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Commander's Appreciation and Campaign Design (CACD)

What is it?
The CACD is a creative, heuristic, and iterative design methodology for designing and executing military operations in complex operational environments. Described in the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command Pamphlet (TRADOC PAM) 525-5-500, CACD was developed to provide means for grappling with ill-structured, complex adaptive problems. The design includes two complementary activities:

  • Problem Framing: developing a shared understanding of ill-structured problems.
  • Operation Framing: creating broad problem solving approaches on the basis of understanding.

An operational frame provides a basis for subsequent detailed implementation planning using a systematic process that is based upon the seven-step Army Problem-Solving Model described in Field Manual5-0, Staff Organization and Operations. Unlike military planning processes, design does not stop with the creation of an operational framework; continued learning leads to reframing. To access TRADOC PAM 525-5-500, go to:

What has the Army done?
The Army Capabilities Integration Center published TRADOC PAM 525-5-500 in order to facilitate further development of the methodology not only within the Army, but also within the Joint, interagency, and multinational communities. The pamphlet was the result of a four year effort in Unified Quest, the Chief of Staff of the Army's annual future warfare study, to examine the role of design and the practice of operational art.

Since its publication in January 2008, CACD has been presented and taught in a variety of venues. In academic year 07-08, the School of Advanced Military Studies and the Army War College (AWC) each adapted their curriculum to teach design. The U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM) and U.S. Army Central Command (ARCENT) have applied CACD in current operations. Engagement with interagency partners revealed a strong correlation between CACD and planning methods used by United States Agency for International Development and the State Coordinator for Reconstruction and Stabilization. At the end of Unified Quest 08, senior leaders recommended the institutionalization of CACD into Army doctrine.

What continued efforts does the Army have planned for the future?
The Army Capabilities Integration Center, Combined Arms Center, and the AWC will jointly develop an interim field manual that describes the operational design methodology in CACD. Army TRADOC will leverage lessons learned by headquarters that have applied design in current operations such as USSOCOM and ARCENT.

Why is this important to the Army?
The complexity of today's operational environment requires an approach to problem resolution that is different from existing Joint and Army planning processes. The CACD has application at any echelon confronted by complex adaptive problems. Commanders must first understand a complex environment in order to frame operational problems and then establish an operational framework based upon their understanding of the problem. The operational framework provides the basis for subsequent implementation planning using a systematic planning process based upon the seven-step Army Problem-Solving Model (e.g., the Military Decision Making Process and Troop Leading Procedures).

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