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The Military Appreciation Process (MAP) is a sound planning process for military operations, with particular benefits as a method for combining diverse specialist areas of expertise and aligning them with a single commander’s intent in a complex situation, all while developing common situational awareness among a large staff. The MAP’s limitations as a somewhat mechanistic process could be significantly improved by better incorporating human factors, specifically the personal role of the commander, intuition and creativity.

The MAP is a doctrinal approach to decision-making that allows a battlefield situation to be examined and a logical decision to be reached ... The MAP is an assumption-based planning model where known information is analysed and that which remains unknown is deduced through assumption.

It is a logical process that follows the sequence of: Mission Analysis, Course of Action (COA) Development, COA Analysis then Decision and Execution, with concurrent Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB).

MAP includes numerous briefing sessions, with the primary purpose of informing and seeking guidance from the commander and the secondary purpose of developing collective situational awareness among a large staff.

The MAP is an evolution of the Military Estimate or Appreciation, as previously used by most modern military forces. It is designed to be conducted by a headquarters staff, though the doctrine allows for it to be used as an individual process or conducted in an abbreviated ‘hasty’ format. The MAP has been used by the Australian Army for more than 10 years, and more recently by the other Australian services in its joint format, titled the Joint Military Appreciation Process. It is a well established planning tool regularly used at all levels from battalion/regiment upwards (and in a modified format at lower levels), and it has proven its worth in the planning of numerous operational deployments. The MAP is very similar to the Operational Planning Process (OPP) that is NATO doctrine as used by the Canadian Forces, as well as the US Army Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP).

The MAP is an effective process that is well established in doctrine and proven in many operational theatres. However, as currently taught and doctrinally promulgated, it has a tendency to be mechanistic and does not fully exploit the human qualities of the commander and his staff.

In many cases, field practitioners of the MAP adjust the process to redress these shortfalls, and such adjustments tend to make the difference between mediocrity and excellence in planning. There are sound scientific bases for these adaptations, well established by decision-making researchers, and there is clear potential for them to be permanently incorporated in MAP doctrine and training. In this way, the benefits gained by the most astute commanders will be more readily achieved across the board.

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