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Military Decisionmaking

Historically, a unit’s success is directly related to the ability of the staff to
execute the military decisionmaking process (MDMP). Given the increased
complexity of today’s operational environment and the vast array of mission
command systems and processes, integration and synchronization of all
activities associated with operations are increasingly difficult.
Observations derived from deployed units, as well as from trainers at
Combat Training Centers (CTCs) over the past decade, indicate a significant
loss of unit ability to conduct a detailed MDMP. This lack of planning
expertise results in de-synchronized operations, and could ultimately cost
the lives of Soldiers.
Both in actual operations and in training at the CTCs, planning time is
often extremely limited. In these instances, units often omit steps of the
MDMP. Most CTC trainers agree that when time is limited, completely
omitting any step of the MDMP is not the solution and often degrades
mission success. Combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan resulted in
the use of non-doctrinal story boards in the planning process. This practice
lacks the fidelity necessary to provide the commander with decisionmaking
information he needs, and can lead to a loss of synchronization during
The MDMP is a solid model for developing a solution to a problem.
However, if the staff conducting the MDMP is unfamiliar with each of the
steps, the process can become very complex, and errors committed early in
the process become increasingly problematic as planning continues.
The MDMP facilitates interaction among the commander, staff, and
subordinate headquarters throughout the operations process. It provides
a structure for the staff to work collectively and produce a coordinated
plan. During planning, staff members monitor, track, and aggressively
seek information important to their functional areas. They assess how
this information affects course of action development and apply it to any
recommendations they make.
There are numerous key doctrinal manuals that address MDMP. This
handbook is designed to consolidate much of this doctrine, combined
with analysis of observations from recent deployments and CTC
rotations, into a single source that is useful to junior leaders as
they conduct the MDMP. More detailed study of the MDMP can be
accomplished by studying the key doctrinal manuals listed in Chapter 13
of this handbook.
Military Decisionmaking Process
Table of Contents
Introduction 1
Chapter 1. Army Design Methodology 3
Chapter 2. Military Decisionmaking Process 7
Chapter 3. Receipt of Mission 9
Chapter 4. Mission Analysis 11
Chapter 5. Course of Action Development 27
Chapter 6. Course of Action Analysis 39
Chapter 7. Course of Action Comparison 59
Chapter 8. Course of Action Approval 63
Chapter 9. Assessments 65
Chapter 10. Operations Order 71
Chapter 11. Rehearsals 83
Chapter 12. Terminology 97
Chapter 13. References 103
Center For Army Lessons Learned
Director COL Paul P. Reese
Deputy Division Chief Mr. George J. Mordica II
CALL Lead Analyst Mr. Jeff Baker
CALL Contributing Analyst Mr. James Cameron
Project Analyst Mr. Mike Flynn
Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate
The Secretary of the Army has determined that the publication of this
periodical is necessary in the transaction of the public business as required
by law of the Department.
Unless otherwise stated, whenever the masculine or feminine gender is
used, both are intended.
Note: Any publications (other than CALL publications) referenced in
this product, such as ARs, FMs, and TMs, must be obtained through your
pinpoint distribution system.
“A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan
executed next week.”
— General George S. Patton
Planning is the art and science of understanding a situation, envisioning a
desired future, and laying out effective ways of bringing that future about.
Planning helps commanders create and communicate a common vision
among themselves, their staffs, subordinate commanders, and unified
action partners.
All planning is based on imperfect knowledge and assumptions about the
future. Planning cannot predict exactly what the effects of the operation will
be, how enemies will behave, or how civilians will respond to the friendly
force or the enemy. Nonetheless, the understanding and learning that occur
during the planning process have great value.
Planning activities occupy a continuum ranging from conceptual to detailed.
On one end of the continuum is conceptual planning. Understanding the
operational environment and the problem, determining the operation’s end
state, establishing objectives, and sequencing the operation in broad terms
all illustrate conceptual planning.
At the other end of the spectrum is detailed planning. Detailed planning
translates the broad operational approach into a complete and practical
plan. Detailed planning works out the scheduling, coordination, or
technical problems involved with moving, sustaining, synchronizing, and
directing the force.
Army leaders employ three methodologies for planning, determining the
appropriate mix based on the scope of the problem and their familiarity
with it, the time available, and the availability of a staff. Methodologies
that assist commanders and staffs with planning include Army design
methodology, the military decisionmaking process (MDMP), and troop
leading procedures.
This handbook will provide a brief discussion of the Army design
methodology and how it is integrated with and complements the MDMP,
but the focus of this handbook is to provide commanders and their staffs a
tool to assist in the understanding and implementation of MDMP.

Chapter 1
Army Design Methodology
This chapter is designed to give a brief explanation of the Army design
methodology and how it is integrated with the military decisionmaking
process (MDMP). For a more detailed explanation of the Army design
methodology, refer to ADP 5-0 and ADRP 5-0.
Army design methodology is a methodology for applying critical and creative
thinking to understand, visualize, and describe problems and approaches to
solving them (ADRP 5-0). Army design methodology is particularly useful
as an aid to conceptual planning, but must be integrated with the detailed
planning typically associated with the MDMP to produce executable plans.
Army design methodology entails framing an operational environment,
framing a problem, and developing an operational approach to solve
the problem. It results in an improved understanding of the operational
environment, a problem statement, the initial commander’s intent, and
an operational approach that serves as the link between conceptual and
detailed planning. Based on their understanding gained during the Army
design methodology, commanders issue planning guidance, to include an
operational approach, to guide more detailed planning using the MDMP.
Figure 1-1 depicts the general activities of Army design methodology. While
planners complete some activities before others, the learning generated in one
activity may require revisiting the learning derived in another activity.
Figure 1-1. Frame the operational environment (ADRP 5-0)
Frame the Operational Environment
The commander, members of the staff, subordinate commanders, and
unified action partners form a planning team to establish context for
describing the problem and developing an operational approach by framing
an operational environment. This framing facilitates hypothesizing, or
modeling, that focuses on the part of the operational environment under
consideration. Framing provides a perspective from which commanders can
understand and act on a problem.
In framing an operational environment, the planning team focuses on
defining, analyzing, and synthesizing the characteristics of the operational
and mission variables. Members of the planning team capture their work
in an operational environmental frame (using narrative and visual models)
that describes and depicts the history, culture, current state, relationships,
and future goals of relevant actors in an operational environment. An
operational environmental frame consists of two parts — the current state
of the operational environment and the desired end state of the operational
Frame the Problem
A problem is an issue or obstacle that makes it difficult to achieve a desired
goal or objective. In the context of operations, an operational problem is the
issue or set of issues that impede commanders from achieving their desired
end state. Problem framing involves identifying and understanding those
issues that impede progress toward the desired end state.
Members of the planning team frame the problem to ensure that they are
solving the right problem, instead of solving symptoms of the problem.
Framing the problem involves understanding and isolating the root causes
of conflict. The planning team closely examines the symptoms, the
underlying tensions, and the root causes of conflict. From this perspective,
the planning team can identify the fundamental problem with greater clarity
and consider more accurately how to solve it. A technique for framing the
problem begins with two basic questions:
•• What is the difference between the current state and the desired state
of the operational environment?
•• What is preventing U.S. forces from reaching the desired end state?
Based on the problem frame, the planning team develops a problem
statement — a concise statement of the issue or issues requiring resolution.
Develop an Operational Approach
Based on their understanding of the operational environment and the
problem, the planning team members consider operational approaches —
the broad general actions — to solve the problem. The operational approach
serves as the main idea that informs detailed planning and guides the force
through preparation and execution.
The planning team uses the elements of operational art (see ADRP 3-0)
to help think through the operational environment and visualize and
describe the operational approach. As the planning team considers various
approaches, it evaluates the types of defeat or stability mechanisms that may
lead to conditions that define the desired end state. Thus, the operational
approach enables commanders to begin visualizing and describing possible
combinations of actions to reach the desired end state, given the tensions
identified in the operational environment and problem frames. The staff
uses operational approaches to develop courses of action during detailed
Planners can depict the operational approach by using lines of effort that
graphically articulate the links among tasks, objectives, conditions, and the
desired end state. Army design methodology offers the latitude to portray
the operational approach in a manner that best communicates its vision and
structure. Ultimately, the commander determines the optimal method to
articulate the operational approach. However, it is important that narratives
accompany lines of effort to ensure that subordinate commanders and
Soldiers understand the operational approach.
Document Results
Commanders and staffs document the results of Army design methodology
to inform more detailed planning. Key outputs of Army design methodology
conveyed in text and graphics include the problem statement, initial
commander’s intent, and planning guidance to include an operational
The problem statement generated during problem framing communicates
the commander’s understanding of the problem or problem set upon
which the organization will act. The initial commander’s intent describes
the purpose of the operation, initial key tasks, and the desired end state.
