The Resurrection of Adaptive Planning

  • Lieutenant Colonel Jon C. Wilkinson

The revolution in adaptive planning, initiated in 2003, has yet to succeed. The disappointing results of this initiative are due to flawed paradigms that anchor the planning community in a tactical-level process that is misapplied at the operational level of warfare. The flawed paradigms are: 1) There is no difference between the planning process used at the tactical and operational levels, 2) The process for crisis action planning is the same as deliberate planning, just executed on a shorter timeline, 3) The more dynamic the environment, the more important a detailed plan becomes, 4) OPLAN development is compatible with mission command, and 5) Joint Operational Planning and Execution System (JOPES) specialists create the Time Phased Force Deployment Data (TPFDD) after planners write the plan and determine the requirements. This paper proposes a revised planning process, and offers five paradigms that are more supportive of adaptive planning at the operational level of warfare.