Aaron Bazin is career Army officer with over 20 years of leadership and experience at the combatant command level, NATO, and the institutional Army. Aaron was the lead-planner for four numbered contingency plans between 2009 and 2012, and has operational experience in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, and UAE. Aaron holds a Doctorate in Psychology in specializing in conflict resolution. He also is the author of the new book, Think: Tools to Build Your Mind. His views expressed do not represent the views of the U.S. Army, NATO, the Department of Defense, or the U.S. Government.
Operational planning teams, OPTs for short, help solve some of the most complex problems that surface during warfare. These teams provide the avenue for combatant commands and joint task forces to develop key contingency plans, through deliberate or crisis-action planning. Like any other team, OPTs require the cooperation and teamwork of their members, a goal that's often easier said than done. To understand how to keep an OPT running smoothly, it's helpful to step outside the context of the military, and to think of these teams like football squads. Doing so — and borrowing from the enlightening article Teamwork Behaviors: A Review and Integration of Frameworks — is useful way to overcome the pitfalls that can bedevil field grade officers hoping to navigate the complex world of OPTs, and to avoid the “penalties" that can set any team back.
There is a theory, that every situation in life can be related to “Seinfeld," the famous NBC sitcom about nothing. Late in the second decade of the 21st century, Seinfeld maintains its relevance in spite of some elements, such as the absence of cell phones, being a little dated. Culturally, “Seinfeldisms" remain pertinent. These are the phrases and descriptions that made their way into everyday American language. In the modern U.S. military, Seinfeldisms serve to describe many things, ranging from personalities of commanders to strategic planning and combat system acquisitions.
Americans are infatuated with movies, and for us, as men in our thirties, using quotes from movies has long been a method to convey our innermost feelings and emotions. The ability to recite a quirky or obscure quote at the right time impresses male friends, but has never impressed a woman (yet, though that's certainly no reason to stop trying).
Supporting the decision cycle of a joint force commander is important to leaders at the operational and strategic levels of warfare. Commanders pull together operational planning teams from across their staff to solve specific problems. Often, planning teams contain members of the staff across each J-code directorate and members of various divisions and branches within each directorate. Leaders in the staff must understand the various types of personalities they will encounter to effectively run a team.