The operational approach organizes combinations of potential actions
in time, space, and purpose that will guide the force to the desired end
state. Planning guidance orients the focus of operations, linking desired
conditions to potential combinations of actions the force may employ to
achieve the desired end state.
Through continuous assessment, the commander and staff monitor the
operational environment and progress toward setting conditions and
achieving objectives. If the current operational approach is failing to meet
expectations, or if aspects of the operational environment or problem
change significantly, the commander may decide to begin reframing efforts.
During operations, commanders decide to reframe after realizing that the
desired conditions have changed, are not achievable, or cannot be attained
through the current operational approach, or because of change of mission
or end state. Reframing provides the freedom to operate beyond the limits
of any single perspective. Conditions will change during execution, and
such change is expected because forces interact within the operational
environment. Recognizing and anticipating these changes is fundamental to
Army design methodology and essential to an organization’s ability to learn.
Chapter 2
Military Decisionmaking Process
The MDMP is an iterative planning methodology that integrates the
activities of the commander, staff, subordinate headquarters, and other
partners to understand the situation and mission, develop and compare
courses of action (COAs), decide on a COA that best accomplishes
the mission, and produce an operation plan or order for execution. The
MDMP helps leaders apply thoroughness, clarity, sound judgment, logic,
and professional knowledge to understand situations, develop options
to solve problems, and reach decisions. The MDMP is a process that
helps commanders, staffs, and others think critically and creatively while
The MDMP facilitates collaborative and parallel planning as the higher
headquarters solicits input and continuously shares information concerning
future operations with subordinate and adjacent units, supporting and
supported units, and other military and civilian partners through planning
meetings, warning orders (WARNORDs), and other means. Commanders
encourage active collaboration among all organizations affected by the
pending operations to build a shared understanding of the situation,
participate in COA development and decision making, and resolve conflicts
before publication of the plan or order.
The MDMP also drives preparation. Since time is a factor in all operations,
commanders and staffs conduct a time analysis early in the planning
process. This analysis helps them determine what actions are required and
when those actions must begin to ensure forces are ready and in position
before execution. This may require the commander to direct subordinates
to start necessary movements; conduct task organization changes; begin
information collection operations; and execute other preparation activities
before completing the plan. The commander directs these tasks in a series of
WARNORDs as the commander and staff conduct the MDMP.
During planning, assessment focuses on developing an understanding of the
current situation, ascertaining what to assess, and determining how to assess
progress using measures of effectiveness and measures of performance.
Developing the unit’s assessment plan occurs during the MDMP — not after
the plan or order is developed.
Figure 2-1. Military decisionmaking process (FM 6-0)
Chapter 3
Receipt of Mission
Figure 3-1. Receipt of Mission (Ref: FM 6-0)
Commanders initiate the MDMP upon receipt or in anticipation of a
mission. The purpose of this step is to alert all participants of the pending
planning requirements; determine the amount of time available for planning
and preparation and decide on a planning approach, including guidance on
how to design and abbreviate the MDMP, if required. When a new mission
is identified, commanders and staffs perform the actions and produce the
outputs as described in the following paragraphs.
1. Alert the staff and other key participants.
2. Gather the tools. Once notified of the new planning requirement, the staff
prepares for mission analysis by gathering the tools needed to perform it.
These tools include, but are not limited to:
•• Appropriate manuals, including ADRP 5-0, The Operations Process,
and ADRP 1-02, Terms and Military Symbols.
•• All documents related to the mission and the area of operations,
including the higher headquarters’ operation plan and operation order,
maps and terrain products, and operational graphics.
•• Higher headquarters’ and other organizations’ intelligence and
assessment products.
•• Estimates and products of other military and civilian organizations.
•• Both the unit’s own and the higher headquarters’ standing operating
•• Updated running estimates.
•• Army design methodology products.
3. Update running estimates.
4. Conduct an initial assessment. During receipt of mission, the commander
and staff conduct an initial assessment of time and resources available to
plan, prepare, and begin execution of an operation. This initial assessment
helps the commander determine the following:
•• Time needed to plan and prepare for the mission.
•• Guidance on using the Army design methodology and abbreviating the
MDMP, if required.
•• Which outside agencies and organizations to contact and incorporate
into the planning process.
•• The staff’s experience, cohesiveness, and level of rest or stress.
The chief of staff or executive officer develops a staff planning timeline
that outlines how long the headquarters can spend on each step of the
MDMP. The staff planning timeline indicates what products are due, who is
responsible for them, and who receives them.
5. Issue the commander’s initial guidance. Initial guidance includes the
•• Initial time allocations.
•• Decision to initiate design or go directly into the MDMP.
•• How to abbreviate the MDMP, if required.
•• Necessary coordination to perform, including liaison officers to
•• Authorized movements to begin information collection activities.
•• Collaborative planning times and locations.
•• Initial information requirements.
•• Additional staff tasks.
6. Issue a warning order (WARNORD #1). The WARNORD includes, at a
minimum, the type of operation, the general location of the operation, the
initial timeline, and any movement or reconnaissance to initiate.
Chapter 4
Mission Analysis
Figure 4-1. Mission analysis overview (FM 6-0)
If the MDMP is, simply speaking, a systematic method to solve a
specific problem, then mission analysis is the method to clearly identify
the problem and the tools available to solve the problem.
During the mission analysis step, the staff analyzes the higher headquarters’
plans or orders to ensure staff members fully understand the mission, intent,
resources available, constraints and limitations, and specified and implied
tasks. The staff performs initial intelligence preparation of the battlefield
(IPB); develops critical facts and assumptions; and determines the initial
commander’s critical information requirements (CCIRs) and essential
elements of friendly information (EEFIs). At the end of this step, the staff
has developed a proposed problem statement and a proposed mission
statement; has presented the mission analysis briefing; is prepared to
develop courses of action; and issues a warning order to subordinate units.
While the staff is conducting its analysis, the commander is conducting
his own. The commander’s analysis provides a frame of reference that
helps to quickly assess the staff’s work. Though mission analysis marks
the beginning of the staff estimate, it is not a one-time effort. Mission
analysis is a continuous effort that is constantly re-evaluated as the situation
develops and new information is presented.
Mission Analysis Steps
•• Step 1: Analyze the higher headquarters’ plan or order.
•• Step 2: Perform initial IPB.
•• Step 3: Determine specified, implied, and essential tasks.
•• Step 4: Review available assets and identify resource shortfalls.
•• Step 5: Determine constraints.
•• Step 6: Identify critical facts and develop assumptions.
•• Step 7: Begin risk management.
•• Step 8: Determine initial CCIRs and EEFIs.
•• Step 9: Develop initial information collection plan.
•• Step 10: Update plan for the use of available time.
•• Step 11: Develop initial themes and messages.
•• Step 12: Develop a proposed problem statement.
•• Step 13: Develop a proposed mission statement.
•• Step 14: Present the mission analysis briefing.
•• Step 15: Develop and issue the initial commander’s intent.
•• Step 16: Develop and issue initial planning guidance.
•• Step 17: Develop course of action (COA) evaluation criteria.
•• Step 18: Issue a warning order (WARNORD).
Step 1: Analyze the higher headquarters’ plan or order.
Commanders and staffs thoroughly analyze the higher headquarters’ plan
or order to determine how their unit — by task and purpose — contributes
to the mission, commander’s intent, and concept of operations of the higher
headquarters. The commander and staff seek complete understanding of the
•• Higher headquarters:
○○ Commander’s intent.
○○ Mission.
○○ Concept of operations.
○○ Available assets.
○○ Timeline.
•• Missions of adjacent, supporting, and supported units and their
relationship to the higher headquarters’ plan.
•• Missions of interagency (IO), intergovernmental (IGO), and
nongovernmental (NGO) organizations that work in their operational
•• Their assigned area of operations (AO).
Liaison officers familiar with the higher headquarters’ plan can help clarify
issues. Collaborative planning with the higher headquarters also facilitates
this task. Staffs also use requests for information (RFIs) to clarify or obtain
additional information from the higher headquarters.
Step 2: Perform Initial Intelligence Preparation
of the Battlefield (IPB).
IPB is the systematic process of analyzing the mission variables of enemy,
terrain, weather, and civil considerations in an area of interest to determine
their effect on operations. The IPB process identifies critical gaps in the
commander’s knowledge of an operational environment. As a part of
the initial planning guidance, commanders use these gaps as a guide to
establish their initial intelligence requirements. IPB products enable the
commander to assess facts about the operational environment and make
assumptions about how friendly and threat forces will interact in the
operational environment. The description of the operational environment’s
effects identifies constraints on potential friendly COAs. It also identifies
key aspects of the operational environment, such as avenues of approach,
engagement areas, and landing zones, which the staff integrates into
potential friendly COAs and running estimates. For mission analysis,
the intelligence staff, along with the other staff elements, will use IPB to
develop detailed threat COA models, which depict a COA available to the
threat. The threat COA models provide a basis for formulating friendly
COAs and completing the intelligence estimate.
