Magazine article Joint Force Quarterly

Defining Integrated Operations

Magazine article Joint Force Quarterly

Defining Integrated Operations

Article excerpt

If language is not correct, then what is said is not meant; if what is said is not what is meant, then what must be done remains undone; if this remains undone, morals and art will deteriorate; if justice goes astray, the people will stand about in helpless confusion. Hence there must be no arbitrariness in what is said. This matters above everything.--Confucius

Confucius emphasizes that the lack of clear language causes confusion and possibly disastrous consequences.

As military, interagency, and multinational operations become more complex and integrated, we need to say what we mean. In this vein, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs, General Richard Myers, USAE has taken an important step to clarify some terms, although this article argues that more steps are necessary. General Myers has noted that we operate on nonmilitary and cross-border fronts, involving law enforcement, diplomacy, and finance, and we need to "transform our military competencies from joint operations to integrated operations [emphasis added]." (1) He also mentions the requirement for standardization across the joint force to maximize effectiveness. One of the first--and easiest--things we can standardize is the terminology we use to define important, though perhaps amorphous, operational concepts. In the past, we have loosely defined what are considered interagency operations. But what are integrated operations--and for that matter, what are interagency operations? Distinctions matter as we more frequently conduct operations that include counterparts from U.S. Government and non-government agencies, private industry, and, perhaps more importantly, partners from allied countries and international organizations.

Toward the Chairman's goal of standardization, this commentary offers a taxonomy of terms to describe various types of interagency and integrated operations. The intent is to generate discussion on how to standardize the way we define and address such operations. The faculty of the Center for Hemispheric Defense Studies at the National Defense University developed the terms. We based our approach on differentiation and categorization of the entities participating rather than on the functional objective of an operation (such as peacekeeping, disaster relief, or counterterrorism).

Taxonomy of Terms

Joint operations, combined operations. The explanations of the taxonomy start with basic terms on which most agree, then proceed to more contentious ones. Most members of the defense and security community routinely recognize and use the terms joint and combined. The Department of Defense (DOD), in its Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms, defines joint operations as military actions conducted by joint forces or by service forces working together. The definition implies actions by the military forces of a single country. For instance, Operation Just Cause in Panama in 1989 was a joint operation that involved the elements of the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines in a coordinated effort. The DOD dictionary refers to combined operations as those conducted by military forces of two or more allied nations acting together for the accomplishment of a single mission. Operation Desert Storm in 1991, designed to oust Iraqi forces from Kuwait, was considered a combined operation, as it involved a coalition of forces from the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and other regions.

Interagency operations. The lack of precision starts with the use of the term interagency operations, which I contend serves as an umbrella over various types of operations that should be defined separately. The term inter-agency operations evokes operations involving a variety of agencies; without further explanation, one might assume he understands the type of participants or agencies involved. Indeed, two individuals could conduct a discussion with very different impressions. What the specific operation includes or does not include is unclear. …

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