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By Mr M. Latta

Recently, a new conceptual framework for Army planning was introduced, the Land Operating Functions (LOF). This article outlines what the need for this conceptual framework is, why the decision was made to replace the previous framework, and how the framework was developed. It will also explain how the LOF Framework is applied. Detail regarding the content of the LOF Framework itself is available in the Tactical School Guide: Conceptual Frameworks, on the Tactical School intranet.


Conceptual frameworks: what they are and what they need to do

A conceptual framework is a mental model used to understand different situations. In this case, it is a mental model about how the different capabilities employed by land forces are applied to generate land power. Land Power is the ‘ability to exert immediate and sustained influence on or from the land in conditions of peace, crisis and conflict’[1]. Overall, capabilities are applied to influence other groups, either through force, the threat of force, or softer skills such as convincing them that alternative actions are better, or supporting other groups. So, as a mental model it needs to encompass all the aspects that builds up to create that influence (land power) so that planners can use it to figure out how to conduct a mission.

As a framework, it needs to be able to be applied to a variety of situations. Broadly, military operations are broken into combat operations and stability operations[2]. Combat operations are then broken into offensive activities[3], which includes such actions as the advance and attack, and defensive activities, which includes such action as the defence, and withdrawal. Stability operations include a range of actions[4] such as population control; disarmament, demobilisation, & reintegration (DDR), security sector reform (SSR), provision of humanitarian aid to name just a few. The planning framework needs to be able to be used in the broad range of tasks that military power may be applied to.

The contemporary operating environment includes operations that combine aspects of combat and stability operations at once, and so require the full range of military capabilities to execute Land Power across the differing tasks. Counterinsurgency (COIN) operations for example combine aspects of offensive, defensive and various stability activities. Additionally, there can be a number of disparate groups needing to be influenced in different ways. There may be a complex need for cooperation with allied forces, host nation security forces, other government agencies, international organisations, and non-government organisations. Neutral or uncommitted groups may require a more subtle approach, or require kinetic support to protect them from their own adversaries. Hostile adversaries may require very kinetic influence. And we are now seeing, as predicted[5], the emergence of a hybrid threat: ‘a diverse and dynamic combination of regular forces, irregular forces, terrorist forces, and/or criminal elements unified to achieve mutually benefitting effects’[6]. The conglomerate of elements in northern Iraq (ISIS and associated groups) is an example.

A conceptual framework therefore needs to cover all military capabilities and be able to cover a number of (possibly concurrent) tasks and groups. To properly aid group planning, as conducted in a staff military headquarters, it should help in breaking down ‘stovepipes’. In this sense, stovepiping refers to the tendency for individuals to plan in their own area without integrating properly with other staff areas. This is particularly prevalent when individuals are employed within their own corps or trade area of expertise. A good conceptual framework does not match these natural divisions but instead forces people to plan across them. That is why the LOF do not match corps or trade boundaries. The danger in doing so is that some disconnects may occur in the planning, so a good framework also has mechanisms for ensuring those connections occur. The staff techniques referred to as Integrating Processes and Activities (IPA) achieve that purpose in the LOF Framework.


Why the change to a new framework

The Battlespace Operating Systems (BOS) is the Australian conceptual framework previously used by NZ Army. It consists of eight BOS: Command and Control; Manoeuvre; Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR); Offensive Support (OS); Mobility and Survivability; Information Operations; Ground Based Air Defence (GBAD); and Combat Service Support (CSS). It is a useful framework, and served NZ Army well particularly in planning combat operations in a conventional setting. However, during training exercises at Tactical School it was noticed that it was less applicable to stability operations, or indeed the types of operations that NZDF is currently conducting overseas.

Both the US Army and the British Army had adopted ‘functions’, the US War Fighting Functions (WFF) and the British Tactical Functions. These are shown at Table 1 compared to the new LOF and the previous BOS (still current for the Australian Army). These highlighted the requirement for a ‘protection’ aspect, covering a broad range of force protection aspects. They also took an expanded view of the ISR function, and the US WFF in particular also expanded manoeuvre to encompass all elements of the force and not just the manoeuvre arms (infantry, armour, and aviation).

These functional areas also aligned broadly with the NZDF Fundamental Defence Capabilities of command, inform, prepare, project, operate, protect and sustain[7]. Project at a tactical level is equivalent to the M3 LOF, while ‘operate’ in a land environment encompasses M3, OS, IA and CIMIC in the LOF. The ‘prepare’ capability is incorporated within the land operations process (plan, prepare, execute and assess).

