accomplish specific missions or tasks that are usually limited by function, time, or location. It further includes the deployment of units concerned and the retention or delegation of TACON to those units. Neither does it, of itself, include administrative or logistical control. OPCON is more limited than OPCOM. OPCON does not include the authority to reassign forces or employ a formation, or any part of it, other than on the assigned task, or to disrupt its basic organization so that it cannot readily be given a new task or redeployed elsewhere. Commanders must exercise caution not to interchange US and NATO terms.

Tactical Command (NATO TACOM)

TACOM is defined as the authority delegated to a commander to assign tasks to forces under his command to accomplish the mission assigned by higher authority. TACOM is narrower in application than OPCOM but includes the authority to delegate or retain TACON.

Tactical Control (NATO TACON)

Both NATO and US joint doctrine share the same definition for TACON. The CINC uses TACON to limit the authority to direct the tactical use of combat forces. TACON is the authority normally limited to the detailed and specified local direction of movement and maneuver of the tactical force to accomplish an assigned task. TACON does not provide organizational authority or administrative and support responsibilities. The US service component continues to exercise these authorities. TACON differs from TACOM in that TACON involves only the necessary control of movements and maneuvers to accomplish a previously assigned mission.


Combined operations currently employed in the Korean theater require two specific control measures--

  • Combined OPCON.
  • Command less OPCON.

Although these measures are unique to Korea, their utility is not limited to that theater and should be considered in future OPCON architectures.


Combined OPCON does not include the authority to organize assigned and attached forces as necessary to carry out the mission, but strictly refers to employment of warfighting missions. OPCON within CFC is normally limited by function, time, or location. Authority to deploy units concerned and to retain TACON or assign it to a subordinate command is included. Combined OPCON is a more restrictive term than US OPCON in that it includes only the combined warfighting portion of US OPCON.

Command Less OPCON (CFC/USFK)

In Korea, the equivalent to US COCOM is command less OPCON. It indicates the national responsibility for all forces and is exercised through appropriate national component commanders. Only warfighting functions are passed to the CINC.


Operations in a multinational environment are both similar to yet different from joint operations. Authority emanates from the NCA to the combatant commanders. Other key players include the MNF commander, the JTF commander, and interagency organizations.


Constitutionally, the ultimate authority and responsibility for the national defense rest with the President. The NCA--defined as the President and the Secretary of Defense--may employ military power to respond to situations affecting vital US interests. By law, only the NCA has the authority to direct both the movement of troops and the initiation of military action. COCOM then passes from the NCA to the combatant commanders.


The combatant commander translates national strategic direction into theater strategic direction and operational-level objectives for subordinate commanders and exercises COCOM through that chain of command. A combatant commander is normally referred to as the CINC. If he is one of the five CINCs to have a geographic area of responsibility, he is referred to as the theater commander. CINCs develop the theater strategy and campaign plan, organize their theaters, and establish command relationships for effective multinational and joint operations.


Multinational force commander (MFC) is a general term applied to a commander who exercises command authority over a military force composed of elements from two or more nations. The extent of the MFC's command authority is determined by the participating nations. Such authority, however, is seldom absolute. MFCs unify the effort of the MNF toward common objectives. Gaining consensus is an important aspect of decision making in multinational operations.


The CINC usually chooses the JTF organizational option. Thus, the JTF commander may be the senior US commander within an MNF. A JTF is established on a geographical area (examples are Rwanda and Somalia) or a functional area basis when the mission has a specific, limited objective and does not require overall centralized control of logistics. The CJTF exercises OPCON over assigned forces.


The Department of State (DOS) is organized to provide foreign policy advice to the President, nation-to-nation representation throughout the world, US interdepartmental coordination in the various nations with whom the US has relations, and worldwide information services. Several bureaus within DOS have active duty military officers on their staffs. Examples are the Bureau of Political Military Affairs; Office of International Security and Peacekeeping Operations; and the Bureau of International Organization Affairs, Office of Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Operations. Key planners within DOS include--

  • Secretary of State.
  • US country team.
  • Political advisor.
  • NGOs and PVOs.

