Strategic Military Plan

Operational Design is a process of iterative understanding and problem framing that supports commanders in the application of a methodology to conceive of and construct viable approaches to operations.  In this scenario the SECDEF has requested you, the Joint Forces Commander, to provide a strategic military plan “White Paper “that addresses the problem in the region identified by the article.  You will provide a clear, concise military option that provides the vision that addresses the problem highlighted in the article.

The article and this paper scenario serve as part of your Strategic Direction.  You are tasked to run the Operational Design methodology and develop the strategic plan for a military option to address the issues/crisis.  Your products must describe how (ways) the joint force will employ its capabilities (means) to achieve the military end state (ends).  Clearly state your desired end state (United States’ national security interests as stated in the National Security Strategy, and associated grand strategies).  You will have to make some assumptions in order to define the problem and the military options you envision to employ to solve the problem.   Again, this is NOT an essay; it’s more of a project in developing a plausible plan for solving the problem that you’d present to the SECDEF.  You may use the JP 5.0 flow and related headings to frame your answer.

In order to keep within the 2500-words requirement be sure to scope the problem and military options to the relevant aspects of the situation and solution. It is highly recommended you treat this exam as a table top exercise BEFORE you attempt to write this exam. Including definitions or explanations of the various elements of the methodology within your exam submission is waste of valuable space. Review the Joint Publication 5-0 before beginning this exam to ensure you understand what we’re asking for as an exam submission, and then run the methodology.


Develop an operational approach using the Operational Design methodology to address the provided situation based on the most current data for that area.  Your answer must address each of the below major areas of the methodology as a minimum:

  1. Describe the Current Operational Environment.
  2. Define the Desired Operational Environment.
  3. Define the Problem.


  1. Develop an Operational Approach.

To support your operational design analysis you may use any source assigned, provided, or introduced in the course to build your operational approach.  Ensure each area of the Operational Design methodology is present in your answer (figures and cognitive maps as found in JP 5-0 are appropriate for this assignment but count as part of your overall 5 pages) and your analysis flows logically from one area to the next.

Questions to keep in mind when answering the question:

– What are the impacts and what would be your military solution to obtaining the goals of the national security strategy?

– Does achieving the desired military end state, achieve the goals of the nation?

– Are we solving the right problems or are we solving what we think “IS” the right problem?

Helpful Sources:

  1. JP 5-0, Joint Operation Planning 11 August 2011, pp. I-1 to II-39. (This source is probably the most helpful on the ones listed)
  2. Patrick C. Sweeney, “A Primer for:  Guidance for Employment of the Force (GEF), Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP), the Adaptive Planning and Execution (APEX) System, and Global Force Management (GFM),” Naval War College, 29 July 2011, pp. 1-20.
  3. Defense Strategic Guidance, “Sustaining Global Leadership:  Priorities for 21st Century Defense,” January 2012

Joint Staff J7, “Decade of War, vol 1, Enduring Lessons from the Past Decade of Operations,” 15 June 2012, Read pp. 1-2, Scan pp. 3-40.

  1. Mark A. Bucknam, “Planning is Everything,” Joint Force Quarter 62 (3d quarter 2011), pp. 52-58.