What is Operational Environment?

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Getty/Creative/Todor Tsvetkov

Operational environment is the combination of the conditions, circumstances, and influences which will determine the use of military forces and help the unit commander to make his decisions.

An operational environment consists of many interrelated variables and subvariables which will also include the relationships and interactions among the same.  Operational variables include not only the military facet of an operational environment but also the population’s influence upon it.

Some examples of an operational environment are:

  • permissive environment--operational environment in which host country military and law enforcement agencies have control and the intent and capability to assist operations that a unit intends to conduct.
  • uncertain environment--operational environment in which host government forces, whether opposed to or receptive to operations that a unit intends to conduct, do not have totally effective control of the territory and population in the intended area of operations.
  • hostile environment--operational environment in which hostile forces have control and the intent and capability to effectively oppose or react to the operations a unit intends to conduct.

Today's advanced technological advancements make a significant impact upon the operational environment as all of the above factors are subject to attack by physical means, cyberspace means, electronic means, or a combination of any or all.

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