Secretary of State

The Secretary of State is the principal foreign policy adviser to the President. He is responsible for the overall direction, coordination, and supervision of US foreign relations and for the interdepartmental activities of the US Government overseas.

US Country Team

The US country team is the senior, in country, US coordinating and supervising body. Headed by the chief of the US diplomatic mission, the team is composed of the senior member of each represented US department or agency, as desired by the chief of the US diplomatic mission (Joint Pub 1-02). The team includes representatives of all in-country US Government departments. The ambassador represents the President as chief of mission, but takes policy guidance from the Secretary of State through regional bureaus. The ambassador is responsible for all US activities within the country to which accredited and interprets US policies and strategy regarding the nation.

Composition of the country team varies widely depending on specific US national interests in the country, the desires of the chief of mission, the situation within the country, and the number and level of presence of US agencies. The ambassador's authority does not, however, include the direction of US military forces operating in the field when such forces are under the command of a US area military command. The CINC of the US area military command usually participates as a member of each country team, even though he is not a member of the diplomatic mission and may not be physically located in the country. The country team would have direct impact on military operations through--

  • Negotiating status of forces agreements (SOFAs).
  • Negotiating basing rights.
  • Providing firsthand knowledge and advice to military units.
  • Performing other similar actions.

Political Advisor

A political advisor (POLAD) is a foreign service officer from the DOS. The DOS assigns a POLAD to each combatant commander and may authorize one to the American operational commander during operations, such as the Rwanda relief operation Support Hope. The POLAD is a valuable asset with appropriate regional knowledge and skills that can help the combatant commander in translating political objectives into military objectives. Additionally, the POLAD can facilitate cooperation between the primary US political and military actors. The POLAD often is able to move freely throughout an area of operations (AO) and work with a wide range of different parties that might not work with US military personnel.

NGOs and PVOs

The primacy of political considerations in multinational operations demands a recognition of the importance of nonmilitary organizations. NGOs and PVOs are frequently on the scene before military forces and are willing to operate in high-risk areas. They will most likely remain long after military forces have departed. Clear, prearranged relationships with NGOs and PVOs need to be established, especially during short-notice deployments or potentially dynamic scenarios. The sheer number of lives they affect and the resources they provide enable the NGO and PVO community to wield a great deal of power. Because of their capability to respond quickly and effectively to crisis, NGOs and PVOs can lessen the civil-military resources that a commander would otherwise have to devote to an operation.

Finally, activities and capabilities of NGOs and PVOs must be factored into the commander's assessment of conditions and resources and integrated into the selected course of action. NGOs and PVOs play a major role in most multinational military operations, but their role lessens as the military operation gets closer to war. Examples of such organizations include--

  • The International Society of the Red Cross and Red Crescent (commonly called the Red Cross).
  • The UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Medecines Sans Frontiers.

US forces were deployed to Central Africa to provide humanitarian assistance in the wake of the ethnic violence in Rwanda and the massive cross-border flight of refugees. Other forces and relief organizations were already responding. The fluid situation and short duration of the operation, along with the urgency of the response and the need for establishing support bases in other countries, did not allow for a formal multinational command structure. Colonel James McDonough, commander of the army force there, described operations this way:

We cooperate (vice combine) with the forces of other nations (essentially a UN peacekeeping and humanitarian force), the US ambassador's country team, the many NGOs and UN agencies, and the local government officials, private contractors, and entrepreneurs that emerge from the ruin of this country.


Achieving and implementing international rationalization, standardization, and interoperability (RSI) with allies, coalition partners, and other friendly nations is key--

  • To achieving the closest practicable cooperation among their military forces.
  • To achieving the most efficient use of research, development, procurement, support, and production resources.
  • To agreeing, where applicable, to emphasize activities and initiatives that provide the means for a more effective multinational warfighting capability.

International military RSI applies to both materiel and nonmateriel matters.


Rationalization is defined as any action that increases the effectiveness of allied forces through a more efficient or effective use of defense resources committed to the alliance. Rationalization includes consolidation, reassignment of national priorities to higher alliance needs, standardization, specialization, mutual support or improved interoperability, and greater cooperation. Rationalization applies to both weapons and materiel resources and nonweapons military matters.


