UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!


Chapter 5

Planning and Preparation

You must be prepared...to accept minor inefficiencies as long as that is promoting the great and common purpose...You should not try to change ideas and concepts on the part of some subordinate of a different nationality because you disagree with him. If you can achieve the great overall unity of purpose that inspires loyalty, inspires teamwork, never bother your head about things in seeking perfection because too many difficulties can arise out of minor irritations and frustrations. You must not lose your sense of humor because if you do your allied command will blow apart.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower, in a speech on
"Problems of Combined Command"
Up to now, this manual has focused on what needs to be done prior to conduct of a multinational operation. This chapter contains the two key steps necessary to synergistically meld the previous chapters' requirements. Planning and preparation are the two major facets for successful execution of multinational operations. The glue that binds a multinational operation together is the commander's ability to understand and mesh each counterparts' capabilities, personal and professional habits, training backgrounds, relevant national characteristics, and national goals into unity of effort. This unity requires the commander to clearly articulate his intent, so that each nation forms the same picture of the end state and the rules governing engagements. Attempts taken to unify the effort between leaders contribute immeasurably to the success of the alliance or coalition.


Prior to any operation, the playing field must be established. In multinational operations, defining the limits of an operation quickly determines who joins the coalition, who supports the coalition, and who opposes the coalition. Therefore, for a commander to become an MNF commander, he must clearly articulate the strategic end state, overall intent, and basic ROE to each of the participating nations.


Success is more likely if nations agree on a strategic end state with well-defined termination and exit conditions to achieve the military end state. These conditions help prompt the decision to end an operation, and all participants in the MNF should agree to these conditions. Exit conditions are critical to the transfer of responsibility from the MNF to another authority--national, UN, other regional political bodies, or overall termination of the operation. As such, the UN Security Council resolutions may impose these conditions. The UN or political leadership sets the strategic end-state conditions before commitment of forces.


The commander's intent is a concise expression of the purpose of the operation and describes the desired end state. Subordinate and supporting commanders must understand the higher commander's intent. The intent statement helps subordinates pursue the desired military end state without further orders, even when operations do not unfold as planned.

Given the inherent language difficulties found in many multinational environments, the multinational commander's intent must be clearly and simply stated when issuing orders to the MNF. When US forces find themselves in a multinational command structure, US military commanders must make every effort to ensure that the senior multinational commanders recognize the importance of the commander's intent and a clearly defined end state.


ROEs are a critical factor that must receive close attention during the formation of the MNF. Each nation comes into the MNF with a different national ROE reflecting that nation's reason for entering the coalition. Some national ROEs will be relatively free of constraint while others will have very limited authority to act or react to a situation. The MNF commander cannot be expected to command multiple forces with different ROEs successfully. These differences must be harmonized, and one standard with common definitions established for the entire MNF. For the individual soldier to understand and implement ROEs, they must be clear and simple.


Planning for US participation in multinational operations must start well ahead of the actual operation and may use generic plans as a framework to build the specific plan around. To ensure this effort incorporates all major facets of an operation, the following phases must be adequately addressed in the planning stages:

  • Predeployment.
  • Deployment.
  • Leader preparation.
  • Sustainment.
  • Transition operations.


Military advice to the NCA in the early stages of determining the strategic end state, objectives, and composition of multinational operations is critical to a successful operation. The senior Army commander and his staff should take every opportunity to ensure political leaders are fully aware of the capabilities and limitations associated with Army forces used in a multinational operation and the time required to successfully plan and prepare for achieving the military end state. Multinational operations must be carefully thought through so that pressures of execution do not fracture the alliance or coalition. Informing the State Department of which countries US forces are most familiar and compatible with aids them in coalition recruitment. It is also an excellent example of how military planners can assist political leaders. See Figure 5-1.

Figure 5-1. Hierarchy of Guidance and Implementing Operations


Thorough campaign planning ensures unity of effort across different nationalities, NGOs, and PVOs. US campaign planning processes are simple enough for other nations to agree to and understand. Similarly, other nations may contribute process and content to improve planning. Habitual relationships in peacetime or sufficient training time before operations begin allows US military planners time to familiarize others with the key points of the process and builds consensus on the approach to the particular operation.

At the operational level of war, joint and combined operational forces within a theater of operations perform subordinate campaigns and major operations and plan, conduct, and sustain to accomplish the strategic objectives of the unified commander or higher military authority.

The operational level is the vital link between national- and theater-strategic aims and the tactical employment of forces on the battlefield. The focus at this level is on conducting joint operations--the employment of military forces to attain theater-strategic objectives in a theater of war and operational objectives in the theaters of operations through design, organization, and execution of subordinate campaigns and major operations.

