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Doctrinal Debates: Operational Design

The newest Joint Force Quarterly has much for red teamers to chew over. Doctrinal debate over joint operational warfare is heating up, with potentially serious consequences for future strategy and operations.
      Of particular interest are two JFQ articles on operational design, a new planning methodology based on the controversial Israeli method of systemic operational design (SOD). Richard M. Swain, a retired officer now working at Booz Allen Hamilton’s Operational Design Center of Excellence, argues in favor of operational design methodology.1 Milan Vego, a professor of joint military operations at the Naval War College, dissents, claiming SOD’s assumptions are fatally flawed.2 As operational design developed out of SOD, Vego’s article poses a potent challenge to the design planning process.
      This is by no means a solely academic dispute. Since the Unified Quest 2008 war games, operational design has proven immensely influential in the Army. The principles of operational design are currently codified in the TRADOC pamphlet Commander’s Appreciation and Campaign Design.

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