Unity of effort is greatly enhanced through standardization. The basic purpose of standardization programs is to achieve the closest practical cooperation among MNFs. This is achieved through the efficient use of resources and the reduction of operational, logistical, technical, and procedural obstacles in multinational military operations.

In established alliances, armies usually develop a degree of standardization regarding administrative, logistical, and operational procedures. The mechanisms are STANAGs, and they are binding on all US forces.

Partners of a long-standing alliance are usually familiar with one another's equipment and have established some degree of interoperability. STANAGs are the instruments in NATO for establishing commonality in procedure and equipment. The quadripartite standardization agreements (QSTAGs), agreed to within the ABCA armies program (and usually identical to STANAGs), are another excellent example of these types of agreements.

Both STANAGs and QSTAGs provide a baseline for cooperation within a coalition. In many parts of the world, other bilateral agreements for interoperability among potential coalition members may already be in place prior to the formation of the coalition. However, in most ad hoc coalitions, not all participants are immediately familiar with such agreements. The multinational commander must initially rely on designated unit standing operating procedures (SOPs) and clearly written, uncomplicated operations orders.

Implementation of STANAGs, either NATO or ABCA, is transparent to US units. These mechanisms obviate the need for alliance-unique doctrine. The soldiers of each alliance participant use national doctrine/TTP, and, to them, the interoperability is transparent. Implementation occurs when the content of the STANAG is incorporated into Army doctrine. For example, within NATO, operational terms and symbols are agreed upon, and each nation, to a high degree, ensures their internal symbology conforms to the standard. This way, US Army forces use the map symbols and terms in FM 101-5-1. Except for some country-unique symbols, a new set of symbols to conduct operations with NATO allies is not needed. The five-paragraph operations order, liaison procedures, air support procedures, engineer target folders, and letters for designating days and hours of an operation are examples of existing agreements.


Interoperability is defined as the ability of systems, units, or forces to provide services and to accept services from other services, units, or forces. Use of the exchanged services enables them to operate effectively together. Historically, the problems of interoperability have been solved primarily through trial and error during actual conduct of operations over an extended period of time.

Factors that enhance interoperability start with adhering to the principles, considerations, and tenets of multinational operations. Additional factors include--

  • Planning for interoperability.
  • Knowing personalities of the commander and staff.
  • Assessing allied capabilities.
  • Promoting a command atmosphere that permits positive criticism.
  • Providing liaison teams.
  • Constantly striving to eliminate sources of confusion and misunderstanding.

Factors that restrict interoperability include time; refusal to cooperate with partners; level of differences in military organization, doctrine, equipment, and experience; and conflicting personalities.


The Army Security Assistance (SA) Program is an essential complement to the overall US defense effort. SA covers the transfer of military and economic assistance through sale, grant, lease, or loan to friendly foreign governments. Transfers are carried out under the principle that if they are essential to the security and economic well-being of governments and international organizations, they are equally vital to the security and well-being of the US.

US national security interests, increased regional tensions or threats, or actual conflict create a need for SA. To increase readiness, assets in this program can be diverted from a customer to either US or allied forces in direct support of theater requirements.

Planners must determine what SA has been or is being provided to members of the MNF, its impact on commonality of equipment, and the degree of adoption of US Army doctrine and tactics in the use of SA. This commonality can be the foundation to develop cooperation and interoperability among members of the MNF.

Material and services committed to SA requirements cannot be reallocated to US forces without Secretary of Defense approval. The US Army ensures that auxiliary equipment, logistics support, and training are available before a major end item of SA equipment is provided to a friendly foreign nation.

The Defense Security Assistance Agency (DSAA) directs, administers, and supervises the execution of SA programs through CINC SA divisions. This involves assisting military services, unified commands, and in-country SA officers in their efforts to help foreign governments obtain US equipment, training, and other defense-related services authorized by the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA), as amended, and the Arms Export Control Act. SOF units are well suited to conduct SA because of regional orientation, language capability, and the requirement to train foreign forces. Recently, DSAA assisted US Atlantic Command (USACOM) in getting equipment for the multinational military force that supported the US forces in Operation Uphold Democracy.


