Operational thinking, planning and command and control as a field of research of military science

Friedrich K. Jeschonnek


Although nowadays wars, and especially wars of aggression, are outlawed as political action alternative by international public law, all over the world in almost all states military forces are maintained and/or modernized, often in order to be deployed in multi-national alliance structures in the framework of crisis and/or conflict management, or at least to serve as the basis for deterrence. Operational plans for military forces are developed, drawn up, tested, and – in case of need – executed. Their missions have been characterized by perpetually increasing complexity for a long time. That is why the persons responsible in security-political and military respect apply scientific methods, disciplines and branches in order to fulfil their tasks. Beyond that, there is acknowledged independent military science in some countries, investigating military aspects on an academic basis. For a long time already the complexity of the military in the widest sense has offered indefinitely many possibilities for investigation to both an independent military science and to civilian science disciplines. Here, the kind of warfare and its methods and/or forms appear to be an outstanding area for scientific investigations. In the following study, it will be investigated in detail to what extent the operational level as a part of warfare with its special parameters, attributes, theories, fundamentals, principles, actions alternative, command and control processes, forces and means can serve as a field of research for science in general and military science in particular. It is also considered which forms of design and which methods are at hand for military scientific research, and which challenges may arise. The line of reasoning is based upon military elementary attitudes prevailing all over the world, perceivable in the military entity of today despite existing peculiarities determined by nations or alliances. Military scientific support can be fostered by creating suitable scientific structures both in military institutions and in civil universities. It is a task of the state to establish the necessary organisational and financial basics and to foster the respective interconnectedness. If one regards the different partial processes of operational thinking, planning and command and control, it will become obvious from the characteristics and the problem definitions of the operational level as well as from its joint function with strategy and tactics, that there are and will be multifaceted research fields for military science in this subarea. This applies to both national and alliance armed forces. Deliverables and science-theoretical discoveries in military science are no end in themselves here; on the contrary, they serve perfection and training of operational thinking, planning and command and control.