Joint military operations can sometimes be challenging for military strategists. They have to find antidotes to blending multinational forces and all three traditional armed services and other security agencies. They can be costly, and if poorly handled, can present struggles when translating military strength on land, sea and air into a swift victory or achieving peace and security. Fortunately, the maiden edition of the Export Joint Operational Planning Course jointly organized by the Kofi Annan International Peacekeeping Centre (KAIPTC) and the British Government provides the needed intervention in the form of capacity building to equip the relevant personnel to enhance smooth joint operations.
The one-week course covered the strategic context, the levels of warfare, the key building blocks in operational planning, centre of gravity, campaign design, operational assessment, risk, war-gaming (COAs), media, full spectrum effects, roles of policy and legal advisors as well as a case study if necessary. Using Sahel insecurity challenges and their impact on West African littoral states, the course frame operational planning within the context of this problem set
It had 33 participants from 10 West Africa countries namely Ghana, Nigerian, Niger, Burkina Faso, Cote d’Ivoire, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Benin, Gambia and Togo. Participants were drawn from the Armed forces, Police, Immigration, Customs, Prisons, Ministries of Defence, National Security, National Investigative Bureau and selected security agencies.
In a speech at the opening ceremony, the Deputy Commandant of the KAIPTC, Air Commodore George Kweku Arko-Dadzie, noted that there could no substitute for military planning. “The process of operational planning is necessary because, besides providing a common procedure for developing a plan, it also supports planning at all levels of military operations in order to maintain advantage against current and emerging security threats.”
What is required of person
He said given the complexity of such operations which were inclusive, multinational and combined the strength of all three traditional armed services and other security agencies, they needed more than the usual team effort; “This requires personnel who are able to collaborate and who can critically analyze logical steps to frame a problem, examine a mission, develop, analyze and compare alternative courses of action, select the best course of action and produce a plan or order.”
The Deputy KAIPTC Commandant said the course would allow the participants the opportunity to collaborate and learn from each other’s expertise and experiences.
“I encourage you to push yourselves to engage with new knowledge and ideas, challenge deeply held views, confront the hard problems that may come up and ultimately enjoy the collective effort in making this course a success,” he advised.
He had plaudits for the British Government; “Our special thanks and appreciation to the British Government for the many years of support and great partnership that has seen them continually bring new training programmes for joint delivery. “The Centre cherishes this relationship and looks forward to continuous fruitful engagements. I would also like to thank the resource persons who came all the way from the UK to share their knowledge and experience to enhance our capacity on the very important subject of joint operational planning,” he stated.
According to experts a joint force is able to draw on the strengths of all services, while compensating for, if not eliminating, potential weaknesses and avoiding duplicate efforts. However, the processes leading to a joint service are considered tough with the operating language in each service, sometimes, seen as impediment. The road to creating “a joint service” is no mean feat; thus this maiden edition is expected to provide the knowledge, skills and attitudes to facilitate successful joint military operations.