JAKARTA, Indonesia - The Hawaii National Guard State Partnership Program facilitated an operation design seminar recently in Jakarta, Indonesia. Participants from the Hawaii Army and Air National Guard along with counterparts from Tentara Nasional Indonesia spent five days in a combined lecture and hands-on staff exercise focusing on operational design. Lecturers and moderators were provided by the U.S. Air War College.

"U.S. Indonesia defense cooperation has never been stronger or more comprehensive than it is today," said Col. Michael Tougher, Hawaii Army National Guard deputy exercise commander. "We are proud to be Indonesia's largest military engagement partner, conducting joint exercises, exchanges, and other military-to-military engagements, training with hundreds of Indonesian military personnel, and providing world-class defense technology."

The Hawaii National Guard is a state partner with Indonesia and regularly holds combined exercises and events to increase the depth of that relationship. This is the second year Hawaii and Indonesia have participated in an operation design seminar.

Operation design is a process where a committee of military members, and sometimes members of government, examine very complex problems to help define variables, goals, tension points, and the desired end-state to aid in the planning and execution of military or governmental action.

"The Hawaii National Guard and the Indonesian military have a long-standing relationship centered around the State Partnership Program," said Maj. Tulsi Gabbard, Hawaii National Guard military planning officer. "That has provided a great benefit not only to those who participate but to the U.S. efforts and interests in building these relationships that are strengthened through these engagements."

Nested in the military planning framework, operation design requires committees of personnel from diverse backgrounds that want to understand complex social and political problems to make recommendations on the desired end-state or to develop an operational approach. While the process is not linear, there are defined steps or phases each committee must go through. The process is also not accomplished by a single committee, but by multiple teams in a competitive environment. This 'teams within a committee' concept help highlight overlooked aspects of the situation being analyzed and combats 'group think,' a situation where a single strong personality can influence the analysis.

"Operation design takes complex situations and breaks them down in easy, manageable steps in the military planning process," said Lt. Col. Brandon Torres, Hawaii Army National Guard military intelligence officer. "This is important because, in our current operating environment, things are not as simple as they used to be. As we come upon what the U.S. Air War College calls 'wicked problems,' we need to be able to think through them and get to a solution for those problems. This process helps us to define what the true nature of the problem is so we can plan a response."

As the teams worked through the operation design process to frame the problem, their relationships began to mesh and new facets of the scenario came to light. Throughout each day the entire group would pause and each team would present their products - further shedding light on different variables and possible ways forward.

"This process frames or underpins the whole of a military campaign or operation," said Maj. Mochamad Reza Achwandi, Indonesian Naval Officer. "This seminar has strengthened [the TNI] because we have gained knowledge and experience. We have expanded our network with new friends as well as broadened our perspective. The gained insights and perspectives have widened our view."

2019 marks the 70th anniversary of relations between the U.S. and Indonesia. Throughout the year, the U.S. Mission to Indonesia is highlighting places, stories, and dreams that showcase our broad partnership with Indonesia.

In 2019 alone the Hawaii National Guard SPP and Indonesia will have had 22 separate engagements to help strengthen each nations' operational readiness; in Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Response (HADR), peacekeeping operations, Air Space Management, and Aviation Operations.