February 1, 2009  

Live on, EBO

I agree with Gene Myers’ assertion that killing the effects-based operations construct is a mistake [“Don’t kill EBO,” November].

While serving as an officer on the U.S. Pacific Command staff in 2003, I was assigned to the PACOM Standing Joint Force Headquarters (SJFHQ), which was tasked with executing EBO-centered operation plan rewrites and implementation of EBO in joint operations — simulated and real-world. Elements of the Joint Forces Command staff spent two weeks training the SJFHQ in the effects-based process. Later, I worked with effects management in the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) in Iraq.

Providing tremendous benefit to systems of systems analysis and operations assessment, EBO is critical to mission success in a joint theater of operations where the joint force commander is supported with long-term analysis and a robust staff. Most military decision-making process-raised staff members were initially reluctant to use a new planning method, but after working with the construct from a perspective of improved analysis of the many-faceted options to exercise within a theater of operations, they were convinced of the benefit of EBO. The EBO construct also better focused the joint targeting process. We successfully used the methodology in rewriting theater operation plans and in exercises Terminal Fury ’03 and ’04, as well as assessment in PACOM’s tsunami relief effort of 2005.

The Army’s experience with EBO is quite different. I find the defining issue most Army planners have with EBO is the context in which it is used. At the strategic level, the benefits are readily apparent. However, benefits can be less evident at the operational planning level, where the time- and manpower-intensive assessment effort is overwhelmed by the pace of operations. Additionally, EBO is out of place at the tactical level, where the joint/national asset perspective interferes with doctrinal brigade and below planning and operations.

While in the 101st Airborne Division staff in Iraq 2005 to 2006 as part of the effects team in the G-3 staff, the effects cell conflicted early with the G-3 Future Operations/G-5 planners, who felt effects planning and assessment was a separate and parallel effort to the deliberate planning process. As a tactical headquarters, the division was responsible for the northern half of Iraq at an operational level, with its operations having national impact and using non-Defense Department assets in conjunction with joint military means.

To convince the naysayers, the key for us was getting effects planning, and especially assessment, to augment the planner’s analysis of nonkinetic actions on a regular basis within the planning cycle. These nonkinetic actions included the use of money, information, improving relationships, training to improve rule of law and policing, and myriad other options. We also took on the challenge of assessing our progress — an issue few wanted to touch because of its inherent enormous difficulty in defining success and measuring intangibles.

Sure, some effects terminology confused planners, but there was benefit in tailoring the methodology to the environment by using parts of EBO to enhance planning. By the time I returned from Iraq at the end of 2006, the Army had officially rejected any further use of EBO in Appendix D of the draft Field Manual 3-0, Operations. That appendix took the air out of clear progress made in planning and assessing operations.

With all respect for Joint Forces Command commander Gen. James Mattis, I am disappointed he turned his back on all things EBO, because doing so ignores the benefits of thinking, planning and assessing from an “end state” perspective. EBO has demonstrated benefit in joint planning and operations.

Jim Daniel

Retired Army field artillery officer

Huntsville, Ala.