This article provides an overview for Australian Defence Force planners on the use of centre of gravity analysis for joint military planning in an era in which traditional operational art has been joined by notions of operational design.
It examines the dominant role that the centre of gravity has played in the development of Western joint planning doctrine since the 1990s. The article then assesses the impact of the contemporary debate in the United States between traditionalists, complex systems advocates and integrationists concerning the centre of gravity’s status in the military art. The article goes on to analyse the influence of the integrationists in transforming the centre of gravity into an ‘element of design’ in recent American joint planning doctrine. The article considers the implications for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) of the evolving relationship in military theory between the centre of gravity, complex systems science and operational design. Finally, four recommendations are made on how the ADF might use a combination of centre of gravity analysis and operational design to improve its future joint planning doctrine.