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Chapter 5

Operational Planning

To a conscientious commander, time is the most vital factor in planning. By proper foresight and correct preliminary action, he knows he can conserve the most precious elements he controls, the lives of his men. So he thinks ahead as far as he can. He keeps his tactical plan simple. He tries to eliminate as many variable factors as he is able. He has a first hand look at as much of the ground as circumstances render assessable to him. He checks each task in the plan with the man to whom he plans to assign it.
 General Matthew B. Ridgeway
(Korean War)


The challenges of planning successful engineer missions within diverse theaters are vast and varied. Sound operational planning and execution are vital to the success of deployed forces.

As General Ridgeway pointed out, planning saves lives. It also—

  • Shapes the forces that respond to a contingency.
  • Drives the timing and the quantities of equipment and supplies that forces use to execute the missions.
  • Forecasts the missions that engineer commanders will have to accomplish.

Understanding how the engineers effect each of the operating systems equips the planner with the background to form his plan of engineer actions. The significant role of the engineer within multiple elements of the Battlefield Operating System was discussed in previous chapters. This universal application of engineers within all operating systems is crucial at all levels.


Operational movement and maneuver is the disposition of forces to create a decisive impact on the conduct of a campaign or major operation. The commander achieves this decisive impact by securing the operational advantages of position before battle and/or by exploiting tactical success to achieve operational results. Engineers—

  • Enhance the mobility of friendly forces while they degrade the mobility of enemy forces. This in turn allows friendly forces to achieve dominant maneuver and press the advantage and thereby dominate key terrain.
  • Help friendly forces maneuver while delaying, turning, disrupting, or fixing enemy formations.
  • Provide terrain-visualization products that enhance operational movement and maneuver. This allows commanders to determine what is operationally significant terrain at the earliest opportunity.


Operational firepower refers to a commander's application of nonlethal and lethal firepower to achieve a decisive impact on the conduct of a campaign or major operation. Operational fires are joint and potentially multinational activities and are a vital component of any operational plan. Engineers—

  • Provide input concerning possible targets for engagement.
  • Assess the effects of target execution by evaluating the level of disruption, delay, or neutralization to the enemy's operational mobility.
  • Evaluate the surrounding terrain characteristics and the friendly force's capabilities to overcome the effects of an executed target during future operations.

To illustrate this concept, engineers might be advised to use complementary fires to destroy a critical enemy bridge through the synchronized employment of Gator scatterable mines and tactical air (TACAIR). Engineers could destroy a single bridge span that exceeds the enemy's rapid bridging capabilities knowing that US forces could still cross by emplacing a single Wolverine (heavy assault bridge [HAB]) during future operations. Targeting the span produces the desired result on the enemy's maneuver; however, it reduces friendly effort during future operations.


Operational protection conserves the fighting potential of a force so that it can be applied at the decisive time and place. Operational protection includes actions taken to counter the enemy's firepower and maneuver by making soldiers, systems, and operational formations difficult to detect, strike, and destroy. Engineers—

  • Provide advice and support in camouflage.
  • Track minefields and unexploded ordnance concentrations.
  • Incorporate force-protection considerations into current and future project designs.
  • Perform geospatial analyses to assess the friendly force's vulnerabilities and the enemy's capabilities.


Operational C2 is the exercise of authority and direction by a commander to accomplish operational objectives. Operational C2 focuses efforts, establishes limits, and provides structure to operational functions. Commanders perform operational C2 activities through planning, directing, coordinating, and controlling the forces that conduct campaigns and major operations to accomplish the mission. Engineers receive, analyze, and translate information into a usable form. Engineers—

  • Retain, display, track, and disseminate the information to subordinates, lateral organizations, and higher HQ with an eye on how the execution contributes to major operations.
  • Support the commander's planning process with the engineer estimate and the COA development.
  • Continuously evaluate the information received through reports or personal observation and make adjustments to the tasks assigned (or planned) to forces engaged in the operations in support of long-range objectives.
  • Directly control (through the ASCC) activities by issuing orders, establishing and coordinating control measures (such as EWLs), and allocating resources.

Engineer commanders establish the focus and the priorities for subordinate units as they execute their mission in support of the operational commander's scheme of maneuver.


