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FAS Project on Intelligence Reform

Defense Department
Intelligence and Security
Doctrine, Directives and Instructions

Doctrine is the fundamental principles by which the military forces or elements thereof guide their actions in support of national objectives. It is authoritative but requires judgment in application. (Joint Pub 1-02)

The joint publication hierarchy provides a framework for joint doctrine and joint tactics, techniques, and procedures. The organizational structure follows traditional joint staff lines of responsibility to the maximum degree possible. Each series provides for a keystone manual as the first publication in the series. The keystone manuals constitute the doctrinal foundation of the series. There are a number of online sources for joint doctrine and related publications.

The Department of Defense (DoD) issues a large number of Directives and Instructions. The purpose of these issuances varies; however, all of them are used to internally manage the business of the DoD.

DoD Directives are broad DoD policy documents containing what is required by legislation, the President, or the Secretary of Defense to initiate, govern, or regulate actions or conduct by the DoD Components within their specific areas of responsibilities. DoD Directives establish or describe policy, programs, and organizations; define missions; provide authority; and assign responsibilities.

DoD Instructions implement the policy, or prescribes the manner or a specific plan or action for carrying out the policy, operating a program or activity, and assigning responsibilities.

The DoD Directives and Instructions are numbered according to the following eight major subject groups:

JCS Joint Publications

Military Tribunals

Joint Chiefs of Staff Policy Documents

DOD Directives

DOD Instructions


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Created by John Pike
Maintained by Steven Aftergood
Updated June 10, 2024