Accession Number:



Complex Operations and Interagency Operational Art

Descriptive Note:

Journal Article

Corporate Author:

North Atlantic Treaty Organization Defense College Rome Italy

Personal Author(s):

Report Date:


Pagination or Media Count:



The term comprehensive approach has been used by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization NATO and European Union not only with great frequency but also with a high degree of ambiguity.1 The U.S. Government Interagency Counterinsurgency COIN Guide provides a graphical depiction of a Comprehensive Approach to Counterinsurgency, showing a mixture of economic development, political strategy, information, security, and control, but does not define the term within the text.2 Army Field Manual FM 307, Stability Operations, defines comprehensive approach as one that integrates the cooperative efforts of the departments and agencies of the United States Government, intergovernmental and nongovernmental organizations NGOs, multinational partners, and private sector entities to achieve unity of effort toward a shared goal.3 Additionally, it states that through a comprehensive approach to stability operations, military forces establish the conditions that enable the efforts of the other instruments of national and international power. By providing the requisite security and control to stabilize an operational area, those efforts build a foundation for transitioning to civilian control, and eventually to a host nation.4 Although a comprehensive or whole-of-government approach is widely accepted as a requirement for successful humanitarian assistance, COIN, and stability operations, it is nonetheless extremely rare to find the requisite levels of political, military, economic, and civil resources being successfully integrated into the prescribed collaborative effort. This observation begs the question If there is consensus that a comprehensive approach is required for complex operations, why has the concept proven so difficult to implement Much of the attention regarding shortfalls in American interagency coordination has focused on bureaucratic wrangling at the National Security Council level.5 This is certainly part of the problem.

Subject Categories:

  • Government and Political Science
  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics

Distribution Statement: