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Flexible Deterrent Options (FDO)

Flexible Deterrent Options [FDO], also termed Flexible Deterrence Options or Flexible Response Options, provide escalation options during the initial stages of a conflict. The US conducts shows of force for three principal reasons: to bolster and reassure allies, deter potential aggressors, and gain or increase influence. Shows of force are designed to demonstrate a credible and specific threat to an aggressor or potential aggressor. The presence of powerful and capable forces signals to a potential aggressor the political will to use force. Combatant commanders may have established force deployment options as part of an existing contingency plan. These shows of force are designated as flexible Deterrent options.

Show of force operations usually involve the deployment or buildup of military forces, an increase in the readiness status and level of activity of designated forces, or a demonstration of operational capabilities by forces already in the region. Although actual combat is not desired, shows of force can rapidly and unexpectedly escalate. Commanders must organize their units as if the mission requires use of force. An effective show of force must be demonstrably mission-capable and sustainable. Units assigned a show of force mission assume that combat is probable. All actions ordinarily associated with the projection of a force to conduct combat operations pertain to show of force deployments.

Adapative Planning is a concept for contingency planning in the context of the post-cold-war world. It is the framework within which the deliberate planning process produces OPLANS. Adaptive planning recognizes that decision-makers will exploit available response time to deter further crisis development if a menu of response options are available. The Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP) requires the CINC's to use adaptive planning principles to develop options along the spectrum from "all" to "nothing" in their operation plans for regional contingencies. These include flexible deterrent options, deploy decisive-force-options, and counterattack options. JSCP force apportionment facilitates development of these range of options by apportioning some forces to more than one CINC for deliberate planning. This policy is often referred to as "multi-apportionment." In anticipation of the need to respond to multiple, sequentially developing regional contingencies, the JCSP also furnishes planning guidance that prioritizes all conflicts planned employment of forces that are apportioned to more than one CINC.

The adaptive planning concept calls for development of a range of options during deliberate planning that can be adapted to a crisis as it develops. Where the crisis builds slowly enough to allow, appropriate responses made in a timely fashion can deter further escalation or even diffuse the situation to avoid or limit conflict. Where such options fail to deter or there is not time to execute options, a stronger response may be required to protect vital interests. The eventuality of attack without prior warning must also be considered.

Flexible Deterrent Options (FDO's) underscore the importance of early response to a crisis. They are deterrence-oriented and carefully tailored to avoid the response dilemma to too much too soon or too little too late. Military deterrent FDO's are intended to be used in concert with diplomatic, economic, and political options to give the NCA a wide array of deterrent options integrating all elements of national power. All regional operation plans have FDO's, and CINC's plan requests for appropriate diplomatic, economic, and political options as they develop their plans.

Flexible Deterrent Options are employed under conditions of ambiguous warning to deter adversarial actions inimical to US interests. Adaptive planning underscores the importance of early response to an emerging crisis. It facilitates early decision making by laying out a wide range of interrelated response paths that begin with multiple deterrent-oriented options tailored to avoid the classic dilemma of 'too much too soon' or 'too little too late.' These deterrent-oriented early response options are called Flexible Deterrent Options. For the most part, plans for FDOs use active, in-place and/or designated augmentation forces.

In some crises, additional CONUS-based forces may be needed to bolster Deterrent, as a 'Major Flexible Deterrent Option" (MFDO). The FDO is a planning construct intended to facilitate early decision by laying out a wide range of interrelated response paths that begin with deterrent-oriented options carefully tailored to send the right signal. The flexible deterrent option is the means by which the various deterrent options available to a commander (such as economic, diplomatic, political, and military measures) are implemented into the planning process.

FDOs using military forces and resources are combined with diplomatic, political, and economic actions by non-DOD agencies to demonstrate to a potential adversary a clear signal of US resolve. Therefore, during the planning process, CINCs plan requests for appropriate diplomatic, political, and economic options as well as military options. The intent is to give the NCA a wide range of options, encompassing all the elements of national power (diplomatic, political, economic, and military).

For example, following a request from Gen. Gary E. Luck, commander of United States forces in Korea, in January 1994 the United States was reported to be looking favorably at the deployment of a battalion of Patriot missiles to support ROK defenses against possible North Korean aggression. The request from General Luck was reported to have been made in late 1993 to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in an outline of flexible deterrence options. Responding to the proposed Patriot deployment and the recent visit to Seoul by CIA director R. James Woolsey, the DPRK said on 24 January 1994 that "the military and intelligence measures taken by the United States are premeditated provocative measures which will bring the situation on the Korean peninsula to an extremely reckless phase of war."

All regional operation plans have FDOs which have a regional flavor, uniqueness, or variation. It is also expected that certain FDOs will be linked to actions not under the direct purview of the supported CINC, such as lift staging and readiness upgrades in CONUS. For the most part, as initial military responses, plans for flexible deterrent options should use active, in-place forces and theater lift assets (Case 1 forces). Some portions of the augmentation forces listed in the Case 2 force list (early deployers for Deploy-to-Fight Option) may be used. It is envisioned that a single FDO should be approximately brigade, squadron, or battle group size. Combat support and combat service support should be furnished primarily by active-duty support forces.

In planning FDOs, CINCs avoid placing forces in a position where they may be sacrificed if a potential adversary is not deterred. In addition, FDOs facilitate escalating to the deploy-decisive force response should it appear that signaling of resolve has not been effective. Finally, FDOs should also be capable of rapid de-escalation should the crisis appear defused. To facilitate the review of these FDOs, CINCs will include them as part of their CINC's Strategic Concept for each operation plan during concept review per the appropriate CJCSM 3122.03 (old JOPES Volume II) format. The description of these options includes anticipated mobilization and transportation enhancements, if required.

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Page last modified: 05-07-2011 02:24:07 Zulu