As Tactical School commenced its rewrite of courses to meet the needs of the contemporary operating environment, it was recognised that a new framework was required. The BOS lacked good flexibility for employment in planning stability operations. The focus of the contemporary operating environment on different types of military capabilities (soft influence skills) was not given adequate focus, yet was considered a key strength of the NZDF. The requirement for coordination with non-military elements with which NZDF was operating overseas also needed some focus, which was achieved by the CIMIC function that our allies have as a dedicated staff function but which does not exist in the NZ Staff System[8]. Finally, the lesson that protection needed some holistic focus was learned from the US and British approaches.


The Land Operating Functions Framework

The LOF Framework was developed in consultation with all Corps schools in TRADOC. It is a framework for orchestrating operations. Orchestration is ‘the arrangement of physical and non-physical actions to ensure their unified contribution to the mission’[9]. It is about aligning the purpose of operations, so the LOF framework is designed to allow conceptualisation of purpose as shown in Table 2. Orchestration is distinct from synchronisation, which is ‘the arrangement of military actions in time, space and purpose to produce maximum relative fighting power at a given place and time’[10]. Orchestration is about coordinating purpose, and synchronisation is about coordinating the units or force elements carrying out that purpose.

The LOF Framework is designed to achieve three major purposes: to know what is happening and what to do about it, to act or engage across the domains[11] to achieve the mission, and to preserve the force and its ability to operate. The remainder of this article outlines in brief each LOF in regards to differences from the BOS and explains why the term has been adopted. Detail on what each LOF is can be found in the Tactical School Guide: Conceptual Frameworks on the Tactical School intranet site.

The C2 LOF in simple terms is headquarters, command processes, control measures (such as boundaries and timings), and communications systems. Command and Control is a well-established military term which encompasses all that the C2 LOF relates to – it is not markedly different from the BOS of the same term. The term was  retained in preference to the NZFD Joint term ‘Command’ to highlight the control aspect, and the complexity of controlling military operations in the land environment.

The I2 LOF has a wider scope than the ISR BOS, which was focused mainly on collection actions. The I2 LOF encompasses the systems used to process and make usable information collected, and recognises that information collected from means other than the traditional intelligence architecture is used in commander’s decision making processes. ‘Information and Intelligence’ is the terminology used by the British Army (US Army uses ‘Intelligence’ as the warfighting function term). It was adopted in the LOF Framework to distinguish it from Intelligence as a capability and to highlight the wider scope of the LOF in comparison to the BOS.

The M3 LOF is greatly expanded from the Manoeuvre BOS which focused only on the actions of the manoeuvre arms of infantry, armour, and aviation. The M3 LOF recognises that all elements of a force need to be considered in a tactical sense in regards to their positioning and movement in a tactical area, hence the inclusion of ‘movement’. The LOF framework also includes the Mobility (and counter-mobility) aspect from the Mobility and Survivability BOS, and so is comparative to the US term of ‘Movement and Manoeuvre’ in scope (which includes the mobility concept). Mobility was added to the US term to highlight the change from the BOS.

Offensive Support was retained as LOF terminology as there is no particular difference in scope from the previous BOS. In simple terms it is indirect fire provided by mortars and artillery systems, electronic attack, and joint fires (air and naval support). It has been used in favour of the term ‘fires’ employed by US and British Armies to highlight the non-kinetic and less-lethal aspects employable within the OS LOF.

The IA LOF takes half of the previous Information Operations BOS, the half that is focused outwardly on affecting the will and understanding of groups to achieve the mission. The term ‘Influence Activity’ is used to highlight the engagement focus of the LOF and the non-inclusion of the protective/defensive aspects of the previous Information Operations BOS (these are now under the Protection LOF). It is similar in scope to the US Army ‘Inform and Influence’ task that resides within the Mission Command function. The British Army has Influence as an overall effect, and Influence Activity as specific actions that are undertaken, but not as a separate function.

CIMIC is raised to the level of LOF in the framework, and did not appear in the BOS. Most other allied armies have the G/S9 function as CIMIC so the incorporation of those considerations into planning is achieved through their staff system. However the NZDF Staff System has the ‘9’ function as Finance meaning that the NZ Army does not routinely include CIMIC staff in the standard HQ system. As NZ Army is likely to be consistently operating in close proximity to civilian elements and the local populace, the requirement to coordinate and orchestrate the effects produced by CIMIC requires a consistent consideration in all conceptual aspects of military operation planning.

The Protection LOF subsumes the GBAD BOS and the ‘Survivability’ portion of the Mobility and Survivability BOS as well as the range of Force Protection actions. Both U.S. and British Armies use the function ‘Protection’. This is more expansive than anything in the BOS, and links closely with risk and safety management requirements of command.  The term also aligns with the NZDF Fundamental Capabilities and Joint Functions.

The Sustainment LOF is similar in scope to the CSS BOS. It is focussed on supporting the force during the operation, and is therefore closely tied to Logistics, however the Sustainment LOF includes the delivery of facilities-related activity, Health Service Support (HSS), operational Personnel Support, and financial and contractual support.  Administrative movement (generally movement via strategic transport) is included in the Sustainment LOF. This terminology aligns with US Army, British Army, NZDF Fundamental Capabilities and Joint Functions.