The intelligence staff, in collaboration with other staff sections, develops
other IPB products during mission analysis. That collaboration should
result in the drafting of initial priority intelligence requirements (PIRs), the
production of a complete modified combined obstacles overlay, a list of
high-value targets, and unrefined event templates and matrices. IPB should
provide an understanding of the threat’s center of gravity, which then can be
exploited by friendly forces.
(Note: The IPB is arguably the most important portion of the MDMP. It
identifies where you are operating and who is operating with and against
you. The rest of the MDMP builds upon this fundamental framework.) For
detailed information on the IPB process, refer to ATP 2-01.3, Intelligence
Preparation of the Battlefield/Battlespace.
Step 3: Determine specified, implied, and essential tasks.
The staff analyzes the higher headquarters’ order and the higher
commander’s guidance to determine its specified and implied tasks.
In the context of operations, a task is a clearly defined and measurable
activity accomplished by Soldiers, units, and organizations that may support
or that other tasks support. The “what” of a mission statement is always a
Specified tasks are tasks specifically assigned to a unit by its higher
headquarters. The higher headquarters may assign the tasks either orally
during collaborative planning sessions or in directives from the higher
Implied tasks are tasks the unit must perform to accomplish a specified
task or the mission, but the higher headquarters’ order does not state
them. The staff derives implied tasks from a detailed analysis of the
higher headquarters’ order, the enemy situation, the terrain, and civil
considerations. Additionally, analysis of doctrinal requirements for each
specified task might disclose implied tasks. Units with an assigned AO
are responsible for ensuring the conduct of essential stability tasks for the
population in areas they control. While higher headquarters specifies some
stability tasks, commanders consider the primary stability tasks found in
FM 3-07, Stability Operations, as sources for implied tasks. These implied
tasks, at a minimum, provide for civil security, restoration of essential
services, and civil control for civil populations in the AO they control.
Based on this analysis, the staff determines if there are other agencies, civil
or military, that can provide these tasks. If not, the unit plans to provide
these tasks using available assets. If the unit determines it does not have the
assets, it informs its higher headquarters.
Once staff members have identified specified and implied tasks, they ensure
they understand each task’s requirements and the purpose for accomplishing
each task. They then determine the task or tasks units must successfully
execute to accomplish the mission.
Essential tasks are specified or implied tasks the unit must execute to
accomplish the mission. Essential tasks are always included in the unit’s
mission statement.
Step 4: Review available assets; identify resource shortfalls.
The commander and staff examine additions to and deletions from the
current task organization, command and support relationships, and status
(current capabilities and limitations) of all units. This analysis also
includes the capabilities of civilian and military organizations (joint,
special operations, host nation, and multinational) that operate within the
unit’s AO. The commander and staff consider relationships between and
among specified, implied, and essential tasks and available assets. From
this analysis, staffs determine if they have the assets needed to accomplish
all tasks. If shortages occur, they identify additional resources needed
for mission success to the higher headquarters. Staffs also identify any
deviations from the normal task organization. A more detailed analysis of
available assets occurs during COA development.
Step 5: Determine constraints.
The commander and staff identify any constraints placed on their command.
A constraint is a restriction placed on the command by a higher headquarters.
A constraint dictates an action or inaction, thus restricting the freedom
of action of a subordinate commander. Commanders find constraints in
paragraph 3 in the operation plan (OPLAN) or operation order (OPORD).
Annexes to the order may also include constraints. The operations overlay,
for example, may contain a restrictive fire line or a no-fire area. Commanders
may issue constraints orally, in WARNORDs, or in policy memorandums.
Step 6: Identify critical facts and develop assumptions.
Imperfect knowledge and assumptions about the future form the basis for all
A fact is a statement of truth or a statement considered to be true at the time.
Facts concerning the operational and mission variables serve as the basis
for developing situational understanding, for continued planning, and for
assessing progress during preparation and execution.
An assumption is a supposition on the current situation or a presupposition
on the future course of events, either or both assumed to be true in the
absence of positive proof, necessary to enable the commander in the process
of planning to complete an estimate of the situation and make a decision on
the COA.
Appropriate assumptions used during planning have two characteristics:
•• They are likely to be true.
•• They are necessary — that is, essential — to continue planning.
Key points concerning the use of assumptions:
•• Assumptions must be logical, realistic, and considered likely to be
•• Too many assumptions result in a higher probability the plan or
proposed solution may be invalid.
•• The use of assumptions requires the staff to develop branches and
sequels to execute if one or more key assumptions prove false.
•• Often, an unstated assumption may prove more dangerous than a
stated assumption proven wrong.
Replace assumptions with facts as soon as possible. The staff identifies
information needed to convert assumptions into facts and submits them
to the appropriate agency as information requirements. If the commander
needs information to make a decision, he may designate the information
requirement as one of his CCIRs. Submit requirements for information
about threats and the environment to the S-2, who incorporates them into
the initial information collection plan.
Note: Assumptions induce risk into operational planning. Consider these
assumptions during risk management.
Step 7: Begin risk management.
Risk management is the Army’s process of identifying, assessing, and
controlling risks arising from operational factors and making decisions
that balance risk cost with mission benefits. During mission analysis,
the commander and staff focus on identifying and assessing hazards.
Developing specific control measures to mitigate those hazards occurs
during course of action development.
The chief of protection (or operations staff officer (S-3) in units without
a protection cell) in coordination with the safety officer integrates risk
management into the MDMP. All staff sections integrate risk management
for hazards within their functional areas. Units conduct the first four steps of
risk management in the MDMP. ATP 5-19, Risk Management, addresses the
details for conducting risk management, including products of each step.
Figure 4-2. Risk management in MDMP (ATP 5-19)
Step 8: Develop initial CCIRs and EEFIs.
Mission analysis identifies gaps in information required for further planning
and decision making during preparation and execution. During mission
analysis, the staff develops information requirements.
Information requirements are all information elements the commander and
staff require for the successful conduct of operations; that is, all elements
necessary to address the factors of METT-TC (mission, enemy, terrain
and weather, troops and support available — time available and civil
considerations). Some information requirements are of such importance to
the commander that the staff nominates them to the commander to become a
CCIR. The two types of CCIRs are priority information requirements (PIRs)
and friendly force information requirements (FFIRs).
•• PIRs: Those intelligence requirements stated as a priority for
intelligence support that the commander and staff need in order to
understand the adversary or the operational environment (OE).
•• FFIRs: Information the commander and staff need in order to
understand the status of friendly force and supporting capabilities.
The initial CCIRs developed during mission analysis normally focus
on decisions the commander must make to focus planning. Once the
commander selects a COA, the CCIRs shift to information the commander
needs in order to make decisions during preparation and execution.
Essential Elements of Friendly Information (EEFIs) establish an element
of information to protect rather than one to collect. EEFIs identify those
elements of friendly force information that, if compromised, would
jeopardize mission success.
Depending on the situation, the commander and selected staff meet prior to
the mission analysis briefing to approve the initial CCIRs and EEFIs. This
is especially important if the commander intends to conduct intelligence
collection operations early in the planning process. The approval of the
initial CCIRs, early in planning, assists the staff in developing the initial
and subsequent intelligence collection plans. Approval of EEFIs allows the
staff to begin planning and implementing measures to protect friendly force
information, such as deception and operations security.
Step 9: Develop the initial information collection plan.
The initial information collection plan is crucial to begin or adjust the
information collection effort, which helps answer information requirements
necessary in developing effective plans. The initial information collection
plan sets intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance operations in motion.
It may be issued as part of a WARNORD, a fragmentary order (FRAGORD),
or an OPORD. As more information becomes available, it is incorporated
into a complete information collection plan (Annex L) to the OPORD.
The intelligence staff creates the requirements-management tools for the
information collection plan. The operations staff is responsible for the
information collection plan. During this step, the operations and intelligence
staff work closely to ensure they fully synchronize and integrate information
collection activities into the overall plan.
The operations officer considers several factors when developing the initial
information collection plan, including:
•• Requirements for collection assets in subsequent missions.
•• Time available to develop and refine the initial information collection plan.
•• The risk the commander is willing to accept if information collection
missions are begun before the information collection plan is fully
integrated into the scheme of maneuver.
•• Insertion and extraction methods for reconnaissance, security,
surveillance, and intelligence collection assets.
•• Contingencies for inclement weather to ensure coverage of key named
areas of interest or target areas of interest.
•• The communications plan for transmission of reports from assets to
command posts.
