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  • Autumn/Winter 200102 / JFQ 97

    A lthough the Armed Forces haveproven themselves a capable policyinstrument, the Nation has alwaysstruggled with conflict termination.America has often prevailed militarily while fail-ing to achieve policy goals quickly and efficiently.A scan of joint publications suggests that military

    professionals embrace the idea of a terminationstrategy, but doctrine offers little practical help. Itis time to take the next step, creating an intera-gency organization and practices that can effec-tively conduct termination planning. Each re-gional commander in chief (CINC) should have astanding interagency team to act as an operationstransition planning cell. This element must in-clude members well versed in the application ofthe military, diplomatic, informational, and eco-nomic instruments of national power.

    Major John R. Boul II, USA, is assigned to 2d Infantry Division andpreviously served as an assistant professor at the U.S. Military Academy.

    Operational Planning andConflict Termination

    By J O H N R. B O U L I I

    Surrender aboardUSS Missouri inTokyo Bay.



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    Culture for CombatWhen the President decides to use force, the

    military mindset is to deploy, defeat the enemy,then rapidly exit, turning affairs over to diplo-mats. Intense interagency coordination generallyoccurs only at the beginning and end. The mili-tarys hasty exit breaks continuity and detractsfrom shaping the environment for winning thepeace and securing the desired endstate. Militaryculture is often oriented on its own finish line atthe expense of long-term national objectives.

    Strategic aims are achieved in part by theproper transition of leadership from generals andadmirals to civilians. Interagency coordinationthroughout military operations is the linchpin.Operational planning should be guided not towardmilitary termination but toward setting the stagefor continued U.S. interaction by peaceful means.

    Joint Publication 3-0, Doctrine for Joint Opera-tions, emphasizes planning for conflict termina-tion, with the most extensive discussions in chap-

    ters I and III. Chapter I, TheStrategic Goal and Conflict Ter-mination, describes properlyconceived termination criteriaas a key to lasting victory. It fur-ther states that termination isan essential link between na-tional strategy and post-hostil-

    ity aims and that military victory is measured byhow it supports overall political goals.

    Chapter III, Combatant Command StrategicPlanning, contains planning guidance, definesthe desired endstate, and discusses how the mili-tary scenario helps set the conditions for termina-tion. It continues with guidelines for the combat-ant commander that prescribe support to thenonmilitary instruments of power. Setting mili-tary transition conditions is one of the criticalfirst steps in the estimate and planning process. Itis clear from the manual that CINCs are responsi-ble for incorporating conflict termination intocampaign planning early on and in a mannerconsistent with national goals.

    Since Joint Pub 3-0 introduces terminationplanning, one might expect detailed guidance inJoint Pub 5-0, Doctrine for Planning JointOperations. Yet termination and transition arementioned fewer than a dozen times. The ab-sence of techniques and practices for transitionplanning is glaring.

    The Joint Doctrine Encyclopedia is the onlyother joint doctrinal source, containing six pageson termination. Some of its ideas repeat JointPub 3-0, but there is additional information aswell as guidance about termination when ap-plied to military operations other than war. Ser-vice publications provide little additional help.

    Peace and the Operational ArtMilitary theorists have pointed out the im-

    portance of conflict termination. Clausewitzstressed planning a campaign clear through tocompletion in order to achieve political objec-tivesincluding creating military conditions thatwould facilitate negotiations. His recommenda-tion is incorporated into U.S. doctrine in princi-ple. He also cautioned against overshooting thetarget in military operations.1 In limited wars,combatant commanders must seek the appropri-ate culminating point to shape the environmentfor favorable peace terms. Today, Milan Vego isequally emphatic about planning military opera-tions oriented toward the desired endstate, to in-clude political, diplomatic, economic, and socialconditions.2 What theorists fail to articulate,however, is how to conduct termination plan-ning. They are silent in defining the pathwayfrom war winning to peace winning.

