Academic journal article Military Review

Design and Operational Art: A Practical Approach to Teaching the Army Design Methodology

Academic journal article Military Review

Design and Operational Art: A Practical Approach to Teaching the Army Design Methodology

Article excerpt

OVER THE PAST five years, the Army has annually updated its doctrine to reflect the evolution of its understanding of the Army design methodology. As the Army design doctrine has evolved, so has the design curriculum at the U.S. Army's School of Advanced Military Studies (SAMS). In an effort to maintain relevance with the operational army and joint force, the SAMS faculty adjusted its design and operational art curriculum based on feedback from commanders and senior Army leaders. Thus, the updated curriculum increases the student officers' understanding of Army design methodology and improves communication between graduates and their commanders. Previous versions of the SAMS design curriculum did not acknowledge the past application of critical and creative thinking from military practitioners. Instead, the design curriculum relied on theory and concepts from a variety of design disciplines, resulting in a heavy reliance on metaphor to reach understanding about design.

This article describes the current SAMS design curriculum, highlights its relationship to the broader SAMS curriculum, and demonstrates a practical way to teach Army design methodology.

Mission and Development

The mission of SAMS focuses on educating members of our Armed Forces, our allies, and the interagency at the graduate level to be "agile and adaptive leaders" who are critical and creative thinkers, people who produce viable options to solve operational and strategic problems. The SAMS goal is to develop effective operational planners who are good leaders and great teammates. The Advanced Military Studies Program has eight graduate outcomes. First, the graduate is grounded in operational theory, doctrine, and history. Second, the graduate is a "critical and creative thinker" who can identify problems and propose viable solutions. Third, the graduate can clearly communicate recommendations verbally, graphically, and in writing. Fourth. the graduate has a firm understanding of peer leadership and team building. Fifth, the graduate has the courage to lead from above, beside, and below. Sixth, the graduate is physically and mentally tough. Seventh, the graduate can collaborate effectively to get the job done. Finally, the graduate "does not care who gets the credit."

The development of the SAMS design curriculum can be categorized into three time periods: the curriculum predesign doctrine, the curriculum during the development of the design doctrine, and the curriculum post-design doctrine. Prior to the development of the design doctrine, SAMS introduced the concepts of design in its curriculum. In January 2008, the U.S. Army Capabilities Integration Center published Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Pamphlet 525-5-500, Commander's Appreciation and Campaign Design (CACD). The planning methods proposed in the pamphlet followed three years of Army level seminars and wargames to increase operational and strategic thinking.

Just prior to CACD's publication, the TRADOC commander directed that the planning methods proposed in CACD be implemented at the School of Advanced Military Studies beginning in June 2007. TRADOC proposed four goals for SAMS. First, improve the existing doctrinal operational design approach by improving the Army understanding of complex problems and the environment. Second, develop critical and creative thinkers and adaptive leaders. Third, refine and continue to develop CACD methods through course iteration and provide input to the Army for doctrinal institutionalization. Fourth, produce graduates who have mastery in the CACD methods. The SAMS leadership and faculty approached the TRADOC tasking by developing a pilot course that focused on design and drafting a design student text during the 2008 academic year.


In 2009, the concept of design made its first appearance in Army doctrine with the publication of Army Field Manual-Interim (FMI) 5-2, Design (Draft). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed


An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.