•• The inclusion of collection asset locations and movements into the fire
support plan.
•• The reconnaissance handover with higher or subordinate echelons.
•• The sustainment support.
•• Legal support requirements.
FM 3-55, Information Collection, contains additional information on
information collection, planning requirements, and assessing collection.
Step 10: Update plan for the use of available time.
The commander and staff compare the time needed to accomplish tasks
to the higher headquarters’ timeline to ensure mission accomplishment is
possible in the allotted time. They also compare the timeline to the assumed
enemy timeline or the projected timelines within the civil sector regarding
the anticipation of how conditions may unfold. From this, they determine
windows of opportunity for exploitation, times when the unit will be at risk
for enemy activity, or when action to arrest (stop) deterioration in the civil
sector is required.
The commander and executive officer (XO) also refine the staff planning
•• Subject, time, and location of briefings the commander requires.
•• Times of collaborative planning sessions and the medium over which
they will take place.
•• Times, locations, and forms of rehearsals.
Step 11: Develop initial themes and messages.
Gaining and maintaining the trust of key actors are an important aspect of
operations. Faced with the many different actors (individuals, organizations,
and the public) connected with the operation, commanders identify and
engage those actors who matter to operational success. These actors’
behaviors can help solve or complicate the friendly forces’ challenges as
commanders strive to accomplish missions.
Themes and messages support operations and military actions. Commanders
and their units coordinate what they do, say, and portray through themes
and messages. A theme is a unifying or dominant idea or image that
expresses the purpose for military action. Themes tie to objectives, lines
of effort, and end-state conditions. They are overarching and apply to
capabilities of public affairs, military information support operations, and
Soldier and leader engagements. A message is an oral, written, or electronic
communication that supports a theme focused on a specific actor or the
public and in support of a specific action (task). Units transmit themes and
messages to those actors or the public whose perceptions, attitudes, beliefs,
and behaviors matter to the success of an operation.
The public affairs officer adjusts and refines themes and messages received
from higher headquarters for use by the command. These themes and
messages are designed to inform specific domestic and foreign audiences
about current or planned military operations. The military information
support operations element receives approved themes and messages. This
element adjusts or refines depending on the situation. It employs themes and
messages as part of planned activities designed to influence specific foreign
audiences for various purposes that support current or planned operations.
The commander and the chief of staff approve all themes and messages used
to support operations. The information operations officer assists the S-3 and
the commander to deconflict and synchronize the use of information-related
capabilities used specifically to disseminate approved themes and messages
during operations.
Note: To ensure a common “narrative,” develop, synchronize, and execute
all themes and messages across all inform-and-influence activities.
“Inform-and-influence activities” is defined as the integrating activities
within the mission command warfighting function which ensure that themes
and messages designed to inform domestic audiences and influence foreign
friendly, neutral, adversary, and enemy populations are synchronized with
actions to support full spectrum operations. Inform-and-influence activities
incorporate components and enablers, expanding the commander’s ability to
use other resources to inform and influence.
Step 12: Develop a proposed problem statement.
A problem is an issue or obstacle that makes it difficult to achieve a desired
goal or objective. The problem statement is the description of the primary
issue or issues that may impede commanders from achieving their desired
end states.
Note: The commander, staff, and other partners develop the problem
statement as part of Army design methodology. During mission analysis,
the commander and staff review the problem statement and revise it as
necessary based on the increased understanding of the situation. If Army
design methodology activities do not precede mission analysis, then the
commander and staff develop a problem statement prior to moving to Step 3
of the MDMP, COA Development.
How the problem is formulated leads to particular solutions. It is
important that commanders dedicate the time to identify the right problem
to solve and describe it clearly in a problem statement. Ideally, the
commander and staff meet to share their analysis of the situation. They
talk with each other, synthesize the results of the current mission analysis,
and determine the problem.
As part of the discussion to help identify and understand the problem, the staff
compares the current situation to the desired end state, and brainstorms and
lists issues that imped the commander from achieving the desired end state.
Based on this analysis, the staff develops a proposed problem statement
— a statement of the problem or set of problems to be solved — for the
commander’s approval.
Step 13: Develop a proposed mission statement.
The chief of staff, executive officer, or operations officer prepares a
proposed mission statement based on mission analysis and presents it for
approval normally during the mission analysis briefing.
The mission statement is a short sentence or paragraph that describes the
organization’s essential task(s) and purpose — a clear statement of the
action to be taken and the reason for doing so. The mission statement
contains the elements of who, what, when, where, and why, but seldom
specifies how.
The five elements of a mission statement answer the following questions:
•• Who will execute the operation (unit/organization)?
•• What is the unit’s essential task (tactical mission task)?
•• When will the operation begin (time/event) or what is the duration?
•• Where will the operation occur (AO, objective, and grid coordinates)?
•• Why will the force conduct the operation (for what purpose or
The unit mission statement, along with the commander’s intent, provides
the primary focus for subordinate actions during planning, preparation,
execution, and assessment.The who, where, and when of a mission
statement are straightforward.
The what and why are more challenging to write and can confuse
subordinates if not stated clearly. What is a task? Express it in terms of
action verbs.
The why puts the task into context by describing the reason for performing
it. The why provides the mission’s purpose — the reason the unit is to
perform the task. It is extremely important to mission command and mission
orders. Examples of three mission statements are shown on the next page.
Example 1: Not later than (NLT) 220400 Aug 09 (when), 1st
Brigade (who) secures ROUTE SOUTH DAKOTA (what/task) in
AO JACKRABBIT (where) to enable the movement of humanitarian
assistance materials (why/purpose).
Example 2: 1-505th Parachute Infantry Regiment (who) seizes (what/
task) AIRPORT (where) not later than D-day, H+3 (when) to allow
follow-on forces to air-land into AO SPARTAN (why/ purpose).
Example 3: The 1-509th Parachute Infantry Regiment (who) seizes
(what/task) AIRPORT (where) not later than D-day, H+3 (when) to
allow follow-on forces to air-land into AO SPARTAN (why/purpose).
On order (when), secure (what/task) OBJECTIVE GOLD (where) to
prevent the 2d Pandor Guards Brigade from crossing the BLUE RIVER
and disrupting operations in AO SPARTAN (why/purpose).
Step 14: Present the mission analysis briefing.
The mission analysis briefing informs the commander of the results of
the staff’s analysis of the situation. It helps the commander understand,
visualize, and describe the operation. Throughout the mission analysis
briefing, the commander, staff, and other partners discuss the various facts
and assumptions about the situation. Staff officers present a summary of
their running estimates from their specific functional area and how their
findings impact or are impacted by other areas. This helps the commander
and staff as a whole to focus on the interrelationships among the mission
variables and to develop a deeper understanding of the situation. The
commander issues guidance to the staff for continued planning based on
situational understanding gained from the mission analysis briefing.
Ideally, the commander holds several informal meetings with key staff
members before the mission analysis briefing, including meetings to assist
the commander in developing CCIRs, the mission statement, and themes and
messages. These meetings enable commanders to issue guidance for activities
(such as reconnaissance, surveillance, security, and intelligence operations)
and develop their initial commander’s intent and planning guidance.
A comprehensive mission analysis briefing helps the commander, staff,
subordinates, and other partners develop a shared understanding of the
requirements of the upcoming operation. Time permitting, the staff briefs
the commander on its mission analysis using the following outline:
•• Mission and commander’s intent of the headquarters two echelons up.
•• Mission, commander’s intent, and concept of operations of the
headquarters one echelon up.
•• A proposed problem statement.
•• A proposed mission statement.
•• Review of the commander’s initial guidance.
•• Initial IPB products, including civil considerations that affect the
conduct of operations.
•• Specified, implied, and essential tasks.
•• Pertinent facts and assumptions.
•• Constraints.
•• Forces available and resource shortfalls.
•• Initial risk assessment.
•• Proposed themes and messages.
•• Initial information collection plan.
•• Recommended timeline.
•• Recommended collaborative planning sessions.
During the mission analysis briefing or shortly thereafter, commanders
approve the mission statement and CCIRs. They then develop and issue
their initial commander’s intent and planning guidance.
Step 15: Develop and issue the commander’s initial intent.
The commander’s intent succinctly describes what constitutes success for
the operation. It includes the operation’s purpose and the conditions that
define the end state. The commander’s intent links the mission, concept
of operations, and tasks to subordinate units. During planning, the initial
commander’s intent summarizes the commander’s visualization. The
commander’s intent should be used to develop and refine COAs. During
execution, the commander’s intent spurs individual initiative.
Step 16: Develop and issue the initial planning guidance.
Commanders provide planning guidance along with their initial intent.
Planning guidance conveys the essence of the commander’s visualization.
