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The Special Projects Officer Guide to Event Planning

The Special Projects Officer Guide to Event Planning


By Zachary Griffiths

Military officers plan and execute complex operations. Junior officers cut their teeth on platoon attacks, convoys, military balls, and even conferences. These latter events are hardly new challenges. The Army Officer’s Guide of 1917 recommends event planners establish six planning committees, covering everything from invitations to music and dancing. Planning big events begins up to a year out and requires detailed planning.

The lessons outlined below come from my two years of experience with Senior Conference, an annual event administered by West Point’s Department of Social Sciences. Senior Conference brings about 60 distinguished guests – 30 panelists and 30 participants – to West Point for about two days each April.  This year’s conference aimed to help the United States Army Pacific develop a more comprehensive understanding of the Indo-Pacific region.

Once a conference wraps up, planning for the next year begins immediately. Senior Conference relies on a team that consists of three part-time planners  but surges to more than thirty during execution.

Other events may differ significantly from our model, but these tips, presented in rough chronological order, should resonate with anyone assigned to lead a military event.