    To achieve the operational skill required fortermination, the military must reach beyond theconceptual constructs and traditional instru-ments of combat operations. Such expertise canonly be achieved by drawing on a wide comple-ment of talent. A number of agencies, includingthe Department of State, Central IntelligenceAgency (CIA), and Department of Commerce,have significant proficiency to contribute. Geo-graphic CINCs should create operations transi-tion planning cells within their Strategic Plan-ning Directorates (J-5), recruiting representativesfrom the interagency community, to deliberatelydesign transition strategies.

    Some might argue that permanently assign-ing representatives of other Federal agencies to ajoint military headquarters is unnecessary andwould further devolve power from Washington tothe CINCs. Sound doctrine along with intera-gency exercises and conferences will solve theproblem. Such thinking is shortsighted. Transitionplanning is not a science. Although doctrine andtheory are guides, no formulas exist that will al-ways lead to favorable conflict resolution. The artof planning military operations requires close co-ordination from a staff accustomed to working to-gether all the time. The art of transition planningrequires nothing less. If anything, transitionstrategies are more difficult because they must in-corporate all instruments of national power in acoherent, synchronized fashion.

    The A Team The purpose of the operations transition plan-

    ning cell would be to assist CINCs in achieving as-signed political objectives. While most of the staff

    98 JFQ / Autumn/Winter 200102

    CINCs are responsible for incorporating conflicttermination into campaignplanning early on

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    Autumn/Winter 200102 / JFQ 99

    focuses solely on military matters, this team wouldprovide recommendations on achieving favorableconditions in all power dimensions. Using thisbrain trust, CINCs could develop and present op-tions to the National Command Authoritiesthroughout a campaign. Since the cells optionswould come from diverse experts encompassing allpolicy instruments, it could anticipate possiblecontingencies, obstacles, opportunities, and objec-tions and therefore have added legitimacy with na-tional leaders. The cell would be assigned a num-ber of tasks that would begin before a conflict andcontinue through the post-conflict period.

    Assisting with endstate definition. After verify-ing initial objectives, the first task would be to rec-ommend the desired endstate. In some cases, thismight mean taking the initiative in planning.Crises develop quickly and unexpectedly, and thenational security team may not have time to fullydefine all the goals of an operation. Restore Hopewas a case in point. A tactical planning staff had to

    assist the chain of command with desired endstateplanning, albeit with less than optimal results.3 Anextant interagency planning team would havelifted this additional burden from the military andgiven endstate definition the attention it demands.Such a process would encourage senior leaders toconduct serious deliberations on the subject andallow the rest of the planning staff to focus on de-ployment and initial employment of forces.

    Defining military transition conditions. Afterachieving consensus on the endstate, the teamwould assist in defining the military conditionsthat will lead to a successful transition to diplo-matic leadership. These conditions would be-come military objectives for CINCs. In conjunc-tion with military planners, the cell could adviseon the appropriate ways and means to achievethese objectives. Its mission would be to incor-porate and synchronize all key dimensions inthe plan.

    Sequencing. Favorable transition conditionswill take time to evolve. Thus the cells next taskis to develop a sequenced path to the militarytransition state. This may be a series of phases

    Celebrating Germansurrender.



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    where the generation of specific circumstancesmay signal the end of one phase and the begin-ning of the next. Bruce Clarke developed a syn-chronization matrix that could be used forphased transition state planning.4 It shows the

    planned status of vari-ables such as com-mand and control, se-curity, economy, anddiplomacy by opera-tional phase. The oper-

    ation moves to the next phase when a variablemeets the tripwire definition described in the ma-trix. This tool could be tailored to any crisis.

    When circumstances favor transition, thecell would advise on how to maintain this pre-ferred state in order to continue progress towardthe next phase. Ideally, when all transition condi-tions are met, CINCs are ready to hand off leader-ship to the diplomats.

    Monitoring, assessing, and recommendingchanges to strategy. No plan survives contact withthe enemy. Political aims may change, the desiredendstate could be modified, and conditions thatlead to success may vary. Since objectives, end-states, and strategy are a continuum, team mem-bers wou


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