Joint Operational Planning and Execution System (JOPES): An Overview

In today’s post, I am going to provide you with a basic overview of JOPES. JOPES stands for Joint Operational Planning and Execution System. The basic tenant of JOPES is that all military wings within the Department of Defense all work as a team in operations against United States enemy forces.

One large misconception is that JOPES is it is a somewhat new policy. It may not have been called JOPES, but joint operational planning has been in effect for many years. As I was researching JOPES, I discovered a plethora of great publications and articles. Lieutenant Colonel Bret Daugherty of the Army National Guard authored a paper explaining how the 1863 Vicksburg Campaign was a joint operation that utilized the United States Army, Navy and Marines. Another paper showing how joint operations between the Army and Navy in the Civil War by Lieutenant Colonel Douglas Cox is also available here.

JOPES is not a new system, but it has been improved. The system is very intricate, but it all starts out with the NSC (National Security Council). With Presidential direction, the NSC establishes policy and objectives. Once policy is established, military planning can begin. Planning is prepared via JSPS(Joint Strategic Planning System). It is the flexible JSPS that is used as the guidance for JOPES. Essentially, the system puts all commanders on the same page with the same goals.

The Department of Defense uses JOPES as the system to translate National Security Policy decisions into OPLANs (Operation Plans) and OPORDs (Operation Orders). These are the primary functions of JOPES:

  • Identifying and assessing possible threats.

  • Determining strategies.

  • Developing a course of action.

  • Intricate and detailed planning.

  • Implementing all the above.

Joint Operations Have Become The Norm

There will always be a measure of competition between the branches of military service, after all, we all look forward to the yearly Army/Navy football game. Oh and the jabs such as:

Calling Air Force – Chair Force

Is it true about Marines – My Ass Rides In Navy Equipment Sir

Or Marines that say –

  • A-Aren’t

  • R-Really

  • M-Marines

  • Y-Yet

But the fact is: we all are a team, and those are just a few fun jokes, even though that last one wasn’t funny.

To understand just how far joint operations have come we must look at the extra training that is involved in guaranteeing a joint team of Soldiers and officers to protect our children and grandchildren for years to come. We have joint military colleges and universities that educates both military leaders and civilians on all phases of joint operations. Some of those institutions are:

Joint operations are the only way we, as a nation, will be able to stand in unison against the mutiple enemies that are bent on destroying the United States and the freedom she stands for. It is programs such as JSPS and JOPES that will guarantee that all the military forces will be a fine oiled machine that work in unison to make sure that the citizens are safe and sound.

Final Words

As I read the many materials I discovered on JOPES and all other aspects of joint operations, I just wanted to write and write. In considering this, I discovered I would have a book the size of an encyclopedia, so I decided to just provide you with just some brief basics about JOPES. I truly hope you gained some insight. If you would like to have some further reading, I suggest you click the following links:

  1. Joint Operation Planning PDF

  2. JOPES Volume 1

  3. JOPES Volume 2

  4. JOPES Volume 3

  5. The Joint Officer’s Staff Guide

  6. And this link from the United State’s Army War College is great too.

Have you been involved with the use of JOPES? Do you think that the United States is being wise in utilizing a system such as this? Your comments and views are important to us. Please feel free to leave a comment below.

If any of you were offended by those jokes within this article, please understand that they were not meant to offend. As an ex member of the U.S. Army, I have learned to laugh them off. No matter what, there will be someone who says or does something that you can choose to let offend you, or you can lift your head high and let the words fly away. This is how we all can work in conjunction together. The military must work as a team, or characters similar to Bin Laden will win. This is what JOPES is all about.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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1 thought on “Joint Operational Planning and Execution System (JOPES): An Overview”

  1. I am a DOD Civilian. I saw a job posting that required JOPES training. How do I get the training? Can you put me in the right direction?

    Tracy Adams

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