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Handbook 11-33
June 2011

Appendix A. Sample Detailed Collection Plan Format

Background. What is the situation this collection plan is covering?

Example: On 12 January 2010, the Caribbean island of Hispaniola was rocked by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake. The epicenter of the quake was just south of the Haitian capital city of Port au Prince, home to approximately two million of the roughly nine million people in the country. Devastation to the country was nearly total. Within minutes, tens of thousands of people were dead and hundreds of thousands were left homeless. So badly damaged was Haiti's government and infrastructure that it was virtually ineffectual and unable to adequately respond. It was one of the Western Hemisphere's most significant natural disasters in recent history. The U.S. government (USG) relief has been named Operation Unified Response.

Purpose. Why are you doing this?

Example: In its broadest sense, the purpose of the study is to collect best practices and lessons associated with the response by the USG and international community to the Haiti earthquake disaster. In particular, the study will examine Department of Defense (DOD) and USG interagency (IA) actions associated with Operation Unified Response in light of key lessons learned (LL) from USG participation in past international humanitarian assistance disaster relief (HADR) operations. This is to identify common themes that inform doctrine organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities (DOTMLPF) solutions that can be applied to future USG HADR endeavors.

Key Tasks. What are the tasks necessary for this collection to make this happen? Who will do them?


  • Research Division: Research past flood after action reports (AARs) and provide links and/or copies on the shared drive.
  • Collection Division: Chair weekly meetings to review the past weeks' activities to determine what observations and lessons may have developed for rapid sharing.

End State. What will this effort produce?

Example: Referencing documented LL from USG participation in past HADR operations, identify challenges and issues associated with DOD and USG IA execution of Operation Unified Response, and identify and document applicable LL and best practices. The team will provide actionable recommendations through briefings and supplemental written products as required.

Scope. What are the limits of this collection effort?

Example: Per its charter as codified in Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Instruction 3150.25D, the Joint Center for Operational Analysis (JCOA) will focus collection primarily at the joint and operational levels. Specifically, activities and issues related to the Headquarters, U.S. Southern Command (HQ USSOUTHCOM) and its subordinate joint task force (JTF) component commands and supporting service entities/organizations involved in the operation, as applicable. Additionally, collection will focus on aspects of DOD support to other USG entities, in particular combatant commands, and service support to the Department of State (DOS) and the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), where there are clear lessons that either impact considerations for joint DOTMLPF or impact the manner in which the USG participates in future HADR operations of this magnitude.

Concept. How will this work together? Are there specific areas that need to be looked at based on past experiences and lessons?

Example: Using U.S. Joint Forces Command resources and coordinating with DOS, USAID, and other LL organizations, JCOA will conduct an in-stride study on the international HADR response following the Haiti earthquake, documenting challenges and best practices. JCOA will also serve as a "directed telescope," focusing on the specific issues the JTF and USSOUTHCOM leadership believe are most useful for meaningful outputs and for informing decision makers on issues they need to consider. JCOA will provide initial and ongoing feedback on the evolution of the crisis, the changing tasks, and force requirements over time based on similar incidents - anticipating emerging challenges and possible complications.

Hypotheses and Related Questions. The hypothesis is a statement of what you are trying to confirm or deny for each issue in the collection plan. You will probably have multiple issues. List the questions you want to ask for each issue. They can be organized or grouped by staff function or by any other categorization process the collectors want to use. This is the most important section of the collection plan. You should never answer a good question with a yes or no.


Speed of Response: The speed of response in moving people, equipment, and goods at the onset of a crisis is the most critical element of successful HADR operations.

  • How would you rate the speed of response by the United States to this crisis?
  • How would you compare the speed of U.S. response to other relief providers?
  • What were the major enablers to a quick response?
  • What were the major challenges to a quick response?
  • How could the United States have better responded to this crisis?

Methodology. How will this effort be organized?

Example: The collection team will organize to cover three distinct areas and purposes: JCOA reach back (Suffolk, VA); JCOA forward (HQ, USSOUTHCOM); and JCOA deployed in the joint operational area. The JCOA reach back team will be responsible for managing incoming data from forward/deployed team members, building the base briefing product, and conducting external coordination/collaboration, as required. The JCOA forward team will maintain continuity with current operational concerns/considerations and focus activities on data collection - conducting interviews with key staff leaders to support the study - and provide feedback to the USSOUTHCOM staff. The JCOA deployed team will focus activities on data collection - conducting interviews with key leaders from DOD, international agencies, nongovernmental organizations, and private organizations to support the study - and provide feedback to the USSOUTHCOM staff.

Data Collection Procedures. What are you collecting and how?

Example: The key resources used to evaluate the study hypotheses are the data and interviews collected during the research. JCOA analysts will form data collection teams. Each team will be required to address multiple lines of activity as it collects quantitative and qualitative data and conducts interviews of key personnel at various locations.

The following documents are typical of those needed to support the study. The list is not comprehensive, and other documents and data may be discovered by the deployed teams:

  • Quantitative data sources:
    • Cables.
    • Mission reports/debriefs.
    • Significant activity reports.
    • Operation orders/fragmentary orders.
    • Standing operating procedures.
  • Organization charts.
  • Daily update briefings.
  • Unit AARs.
  • Memorandums.
  • Briefings.
  • Qualitative data sources:
    • Subject matter expert input.
    • Observations from meetings, conferences, and informal discussions.
    • Interview summaries and transcriptions (vignettes to support "the story").

Roster of Key Personnel and Organizations

Example: Interviews of key personnel at all echelons involved with Haiti and other related operations will provide the key insights and professional opinions needed to validate the study hypotheses. Develop a list of key personnel and organizations to be interviewed and/or observed during the study. The list is not all inclusive; other personnel may be identified to provide details pertinent to the study.

Data Management Procedures. How do you manage collected data? File name conventions? Location? Who has access? Who has release authority? What are the classification procedures?


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