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Understanding the operational environment: the expansion of DIME.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the Departments of the Army and Defense, or the U.S. Government.


The Operational Environment (OE) in which Army forces find themselves operating has become even more complex in the past six years--and analyzing that environment has also become more complex. There has consequently been a corresponding increase in the acronyms used to analyze the operational environment that include DIME, DIMEFIL, MIDLIFE, ASCOPE, and PMESII. Understanding each of these acronyms and applying their constructs when appropriate can assist in developing detailed analysis of the OE. Of course, each of these constructs can be used to analyze the OE from both the friendly and adversary point of view.


DIME (Diplomatic, Informational, Military, Economic)

Field Manual (FM) 3-0, Operations, defines the "instruments of national power" as diplomatic, informational, military, and economic, normally referred to as the DIME. (1) Joint Publication (JP) 3-0, Joint Operations, uses the term "instruments of national power" to define strategy as "a prudent idea or set of ideas for employing the instruments of national power in a synchronized and integrated fashion to achieve theater, national, and/or multinational objectives." (2)

Even though the military may be the primary instrument of national power during warfighting, the other elements of the "DIME" are not excluded; in fact, they continue to be essential instruments in the strategy of conducting the war. At the operational and tactical levels, the other elements of the DIME continue to be essential for mission success. It may be common to see all of the different instruments of national power used as "logical lines of operations (LLOs) where each of the instruments has complementary tasks and subtasks to meet the overall strategic objectives. This is especially true when considering all of the actions that may be taken prior to the initiation of hostilities with "flexible deterrent operations," or FDOs. These FDOs may be derived from any of the instruments of the DIME such as information operations (the "I" in DIME") or economic sanctions (combining diplomatic and economic instruments of power).

There is also an evolving construct for stability and reconstruction operations. The basic construct of the DIME is still considered, but the military instrument of national power focuses on security, while the diplomatic instrument focuses on governance. Hence, you may see "LLOs" in a stability and reconstruction operations that refers to the four components of governance, informational, security, and economic instruments or elements of national power.

For analyzing the OE, DIME is a useful construct to determine the distribution and nature of national power for both friendly and adversary sides of a conflict. Obviously, having a full understanding of the DIME provides insight into a particular strategy and the inherent strengths and weaknesses of that strategy.

DIMEFIL (Diplomatic, Information, Military, Economic, Financial, Intelligence, and Law Enforcement)

DIMEFIL is an extension of the DIME construct that can be found in the National Strategy for Combating Terrorism (NSCT) and the National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism (NMSP-WOT). The NMSP-WOT defines DIMEFIL as the means (3), or the resources, used for the War on Terrorism. The NSCT provides further clarification of the additional elements to the traditional DIME:
 The paradigm for combating terrorism now involves the
 application of all elements of our national power and
 influence. Not only do we employ military power, we use
 diplomatic, financial, intelligence, and law enforcement
 activities to protect the Homeland and extend our defenses,
 disrupt terrorist operations, and deprive our enemies of
 what they need to operate and survive. (4)

The financial instrument of power is closely related to the economic instrument of power; there are, however, some important differences. The economic instrument of power concerns issues such as regional and bilateral trade, infrastructure development, and foreign investment. Examples of the use of the economic instrument of power might include enacting trade sanctions, enacting restrictions on technology transfers, and reducing security assistance programs. The financial instrument of power concerns issues such as the transfer of funds and banking. The NSCT states:
 Financial systems are used by terrorist organizations
 as a fiscal sanctuary in which to store and transfer
 the funds that support their survival and operations.
 Terrorist organizations use a variety of financial systems,
 including formal banking, wire transfers, debit and
 other stored value cards, online value storage and value
 transfer systems, the informal 'hawala' system, and cash
 couriers. (5)

