Why you need to understand military thinking

For those who are not trained military planners – like most of us –, the terminology of measuring effectiveness and measuring performance can be very confusing.

For example: “DPs are used to develop MoPs which, in turn, are used to develop MoEs which depend upon the environment and which, in turn, are used to develop MoFEs. Each MoM could be a MoP or an MoE.”

Even if the acronyms were spelled in full, this statement is not easily understood!

And, different militaries and the groups within these militaries see this description differently and attribute their own logic to the chain of related concepts. What hope do the rest of us have of understanding the measuring logic underwriting military missions?


Yet, it is important for ‘the rest of us’ (namely, those who are in the peace, development and humanitarian sectors), to understand what the other stakeholders mean when they discuss measuring effectiveness and progress of operations. Because the dominant stakeholders in a mission area are typically the military (due to their capabilities, funding, and footprint), their ‘worldviews’ on measuring progress effect the reality of everyone’s missions.


Measures are by nature quantitative, not qualitative. The literature on measures of effectiveness (MOE) generally defines them as combinations of key indicators from multiple sectors used to determine overall progress toward attaining mission objectives. An objective is exactly what will occur, how it will be accomplished, and to what standard of performance.


Measures are the standards by which the success of a system is determined. There is no universal definition of this concept, and this is particularly true in the sectors involved in peace operations and crisis management. Measures of effectiveness (MOEs) are standards against which the capability of a solution to meet the needs of a problem may be judged. The standards are specific properties that any potential solution must exhibit to some extent. MOEs are independent of any solution and specify neither performance nor criteria. MOEs are based on the perspective/viewpoint of a stakeholder and help to manage the implementation of an intervention activity.


Unlike audits, MOEs are understood as being external to a system and measure effectiveness of the outcomes of the system/activity. An MOE is a tool designed to help establish whether a system, when developed as a solution to a problem, performs the mission required of it by stakeholders. Measures of performance (MOPs) are measured against efficiency and are internal to a system. Like audits, they are designed to measure the performance of the system itself. Conversely, MOEs are also considered as a part of the doctrinal cycle and are used to calibrate only internal activities, rather than the effectiveness of an activity according to external (but affected) actors, including locals.


This stuff is worth getting to know because it will help us all to communicate with military stakeholders in the field.


(A modified excerpt from Chapter 3 The Language of Measuring in “Measuring What Matters in Peace Operations and Crisis Management” McGill-Queen’s University Pressy, 2009, by Sarah Jane Meharg).

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Tags: MOE, Measuring What Matters in Peace Operations and Crisis Management, indicators, measures of effectiveness, military, progress, stakeholders


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