Military operation
Military operation is the coordinated military actions of a state in response to a developing situation. These actions are designed as a military plan
Military plan
A military operation plan is a formal plan for military armed forces, their military organizations and units to conduct operations, as drawn up by commanders within the combat operations process in achieving objectives before or during a conflict...

 to resolve the situation in the state's favor. Operations may be of combat
Combat, or fighting, is a purposeful violent conflict meant to establish dominance over the opposition, or to terminate the opposition forever, or drive the opposition away from a location where it is not wanted or needed....

 or non-combat
Military operations other than war
Military Operations Other Than War focus on deterring war, resolving conflict, promoting peace, and supporting civil authorities in response to domestic crises. The phrase and acronym was coined by the United States military during the 1990s, but it has since fallen out of use. The UK military...

 types, and are referred to by a code name
Code name
A code name or cryptonym is a word or name used clandestinely to refer to another name or word. Code names are often used for military purposes, or in espionage...

 for the purpose of security
Security is the degree of protection against danger, damage, loss, and crime. Security as a form of protection are structures and processes that provide or improve security as a condition. The Institute for Security and Open Methodologies in the OSSTMM 3 defines security as "a form of protection...

. Military operations are often known for their more generally accepted common usage names than their actual operational objectives.

Types of military operations

Military operations can be classified by the scale and scope of force employment, and their impact on the wider conflict. The scope of military operations can be:
  • Theatre: this describes an operation over a large, often continental area of operation
    Area of operation
    In U.S. military parlance, an area of operations is an operational area defined by the force commander for land, air, and naval forces conduct of combat and non-combat activities...

     and represents a strategic national commitment to the conflict such as Operation Barbarossa
    Operation Barbarossa
    Operation Barbarossa was the code name for Germany's invasion of the Soviet Union during World War II that began on 22 June 1941. Over 4.5 million troops of the Axis powers invaded the USSR along a front., the largest invasion in the history of warfare...

    , with general goals that encompass areas of consideration outside of the military such as the economic and political impacts.
  • Campaign: this describes either a subset of the theatre operation, or a more limited geographic and operational strategic commitment such as Battle of Britain
    Battle of Britain
    The Battle of Britain is the name given to the World War II air campaign waged by the German Air Force against the United Kingdom during the summer and autumn of 1940...

    , and need not represent total national commitment to a conflict, or have broader goals outside of the military impacts.
  • Operational battle
    Generally, a battle is a conceptual component in the hierarchy of combat in warfare between two or more armed forces, or combatants. In a battle, each combatant will seek to defeat the others, with defeat determined by the conditions of a military campaign...

    : this describes a subset of a campaign that will have specific military goals and geographic objectives, as well as clearly defined use of forces such as the Battle of Gallipoli
    Battle of Gallipoli
    The Gallipoli Campaign, also known as the Dardanelles Campaign or the Battle of Gallipoli, took place at the peninsula of Gallipoli in the Ottoman Empire between 25 April 1915 and 9 January 1916, during the First World War...

    , which operationally was a combined arms
    Combined arms
    Combined arms is an approach to warfare which seeks to integrate different branches of a military to achieve mutually complementary effects...

     operation originally known as the "Dardanelles landings" as part of the Dardanelles Campaign
    Naval operations in the Dardanelles Campaign
    The naval operations in the Dardanelles Campaign of the First World War were mainly carried out by the Royal Navy with substantial support from the French and minor contributions from Russia and Australia. The Dardanelles Campaign began as a purely naval operation...

    , where about 480,000 Allied
    Allies of World War I
    The Entente Powers were the countries at war with the Central Powers during World War I. The members of the Triple Entente were the United Kingdom, France, and the Russian Empire; Italy entered the war on their side in 1915...

     troops took part.
  • Engagement
    Engagement (military)
    A military engagement is a combat between two forces, neither larger than a division and not smaller than a company, in which each has an assigned or perceived mission...

    : this describes a tactical combat event of contest for specific area or objective by actions of distinct units. For example the Battle of Kursk
    Battle of Kursk
    The Battle of Kursk took place when German and Soviet forces confronted each other on the Eastern Front during World War II in the vicinity of the city of Kursk, in the Soviet Union in July and August 1943. It remains both the largest series of armored clashes, including the Battle of Prokhorovka,...

    , also known from its German designation as Operation Citadel, included many separate engagements, several of which were combined into the Battle of Prokhorovka
    Battle of Prokhorovka
    The Battle of Prokhorovka was fought on the Eastern Front during the Second World War as part of the Battle of Kursk in the Soviet Union . Principally, the German Wehrmachts Fourth Panzer Army clashed with the Soviet Red Army's 5th Guards Tank Army...

    . The "Battle of Kursk" in addition to describing the initial German offensive operation (or simply an offensive), also included two Soviet counter-offensive operations Operation Kutuzov
    Operation Kutuzov
    Operation Kutuzov was a military operation by the Red Army in its fight against the German Wehrmacht during World War II. It was named after Mikhail Illarionovich Kutuzov, the Tsarist General credited with saving Russia from defeat during the invasion by Napoleon in 1812.The Operation began on 12...

     and Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev
    Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev
    Operation Polkovodets Rumyantsev was a code name for the Belgorod-Kharkov Strategic Offensive Operation conducted by the Red Army between 3 August 1943 and 23 August 1943 against the Wehrmacht's 4th Panzer Army and Army Group Kempf during World War II. The operation was conducted by the Voronezh...


Operational level of war

The operational level of war occupies roughly the middle ground between the campaign's strategic focus and the tactics of an engagement. It describes "a distinct intermediate level of war between military strategy, governing war in general, and tactics, involving individual battles." For example during World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 the concept applied to use of Soviet Tank Armies.

See also

  • Military operation plan
  • Civil-military operations
    Civil-military operations
    Civil-military operations or CMO are activities of a military force to minimize civil interference on and maximize civil support for military operations to facilitate accomplishing the mission. CMO is conducted in conjunction with combat operations during wartime and becomes a central part of a...

  • Effects-Based Operations
    Effects-Based Operations
    Effects-Based Operations is a United States military concept which emerged during the 1991 Gulf War for the planning and conduct of operations combining military and non-military methods to achieve a particular effect...

  • Iraq Military Operations 2003 to Current - Alphabetical
  • List of military operations
  • Military operations other than war
    Military operations other than war
    Military Operations Other Than War focus on deterring war, resolving conflict, promoting peace, and supporting civil authorities in response to domestic crises. The phrase and acronym was coined by the United States military during the 1990s, but it has since fallen out of use. The UK military...

  • Operational View
    Operational View
    Operational View is one of the basic views, defined in the enterprise architecture of the Department of Defense Architecture Framework V1.5 . Under DODAF 2, which became operational in 2009, the collections of views are now termed 'viewpoints' and no longer views.Other enterprise architecture...

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