Guidance may be broad or detailed. It outlines an operational approach —
the broad general actions that will produce the conditions that define the
desired end state. The guidance should outline specific COAs the commander
wants the staff to look at and rule out any COAs he will not accept.
(Note: Refer to ADRP 5-0, The Operations Process, for additional
information on commander’s guidance.)
When developing their concept of operations, commanders first visualize
the decisive operation and develop shaping and sustaining operations to
support the decisive operation. The decisive operation is the focal point
around which commanders develop the entire operation and prioritize effort.
Step 17: Develop COA evaluation criteria.
Evaluation criteria are factors the commander and staff will later use to
measure the relative effectiveness and efficiency of one COA relative to
other COAs. Developing these criteria during mission analysis or as part of
the commander’s planning guidance helps to eliminate a source of bias prior
to COA analysis and comparison.
Normally, the executive officer initially determines each proposed criterion,
with weights based on the assessment of its relative importance and the
commander’s guidance. Commanders adjust criterion selection and weighting
according to their own experience and vision. Sample evaluation criteria:
• Simplicity.
• Maneuver.
• Fires.
• Civil control.
• Support mission narrative.
Other possible criteria: time required, casualties, damage to infrastructure,
host-nation special operating forces integration, local support, media
impact, and external agency support.
Step 18: Issue a WARNORD.
Immediately after the commander gives the planning guidance, the staff
sends subordinate and supporting units a WARNORD (WARNORD #2) that
contains, at a minimum, the following information:
•• Approved mission statement
•• Commander’s intent
•• Changes to task organization
•• Unit AO (sketch, overlay, or some other description)
•• CCIRs and EEFIs
•• Risk guidance
•• Priorities by warfighting functions
•• Military deception guidance
•• Essential stability tasks
•• Initial information collection plan
•• Specific priorities
•• Updated operational timeline
•• Movements
Lessons and Best Practices
Observation: CCIRs are often not tied to decisions.
Discussion: The exercise of mission command reduces the number
of decisions the commander must make. This allows him and the staff
to focus on the most important decisions that cannot or will not be
delegated. Required decisions drive the development of CCIRs, PIRs,
and FFIRs. The staff focuses on the CCIRs to support the commander’s
decision making and develops a battle rhythm that supports the
commander’s decision cycle. Failure to clearly define the commander’s
decisions wastes valuable time, causing the staff to try to to assist the
commander in understanding problems that are not his to solve. Often,
the staff presents or focuses on irrelevant information that exhausts
collection assets and analysis efforts by looking at the wrong things.
•• As the commander goes through the mission command process,
he should identify his key decisions. This process is continuous as
the operational environment changes and affects the mission.
•• The staff, under the direction of the XO, should develop decisions
that are solely for the commander. Part of the staff’s work in
helping the commander understand the problem is presenting him
with its analysis on required decisions.
•• Commanders should adopt a process to guide the staff. This
process should include specific responsibilities for development,
validations, disseminating, monitoring, reporting, and
maintenance (i.e., modifying/deleting) of CCIRs.
Lessons and Best Practices
Observation: Executive officers are routinely challenged in
synchronizing or leading the MDMP efforts across the staff.
Discussion: XOs often do not understand their role in synchronizing
staff efforts during planning. They do not conduct a sufficient
time analysis, and they do not develop a detailed “plan to plan.”
This detracts from the staff’s ability to execute cross-functional
collaborative planning. XOs often do not put enough emphasis on
developing and enforcing appropriate digital and analog planning
SOPs. Staff personnel understand the basics of the MDMP, but the
lack of direction results in stovepiped efforts until personnel are
directed to compile slides for the respective MDMP briefing. XOs do
not allocate enough time to rehearse and make necessary adjustments.
The result is a missed opportunity to help the commander understand
and visualize the operation and provide the guidance needed to begin
the next step. Units typically end up completing a major portion of the
mission analysis during COA development.
•• The XO must lead staff planning efforts to ensure the commander
can understand and visualize the operation. The XO must develop
a “plan to plan” that includes time for staff to conduct both
internal and cross-functional planning sessions. The timeline must
address each step and sub-step of the MDMP.
•• The XO should make recommendations to the commander on
what steps to abbreviate. Units should develop a planning SOP
that includes an initial timeline and prescribed formats (analog
and digital) to reduce time spent building and refining briefings.
Selecting a common map and a common format for products is
essential to reducing preparation time.
Chapter 5
Course of Action Development
Figure 5-1. Course of action (COA) development (FM 6-0)
A COA is a broad potential solution to an identified problem. The COA
development step generates options for follow-on analysis and comparison
that satisfy the commander’s intent and planning guidance. During COA
development, planners use the problem statement, mission statement,
commander’s intent, planning guidance, and the various knowledge
products developed during mission analysis to develop COAs.
Examine each prospective COA for validity using the following screening
•• Feasible: The COA can accomplish the mission within the established
time, space, and resource limitations.
•• Acceptable: The COA must balance cost and risk with the advantage
•• Suitable: The COA can accomplish the mission within the
commander’s intent and planning guidance.
•• Distinguishable: Each COA must differ significantly from the others
(such as scheme of maneuver, lines of effort, phasing, use of reserve
forces, and task organization).
•• Complete: A COA must incorporate the following information:
○○ How the decisive operation leads to mission accomplishment.
○○ How shaping operations create and preserve conditions for
success of the decisive operation or effort.
○○ How sustaining operations enable shaping and decisive operations
or efforts.
○○ How to account for offensive, defensive, and stability or civil
support tasks.
○○ Tasks to be performed and conditions to be achieved.
COA development includes the following eight steps:
•• Step 1: Assess relative combat power.
•• Step 2: Generate options.
•• Step 3: Array forces.
•• Step 4: Develop a broad concept.
•• Step 5: Assign headquarters.
•• Step 6: Develop COA statements and sketches.
•• Step 7: Conduct COA briefing.
•• Step 8: Select or modify COAs for continued analysis.
Step 1: Assess relative combat power.
According to ADRP 3-0, Unified Land Operations, combat power is the
total means of destructive, constructive, and information capabilities
that a military unit can apply at a given time. It is the effect created by
combining the elements of intelligence, movement and maneuver, fires,
sustainment, protection, mission command, information, and leadership.
The goal is to generate overwhelming combat power to accomplish the
mission at minimal cost.
To assess relative combat power, planners initially make a rough estimate
of force ratios of maneuver units two levels down. Planners then compare
friendly strengths to enemy weaknesses, and vice versa, for each element
of combat power. From these comparisons, they may deduce particular
vulnerabilities that may be exploited or may need protection. These
comparisons provide planners insight into effective force employment.
For stability and civil support operations, staffs often determine relative
combat power by comparing available resources to specified or implied
stability or civil support tasks. This is known as troop-to-task analysis.
This analysis provides insight into what options are available and
whether more resources are required. In such operations, the elements of
sustainment, movement and maneuver, nonlethal effects, and information
may predominate.
Comparing the most significant strengths and weakness of each force in
terms of combat power gives planners insight into the following areas:
•• Friendly capabilities that pertain to the operation.
•• Types of operations possible from both friendly and enemy
•• How and where the enemy may be vulnerable.
•• How and where friendly forces are vulnerable.
•• Additional resources that may be required to execute the mission.
•• How to allocate existing resources.
Assessing combat power requires assessing both tangible and intangible
factors such as morale and levels of training. A relative combat power
assessment identifies enemy weaknesses to exploit, identifies friendly
weaknesses that require protection, and determines the combat power
necessary to conduct essential stability or civil support tasks.
Planners combine the numerical force ratio with the results of their analysis
of intangibles to determine the relative combat power of friendly and
enemy forces. They determine what types of operations are feasible by
comparing the force ratio to the historical minimum planning ratios for the
contemplated combat missions and estimating the extent to which intangible
factors affect the relative combat power. If, in the staff’s judgment, the
relative combat power of the force produces the effects of the historical
minimum planning ratio for a contemplated mission, that mission is feasible.
Step 2: Generate options.
Based on commander’s guidance and initial results of the relative combat
power assessment, the staff generates options. A good COA can defeat all
feasible enemy COAs while accounting for essential stability tasks. In an
unconstrained environment, the goal is to develop several possible COAs.
The commander’s guidance may limit options depending on time.
Brainstorming is the preferred technique for generating options. It requires
time, imagination, and creativity, but it produces the widest range of
Note: When possible, brainstorming should include participants from all
agencies and organizations that provide a capability to the planning unit.
When generating options, staff members determine the doctrinal
requirements for each proposed operation, including doctrinal tasks for
subordinate units. In addition, the staff considers the potential capabilities of
attachments and other organizations and agencies outside military channels.
