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Crisis action planning (CAP)

Definition Crisis Action Planning (CAP) is a military operation term that refers to the process of developing operational plans in response to an imminent crisis, typically a situation that demands immediate attention. The procedure involves real-time gathering and analysis of information, and rapid decision-making. The purpose of CAP is to ensure a timely and coordinated […]


Crisis Action Planning (CAP) is a military operation term that refers to the process of developing operational plans in response to an imminent crisis, typically a situation that demands immediate attention. The procedure involves real-time gathering and analysis of information, and rapid decision-making. The purpose of CAP is to ensure a timely and coordinated response to unforeseen events or threats.

Key Takeaways

  1. Crisis Action Planning (CAP) is a process used by military and governmental organizations for the development of responses to unexpected and rapidly developing crises. It focuses on the present and future situations rather than past actions, making it highly dynamic and responsive to emerging threats and challenges.
  2. The process for CAP involves several continuative steps including situation development, course of action (COA) development, COA selection, and execution planning. These steps are understandably associated with strategic discussions, decision making, and efficient resource allocation towards achieving the desired outcome.
  3. CAP forms a significant part of the military decision-making process. Crucial to the successful implementation of CAP are the principles of timeliness, adaptability, and coordination. The CAP process aims to facilitate both communication and understanding across various organizational components to effectively respond to crises in a timely manner.


Crisis Action Planning (CAP) is a crucial element in military operations as it provides a structured process for responding to crises in an efficient and effective way. It facilitates timely decision-making, coordination, and management of resources by integrating military operations and intelligence to respond to unpredictable, emergent situations.

Through CAP, the military not only formulates an immediate response but also anticipates and plans for possible future developments related to the crisis. This ensures a proactive approach to handling crises, minimizing threats and ensuring the security of personnel, assets, and operations.

Therefore, CAP is fundamental to maintaining operational readiness, agility, and adaptability in a multitude of potential crisis scenarios.


Crisis Action Planning (CAP) is a structured process utilized by military organizations to address an impending crisis or to respond to sudden, unforeseen events. The primary purpose of CAP is to ensure quick, decisive, and effective action using all available resources.

The situation may not allow for long-term planning, and hence, CAP aims to provide a rapid response in real-time or near real-time events. It takes into consideration the fluid nature of a crisis where events evolve dynamically and hence mandates that the planning should adapt accordingly to incorporate the changes in the circumstances.

The scope of CAP extends beyond delineation of strategy and tactics – it assists in coordinating efforts across various military divisions, integrating their skills to ensure a joint response to the crisis situation. It is crucial for establishing communication networks, identifying resources, defining roles and responsibilities, and creating contingencies.

Further, it also plays a pivotal role in determining the potential risks and challenges associated with the actions to be undertaken, helping the planners to devise robust strategies that could minimize the associated risks. Thus, CAP serves as a critical tool empowering military organizations to handle unpredictable situations efficiently, thereby reducing the impact and potential damage of the crisis.

Examples of Crisis action planning (CAP)

Operation Desert Storm (1991): One of the most notable examples of Crisis Action Planning is the United States-led coalition forces against Iraq in response to Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait. A comprehensive Crisis Action Plan was swiftly developed that included diplomatic negotiations, economic sanctions, and a multi-national military operation to free Kuwait.

The Response to the 9/11 Attacks (2001): After the tragic events of September 11, 2001, a significant Crisis Action Plan was necessary. This involved coordination of military forces, intelligence agencies, and international allies to respond, ultimately culminating in counter-terrorism operations, including the invasion of Afghanistan.

The Counter ISIL Campaign (2014-2017): During the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS/ISIL), the U.S. Department of Defense, along with international allies, implemented a Crisis Action Plan. The plan involved conducting hundreds of strike operations to halt the progression and eventually overturn the control areas of ISIS.Each of these examples of Crisis Action Planning incorporated quick and decisive military actions responding to rapidly changing and unforeseen geopolitical situations.

FAQ: Crisis Action Planning (CAP)

What is Crisis Action Planning (CAP)?

Crisis Action Planning (CAP) is a military procedure used to systematically address and respond to unforeseen situations or crises. It involves the formal development of plans, coordinated actions, and decision-making processes necessary to respond to the situation effectively.

What stages does Crisis Action Planning (CAP) consist of?

CAP consists of six stages which are Situation Development, Crisis Assessment, Course of Action (COA) Development, COA Selection, Execution Planning, and Execution. These stages cover the entire process, from recognizing the crisis to executing the plan and monitoring the results.

How does Crisis Action Planning (CAP) differ from Deliberate Planning?

While both CAP and Deliberate Planning are processes for developing plans of action, they differ mainly in their timeframes and levels of detail. CAP is used for unexpected situations that require quick action, whereas Deliberate Planning is used for situations where there is more time to evaluate the situation and develop the course of action.

What roles are involved in the CAP process?

Various roles are involved in the CAP process, including the Joint Force Commander (JFC), Joint Task Force (JTF), Headquarters Department of Defense (HQ DOD), and others. These entities work together to carry out the crisis response in a coordinated and effective manner.

How does CAP promote readiness within military operations?

CAP promotes readiness by ensuring there is a concrete plan in place for unexpected situations. It enables the military to address crises promptly and effectively, reducing the potential impact and ensuring a rapid and appropriate response.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • Emergency Response
  • Disaster Management
  • Contingency Operations
  • Risk Assessment
  • Recovery Planning

Sources for More Information

  • Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS): The JCS provides a comprehensive understanding of military affairs, including the crisis action planning. You will need to navigate through the site to get specific data on CAP.
  • Defense Acquisition University (DAU): DAU provides a variety of training modules including crisis management and action planning. For specific information on CAP, you need to explore their vast resources section.
  • Federation of American Scientists (FAS): FAS is a resource about defending numerous military topics including crisis action planning. Visit their Military Analysis section for details.
  • North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO): NATO’s website details their response mechanisms in crisis situations, which could provide insight into CAP. Check their Crisis management section for more information.

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