PMESII-PT is an acronym developed in the military of the United States and stands for Political, Military, Economic, Social, Information, Infrastructure, Physical Environment, and Time. It’s a tool that is used to help users organise large amounts of operations information. This article provides a practical explanation of PMESII-PT. After reading, you’ll understand the basics of this powerful strategy tool.
What Is PMESII-PT?
PMESII-PT is an acronym developed in the military of the United States. It is used by soldiers to shape a structured approach for an action in an operational environment in which they thoroughly analyse the external environment with this tool. The acronym stands for Political, Military, Economic, Social, Information, Infrastructure, Physical Environment, and Time.
However, the PMESII-PT can also be applied to the business world where comparable models are slightly more popular, such as the PEST Analysis or DESTEP Analysis. The PMESII-PT strategic planning tool takes the analysis a bit further and includes more angles of the situation.
The tool is used to help users organise large amounts information that the military collects during the preparation and execution of operations. Previously, military leaders prepared for conflict by analysing successes and failures from the past. This once so dominant method is no longer a reliable way to prepare for conflicts in the dynamic external world. The acronym consists of eight variables that all affect the organisation and its environment.
Environmental Factors PMESII-PT
The PMESII-PT method teaches us that there are eight mutually connected operational variables that must be analysed in order to analyse the operational environment.
The political variable is aimed at the total political power within a given operational environment (OE). This encompasses an analysis of the entire political structure and can be a variation of official governmental institutions, state institutions, non-recognised groups such as terrorists, criminal organisations, cartels, tribes, individuals, or influential families.
The political structure also includes how the division of responsibility and power is shaped in an OE. The OE can be an entire country, a specific region, societies, territories, and resources. The political variable also demands recording the interest of external organisations and other organisations in an OE. This concerns NGOs, private organisations, and volunteer institutions.
Particularly for the military, this is an important component. Uprisings among the population are a crucial part of many freedom missions. For this reason, security agencies have a complete and reliable view of whatever is going on on a political level.
The military variable from the PMESII-PT focuses on the military environment of an OE. This concerns the capacities in war areas, but also terrorists, militias, rebels, equipment, training levels, leadership, and other resources.
In general, this part of the analysis investigates an OE’s capacity to join forces and use these in its own country, internationally or worldwide.
In the organisational operational environment, this part can be used for the competitive analysis, although this tool is more suitable for that purpose. Similarly, in the business world, there are also superpowers and other competitors that must be closely monitored.
The economic variable from the PMESII-PT encompasses the individual and group behaviour that is related to production, distribution, and consumption of resources. Furthermore, it affects industrial organisations, international trade, foreign aid, the rule of law, and financial management. An important aspect in this field is the fact that the economic development of governments varies significantly per region or country. These differences have a great impact on the options these governments have to make decisions.
The differences can be caused by a wide variety of factors. These could include technical knowledge and education, capital flows, financial instruments, price fluctuations, investments, debts, and other financial variables.
This variable describes the religious, cultural, and ethnic composition within an OE. For this purpose, it investigates social groups and systems, societies, and cultures. A social system at the very least contains people, groups, and institutions that convey shared values, norms, and convictions.
The culture of a social system is a determinative aspect. A culture also includes social convictions, behaviours, norms, traditions, and habits that everyone within the culture accepts. A society often consists of a certain dominant culture that, in turn, might also consist of subcultures.
Basic elements that must be analysed are social networks, status, functions, and norms the persons in the social system have. It’s also important that possible influences of other societies that could impact the OE with actions, opinions, or political influence are taken into account in this part of the analysis.
This variable is regarding the nature, extent, effects, and characteristics of individuals, organisations, and other systems that gather, distribute, process or adhere to information. Military leaders use these variables to understand and shape the operational environment.
Media have a significant influence on information that goes around in the operational environment. Television and internet platforms can broadcast live images of military and other actions. It can be used to influence the public opinion for political decisions and opponents often use the media to manipulate.
This concerns both civil and military channels of information.
The infrastructure variable from the PMESII-PT is concerned with the facilities, services, and installations that are required for a society to function like a well-oiled machine. This is regarding communication systems, water and electricity distribution, transport infrastructure, irrigation, land reclamation, hospitals, schools, etc.
On a higher level, infrastructure includes advanced technological capacities that enable research and development activities. It’s important to mention that different segments in society perceive changes in infrastructure differently. Improvement is viewed by some as beneficial, whereas others perceive it as a threat. The arrival of mobile networks and the Internet can help a local population, but can also make conservative leaders believe that it’s a source of evil that provides access to harmful materials.
Physical Environment Variable
The physical environment encompasses geographic and artificial structures in the OE. The following factors affect the physical environment of an OE: urban settlements, weather and climate, rivers, resources, biohazards, biosphere, topography and other environmental characteristics.
This is a particularly important variable in a military context. It’s also often the most striking aspect of an operational environment. Shaping the terrain impacts people, transportability, visibility, and weapons. The weather and climate influence uprisings and the population. However, they do have the advantage of usually originating from the climate and therefore know precisely what to expect and how to handle this.
The time variable from the PMESII-PT model influences the military operations in terms of decisions moments, operational speed, planning, etc. An operation’s endurance is also included in this as the support for long-term operations can drastically reduce over time.
Of course, time is an important element in military operations. It focuses on the duration of an operation and how this could help or hinder each party.
Although the PMESII-PT framework was developed for and by the military, it can also be applied to organisational environments in the business world. The variables from the PEST model are also included here, as well as additional factors, such as information and the physical environment of the organisation. All the factors combined define the state of an Operational Environment.
The PMESII-PT tool was used in the military operations by the United States in Afghanistan, Iran, and Iraq.
Now It’s Your Turn
What do you think? Can you apply the PMESII-PT model in your operational environment? Do you recognise the above or do you have anything to add? What do you believe are factors that complete the analysis for the external environment?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- Ducote, B. M. (2010). Challenging the Application of PMESII-PT in a Complex Environment. ARMY COMMAND AND GENERAL STAFF COLL FORT LEAVENWORTH KS SCHOOL OF ADVANCED MILITARY STUDIES.
- Hartley, D. S. (2015). DIME/PMESII Models. In Conflict and Complexity (pp. 111-136). Springer, New York, NY.
- Clark, R. M. (2016). Intelligence analysis: a target-centric approach. CQ press.
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