The intelligence instrument of power relates to continuous operations to develop the situation and generate the intelligence that allows forces to take actions against adversaries. Having an understanding of the intelligence capabilities of the adversary, and his ability to develop the situation from his perspective, is also a critical element in understanding the operational environment. The NMSP-WOT describes the intelligence instrument of power as used by adversaries:
 Extremist networks require specific and detailed
 information to achieve their ends. They gather this
 information from open sources, human contacts (both
 witting and unwitting), reconnaissance and surveillance,
 and technical activities. Terrorists use the resulting
 intelligence to plan and execute operations, and secure
 what they need to operate and survive. The intelligence
 component of extremist networks includes countermeasures
 to protect against infiltration or attack.
 Terrorist entities perform counterintelligence, apply
 operational security measures, use denial and deception,
 and exercise great care in determining the loyalty and
 reliability of members, associates, active supporters and
 other affiliates. (6)

The law enforcement instrument of power relates to legal means within the operational environment, such as the Patriot Act and United Nations Security Council Resolutions (UNSCRs). The NSCT specifically addresses UNSCR 1373, "which imposes binding obligations on all states to suppress and prevent terrorist financing, improve their border controls, enhance information sharing and law enforcement cooperation, suppress the recruitment of terrorists, and deny them sanctuary." (7)

Law Enforcement is particularly important in counterinsurgency operations (COIN). FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency, addresses this important issue:
 The cornerstone of any COIN effort is establishing security
 for the civilian populace. Without a secure environment,
 no permanent reforms can be implemented and disorder
 spreads. To establish legitimacy, commanders transition
 security activities from combat operations to law
 enforcement as quickly as feasible. When insurgents are
 seen as criminals, they lose public support. Using a legal
 system established in line with local culture and practices
 to deal with such criminals enhances the Host Nation
 government's legitimacy. (8)

Having an understanding of the law enforcement instrument of power and the legal system is critical in understanding the operational environment, especially for countering terrorism or in COIN operations.

MIDLIFE (Military, Intelligence, Diplomatic, Law Enforcement, Information, Finance, Economic)

Interim Field Manual FMI 3-07.22, Counterinsurgency Operations, used the acronym MIDLIFE to describe the same instruments of national power as the acronym DIMEFIL. FMI 3-07.22 expired on 1 October 2006 and was replaced by FM 3-24, but the acronym MIDLIFE still lives on, probably because it is easier to remember and to say. The interim manual described counterinsurgency as "an offensive approach involving all elements of national power" and "leaders must consider the roles of military, intelligence, diplomatic, law enforcement, information, finance, and economic elements (MIDLIFE) in counterinsurgency."

Interestingly, the current COIN manual, FM 3-24, just uses the acronym DIME when describing instruments of national power:
 The U.S. Government influences events worldwide by
 effectively employing the instruments of national power:
 diplomatic, informational, military, and economic ... During
 COIN, country team members meet regularly to coordinate
 U.S. Government diplomatic, informational, military, and
 economic activities in the host nation to ensure unity of
 effort. 9

ASCOPE (Areas, Structures, Capabilities, Organizations, People, and Events)

FM 3-24 does address another acronym used to describe civil considerations--"how the manmade infrastructure, civilian institutions, and attitudes and activities of the civilian leaders, populations, and organizations within an area of operations (AO) influence the conduct of military operations." (10) FM 3-24 also indicates the relationship between the concepts of DIME and ASCOPE:
 Civil considerations generally focus on the immediate
 impact of civilians on operations in progress. However,
 at higher levels, they also include larger, long-term
 diplomatic, informational, and economic issues. At the
 tactical level, civil considerations directly relate to key
 civilian areas, structures, capabilities, organizations,
 people, and events within the AO. (11)

FM 6-0, Mission Command: Command and Control of Army Forces, provides the detailed definitions for the six components of ASCOPE:

* Areas. Key civilian areas are localities or aspects of the terrain within an AO that are not normally militarily significant. This characteristic approaches terrain analysis (OAKOC) from a civilian perspective. Commanders analyze key civilian areas in terms of how they affect the missions of their individual forces as well as how military operations affect these areas.

* Structures. Existing structures can play many significant roles. Some--such as, bridges, communications towers, power plants, and dams--are traditional high-payoff targets. Others--such as, churches, mosques, national libraries, and hospitals--are cultural sites that international law or other agreements generally protect. Still others are facilities with practical applications--such as, jails, warehouses, television and radio stations, and print plants--that may be useful for military purposes. Some aspects of the civilian infrastructure, such as the location of toxic industrial materials, may influence operations.