Operational intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance are required for planning and conducting major operations within a TO. Engineers, particularly through theater topographic assets, significantly aid in battlespace visualization, which leads to identifying and locating operational centers of gravity (both friendly and enemy) and war-fighting priority intelligence requirements (PIR). Analyzing topographic features, the nature and characteristics of the TO, and the creation/dissemination of special products allow operational planners to—

  • Develop maneuver operations.
  • Select high-payoff targets.
  • Acquire precise information on deep targets.
  • Facilitate the operational battle command.


Operational support consists of logistics and other support activities that are required to support the force during campaigns and major operations within a TO. Engineers—

  • Provide the physical plant for logistics sustainment operations, such as—
  • — Bed down of troops and equipment.

    — Logistics bases to stockpile and distribute all classes of theater supplies.

    — Transportation and distribution networks that link the strategic and operational sustainment base to the CSS elements.

    — Administrative facilities for operational planners to coordinate theater campaigns.

  • Provide, in conjunction with MP and counterintelligence (CI)/human intelligence (HUMINT) teams, advice on rear-area force protection.
  • Provide advice on how to distribute critical Class IV items.
  • Recommend the necessary stock levels of critical Class IV items.
  • Analyze local materials for suitability within the theater.
  • Provide environmental security management.
  • Develop terrain-visualization support tools that optimize stability operations and support operations. These include maps, simulations, digital data sets, and tactical decision aids.

From this operational battlespace blueprint, engineer planners use three tools to formulate and plan engineer responses in support of the operational war fighter. These tools are the Joint Engineer Planning and Execution System (JEPES), the CESP, and the engineer annex to an OPLAN (see Figure 5-1). The systematic, deliberate approach to engineer planning is as follows:

  • Collecting and sorting data.
  • Analyzing data, prioritizing requirements, and making decisions.
  • Assembling and disseminating the plan to the affected HQ at all echelons.

Figure 5-1. Engineer-support planning.


The engineer-support planning process consists of the following interrelated ctivities:

  • Engineer facilities study. The study is derived from the JEPES computer model, which analyzes data. The study is used to develop a CESP and becomes part of Tab C of the engineer annex to an OPLAN.
  • CESP. The CESP is a documented analysis of engineer capabilities in support of the OPLAN. The results of the CESP are used to prepare the engineer annex to the OPLAN.
  • Engineer annex. The annex to the OPLAN is prepared using the results from the engineer facilities study and the CESP. The annex provides instructions for executing the engineer part of the OPLAN.


According to JP 5-03.2, the CINC's engineer planners use the JEPES computer model to prepare estimates of theater-level wartime engineer requirements for the following items in support of an OPLAN:

  • Facilities.
  • Engineer man-hours.
  • CESP.
  • Engineer annex.

The primary purpose of JEPES is to assist the CINC and service-component engineer planners in determining whether the OPLAN—

  • Provides the correct amount of engineer capability at the right place.
  • Is timed correctly to support deploying forces according to the theater's OPLAN.

The JEPES model is one of several tools the commander has at his disposal to assess the validity and the accuracy of an engineer plan. The JEPES data, along with the engineer analysis and command guidance, provides a commander with another means to check the supportability of the engineer plan for a specific OPLAN.

In deliberate planning, the CINC includes a CESP within the logistics annex of the OPLAN. Independent of the CINC's plan, the Army's service-component engineers routinely develop their service plan as a means of detailed, deliberate planning.

The TPFDD is the primary driver of the JEPES model. The JEPES model extracts information such as the unit type, the destination location, the arrival time, and the population from the TPFDD. Given this input, the JEPES model estimates construction man-hour and facility-type requirements to support the bed down of US forces deploying into a theater. The JEPES model also computes estimates on the US engineer assets (man-hours) that are available to meet the estimated requirements. The JEPES model provides Class IV output in the form of long- and short-ton totals. The results from the analyzed JEPES data are gross estimates that are used in the deliberate planning process for analyzing COAs for engineer support to the OPLAN. Because of the integral relationships between the JEPES model, the OPLAN, and the TPFDD for a theater, the JEPES does not readily lend itself to crisis planning in theaters where an existing OPLAN and the TPFDD have not been prepared.

