On Approaches for Integrated Course of Action Development




Saltysiak, Thomas Ian

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Integrating and synchronizing the effects of functional components is an important military principle. This is true across all types of military operations. Currently, functional component planning is often separated into multiple parallel processes. There is no agreed upon methodology for determining when and what type of information is shared between these parallel processes. Component courses of action are developed separately with limited information sharing. Once developed, courses of action are compared to determine if one component's actions negatively impact another's actions, commonly called de-confliction. The de-confliction process may or may not be completed within the time available. Current approaches to improving planning integration have largely focused on increasing information and knowledge sharing between components. It was accepted that enabling knowledge sharing would lead to greater levels of integration. However, what is needed is a common understanding of the combined effects of each component's potential actions. This requires components to adjust implicitly their understanding of the operational environment based on shared knowledge. Without explicit acknowledgement of this process goal and common conceptualization, and with no efficient process to achieve it, there has been limited success with planning integration. Although effective knowledge sharing is necessary to increase integration, it is not sufficient. This is especially true in time constrained military planning in which the efficiency of the planning process is vital. Current planning and operational design activities produce all the knowledge necessary for each component to conceptualize the environment. However, there is no established process for agreement on a common inter-component conceptualization. The proposed approach to integrated planning, named Co-design, is focused on common conceptual model creation early in the planning process. Current planning and operational design activities were analyzed to determine the minimum elements of knowledge sharing and agreement needed to enable common conceptualization. An approach was then developed to enable agreement on these elements in discrete steps in a logical order. The approach was designed to complement the current workflow of planning and design activities. The feasibility of this approach is demonstrated through a combination of planning process modeling and course of action performance modeling. The amount and timing of inter-component knowledge sharing and agreement is modeled in the process model. In turn, these interactions determine the level of commonality in component conceptualization. Course of action performance modeling is driven by the components' conceptualization of the environment and inter-component effects. An understanding of positive and negative inter-component effects leads to better performing courses of action. The proposed Co-design approach demonstrates that there are other necessary aspects for improvement of military planning integration beyond increasing information sharing. Courses of action developed using a common conceptual model are shown to have a much greater level of integration.



Integration, Conceptual Model, Planning, Military, Co-Design, Course of Action