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This article provides a US Air Force perspective of effects that can be useful for maritime design efforts, planning, execution and assessment. It explains how staffs leverage systems-oriented thinking as a start point to help define the operational environment, develop the operational approach and subsequent courses of action. This article describes how this systems thinking helps to connect to the identification and development of effects associated with success of the operation. It advocates leveraging United States Air Force doctrine on the explanation and use of effects in both planning and assessment for the development of both the maritime operation and assessment plan. This short piece emphasizes “second order” indirect effects to describe conditions associated with operational level objectives to determine the degree of progress of the operation. Finally, this article cautions that an over-focus on systems thinking and effects-based approaches is no substitute for sound operational and assessment planning.