How the Land Operating Functions Framework is used

The LOF are used in a headquarters that is required to generate combined-arms effects. It is only useful as a tool when a number of capabilities (i.e. a number of LOF areas) are present within the force element and some planning must be undertaken to ensure effective use of them. This is most likely at battlegroup (battalion-sized task organised group) and above, though may occur at combat team (company-sized task organised group). It is unlikely to occur at platoon or troop level and below. In essence, the more corps belts or different trades are present in a force element, the more likely it is that LOF will be a useful planning tool.

The headquarters staff will use the LOF Framework in the Military Appreciation Process. They will determine what they need to do (mission analysis) and where, when and against who (intelligence preparation of the battlespace) and then develop a course of action using the LOF Framework to orchestrate those actions. At this point the plan is in LOF terms, rather than being tasks allocated to specific units. They will then brief the commander, and possibly higher and subordinate commanders, using LOF as the conceptual framework to describe how the plan fits together.

Once the plan is approved, it is executed through the orders process. The LOF Framework is not used in this; the headquarters staff ‘translates’ the plan into the specific missions, orders, and tasks given to each unit or force element in order to aid clarity and brevity. This is a change from how BOS were used, as BOS concepts were sometimes put into operation orders (OPORD). In order to ensure that only those people practiced in LOF are required to use them, they are not put in orders as potentially many of the force elements executing a plan will be commanded by personnel who have not been through a Staff and Tactics course.

The requirement to translate exists because units (and trades) are organised along technical, training and functional lines. The skills required of a reconnaissance soldier (I2 LOF) and infantry soldiers (M3 LOF) are generally similar, however the purpose to which they are put are quite different. The skills required of an electronic warfare operator can be used to find adversary communications (I2 LOF), jam them (OS LOF) or protect our own communications (Prot LOF). The soldier is best commanded by the group that understands and employs the technical skills, but for a headquarters staff it is the effect that they can achieve that is most important.

This translation helps to reconnect technical elements that may have been missed during LOF planning. This is also achieved in the LOF Framework through the IPA as noted earlier. These exist to coordinate across staff areas within a HQ, and ensure a plan progresses cohesively through the operations process phases of planning, preparation, execution, and assessment. The eight IPA are Intelligence Preparation of the Battlespace (IPB); Knowledge and Information Management (KIM); Liaison; Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition, and Reconnaissance (ISTAR) Management; Targeting; Land Battlespace Management (LBM); Risk and Safety Management (RSM); and Security. Detail on what these are can be found in the Tactical School Guide: Conceptual Frameworks.



The LOF Framework is a conceptual planning tool for orchestrating combined arms effects in contemporary operations. It is uniquely New Zealand to suit our particular needs and strengths, but remains highly interoperable with allied and joint headquarters. LOF are used by staff on a headquarters to plan the mission, explain it to other commanders and headquarters for approval or coordination, but not to execute it through orders to subordinate elements. It is supported by a framework of staff actions (the IPA) which ensures integration from planning through execution, and all parts of the operations cycle. Having been trialled on courses at Tactical School, it can confidently be said that the LOF Framework is an effective tool for planning and carrying out the application of land power.

Further information about the LOF Framework is in the Tactical School Guide: Conceptual Frameworks on the Tactical School intranet site (http://org/l-lotc/SPubPages/tac_sch/default.aspx). For more detailed learning, do the Grade 3 Foundation Knowledge (G3FK) Distance Education modules, also found on the Tactical School intranet site. As the information is unclassified, personnel without intranet access may send a request for further information to

[1] LWD 1 (2008) The Fundamentals of Land Warfare. Australia: Army

[2] NZDDP 3.0 (2010)  Operations. NZDF

[3] LWD 3-0-3 (2009)  Land Tactics. Australia: Army

[4] NZDF JDN 1/10 (2010) Guidelines for the Military Contribution to Stability. NZDF

[5] National Intelligence Council (2012) Global trends 2030: Alternative Worlds. Washington, DC: Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

[6] ADRP 3-0 (2012) Unified Land Operations. US: Army

[7] NZDDP-D (2012) New Zealand Defence Doctrine. NZDF.

[8] In allied systems, the ‘9’ function is allocated to CIMIC, however in the NZDF system ‘9’ is finance. NZDDP 00.1 (2008) Command and Control in the NZDF. NZDF.

[9] LWD 3-0 (2008) Operations. Australia: Army.

[10] LWD 3-0

[11] The domains maritime, land, air, space, information (including cyberspace and electromagnetic spectrum) and human. ADDP 3.0 (2012) Campaigns and Operations. Australia: ADF