Combatant commanders and theater-of-operations commanders usually plan and execute campaigns. Combatant commanders have strategic intents, concepts, and objectives. Service or subordinate joint commanders have operational intents, concepts, and objectives in support of the combatant commanders. The echelon of Army commands varies with the nature of warfare, the strategic objectives, the size and structure of the theater of war, and the number of forces involved. The intended purpose, not the level of command, determines whether an Army unit functions at the operational level. Armies normally design the major ground operations of a subordinate campaign, while corps and divisions fight tactical battles and engagements. A corps commander might also command a joint force land component or a JTF. As a JTF commander, he might plan and execute a campaign that would achieve the theater-strategic objectives of the CINC's theater campaign.


Force projection is the demonstrated ability to rapidly alert, mobilize, deploy, and operate anywhere in the world. This deployment, especially if multinational in character, is critical to overall mission success. Multinational considerations must be considered from the beginning to ensure smooth deployment of forces and the most effective use of lift assets. Every deployment is unique, but all have the same eight phases: mobilization, predeployment activities, deployment, entry operations, operations, war termination and postconflict operations, redeployment, and reconstitution demobilization. Predeployment activities and deployment are covered here.

Multinational operations are often characterized by duplication of effort and unit capabilities, with commensurate shortfalls as well. For example, before the UNPROFOR deployed to the Former Republic of Yugoslavia, each participating nation performed its own engineer reconnaissance of the infrastructure. This resulted in many points being surveyed several times and other areas not at all. The MNF must coordinate and anticipate requirements during this phase to maximize capabilities and efficiency and minimize force structure. Planners must review national military contingents and HN assets and agree on division of labor and who provides what forces.

Limited strategic lift calls for maximizing the efficiency of strategic flow when planners coordinate the kinds and sequence of units deployed. This also requires coordination with the HN so that units do not deploy capabilities already available, such as port operations forces.

In some cases, the US may transport foreign forces into the theater. If so, these forces must be added to the time-phased force and deployment data (TPFDD). LNOs from national contingents either must coordinate directly with the US Joint Movement Center (JMC), if the US is moving the forces, or the MNF headquarters. Procedures may vary with each MNF. The JMC coordinates strategic movements with USTRANSCOM and oversees execution of theater transportation priorities. It plans future operations and monitors overall theater transportation performance. It is normally organized along functional lines. The JMC is the nucleus of an organization that can be expanded in proportion to the size of a joint force. In some operations, the JMC may be a US organization while in others the MNF may have its own JMC. In large operations/campaigns, there is normally both a US and a multinational JMC. In such a case, the multinational JMC (sometimes called the multinational deployment agency [MDA]) is the lead movement agency.


Since units cannot make major changes to doctrine, organization, and materiel, planners should focus on training and leader development in peacetime. Transition planning must begin early in the planning process, because US forces may be involved in a variety of operations. Including NGOs and PVOs in command post exercises (CPXs) and exercises will assist the ultimate transition of responsibilities to another organization.

Training should integrate multinational and interagency play in exercises and simulations. Mobile liaison teams (MLTs) and other designated liaison organizations should be trained, deployed, and exercised. Requests for linguists and participation of reserve component (RC) units that provides qualified linguists would also assist in multinational training.

Leader development is enhanced by--

  • Instructing domestic operations in service schools, inviting key civilians to attend service schools, increasing attendance by key military personnel at civilian emergency management courses, and increasing mutual military and civilian participation in exercises and simulations.
  • Developing centralized procedures to identify US officers with foreign language experience, that are not part of the FAO program, for assignment to multinational duties when required.
  • Emphasizing the use of campaign planning techniques for peace operations and orienting key civilians for early participation in planning.
  • Providing liaison teams with references to appropriate regional information and the language, organization, materiel, and doctrine of multinational partners.

Training is the best method of integrating, learning strengths and weaknesses, and forming effective MNFs. Training should be done at all levels of command, and staffs should learn to use METT-T analysis to determine mission assignments. Before deployment, CPX simulations can provide training in staff action tasks and solve problems in the MNF command structure. After deployment and at the unit level, field training exercises should be employed. A comprehensive training program helps commanders at all levels identify weaknesses in the MNF and helps build cohesion and mutual confidence. Whenever possible, senior officer seminars and conferences should be arranged to develop and/or agree to SOPs and TTPs.


Support of the force must be engineered concurrently with mission clarification and determination of force composition. Commanders analyze the coalition members' capabilities and willingness to support their organic elements and other components of the force. Assembling the optimal array of support assets and establishing support relationships and procedures are essential to achieving the maximum effectiveness of the operational/combat units. This planning must receive emphasis equivalent to the combat planning.


