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Operational Risk Defined Through a Complex Operating Environment

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Technical Report,01 Jun 2014,01 May 2015

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US Army School for Advanced Military Studies Fort Leavenworth United States

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Military operations occur in complex operating environments. Commanders evaluate options based on capabilities and limitations of available resources. Planners identify elements of risk that the commander must assume in order to produce positive results and set conditions which enable a future desired state. Doctrine, however, does not currently provide a definition for risk at the operational level of war. Operational risk must identify factors that threaten or compromise linking tactical actions towards strategic goals. The definitions and guidance provided by joint doctrine to commanders and staff fail to meet the effort dedicated in planning to properly addressing risk. A proper assessment and definition of operational risk should address the twelve principles of joint operations Objective, Offensive, Mass, Maneuver, Economy of Force, Unity of Command, Security, Surprise, Simplicity, Restraint, Perseverance, and Legitimacy. This argument defines operational risk as any environmental, institutional, or social impediment to the principles of joint operations that disrupt tactical actions from achieving military objectives.

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