Information operations are continuous military operations within the military information environment (MIE). Information operations enable, enhance, and protect the commander's decision cycle and mission execution to achieve an information advantage across the full range of military operations. They include interacting with the global information environment (GIE) and exploiting or denying an adversary's information and decision systems. FM 100-6 provides an in-depth breakdown of US Army information operations.

Information operations integrate all aspects of information to support and enhance the elements of combat power. The goal of information operations is to dominate the battlespace at the right time, right place, and with the right weapons or resources. Units conduct information operations across the full range of military operations, from operations in garrison, through deployment, to combat, to redeployment. Information operations apply to information and the systems that produce, acquire, process, store, or disseminate information. Activities that support information operations include acquiring, using, protecting, managing, exploiting, and denying information and information systems. These operations take place within three interrelated components of information operations: operations (command and control warfare [C2W], civil affairs [CA], and public affairs [PA]), relevant information and intelligence (RII), and information systems (INFOSYS). These activities operate within a layered battlespace comprised of the GIE and MIE. Army organizations conduct these information operations activities as part of a dynamic, interactive process in support of each component in an integrated full-dimensional operation.

Information operations are inherently multiservice and multinational. The development of information operations capabilities, plans, programs, tactics, employment concepts, intelligence, and communications support as a part of military strategy requires close coordination with responsible Department of Defense (DOD) components and partners in the alliance or coalition. Key to information operations in multinational operations is the need to plan in a multinational manner and achieve a workable multilevel security program. The J2 achieves this. An exchange of LNOs may be the most effective way to secure these objectives.

Information operations must carefully account for how the GIE affects operations. Public perception can put political pressure on nations to modify their participation in the effort. Many countries and their political decision makers do not get the same amount of information; they do not have the same communications technology that is available to the US. As a result, their frame of reference may be what they see on television. Information operations must expand the MNF frame of reference both technologically and intellectually.

US forces are familiar with US media organizations and their methods, but other national media elements operate under different rules. Public affairs officers and commanders must realize the differences and work closely with the media to develop an open environment with a minimum of ground rules to maintain operational security.


In multinational operations, coordination is critical among both the MNF and interagency organizations. Almost all operations involve NGOs and PVOs. Given these circumstances, coordination centers are the key to getting things done. A commander may establish any type of coordination center he chooses.


This type of coordination center is used where no real command structure effectively exists. All MNF participants should be represented and attend the daily coordination meeting. This is not a preferred structure, but it may be the only feasible option. In Operation Provide Comfort, this center included Iraqis in the daily meetings. This ensured clarity of communications and avoided potential confrontations by providing a forum to negotiate and find acceptable ways to accomplish the mission.


The civil-military operations center (CMOC) is the coordination center established and tailored to assist the commander's civil-military operations (CMO) officer. The CMOC assists in anticipating, facilitating, coordinating, and orchestrating those civil-military functions and activities pertaining to the civilian population, government, and economy of areas in which armed forces, government organizations (GOs), international organizations (IOs), NGOs, and PVOs are employed. The CMOC is neither a unit nor an organization; it is simply a capability or extension provided by the CMO officer that facilitates access to civilian agencies and nonmilitary organizations participating in or having peripheral interest in a particular operation. As an extension or capability of the force CMO officer, the CMOC reports and transmits data (generally in the form of request for assistance) for the GO, IO, NGO, and PVO representatives directly to the force officer.

The CMOC coordinates and facilitates US and MNF operations with those of GOs, IOs, NGOs, and PVOs, HN agencies, and HN authorities. The CMOC provides access for nonmilitary agencies desiring assistance and coordination from the military. It serves as an extension of the civil-military cell providing both access and coordinating-authority-related data or information from and to nonmilitary agencies operating away from the military headquarters.

The CMOC may be comprised of, or may be augmented by, military and/or civilian representatives from many different agencies. Mission requirements, command directives, operational security, work load, and accessibility to nonmilitary agencies impact on the actual organization of the CMOC.

