Comparison of Military Planning Processes

Article 2 min
Each branch follows their respective planning process to solve problems and make the most of opportunities. When two or more services work together, the Joint Planning Process (JPP) is the methodology used. It is the foundation for planning at all levels and for missions across all military operations, but understanding the similarities and differences between your service's planning process to other services can ease the process when working together.

Military commanders constantly make decisions. With their staffs, they resolve simple, routine or complex problems. The planning process facilitates interaction between and among the commander, staff and subordinate headquarters throughout planning. It helps commanders and their staffs organize their planning activities, share a common understanding of the mission and commander’s intent and develop effective plans and orders.

As communication among services increases, it is important to understand the differences between the planning processes each branch follows. This chart differentiates the steps involved in the planning processes of each branch. The far left column lists all the potential steps of the planning process. The top row separates processes by service branch and the check mark indicates the step is included in the respective service process. Phrasing within the boxes indicates language included in addition to the general step by the service.

Chart showing the step commonalities between services
Comparison of the planning process across all service branches, including joint.
Photo by: Andrea Batts-Latson
VIRIN: 200415-D-VE872-0002

By recognizing where the individual processes overlap and where they differ, it will be easier to understand how and why fellow service members operate in a particular way, what they are familiar with and how to work together better. And remember, the JPP trumps all planning processes when two or more services work together.


Joint Force Development. (2020). Joint Publication 5-0.

U.S. Marine Corps. (2020). Marine Corps Planning Process MCWP 5-10.

Department of the Army. (2019). ADP 5-0 The Operations Process.

Department of the Navy. (2013). Navy Planning NWP 5-01.

U.S. Air Force. (2012). Air Force Doctrine Document 2 (AFDD 2), Operations and Organization.

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