Operational design employs various elements to develop and refine the commander’s operational approach. 2 This paper will explore two elements of operational design. The first is center of gravity and the second is the direct and indirect approach. I will use a case study titled, “Partnered Counterterrorism Operations in the Philippines” to support the two operational elements I have selected to discuss. Lastly, operational design and planning should not be accomplished without considering factors such as he; region, culture, religion, policy changes, and political developments that shape the planning and execution of the operation.
It is my hope that by using operational design and considering local the factors we will not repeat the past and the living will someday see the end of war. Military force. To use military force or not. This is an important question a nation needs to seriously consider before using its military force. If the answer is yes it would be wise to consider the elements of operation design to develop and refine the commander’s operational approach. Operational sign is used as a framework in the course of planning for a campaign or major operation.
The purpose of this paper is to explore two elements of operational design by using Operation ENDURING FREEDOM – PHILIPPINES (OFF-P) as support. The two elements of operational design I will cover are centers of gravity and direct and indirect approach. While discussing these two elements of operational design it is also import to consider factors such as; region, culture, religion, policy changes, and political developments that shaped the planning and execution of the operation.
By considering these actors OFF-P would be able to give credit for any and all successes against terrorists and insurgents to the Philippine armed forces and government so that stability could be long lasting. So, let’s get started with the first operational design element of center of gravity. According to Joint Publication 5-0 (JP 5-0), it states that a center of gravity (COG) is a source of power that provides moral or physical strength, freedom of action, or will to act. 3 JP 5-0 also points out that in identifying COGS it is important to remember that irregular warfare focuses on legitimacy and influence over a population.
By considering this a the factors of region, culture, policy and political the first item that was noticed in the OFF-P planning was that the Philippine Constitution forbade direct, unilateral operations by other nations in the Philippines. Therefore, an indirect/Foreign Internal Defense approach was developed to accomplish objectives. One of the first actions taken was to conducted detailed local community assessments that looked at 67 areas, from the local economy and security (police and military) to health, infrastructure and education, and were used to prioritize efforts across four road categories that continue to be conducted today.
First, to advise and assist Philippine security forces to create a secure and stable environment. Second, targeted civil-military operations, in which the U. S. Supported Philippine-led civic action and humanitarian assistance to improve quality Of life for the population, demonstrate government concern for citizens, reduce support to terrorist and insurgent organizations and provide access for security forces in contested areas.
Third, information collection and sharing that involved the collection, fusion and dissemination of timely and accurate actionable intelligence. Finally, “influence operations,” designed to enhance perceptions of government legitimacy by emphasizing the successes of the Philippine armed forces. 4 By creating greater contact with the population this action directly affected a COG by attacking the moral strength and freedom of action while taking into consideration factors such as the region and culture.
The next area would like to cover in the elements of operation is the direct and indirect approach. JP 5-0 tells us that the approach is the manner in which a commander contends with a COG. A direct approach attacks the enemy’s COG or principal strength by applying combat power directly against it. An indirect approach attacks the enemy’s COG by applying combat power against a series of decisive points that lead to the defeat of the COG while avoiding enemy strength.
For the direct approach OFF-P used precision security force units focused on critical kinetic direct action operations and for the indirect approach OFF-P conducting security operations, civic action and intelligence gathering, in order to separate the people from the terrorists. 5 One key to success was using local Philippine National Police the operation as able to use the factors of region, culture, religion, policy changes, and political developments to shape the planning and execution of the operation.
By using local police who knew the local people they were able to win the hearts and minds a created much less support for the insurgents and terrorists. In conclusion, OFF-P provides very good proving ground for the proper use of the elements of operational design that can provide a great starting place for future operations and planning. By OFF-P focusing on a COG that focused on the local population they Were able to decrease the oral strength, freedom of action, and the will to act.
OFF-P used the direct operational design when they used precision security force units focused on critical direct action against the terrorist and insurgents. They used the indirect approach of the elements of operation when they conducted security operations, civic action and intelligence gathering, in order to separate the people from the terrorists. 6 Additionally, throughout the operation the planners let the factors of the region, culture, and political developments shape the planning and execution of the operation.