Theater Campaign Plans (TCP)

Mandated by the Guidance for Employment of the Force (GEF), the TCP’s main function is to provide guidance to combatant commanders (CCDR) to coordinate Phase 0 and steady state activities across their Area of Responsibility (AOR). The Chairman JCS directs preparation of TCPs via the Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP), translating broad GEF guidance into specific strategic and operational planning directives to CCDRs. For TCPs, the JSCP provides direction for developing campaign plans and expands on global defense posture, force management, and security cooperation matters found in the GEF.

Geographic Combatant Commanders (GCC) control very few of the resources applied in their AOR; their service component commands and supporting agencies are responsible for the vast majority of on-the-ground activity. The TCP provides a framework for the GCC to guide such activity according to its objectives, and is a reference point for the Services and other agencies to justify resource allocation. It also provides guidance for more detailed planning conducted through contingency plans, country plans and other subordinate plans.

The Theater Campaign Plan serves a key role as an articulation to senior Defense officials and other U. S. Government leaders about: (1) what and how the GCC and the DOD are trying to achieve; (2) what resources are required and why they are critical; (3) what risks are incurred if the activities necessary for successful execution of the campaign plan are not fully resourced.

TCPs support U.S. national security objectives and should be aligned with other USG efforts. For example, GCC planners should review applicable State Department regional goals, which are outlined in its Bureau Strategic Resource Plans. TCP planning should incorporate country planning, and the GCC’s country plans should align with the Ambassador’s goals because the TCP’s activities and investments typically occur at the country level.


Source: Sweeney, Patrick C. “A Primer for: Guidance for Employment of the Force (GEF), Joint Strategic Capabilities Plan (JSCP), the Adaptive Planning and Execution (APEX) System, and Global Force Management (GFM),” Joint Military Operations Dept., U.S. Naval War College, 29 July 2011.