Muddy Boots Planning for Crisis Management
Admiral Leighton W. Smith
Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Southern Europe

Since I have been asked to discuss Muddy Boots planning for crisis management, I will first observe that nothing is easy about crisis-management planning today. In the past, you could start with an existing plan, and then update it. Force structures were committed, you could count on consensus at the political level, and the locations of the battles were known. Now, you start in effect with a blank sheet of paper and must develop an operation plan of no less than 1,500 pages, 9 supporting plans, 24 annexes, and about 5 quick-reaction options.

In order to do this--and in all probability without adequate political guidance--you must first determine for yourself the desired political end-state in order to craft a mission statement. For Muddy Boots, the model I will discuss, it is not even absolutely clear that the only end-state is withdrawal, although that was the plan. You must develop a list of things that you assume will happen in conjunction with the plan, and the conditions under which you assume you will operate. You must articulate a commander's intent. Then, you have to develop that base plan and all the supporting documents, annexes, and fragmentary orders. You must put together a command-and-control arrangement the likes of which no reader has ever seen and hopefully will never have to work with.

Now, when you move a battle staff forward into a military operation, you must not forget that the store has to remain open back at the home base. As the Commander-in-Chief Allied Forces Southern Europe, I can never abandon the headquarters in Naples or forget about what goes on in Southern Europe; I must continue that operation, which is absolutely essential in supporting the forward operation. So I need two staffs: a deployable battle staff, if you will, and a staff that remains home to do everything that must be done there. This is an assumed command structure. Yet for Muddy Boots, this structure has not been agreed to, either by the people I will be dealing with at the U.N. or at the political level within NATO; so this too is a problem.

As you develop command arrangements, you must try to give the best military advice you can and then go forward with what you have. After making your assumptions and putting together your command-and-control arrangements, you must prepare a flow plan. A flow plan is probably our biggest problem, because it contains a system of matrices (indicating where and how forces will be dispersed) that would cover the entire front wall of a very large room. You cannot suddenly beam forces and the infrastructure to support them into an out of area location where no infrastructure has ever been developed for NATO operations. The infrastructure must be put in place first. This is a very, very important concept, one that I believe has been lost in many cases with respect to NATO planning.

Also, if we are going to operate out of area, planning must include the very carefully sequenced placement of an infrastructure that will support troops not only logistically but with robust communication assets and engineers. Unfortunately, our model for placing forces out of area is sometimes referred to as the Southwest Asia model. In Southwest Asia, we had very large port facilities, very large runways, and excellent road systems. If we go into the former Yugoslavia, on the other hand, we will have two ports, one airport, and two roads--not exactly what I would call a robust system.

Another problem in out of area planning comes from the learning process. Anyone who learned how to develop plans has a fairly clear idea of how plans should be developed. First, there must be clear political guidance up-front to explain the mission. Then, the mission becomes militarized through an operations order. Finally, the headquarters in charge acts to do what is required to implement the operations order. Yet, in the real world, things do not happen that way. In the past, the member-states were bound by a single political objective: we had a common threat, and the availability of forces and resources was generally not a problem. Today, our forces are diminishing (and if they diminish much further, we will be in real trouble); consensus is never a given--you must fight for it; there are no standing plans, and in virtually everything you do regarding crisis-management planning, you are plowing new ground. Every situation is different and must be treated as such. In our model, and probably in many crisis situations in the future, we are dealing with at least two political bodies, neither of which is bound by the decisions of the others. That is a real problem for those in charge of writing the plan, because each of those political bodies has a different view of how the operation should be run, who should pay for it, and who should be in charge.


As SACEUR General Joulwan mentioned, we have a diminishing number of people on our staff. I called upon my colleagues, CINCENT and CINCAFNW, to give me some help, and they did when we put this plan together. Today, our staff is 25% smaller than it was during the Cold War, but we are doing 300% more work. And it is not going to get any easier. Because crisis planning is done in addition to all our other tasks, our staffs will have to be augmented.

A key issue in any kind of crisis management concerns up-front training. Although we have had some training, we have not trained to determine whether the operation is viable. We have only been able to train at the key-leader level. This training included a three-day seminar in January during which the key leaders of this plan got together with me and established ownership of the plan. They heard my concerns, I heard theirs, and we were able to integrate our thoughts and come out with a much better plan. What followed next was staff training for battle, something that we have not done in the past. After working on the plan, we decided to hold an exercise to see if the plan worked. The intent of battle-staff training is not to put stress on the plan but to put stress on your staff.

Finally, I would add that crisis management is a whole new ball game because of what I call the CNN factor. One would be surprised at what becomes important in crisis management these days. During a big war, for example, the taking of one or two hostages or one or two aircraft flying across a border would not be significant. Today such events are a very, very big deal.


If I could leave you with one message, it would be that Muddy Boots planning for crisis management is a very new process that we have not yet perfected, despite the fact that we are all working at it through exercises and training. This process will be new every single time we engage in it. It is also an educating process, not only for those of us who are conducting the planning but also for our staffs who are going through it. Finally, it is a process of sending plans forward for approval at the political level, and we are in the midst of that right now.

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