The staff starts with the decisive operation identified in the commander’s
planning guidance. The staff checks that the decisive operation nests within
the higher headquarters’ concept of operations. The staff clarifies the
decisive operation’s purpose and considers ways to mass the effects (lethal
and nonlethal) of overwhelming combat power to achieve it.
•• The decisive operation is the focal point around which commanders
develop the entire operation and prioritize effort.
•• The main effort is the designated subordinate unit whose mission at a
given point in time is most critical to overall mission success.
Next, the staff considers shaping operations. The staff establishes a purpose
for each shaping operation tied to creating or preserving a condition for
the decisive operation’s success. Shaping operations may occur before,
concurrently with, or after the decisive operation.
The staff then determines sustaining operations necessary to create and
maintain the combat power required for the decisive operation and shaping
After developing the basic operational organization for a given COA, the
staff then determines the essential tasks for each decisive, shaping, and
sustaining operation.
Once staff members have explored possibilities for each COA, they
examine each COA to determine if it satisfies the previously established
screening criteria. In doing so, they change, add, or eliminate COAs
as appropriate, but must avoid the common pitfall of focusing on the
development of one good COA among several throwaway COAs.
Step 3: Array forces.
After determining the decisive and shaping operations and their related
tasks and purposes, planners determine the relative combat power required
to accomplish each task.
Figure 5-2. Historical minimum planning ratios (FM 6-0)
In counterinsurgency (and stability) operations, planners can develop
force requirements by gauging troop density — the ratio of security
forces (including host-nation military and police forces as well as foreign
counterinsurgents) to inhabitants. Most density recommendations fall within
a range of 20 to 25 counterinsurgents for every 1,000 residents in an AO.
(See FM 3-24, Insurgencies and Countering Insurgencies)
A COA may require a follow-on force to establish civil security, maintain civil
control, and restore essential services in a densely populated urban area over
an extended period. Planners conduct a troop-to-task analysis to determine the
type of units and capabilities required to accomplish these tasks.
Planners initially array friendly forces starting with the decisive operation
and continuing with all shaping and sustaining operations. Planners
normally array ground forces two levels down. The initial array focuses
on generic ground maneuver units without regard to specific type or task
organization, and then considers all appropriate intangible factors. During
this step, planners do not assign missions to specific units; they only
consider which forces are necessary to accomplish the task. In this step,
planners also array assets to accomplish essential stability tasks.
If the number of units arrayed exceeds the number available and
compensating for the difference is not possible with intangible factors,
the staff determines whether the COA is feasible. Commanders should
also consider requirements to minimize and relieve civilian suffering.
Establishing civil security and providing essential services such as medical
care, food and water, and shelter are implied tasks for commanders during
any combat operation.
Step 4: Develop a broad concept.
The broad concept describes how arrayed forces will accomplish the mission
within the commander’s intent. It concisely expresses the “how” of the
commander’s visualization and will eventually provide the framework for
the concept of operations. The broad concept summarizes the contributions
of all warfighting functions. The staff develops a broad concept for each
COA, which it expresses in both narrative and graphic forms.
A sound COA is more than the arraying of forces. It should present an
overall combined arms idea that will accomplish the mission.
The broad concept includes the following:
•• Purpose of the operation.
•• Statement of where the commander will accept risk.
•• Identification of critical friendly events and transitions between phases
(if the operation is phased).
•• Designation of the reserve force, including its location and
•• Information collection activities.
•• Essential stability tasks.
•• Identification of maneuver options that may develop during an
•• Assignment of subordinate AOs.
•• Scheme of fires.
•• Themes, messages, and means of delivery.
•• Military deception operations.
•• Key control measures.
•• Designation of the operational framework for this operation: deepclose-
security, main and supporting effort, or decisive-shapingsustaining.
•• Designation of the decisive operation, along with its task and purpose,
linked to how it supports the higher headquarters’ concept.
Note: For the purpose of this section, the decisive-shaping-sustaining
operational framework is an example. Planners use the same process when
analyzing the other two operational frameworks, deep-close-security and
main and supporting effort, to develop initial concepts of the operation.
Planners select control measures, including graphics, to control subordinate
units during the operation. Good control measures foster freedom of action,
decision making, and individual initiative.
Planners may use both lines of operations and lines of effort to build their
broad concept. Lines of operations portray the more traditional links among
objectives, decisive points, and centers of gravity. A line of effort, however,
helps planners link multiple tasks with goals, objectives, and end-state
Combining lines of operations with lines of effort allows planners to include
nonmilitary activities in their broad concept. This combination helps
commanders incorporate stability or defense support of civil authorities –
tasks that, when accomplished, help set end-state conditions of an operation.
Based on the commander’s planning guidance (informed by the Army
design methodology concept if this preceded the MDMP), planners
develop lines of effort by confirming end-state conditions from the initial
commander’s intent and planning guidance, determining and describing
each line of effort, and identifying objectives (intermediate goals) and
determining tasks along each line of effort.
During COA development, lines of effort are general and lack specifics,
such as tasks to subordinate units associated with objectives along each line
of effort. Units develop and refine lines of effort, including specific tasks
to subordinate units, during war-gaming. (See ADRP 5-0 and FM 3-07 for
examples of operations depicted along lines of effort.)
Step 5: Assign headquarters.
After determining the broad concept, planners create a task organization by
assigning headquarters to groupings of forces. They consider the types of
units for assignment to a headquarters and the ability of that headquarters
to control those units. Generally, a headquarters controls at least two
subordinate maneuver units (but not more than five) for fast-paced offensive
or defensive operations. The number and type of units assigned to a
headquarters for stability operations will vary based on factors of mission,
enemy, terrain and weather, troops and support available-time available and
civil considerations. If planners need additional headquarters, they note the
shortage and resolve it later.
Step 6: Develop COA statements and sketches.
The operations officer prepares a COA statement and supporting sketch
for each COA. The COA statement clearly portrays how the unit will
accomplish the mission. The COA statement should be a brief expression
of how to conduct the combined arms concept. The sketch provides a
picture of the movement and maneuver aspects of the concept, including the
positioning of forces.
At a minimum, the COA sketch includes the array of generic forces and
control measures, such as the following:
•• Unit and subordinate unit boundaries.
•• Unit movement formations (but not subordinate unit formations).
•• Line of departure or line of contact and phase lines, if used.
•• Information collection graphics.
•• Ground and air axes of advance.
•• Assembly areas, battle positions, strong points, engagement areas, and
•• Obstacle control measures and tactical mission graphics.
•• Fire support coordination and airspace coordinating measures.
•• Main effort.
•• Location of command posts and critical communications nodes.
•• Enemy known or templated locations.
•• Population concentrations.
Planners can include identifying features (e.g., cities, rivers, and roads) to
help orient users. The sketch may be on any medium.
Graphic control measures (GCMs) are graphic directives given by a
commander to subordinate commanders to assign responsibilities, coordinate
fire and maneuver, and control combat operations. In general, the commander
and staff develop GCMs during COA development. They use GCMs to
convey and enhance the understanding of the concept of operations, prevent
fratricide, and clarify the task and purpose of the main effort.
Figure 5-3. Sample brigade COA sketch (FM 6-0)
Step 7: Conduct COA briefing.
After developing COAs, the staff briefs them to the commander. The COA
briefing includes the following information:
•• Updated IPB (if there are significant changes).
•• As many threat COAs as necessary, but at a minimum, most likely and
most dangerous COAs must be developed.
•• Approved problem statement and mission statement.
•• Commander’s and higher commander’s intents.
•• COA statements and sketches, including lines of effort if used.
•• The rationale for each COA, including:
○○ Considerations that might affect enemy COAs.
○○ Critical events for each COA.
○○ Deductions resulting from the relative combat power analysis.
○○ Reason for unit arrangements as shown on the sketch.
○○ Reason the staff used the selected control measures.
○○ Impact on civilians.
○○ How the COA accounts for minimum essential stability tasks.
○○ Updated facts and assumptions.
○○ Refined COA evaluation criteria.
Step 8: Select or modify COAs for continued analysis.
After the COA briefing, the commander selects or modifies those COAs for
continued analysis. The commander also issues planning guidance. If the
commander rejects all COAs, the staff begins again. If one or more of the
COAs are accepted, staff members begin COA analysis.
Lessons and Best Practices
Observation: Units deployed to the Combat Training Centers (CTCs)
often do not successfully conduct command post (CP) operations to
facilitate the commander’s mission command of tactical operations.
Discussion: Units must practice managing information essential to
communicating the common operational picture (COP) and other
execution information to achieve situational understanding and to
direct the conduct of operations. The staff must establish and revise
SOPs to create a set of instructions covering tasks and functions of
the command post. Units must also develop their ability to maintain
continuity of command through the use of forward CPs (TAC) to
ensure the ability of the commander to exercise mission command
continuously from any point in the operational environment.