The JEPES-model algorithms are based primarily on support facilities necessary for the RSO&I of all inbound forces. The JEPES model calculates facility requirements for a unit's final destination on the TPFDD but does not compute other engineer missions and support requirements within the theater. Aspects of the estimate that are not automatically calculated by the JEPES model are—

  • Construction, maintenance, and repairs of MSRs.
  • Construction of forward logistics bases and EPW and displaced persons camps.
  • Survivability of command, control, and communications (C3) nodes.
  • Construction, expansion, or maintenance of port activities.
  • Support of logistics over the shore (LOTS).
  • Construction of attack aviation strips, theater ammunition storage points, and fuel pipelines.
  • Support to tactical elements in M/CM/S.

The JEPES model has a capability for manually inputting specific requirements such as EPW camps, petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) pipelines, MSR construction, and other requirements specified or implied from the mission analysis and planning guidance. This data is entered into a users input file that the JEPES model combines with the other TPFDD requirements.

The output from the JEPES model is a gross estimate reflecting US engineer capabilities as depicted by the TPFDD. The accuracy and reliability of the information generated by the JEPES model is directly affected by the following:

  • Accuracy of the unit data on the TPFDD.
  • Level of accuracy of the assets in the JOA.
  • Level of specificity on the TPFDD.
  • Assumptions for HN-provided facilities.

The product of the JEPES output analysis is the engineer facilities study. Engineer planners at the CINC and component levels use this study to prepare their CESP and the engineer annex to the OPLAN. The study also becomes Tab C of the engineer annex. Figure 5-2 illustrates the modeling process.

Figure 5-2. Methodology.


The CESP is the primary planning document in which the engineer staff considers the minimum-essential facilities and the construction capabilities that are needed to support the commitment of military forces. When developing the CESP, the engineer staff should consider the following data:

  • Engineer facilities study.
  • Engineer intelligence of the theater.
  • HN capabilities and HNS agreements.
  • Construction contracting capabilities.
  • Mission of other US and allied forces.
  • War-damage estimates.
  • Facility engineering responsibilities.
  • Logistics support plans.
  • Subordinate units.
  • Any other aspect of the operation that impacts on general-engineering support.

In deliberate planning, the CINC includes the CESP within the logistics annex of the OPLAN. Independent of the CINC's plan, the Army's service-component engineers routinely develop their service plan as a means of detailed, deliberate planning. The CESP differs from the engineer facility study by taking into consideration other planning aspects that the JEPES model was not designed to estimate. The CESP usually addresses the following engineer aspects in addition to JEPES data:

  • Information on available resources, facilities, and characteristics within the region relevant to the construction mission and construction capabilities.
  • Restrictions imposed on the use of bases and installations.
  • Major construction resources and their allocation.
  • Future construction standards to be used as the theater matures.
  • Responsibility for construction management among components.
  • Responsibility for determining the facility's use in light of competing requirements from the components.
  • Priorities at different phases during the conflict.
  • Provisions for withdrawal, such as base denial and the movement of residual assets and stored critical Class IV supplies.
  • CCA missions and responsibilities and their relationship to engineer assets.
  • Engineer support guidance and agreements for support commands and the ASG.
  • Class IV construction-materials availability.

Supported by the JEPES-data analysis or other studies, the CESP states the priorities, the programs, and the general policy when seeking general-engineering support. The format for the CESP is governed by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Manual (CJCSM) 3122.03. A sample format is reproduced in Appendix C. The CESP is used in preparing the engineer annex to the OPLAN.


The engineer annex is the principal means for the engineer to state his intent; the concept of operations; and coordinating instructions to subordinate, supporting, and supported commanders.

The engineer annex is far more than an end product of planning; it is an integrated and incremental procedure that closes the planning process. Producing the annex organizes thoughts and forces a careful review of the engineer tasks, the required coordination, and the allocation of resources to meet the commander's intent. As the task organization is developed, a review of the span of control ensures mission clarity and simplifies mission dissemination.

Unit resources, materials, and time are considered when assigning tasks. Unity of effort and continuity of support are considerations in determining what resources will be assigned to which missions. The suitability of logistics support for the plan is determined, and adjustments are made to best equip the forces with the means for mission success.

An integral component of the deliberate decision-making process is the production of the annex. The annex is a product that clarifies the plan and initiates the dialog between subordinate, supported, and supporting commands to orchestrate the effort. It includes the—

  • Priorities of work to shape the theater/JOA.
  • Operational project planning, preparation, and execution responsibilities.
  • Engineer organization for combat.
  • Engineer tasks for subordinate units.

As a result, the engineer community is better postured to support the operational commander.

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