* Capabilities. Commanders and staffs analyze capabilities from different levels. They view capabilities in terms of those required to save, sustain, or enhance life, in that priority. Capabilities can refer to the ability of local authorities and a populace with key functions or services, such as, public administration, public safety, emergency services, and food. Capabilities include those areas in which the populace may need help after combat operations, such as, public works and utilities, public health, economics, and commerce. Capabilities also refer to resources and services that can be contracted to support the military mission, such as, interpreters, laundry services, construction materials, and equipment. The host nation or other nations might provide these resources and services.

* Organizations. Organizations are nonmilitary groups or institutions in the AO. They influence and interact with the populace, the force, and each other. They generally have a hierarchical structure, defined goals, established operations, fixed facilities or meeting places, and a means of financial or logistic support. Some organizations may be indigenous to the area. These may include church groups, fraternal organizations, patriotic or service organizations, labor unions, criminal organizations, and community watch groups. Other organizations may come from outside the AO. Examples of these include multinational corporations, United Nations agencies, U.S. governmental agencies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), such as the International Red Cross.

* People. People is a general term used to describe nonmilitary personnel encountered by military forces. The term includes all civilians within an AO as well as those outside the AO whose actions, opinions, or political influence can affect the mission. Individually or collectively, people can affect a military operation positively, negatively, or neutrally. In stability operations and support operations, Army forces work closely with civilians of all types.

* Events. Events are routine, cyclical, planned, or spontaneous activities that significantly affect organizations, people, and military operations. Examples include national and religious holidays, agricultural crop/livestock and market cycles, elections, civil disturbances, and celebrations. Other events are disasters from natural, manmade, or technological sources. These create civil hardship and require emergency responses. Examples of events precipitated by military forces include combat operations, deployments, redeployments, and paydays. Once significant events are determined, it is important to template the events and to analyze them for their political, economic, psychological, environmental, and legal implications. (12)

PMESII (Political, Military, Economic, Social, Informational, Infrastructure)

FM 3-24 identifies another construct for analyzing the operational environment which uses the acronym PMESII.
 Long-term success in COIN depends on the people
 taking charge of their own affairs and consenting to the
 government's rule. Achieving this condition requires the
 government to eliminate as many causes of the insurgency
 as feasible. This can include eliminating those extremists
 whose beliefs prevent them from ever reconciling with the
 government. Over time, counterinsurgents aim to enable a
 country or regime to provide the security and rule of law
 that allow establishment of social services and growth of
 economic activity. COIN thus involves the application of
 national power in the political, military, economic, social,
 information, and infrastructure fields and disciplines. (13)

The PMESII construct is an extension of doctrinal development concerning Operational Net Assessment (ONA) and System of System Analysis (SoSA). The Joint Warfighting Center Pamphlet 4 (JWFC Pam 4) provides this description of the concepts of PMESII, ONA, and SoSA:
 SoSA is a collaborative process that continues throughout
 the ONA life cycle. It views the adversary as an
 interrelated system of PMESII systems. SoSA attempts
 to identify, analyze, and relate the goals and objectives,
 organization, dependencies and inter-dependencies,
 external influences, strengths, vulnerabilities, and
 other aspects of the various systems. The objective is to
 determine the significance of each PMESII system and
 its various elements to the overall adversary system in
 order to assess the systemic vulnerability of the various
 elements and how we can exploit them to achieve desired
 effects. (14)


PMESII is different than many of the other constructs used to analyze the operational environment. The SoSA approach includes not only analyzing each of the components of PMESII but to also analyze the nodes and links within the system. According to JP 5-0, Joint Operation Planning, nodes are "an element of a system that represents a person, place, or thing" whereas a link is "an element of a system that represents a behavioral, physical, or functional relationship between nodes." (15) The key in PMESII analysis is to not only evaluate each of the components of the system, but also to determine the interaction between the systems and thereby identify the key nodes, those nodes that are critical to the functioning of the system.