•• Maintain focus through the chaos. The best units rely on their
SOPs and can handle the current fight and plan larger operations
using MDMP, but also maintain focus on day-to-day progress of
targets and lines of effort.
•• Organize for flexibility. In operations, effective mission command
requires continuous, and often immediate, close coordination,
synchronization, and information sharing across staff sections.
Lessons and Best Practices
Observation: Units do not routinely incorporate effective graphic
and direct fire control measures to regulate aspects of operations or
efficiently control fires to destroy the enemy.
Discussion: Units must practice effective use of graphic control
measures and direct fire control measures to apply the science of
control to their operations. Units must develop COA sketches and
graphics that depict unit and subordinate boundaries, the line of
departure and phase lines, reconnaissance and security graphics,
ground and air axes of advance, assembly areas, battle positions,
strongpoints, engagement areas, and objectives. Units must also
develop direct fire control measures to control their scheme of
maneuver at the templated line of contact, to include fire support
control measures, target reference points, and restricted fire lines to
better portray how their combined arms concept will be conducted and
successfully accomplished. Units also must incorporate these control
measures and graphics into rehearsals.
•• Graphic control measures must be used to regulate maneuver,
movement, use of airspace, fires, and other aspects of operations.
•• All graphic control measures should relate to easily identifiable
natural or man-made terrain features.
Chapter 6
Course of Action Analysis
Course of action analysis enables commanders and staffs to identify
difficulties or coordination problems as well as probable consequences of
planned actions for each COA being considered. COA analysis not only
assesses the quality of each COA, it also identifies potential execution
problems, decisions that must be made, and requirements for contingency
planning.COA analysis (war-gaming) is a disciplined process, with rules
and steps that attempt to visualize the flow of the operation given the force’s
strengths and dispositions, the enemy’s capabilities and possible COAs, the
impact and requirements of civilians in the AO, and other aspects of the
situation. The eight steps of COA analysis are:
•• Step 1: Gather the tools.
•• Step 2: List all friendly forces.
•• Step 3: List assumptions.
•• Step 4: List known critical events and decision points.
•• Step 5: Select the war-gaming method.
•• Step 6: Select a technique to record and display results.
•• Step 7: War-game the operation and assess results.
•• Step 8: Conduct a war-game briefing (optional).
Figure 6-1. COA analysis (FM 6-0)
Each critical event within a proposed COA should be war-gamed using the
action, reaction, and counteraction methods of friendly and enemy forces
interaction (as well as impact on the local population). This helps the
commander and staff to synchronize warfighting functions and:
•• Determine how to maximize the effects of combat power while
protecting friendly forces and minimizing collateral damage.
•• Develop a further visualization of the operation.
•• Anticipate operational events.
•• Determine conditions and resources required for success.
•• Determine when and where to apply force capabilities.
•• Identify coordination needed to produce synchronized results.
•• Determine the most flexible COA.
The staff’s war-gaming results in refined COAs, a completed
synchronization matrix, and decision support templates and matrices for
each COA. War gamers need to:
•• Remain objective, not allowing personality or their sense of what the
commander wants to influence them. (They avoid defending a COA
just because they personally developed it.)
•• Record advantages and disadvantages of each COA accurately as they
•• Continually assess feasibility, acceptability, and suitability of each
COA. (If a COA fails any of these tests, they reject it.)
•• Avoid drawing premature conclusions and gathering facts to support
such conclusions.
•• Avoid comparing one COA with another during the war game. (This
occurs during COA comparison.)
War-gaming Steps
Step 1: Gather the tools.
The executive officer directs the staff to gather tools, materials, and data
for the war game. Units war-game with maps, sand tables, computer
simulations, or other tools that accurately reflect the physical and human
terrain. The staff posts the COA on a map displaying the AO. Tools required
include but are not limited to the following:
•• Running estimates.
•• Threat templates and models.
•• Civil considerations overlays, databases, and data files.
•• Modified combined obstacle overlays and terrain effects matrices.
•• Recording method.
•• Completed COAs, including graphics.
•• Means to post or display enemy and friendly unit symbols and other
•• Map of the AO.
Step 2: List all friendly forces.
The commander and staff consider all units that can be committed to the
operation, paying special attention to support relationships and constraints.
This list must include assets from all participants operating in the AO. The
friendly forces list remains constant for all COAs. The staff should take
into account elements such as host-nation special operations forces and
nongovernmental and interagency organizations.
Step 3: List assumptions.
The commander and staff review previous assumptions for continued
validity and necessity.
Step 4: List known critical events and decision points.
Critical events are those that directly influence mission accomplishment.
They include events that trigger significant actions or decisions (such as
commitment of an enemy reserve), complicated actions requiring detailed
study (such as a passage of lines), and essential tasks. The list of critical
events includes major events from the unit’s current position through
mission accomplishment. It includes reactions by civilians that might affect
operations or that will require allocation of significant assets to account for
essential stability tasks.
A decision point is a point in space and time when the commander or staff
anticipates making a key decision concerning a specific COA (JP 5-0,
Joint Operation Planning). Decision points may also be associated with the
friendly force and the status of ongoing operations. A decision point may be
associated with the commander’s critical information requirements (CCIRs),
which describe what information the commander needs in order to make the
anticipated decision. The priority information requirement (PIR) describes
what the commander must know about the enemy or the operational
environment and often is associated with a named area of interest (NAI).
Step 5: Select the war-gaming method.
There are three recommended war-gaming methods: belt, avenue in depth,
and box. Each considers the area of interest and all enemy forces that
can affect the outcome of the operation. The staff can use these methods
separately or in combination for long-term operations dominated by stability.
The belt method divides the AO into areas running the width of the AO
based on the METT-TC factors of mission, enemy, terrain and weather,
troops and support available-time available and civil considerations.
The belt method is most effective when the terrain is divided into welldefined
cross-compartments, during phased operations, or when the
enemy deploys in clearly defined belts or echelons. Belts can be adjacent
to or overlap each other. The basis for this war-gaming method is a
sequential analysis of events in each belt. It is preferred because it focuses
simultaneously on all forces affecting a particular event. The modified
belt method divides the AO into not more than three sequential belts.
In stability operations, the belt method can divide the COA by events,
objectives (goals, not geographic location), or events and objectives in a
selected slice across all lines of effort.
Figure 6-2. Sample belt method (FM 6-0)
Figure 6-3. Sample belt method using lines of effort (FM 6-0)
The avenue-in-depth method focuses on one avenue of approach at a time,
beginning with the decisive operation. This method is good for offensive
COAs or in the defense when canalizing terrain inhibits mutual support.
In stability operations, the staff may modify the avenue-in-depth method.
Instead of focusing on a geographic avenue, the staff war-games a line of
effort. This method focuses on one line of effort at a time, beginning with
the decisive line. It includes not only the war-gaming events, or objectives
in the selected line, but also war-gaming relationships among events or
objectives on all lines of effort with respect to events in the selected line.
Figure 6-4. Sample avenue-in-depth method (FM 6-0)
Figure 6-5. Sample avenue-in-depth method for stability operations
(FM 6-0)
The box method is a detailed analysis of a critical area, such as an
engagement area, a river crossing site, or a landing zone. It works best in
a time-constrained environment, such as a hasty attack. It is particularly
useful when planning operations in noncontiguous AOs. The staff isolates
the area and focuses on critical events in it. Staff members assume that
friendly units can handle most situations in the AOs and focus their attention
on essential tasks. In stability operations, the box method may focus
analysis on a specific objective along a line of effort such as development of
local security forces as part of improving civil security.
(See Figures 6-6 and 6-7 on the next page.)
Figure 6-6. Sample box method (FM 6-0)
Figure 6-7. Sample box method for stability operations (FM 6-0)
Step 6: Select a technique to record and display results.
The results of the war game provide a record from which to build task
organizations, synchronize activities, develop decision support templates,
confirm and refine event templates, prepare plans or orders, and compare
COAs. Two techniques are commonly used to record and display results:
the synchronization matrix technique and the sketch note technique. In both
techniques, staff members record any remarks regarding the strengths and
weaknesses they discover.
The synchronization matrix is generally the most common technique. The
synchronization matrix is a tool the staff uses to record the results of war
gaming and helps it synchronize a COA across time, space, and purpose in
relationship to potential enemy and civil actions.
Figure 6-8. Sample synchronization matrix (FM 6-0)
The sketch note method uses brief notes concerning critical locations or
tasks and purposes. These notes refer to specific locations or relate to
general considerations covering broad areas.
The commander and staff mark locations on the map and on a separate war
game work sheet. Staff members use sequential numbers to link the notes
to the corresponding locations on the map or overlay. Staff members also
identify actions by placing them in sequential action groups, giving each
sub-task a separate number. They use the war game work sheet to identify
all pertinent data for a critical event. They assign each event a number and
title and use the columns on the work sheet to identify and list in sequence:
•• Units and assigned tasks.
