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Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG)

Definition Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG) is a military term referring to a document issued annually by the Secretary of Defense. It provides policy guidance and priorities for the development of contingency plans within the Department of Defense. The CPG addresses potential security threats, establishes planning priorities, and defines the timing and scope of contingency plan […]


Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG) is a military term referring to a document issued annually by the Secretary of Defense. It provides policy guidance and priorities for the development of contingency plans within the Department of Defense. The CPG addresses potential security threats, establishes planning priorities, and defines the timing and scope of contingency plan development and review.

Key Takeaways

  1. Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG) is significant in the world of military operations as it serves as a chief planning document that focuses on potential possibilities or unforeseeable events. It outlines strategic guidance for planning future joint military operations.
  2. CPG encompasses the Secretary of Defense’s priority intelligence requirements, planning guidance, and any additional necessary guiding information for the development of campaign plans and contingency plans by combatant commanders.
  3. The term and practices associated with Contingency Planning Guidance are essential because they influence the preparedness, strategic direction, and success of military operations. The CPG allows for proactive rather than reactive responses, thereby improving the ability to effectively manage unexpected situations.


Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG) is crucial in military operations as it forms the backbone for the development of plans that address potential contingencies or unplanned events.

CPG provides a clear framework for anticipating and preparing for possible military emergencies or circumstances that could occur in various geopolitical contexts.

It sets out the strategic goals, provides a prioritized list of potential risks, and helps in prioritizing and allocating resources effectively.

This predictive and preparatory function of CPG thus ensures that the military is always prepared and can respond quickly and efficiently, minimizing potential harm and maximizing operational success.

Ultimately, CPG is important to ensure that the military can fulfill its mandate of protecting national security amidst uncertainties and unpredictable scenarios.


The purpose of Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG) in military operations is to provide important instructions and parameters for the development of plans that will ensure the most efficient and effective course of action in the case of a potential crisis or war. This vital document is issued annually by the Secretary of Defense, and it influences how Combatant Commanders and other crucial personnel strategize and prepare for unforeseen events.

The forward-looking nature of CPG specifies policy guidance, national strategic objectives, and priorities to be considered in the preparation and review of plans. CPG is used as a roadmap to handle a wide array of scenarios and events that, while not currently happening, could potentially happen in the future.

By detailing various threats, ranging from conventional warfare to more asymmetric threats like cyber-attacks, and articulating the strategic response that would be required to mitigate them, CPG allows for a more adaptive and versatile military that is ready for any eventuality. It ensures that all possible angles are covered, from contingency operations to resources allocation, leading to higher operational efficiency and success rates during real-time crisis management.

Examples of Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG)

Hurricane Katrina: In 2005, the U.S. military executed a contingency plan in response to Hurricane Katrina, one of the deadliest hurricanes in U.S history. The CPG included the deployment of around 50,000 National Guard members to deliver food, water, and other supplies to stranded residents. The military also provided emergency medical evacuations and assisted local law enforcement in maintaining order.

Operation Desert Shield/Storm: In 1990 and 1991, the U.S. Department of Defense issued the Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG) for its response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. This document provided the strategic context for the planning of Operation Desert Shield, which involved the rapid deployment of troops and defense systems and Operation Desert Storm, the combat phase of the operation.

COVID-19 Response: In response to the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the Department of Defense (DoD) issued Contingency Planning Guidance to enhance readiness and protect health of its personnel. Military forces were reassigned to build temporary hospitals, distribute food and PPE, and assist overwhelmed healthcare systems. Meanwhile, contingency plans were also made to ensure the continuity of defense operations worldwide, adapt to the changing threat landscape and mitigate the risk of infection within its own ranks.

FAQs on Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG)

What is Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG)?

Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG) is a guideline provided by higher authorities and departments of defense to formulate contingency plans. These guidelines assist in planning and preparation for potential emergencies or unexpected situations, especially in a military context.

What is the purpose of CPG?

The purpose of Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG) is to ensure a state of readiness to react promptly and efficiently to any emergency situation or unexpected development. It provides leadership with a clear direction and framework to address different scenarios that might pose challenges to national security or military operations.

Who develops Contingency Planning Guidance?

Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG) is generally developed by senior military personnel or by strategic departments within the Department of Defense. Its development involves meticulous planning and deep understanding of potential threat scenarios and appropriate response plans.

How often is the CPG updated?

The revision and update of the Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG) may vary depending on the specific policies of the defense department. However, it is often reviewed annually to ensure its relevance and adequacy in dealing with potential threats or emergencies.

How does CPG help in military operations?

CPG provides a structured roadmap for military operations during crisis situations. It outlines the potential contingencies and provides comprehensive plans on how to react and deal with each of these situations. Essentially, it’s a key component in ensuring readiness, coherence, and effectiveness of military operations.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Emergency Preparedness
  • Crisis Management Plan
  • Disaster Recovery Strategy
  • Business Continuity Plan
  • Risk Assessment

Sources for More Information

  • U.S. Department of Defense: The official website of the U.S. Department of Defense often provides information and resources on military terms and planning guidelines.
  • Joint Chiefs of Staff: Being the highest-ranking military officers in the U.S. Armed Forces, this site may provide insights into contingency planning and other military guidelines.
  • RAND Corporation: Known for its research in public policy, including military strategy and planning, the RAND Corporation’s website may offer studies and reports that are related to the term Contingency Planning Guidance (CPG).
  • U.S. Army: The official website for the United States Army may provide information, documents, or articles related to contingency planning or military strategies.

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