Most future operations will see a transition from US control of an area/operation to either UN force control, HN military control, or HN civilian control. Such transition must be planned for up front as part of conflict termination and should be an integral part of staff training. The general pattern is the same for all three cases, so the following technique from the 10th Mountain Division is illustrative. The 10th Mountain Division was the ARFOR and overall MNF commander tasked to create a "stable and secure environment" in Haiti before transition to UN control. The UN resolution authorizing the UN force that would assume responsibility from the 10th Mountain Division limited its size to 6000 troops total, a portion of which would be US. The 10th Mountain planners realized that the best way to demonstrate a safe and secure environment was with a force of 6000 US soldiers to show that the UN force could continue to maintain the situation. Planners developed a glide path troop reduction schedule to reach an approximately 6000-soldier strength that was militarily effective and included the US portion of the UN force. This was done in consonance with the UN Mission in Haiti planners to smooth the transition. As UN forces arrived and were prepared for duty, a smooth hand over could occur, one sector at a time. This technique frees up US forces, efficiently transitions to UN forces, and best accomplishes all other aspects of the overall UN mission.


In order to successfully execute a multinational operation, plans must be transformed into actions that prepare participating nations for what they have pledged to undertake. At a minimum, this preparation ensures that each nation can maintain mission focus, synergistically balance the available capabilities, and clearly organize future transfers of authority.


Political considerations are the single most important factor in multinational operations. The most critical actions for the commander are to remain focused on the assigned mission and understand the reason each national contingent is participating. This determines the very structure of the MNF, since it may cause a splitting of the overall force into components operating under differing political direction.

The MNF commander orchestrates the efforts of a force whose individual armies represent nations that may agree on a common enemy but have widely diverging views of how to prosecute the war or conflict. The commander must recognize that political considerations may force him to choose an acceptable course of action, rather than the optimum (from a purely military view) course of action. He must retain the flexibility to adjust to unforeseen political influences and keep the MNFs focused on the military objective without allowing mission creep to occur.

To overcome differences in doctrine, training, or equipment, leaders may assign selected functions to a smaller group of partners. For example, the MNF commander could assign home defense or police forces the mission of rear area security. The commander may also entrust one member of the MNF with AD, coastal defense, or some special operation, based on the threat force's special capabilities. In fact, some partners might not provide military forces at all but would contribute through the political power provided by their membership in the alliance or coalition.


The multinational commander must recognize the strengths and differences of the cultures from which these forces come. Decisions on employment, made in consultation with the military leadership, must consider the capabilities of the MNF. The multinational commander must carefully balance the allocation of capabilities. Subordinate commanders may request control of forces that provides capabilities not organic to that nation's forces. The guiding principle is to allocate assets as they are needed, while maintaining a concentration of critical capabilities.


At some point, national units come under the control of the designated multinational commander. This process, known as TOA, must be accomplished as early as possible.

The exact timing of the transfer must be part of the initial negotiations that govern the formation of the coalition. Established alliances generally have established TOA procedures. Where forces are destined for assignment to the MNF and TOA has not taken place, planners must determine where the TOA (and the follow-on integration of units and headquarters) occurs.

One option is to grant TOA to the MNF commander prior to deployment--within each participating country (at a unit's home station). This allows the MNF commander to control unit arrival sequence to best suit operational requirements and facilitates reception area base operations such as feeding and billeting. This option assumes clear political consensus, timely decisions on national participation, and a significant lead time for planning and setting up the MNF headquarters. There are no known historical examples of this option.

A more likely approach is to have TOA at an ISB en route to the operational area. In Uphold Democracy, TOA occurred at an ISB in Puerto Rico. Problems are resolved in a secure area, and forces deployed only when fully ready and in the sequence required by the MNF commander.

The third option is to have TOA occur upon arrival, or soon afterwards, of forces in the operating area. This third option leaves each nation with the responsibility to deploy its contingent and prepare it for operations. It does not allow the MNF commander positive control of deployment into the operating area. It is a less than optimum TOA if immediate combat actions are likely.

Whichever option is chosen, central coordination of deploying forces is preferable. Coordinated planning and execution of the deployment assure that reception operations are not done by repetitive crisis management. Centralized control of force flow provides the best support to the commander's tactical requirements and the best support to the forces and personnel.

Command jurisdiction is the legal position of command by one national authority over the soldiers of another nation. It is important to MNFs which are augmented and supplemented by other national elements. National sensitivities must be carefully considered as well as differing norms of behavior among national militaries and civilian agencies.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list