The PMESII construct has been adopted for use in both Joint and Army doctrine, including JP 30, JP 5-0, the current draft of FM 3-0, FM 3-24 (as mentioned above), and FMI 5-0.1. The current draft of FM 3-0 describes the use of PMESII in analyzing the OE:
 At the operational level, analysis of the operational
 environment proceeds through the following categories:
 political, military, economic, social, infrastructure, and
 information (PMESII). The Army views the OE through
 PMESII with the additional variables of physical
 environment and time to add breadth and depth to the
 analysis and represent the nature of land operations.
 Conceptually, PMESII (with variables) provides an
 unconstrained view of the situation, not only in basic
 terms, but also in terms of its emergent characteristics.
 Such a comprehensive view assists commanders in
 appreciating how the military instrument complements
 the other instruments of power.

Interim Field Manual (FMI) 5-0.1, The Operations Process, provides further clarity on the value of PMESII analysis. This analysis "helps staffs identify potential sources on which to focus indications and warning activities" as well as helping with determining potential decisive points and assisting center of gravity analysis and operational design. PMESII analysis also allows joint staffs to consider "a broader set of options and identify desired and undesired effects to achieve objectives."


All of the currently used tools for analyzing the OE (including DIME, DIMEFIL, MIDLIFE, ASCOPE, and PMESII), provide a wide variety of constructs for analyzing both friendly and adversary systems. Although all of these constructs may not be necessary in all environments, they provide a useful set of tools for the analyst to gain a greater understanding of the operational environment.


FM 3-0, Operations, June 2001.

FM 3-0 DRAG (Doctrine Review Approval Group), Full Spectrum Operations, November 2006.

FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency, December 2006.

FM 6-0, Mission Command: Command and Control of Army Forces, August 2003.

FMI 3-07.22, Counterinsurgency Operations, October 2004.

FMI 5-0.1, The Operations Process, March 2006.

JP 3-0, Joint Operations, September 2006.

JP 5-0, Joint Operation Planning, December 2006.

Joint Warfighting Center Pamphlet 4, Doctrinal Implications of Operational Net Assessment (ONA), February 2004.

National Military Strategic Plan for the War on Terrorism (NMSP-WOT), February 2006.

National Strategy for Combating Terrorism (NSCT), September 2006.


(1.) FM 3-0, Operations, June 2001, 1-4.

(2.) JP 3-0, Joint Operations, September 2006, GL-29.

(3.) NMSP-WOT, 1 February 2006, at http://www.strategicstudiesins

Means: Success in this war will rely heavily on the close cooperation among U.S. Government agencies and partner nations to integrate all instruments of U.S. and partner national power--diplomatic, information, military, economic, financial, intelligence, and law enforcement (DIMEFIL). 6.

(4.) NCST, September 2006, at nsct/2006/sectionI.html

(5.) NMSP-WOT, at sectionV.html

(6.) Ibid., 17.

(7.) NCST at html

(8.) FM 3-24, Counterinsurgency, December 2006, paragraph 1-131.

(9.) Ibid., paragraph 2-50.

(10.) Ibid., paragraph 3-19.

(11.) Ibid., Appendix B-11.

(12.) FM 6-0, Mission Command: Command and Control of Army Forces, paragraphs B40 to B 54.

(13.) FM 3-24, paragraph 1-4.

(14.) JWFC Pam 4, 5.

(15.) JP 5-0, Joint Operations, III-18.

Colonel (Retired) Jack D. Kem is an Associate Professor in the Department of Joint and Multinational Operations at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He has served as a Battalion S2, G2 Plans Officer, DTOC Support Element Chief, and Battalion XO in the 82d Airborne Division; as a Brigade S2 in the 3d Infantry Division; as a Company Commander and Battalion S3 in the 3d Armored Division, and as the Battalion Commander of the 319th MI Battalion, XVIII Airborne Corps. Colonel Kem graduated from MI Officers' Advanced Course, the Army Command and General Staff College, the Air Command and Staff College, the Joint Forces Staff College, and the Army War College. He holds a BA from Western Kentucky University, an MPA from Auburn University at Montgomery, and a PhD from North Carolina State University. Readers may contact the author via E-mail at
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Author:Kem, Jack D.
Publication:Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin
Date:Apr 1, 2007
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