The number of CMOCs supporting a given operation may vary based on mission analysis and distance from the headquarters serving a particular geographic or tactical area. In operations where the JFC's headquarters and the majority of subordinate units are located in proximity to the civilian/HN diplomatic center and GO, IO, NGO, and PVO representatives, a CMOC may be established to facilitate access by those organizations. Conversely, in operations where the joint force headquarters is located in one locale and subordinate units are spread throughout the country, subordinate commanders may establish sector CMOCs to provide the same type of civil-military facilitation. In addition to sector CMOCs, military commanders may also have to establish CMOCs at every level of command from unified command down to battalion level. Again, this would depend on the geographic area and tactical control measures.


Coalition support improves the interaction of coalition partners and US military forces. It includes--

  • Training coalition partners on tactics and techniques.
  • Assisting with communications interfaces to integrate them into the coalition command and intelligence structure.
  • Establishing liaison to coordinate combat support and combat service support (CSS).

Coalition support teams often provide the JFC with an accurate evaluation of the capabilities, location, and activities of coalition forces, thus facilitating JFC C2. A coalition support team was first employed during Operations Desert Shield/Storm and has been critical in subsequent multinational operations. Past success in these operations in assisting and integrating coalition units into multinational military operations has made it likely that coalition support will become an important aspect of future multinational operations.

US Special Forces can serve as coalition support teams. Coalition support teams serve to build cohesion and synchronize operations; establish a parallel coalition command, control, communications, and intelligence (C3I) system; provide on-the-ground information; and coordinate air support. Special Forces units are well suited to accomplish these missions because of their regional orientation, language capability, and requirement to train foreign forces.


Use of LNOs is essential to the success of MNF operations. The multinational commander has neither the time nor sufficient interoperable C2 systems to establish effective C2 without the use of LNOs. Even in alliances, where armies often have long established interactions and a high degree of standardization in equipment and procedures, strong reliance is still placed on LNOs. In Korea, with the automated theater bilingual C2 system, TACCIMS (Theater Automated Command and Control Information Management System), heavy emphasis is on liaison teams. If possible, LNOs coordinating with a country should speak the language. However, the professional abilities of the LNO are the determining factor. LNOs not conversant in the necessary foreign language require interpreters.

Liaison requirements must be identified early in the planning process, and exchange of personnel must be reciprocal. Any changes in task organization may create additional requirements. LNOs follow the normal pattern of higher to lower, left to right, and supporting to supported and must be able to speak for their commanders. As representatives of their commanders, they attend briefings and maintain close contact with the MNF staff, especially the operations staff. For specific operations or when one nation supports another, they exchange specialists such as aviation staff officers, fire support officers, engineers, or intelligence specialists. CA, psychological operations (PSYOP) staff officers, and legal advisors are necessary to deal with HN and interagency matters. See Appendix B for additional information.

During Desert Shield/Storm, one major tactical concern was the ability of US and French forces to fight effectively side by side with no previous experience in doing so. Communicating each other's intentions and passing that information rapidly up and down the bilingual chain of command were challenges to be met. The first step to allay these concerns was to exchange bilingual liaison teams at brigade and higher headquarters.

XVIII Airborne Corps headquarters, 82d Airborne Division, 24th Infantry Division (Mechanized), 101st Air Assault Division, and the 18th Field Artillery Brigade all exchanged liaison teams with the 6th Light Armor Division. These teams had a primary mission to ensure the passage of accurate and timely information. They accomplished this by using organic US radio equipment between the Daguet Division headquarters and their parent unit's headquarters. The teams also served as sources of information on the doctrine, tactics, SOPs, force structure, and capabilities of their respective units. Over time, these liaison teams were integrated into the tactical planning process at Daguet Division headquarters and educated the staff sections to which they were assigned on the finer details of their unit's capabilities. This same process was occurring at XVIII Airborne Corps and subordinate US headquarters, where bilingual French liaison teams were involved in planning at every headquarters to which they were assigned.

To ensure accurate and timely indirect fire during the operation, a US Army fire control system (TACFIRE) detachment was integrated into the French fire support coordination center at Daguet Division headquarters to orchestrate fire coordination measures. This ensured face-to-face coordination between US and French artillerymen at the decision-making point.

The LNO must be ruthless in his quest for information and, while observing protocol, must attempt to accompany the American commander to as many high level meetings as possible. At this stage, the LNO can get inside the American' thought process, which is invaluable to his own commander.
Translated from another nation's exercise AAR

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