18 October 2016

Applying Planning Skills to our Spiritual Lives
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Michael Jeffries
Before I joined the Army, I was never able to see the big picture behind what the Army does; the countless hours of hard work and planning that lies behind the full spectrum of Army operations. One of the most surprising aspects of being a staff officer, for me, is the amount of planning and analysis I myself am asked to do on a daily basis.

The military decision making process is an effective technique the Army uses to make decisions; a detailed, organized and sometimes challenging approach to defining, analyzing and solving problems. There is no way I would be able to detail the entire process to you all in one article, however, my desire is to lay out a general outline at this point in time, then discuss it in greater detail in the coming months.

I believe understanding the military decision making process equips Soldiers with the necessary planning skills to not only be successful in their professional lives, but spiritually as well.

Once I was able to translate the MDMP into something I was familiar with, it became easier for me to transfer those skills from my military life out into my whole life. I was no longer “lost in translation,” understanding the effectiveness of the process better that ever before.

For example, I am trained in understanding and analyzing the Bible. By applying those same skills in understanding operation orders and Army missions, it became easier for me to relate those orders to what I already know. By doing so, I was able to improve my ability to do my core skill of being a chaplain.

The Army approach to planning and executing its mission begins with understanding the commander’s intent. This is the big idea, the “what we want to accomplish” statement. Spiritually translated: “what is God’s will for my life?” Or, from a non-religious and more philosophical viewpoint: “what is the purpose of my life?” The commander’s intent is the core guiding element that influences all other actions, and it is important for this to be clearly stated and clearly understood.

Once you have fully grasped the commander’s intent, you then determine what it is you are trying to accomplish as well as what your specified and implied tasks are. For instance, if my faith instructs me to practice a life of charity, then what does that look like? What ways, means and ends do I have to practice charity towards others? What constraints do I need to be aware of?

I hope I have piqued your interest and that you will all stay tuned for future articles. I believe that as we are able to incorporate what we do and who we are throughout our whole life, it contributes to a greater sense of meaning and purpose in our lives.

This will be the last print edition of The Standard, so join us on the Fort Detrick website, www.detrick.army.mil for further articles and how to apply our Army planner skills to our spiritual lives.

God bless you, Fort Detrick,
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Michael Jeffries
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