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operations to be conducted. In addition to the base plan, operation plans include annexes that provide further details on areas such as intelligence (Annex B), operations (Annex C), logistics (Annex D), personnel (Annex

  • E)

    , communications (Annex K), and operational contract support (Annex

  • W)


Operation plans are broken into four levels of detail, ranging from the least detailed, level 1, to the most detailed, level 4, as described below:

Level 1, the commander’s estimate, has the least amount of detail and is focused on developing the combatant commander’s course of action to meet a mission. Level 2, the base plan, describes the concept of operations, major forces, concepts of support, and anticipated timelines for completing the mission. Level 3, the concept plan, is an operation plan in an abbreviated format that may require considerable expansion or alteration to convert it into a full operation plan or order. It includes a base plan and some annexes, such as those for intelligence (Annex B), logistics (Annex D), and communications (Annex K). It can also include time-phased force and deployment data, which describe the military forces and transportation assets required by phase of operation. Level 4, the fully prepared operation plan, contains the above details as well as any remaining annexes and time-phased force and deployment data. It identifies the specific forces, functional support, and resources required to execute the plan and provides closure estimates for their flow into the theater. It can be quickly converted into an operations order.

DOD has an established a joint operation planning process to develop plans in response to contingencies and crises, including the contingency planning process for developing and reviewing operation plans. The department uses contingency planning to develop its operation plans, and Joint Publication 5-0 is DOD’s keystone guidance for joint operation planning.10 The Joint Operation Planning and Execution System manuals provide more detailed guidance on the format of plans, including templates for the base plan and annexes.11 Contingency planning begins


Joint Chiefs of Staff, Joint Publication 5-0, Joint Operation Planning (Dec. 26, 2006).

11 Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Manual 3122.01A, Joint Operation Planning and Execution System (JOPES) Volume I, Planning Policies and Procedures (Sept. 29, 2006) and CJCSM 3122.03C.

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GAO-10-472 Warfighter Support

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