Military Operations Planning and Goal-management: A Philosophical Perspective, Thoughts on how decision theory and ethics can help improve military goal-management

Robert Frisk, Linda Johansson


This paper discusses and reviews some previous research concerning what we denote as ‘goal-management’, in other words how to set, apply and evaluate goals when conducting military operations planning. We aim to explain and answer the following question:

In what way could a review of previous philosophical thoughts on goal-management, decision theory and ethics improve contemporary military operations planning concerning goal-management?

We suggest a guideline (a planning tool) for how to conduct goal-management when planning military operations and exemplify our guideline with two fictive examples concerning the development of an Operational advice and Appreciation of Rules of Engagement. The paper concludes that the application of decision theory and ethics, i.e. important parts of philosophy, can contribute to military operations planning by focusing on three perspectives: an axiomatic, an ethical and a deliberative perspective.

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JMSS is a publication of the Centre for Military, Security and Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary.

JMSS gratefully acknowledges the financial support of the Social Science and Humanities Research Council.