Military operations other than war ('MOOTW') is a concept in United States military doctrine that refers to the use of military capabilities across a range of operations that fall short of outright war. Military operations other than war focus on deterring war, resolving conflict, promoting peace, and supporting civil authorities in response to domestic crises. MOOTW may involve elements of both combat and non-combat operations in peacetime, conflict, and war situations. MOOTW involving combat, such as peace enforcement, may have many of the same characteristics of war, including active combat operations and employment of most combat capabilities.
Because of political considerations, MOOTW operations normally have more restrictive rules of engagement (ROE) than in war.
MOOTW purposes may include to deter potential aggressors, protect national interests, support the United Nations (UN), or provide humanitarian assistance.
There are six MOOTW principles: objective, unity of effort, security, restraint, perseverance, and legitimacy. The first three are derived from the principles of war, and the remaining three are MOOTW-specific.
- Objective: The aim of MOOTW is to direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective. Inherent in the principle of objective is the need to understand what constitutes mission success, and what might cause the operation to be terminated before success is achieved.
- Unity of Effort
- Security: The goal here is to never permit hostile factions to acquire a military, political, or informational advantage.
- Restraint: Judicious use of force is necessary, carefully balancing the need for security, the conduct of operations, and the political objective. Commanders at all levels must take proactive steps to ensure their personnel know and understand the ROE and are quickly informed of changes, otherwise it can result in fratricide, mission failure, and national embarrassment. ROE in MOOTW are generally more restrictive, detailed, and sensitive to political concerns than in war.
- Perseverance: Some MOOTW may require years to achieve the desired results.
- Legitimacy: The goal here is to have committed forces sustain the legitimacy of the operation and of the host government, where applicable. In MOOTW, legitimacy is a condition based on the perception by a specific audience of the legality, morality, or rightness of a set of actions.