News | June 21, 2017

Joint Publication 3-0, Joint Operations

By Rick Rowlett Joint Force Quarterly 86

Rick Rowlett is Lead Joint Doctrine Integrator, Joint Doctrine Division, Joint Staff J7.

The Joint Staff Director, Joint Force Development Directorate (J7), signed a revised Joint Publication (JP) 3-0, Joint Operations, on January 17, 2017. This JP 3-0 is the latest in a series that began with a January 1990 “test publication” titled Doctrine for Unified and Joint Operations.1 General Colin Powell approved the first official version of JP 3-0 in 1993 based, in part, on agreements reached among the Joint Chiefs of Staff on a number of debated aspects of joint operations.2 In a measure to increase access to and understanding of joint doctrine, General John Shalikashvili, Powell’s successor,3 issued the 1995 JP 3-0 in a hard-copy, purple-covered format as part of a Joint Doctrine Professional Library Desk Set.4 The Chairman also made the joint doctrine library available on the Internet. Since then, the joint doctrine development community has revised JP 3-0 in 2001, 2006, and 2011. There also was a Change 1 in 2008 to ensure continuity with JP 1, Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States, and a Change 2 in 2010 to incorporate text on cyberspace and cyberspace operations.

Captain Timothy Black pilots KC-135 Stratotanker on combat refueling mission over Southwest Asia while two Navy F/A-18C Hornets fly alongside, May 21, 2017 (Air National Guard/Andrew J. Moseley)

Captain Timothy Black pilots KC-135 Stratotanker on combat refueling mission over Southwest Asia while two Navy F/A-18C Hornets fly alongside, May 21, 2017 (Air National Guard/Andrew J. Moseley)

JP 3-0 is the keystone document of the joint operations series. It provides the doctrinal foundation and fundamental principles that guide the Armed Forces in all joint operations. The 2017 JP 3-0 is not a radical departure from previous versions. The majority of changes ensure the publication now contains the most current terms, definitions, and references based on changes to other JPs in the joint doctrine library since approval of the 2011 JP 3-0. For example, the joint community’s recommendations resulted in additional relevant information on joint electromagnetic spectrum operations (JEMSO)—those activities consisting of electronic warfare and joint electromagnetic spectrum management used to exploit, attack, protect, and manage the electromagnetic environment to achieve the commander’s objectives. JEMSO is an important topic in JP 6-01, Joint Electromagnetic Spectrum Management Operations, and JP 3-13.1, Electronic Warfare. Similarly, JP 3-0 authors expanded content associated with the “protection” joint function by adding paragraphs on protection of civilians, which may be the primary purpose of a mission or a supporting task. Addressing this topic in JP 3-0 provides continuity with several other JPs, such as JP 3-07.3, Peace Operations, and JP 3-07, Stability; each covers protection of civilians in their specific context.

Beyond the type of updates mentioned above, it is essential that the constructs and language on overlapping topics are consistent and complementary between JP 3-0 and JP 3-20, Security Cooperation, JP 5-0, Joint Planning, and JP 1, Doctrine for the Armed Forces of the United States. Thus, the more significant changes in the new JP 3-0 focused on this objective.

Security cooperation encompasses efforts by the Department of Defense with foreign security forces and institutions to build relationships that help promote U.S. interests and enable partner nations to provide the United States access to territory, infrastructure, information, and resources. Security cooperation also helps those organizations build and apply their capabilities and capacities consistent with U.S. defense objectives. JP 3-0 discusses security cooperation in the context of military operations across the conflict continuum at the low end of the range of military operations. Combined with military engagement and deterrence, security cooperation helps maintain U.S. global influence and keep day-to-day tensions between nations or groups below the threshold of armed conflict. Chapter VI in JP 3-0 focuses on military engagement, security cooperation, and deterrence.

Joint Planning, the focus of JP 5-0, touches all aspects of joint operations. JP 3-0 and JP 5-0 authors collaborated to ensure continuity between these keystone JPs during each revision cycle. JP 3-0 is the proponent publication for operational art, while JP 5-0 is the proponent for operational design and the joint planning process. While focused at the operational level, content in both JPs addresses strategic and tactical issues. For example, the introduction of theater campaign planning in JP 5-0 resulted in related changes in JP 3-0 to ensure continuity and consistency in language. Both JPs modified their discussions of phasing joint operations for the same purpose. JP 5-0 eliminates the figure that depicts phasing. JP 3-0 retains a figure that shows notional phases on an operation, but the associated text clarifies that it represents only one alternative. Actual phases will vary according to the nature of the operation and the joint force commander’s decisions. The objective of ensuring doctrinal continuity and consistency also applies to the relationship between JP 3-0 and JP 1, which is currently in revision and scheduled for publication in fourth quarter 2017.

The JP 3-0 revision was informed by the latest information available from joint community feedback; various lessons learned and best practices from current operations; and relevant, validated constructs identified during assessment of approved joint concepts. The revision focused on achieving continuity and appropriate balance across JPs of related topics such as security cooperation and joint planning. Achievement of that objective ensures that the revised keystone joint operations publication will remain a relevant and current doctrinal foundation for all other JPs. JFQ


1 Joint Publication (JP) 3-0, Doctrine for Unified and Joint Operations (Washington, DC: The Joint Staff, January 1990).

2 On November 23, 1992, General Colin Powell signed a memorandum (CM-1502-92, Subject: A Doctrinal Statement of Selected Joint Operational Concepts) that formalized an accompanying paper titled A Doctrinal Statement of Selected Joint Operational Concepts. This paper represented agreement among the Joint Chiefs of Staff on selected aspects of joint operations, and was intended to guide development of the 1993 JP 3-0 as well as JP 3-03, Doctrine for Joint Interdiction Operations, and JP 3-09, Doctrine for Joint Fire Support.

3 Admiral David Jeremiah served as acting Chairman for 23 days between Generals Powell and Shalikashvili.

4 The desk set also contained other keystone JPs, a CD-ROM, and a VHS video.