Whereas NSDM and S&P emphasize national military strategy development, as well as the nation’s imperative for matching policy to strategic goals, the JMO course prepares students for the operational arena by emphasizing operational planning and joint force application to achieve military objectives. It examines joint operations from the standpoint of the combatant commander (CCDR) and Joint Task Force (JTF) commander with a particular emphasis on maritime operations. It further develops joint attitudes and perspectives and increases understanding of service cultures. By studying an array of case studies, the JMO student is challenged with four enduring questions from the perspective of a joint force commander and his staff:
- What conditions are required to achieve the objectives? (Ends)
- What sequence of actions is most likely to create those conditions? (Ways)
- What resources are required to accomplish that sequence of actions? (Means)
- What is the likely cost or risk in performing that sequence of actions?
The ability of the commander and his staff to answer these questions and to balance their outcomes is a foundation of operational art.
The Joint Military Operations course emphasizes the use of the Military Planning Process to carefully evaluate assigned tasks and produce effective courses of action at the operational level of war that incorporate all aspects of national power. Over the course of the semester, students are provided materials that allow them to consider joint capabilities and doctrine within the theoretical construct of operational art. Once armed with these concepts, the student is well equipped to examine historical and real world case studies as a military professional and propose clear and creative solutions to the most challenging and ambiguous problems. The course curriculum is presented to the student through a range of lectures, seminars, and student-led projects.
The majority of the student’s learning is conducted in seminar. The fifteen-person seminar is comprised of members of the U.S. and international armed forces as well as U.S. Government members. The seminar is the fundamental learning forum for this course of instruction. Student expertise is a significant part of the learning process. For a seminar to succeed there must be open and candid sharing of ideas and experiences, tempered with decorum. Successful seminars—that is, seminars whose members leave with the greatest knowledge—are those made up of members who come to each lesson “loaded” with questions based on thorough preparation. Most students leave the seminar with new insights, or even more thought-provoking questions. Student preparation, free and open discussion, and the open-minded consideration of other students’ ideas, all contribute to a valuable seminar experience. The “one-third” rule is the keystone of the seminar approach. The first third is a well-constructed, relevant curriculum. The second third is a quality JMO faculty member to present the material and guide the discussion, and the most important third is the participation of the individual students. Only by thoroughly preparing for seminar lessons can students become that active catalyst that generates “positive and engaging” seminar interaction.
All students are required to write a research paper that critically examines an aspect of the course material. The Operations Research Paper presents an opportunity to study a theater-strategic or operational level issue, conduct research, perform analysis, and prepare a paper that advances the literature and demonstrates critical reasoning skills It requires independent thought and graduate-level writing. Papers often serve to stimulate innovative thinking and to provide valuable information to service and joint staffs.
The final event in the JMO curriculum is a CAPSTONE Planning Exercise. The purpose of the exercise is to synthesize and reinforce course material through practical application in a realistic staff environment. Students will leverage an existing Concept Plan using the crisis action planning process. This is an educational planning exercise that provides an opportunity to apply the principles and concepts studied throughout the trimester.