•• Expected enemy actions and reactions.
•• Friendly counteractions and assets.
•• Total assets needed for the task.
•• Estimated time to accomplish the task.
•• The decision point tied to executing the task.
•• CCIRs.
•• Control measures.
•• Remarks.
Figure 6-9. Sample sketch note method (FM 6-0)
Step 7: War-game the operation and assess the results.
War gaming is a conscious attempt to visualize the flow of operations given
the friendly force’s strengths and disposition, the enemy’s capabilities and
possible COAs, and civilian locations and activities. During the war game, the
commander and staff try to foresee the actions, reactions, and counteractions
of all participants, to include civilians. Staff members analyze each selected
event. They identify tasks the force must accomplish one echelon down and
the use of assets two echelons down. Identifying strengths and weaknesses of
each COA allows the staff to adjust the COAs as necessary.
The war game follows an action-reaction-counteraction cycle. Actions
are those events initiated by the side with the initiative. (In defensive and
stability operations, this is generally the enemy.) Reactions are the opposing
side’s actions in response. With regard to stability operations, the war game
tests the effects of actions, including intended and unintended effects, as
it simulates anticipated responses from civilians and civil institutions.
Counteractions are the first side’s responses to reactions.
The commander and staff examine many areas in detail during the war
game to include:
•• All friendly capabilities.
•• All enemy capabilities.
•• Civilian reactions to all friendly (and enemy) actions.
•• Global media responses to proposed actions.
•• Movement considerations.
•• Closure rates.
•• Lengths of columns.
•• Formation depths.
•• Ranges and capabilities of weapon systems.
•• Desired effects of fires.
The staff identifies the required assets of the warfighting functions to
support the concept of operations, including those needed to synchronize
sustaining operations. If requirements exceed available assets, the staff
recommends priorities.
The staff considers how to create conditions for success, protect the force,
and shape the operational environment. During the war game, staff officers
perform a risk assessment for their functional areas for each COA. They
then propose appropriate control measures. They continually assess the risk
of adverse reactions from population and media resulting from actions taken
by all sides in the operation, and develop ways to mitigate those risks.
The commander can modify any COA based on how the war game
develops. When doing this, the commander validates the composition and
location of the decisive operation, shaping operations, and reserve forces.
Control measures are adjusted as necessary. The commander may also
identify situations, opportunities, or additional critical events that require
more analysis.
War-gaming Responsibilities
The executive officer coordinates actions of the staff during the war game.
The XO is the unbiased controller of the process, ensuring the staff stays
on a timeline and achieves the goals of the war-gaming session. In a timeconstrained
environment, the XO ensures that, at a minimum, the decisive
operation is war-gamed.
The following paragraphs list the staff members who are involved during
the war game and their responsibilities.
The S-2 role-plays the enemy commander. The S-2 develops critical enemy
decision points in relation to the friendly COAs, projects enemy reactions
to friendly actions, and projects enemy losses. When additional intelligence
staff members are available, the intelligence officer assigns different
responsibilities to individual staff members within the section for war
gaming (such as the enemy commander, friendly intelligence officer, and
enemy recorder). The intelligence officer captures the results of each enemy
action and counteraction as well as the corresponding friendly and enemy
strengths and vulnerabilities. By trying to win the war game for the enemy,
the intelligence officer ensures the staff fully addresses friendly responses
for each enemy COA. For the friendly force, the S-2:
•• Identifies information requirements.
•• Refines the situation and event templates, including NAIs that support
decision points.
•• Refines the event template with corresponding decision points, target
areas of interest, and high-value targets.
•• Participates in targeting to select high-payoff targets from high-value
targets identified during the IPB.
•• Recommends PIRs that correspond to the decision points.
•• Refines civil considerations overlays, databases, and data files.
•• Refines the modified combined obstacle overlays and terrain effects
•• Refines weather products that address the impact on operations.
Movement and Maneuver
The S-3 normally selects the technique for the war game and role-plays
the friendly maneuver commander. Various staff officers such as the
aviation officer, engineer officer, and red team members assist the S-3.
The S-3 executes friendly maneuver as outlined in the COA sketch and
COA statement.
The S-5 assesses warfighting requirements, solutions, and concepts for each
COA. This plans officer develops plans and orders and determines potential
branches and sequels arising from the war gaming of various COAs. The
S-5 coordinates and synchronizes warfighting functions in all plans and
orders. The planning staff ensures the war game of each COA covers every
operational aspect of the mission. The members of the staff record each
event’s strengths, weaknesses, and the rationale for each action. They
complete the decision support template and matrix for each COA.
The chief of fires (fire support officer) assesses the fire support feasibility of
each war-gamed COA. This officer develops a proposed high-payoff target
list, target selection standards, and attack guidance matrix. The chief of fires
works with the intelligence officer to identify named and target areas of
interest for enemy indirect fire weapon systems, and identifies high-payoff
targets and additional events that may influence the positioning of field
artillery and air defense artillery assets. The chief of fires should also offer a
list of possible defended assets for air defense artillery forces and assist the
commander in making a final determination about asset priority.
The chief of protection assesses protection element requirements, refines
EEFIs, and develops a scheme of protection for each war-gamed COA.
The chief of protection:
•• Refines the critical asset list and the defended asset list.
•• Assesses hazards.
•• Develops risk control measures and mitigation measures of threats and
•• Establishes personnel recovery coordination measures.
•• Implements operational area security to include security of lines of
communication (LOCs), anti-terrorism measures, and law enforcement
•• Ensures that survivability measures reduce vulnerabilities.
•• Refines chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear operations.
The S-4 assesses the logistics feasibility of each COA. This officer
determines critical requirements for each logistics function (Classes I
through VII and IX) and identifies potential problems and deficiencies.
The S-4 assesses the status of all logistics functions required to support the
COA, including potential support required to provide essential services to
the civilians, and compares them to available assets.
The S-1 assesses the personnel aspect of building and maintaining
the combat power of units. This officer identifies potential shortfalls
and recommends COAs to ensure units maintain adequate manning to
accomplish their missions. The personnel officer estimates potential
personnel battle losses and assesses the adequacy of resources to provide
human resources support for the operation.
Note: The sustainment section should include host-nation security forces
and local population battle losses and resource capabilities into war gaming.
The S-8 assesses the commander’s area of responsibility to determine the
best COA for use of resources. This includes both core functions of financial
management: resource management and finance operations. This officer
determines partner relationships (joint, interagency, intergovernmental,
and multinational), requirements for special funding, and support to the
procurement process. The surgeon (medical) section provides advice for
medically related matters and exercises technical supervision of all medical
activities within the AO.
Mission Command
Mission command is the exercise of authority and direction by the
commander using mission orders to enable disciplined initiative within the
commander’s intent to empower agile and adaptive leaders in the conduct of
unified land operations. An effective approach to mission command must be
comprehensive, without being rigid, because military operations as a whole
defy orderly, efficient, and precise control.
The mission command warfighting function is the related tasks and systems
that develop and integrate those activities enabling a commander to balance
the art of command and the science of control in order to integrate the
other warfighting functions. Throughout the mission command warfighting
function, commanders integrate the other warfighting functions into a coherent
whole to mass the effects of combat power at the decisive place and time.
All staff proponents have a role in developing the mission command
warfighting function tasks and activities. The staff members with the
preponderance of the planning requirements for mission command, and
their primary tasks during this step of the MDMP, are:
•• The signal officer assesses network operations, spectrum management
operations, network defense, and information protection feasibility
of each war-gamed COA. He determines communications systems
requirements and compares them to available assets, identifies
potential shortfalls, and recommends actions to eliminate or reduce
their effects.
•• The information operations officer assesses the information operations
concept of support against the ability of information-related
capabilities to execute tasks in support of each war-gamed COA. The
information operations officer, in coordination with the electronic
warfare officer, also integrates information operations with cyber
electromagnetic activities.
•• The electronic warfare officer provides information on the electronic
warfare target list, electronic attack taskings, electronic attack requests,
and the electronic warfare portion of the collection matrix and the
attack guidance matrix. Additionally, the electronic warfare officer
assesses threat vulnerabilities, friendly electronic warfare capabilities,
and friendly actions relative to electronic warfare activities and other
cyber electromagnetic activities not covered by the S-6 or S-2.
•• The S-9 ensures that each war-gamed COA effectively integrates civil
considerations (the “C” of METT-TC). The civil affairs operations
officer considers not only tactical issues but also sustainment issues.
This officer assesses how operations affect civilians and estimates
the requirements for essential stability tasks that commanders might
have to undertake based on the ability of the unified action partners.
Host-nation support and care of dislocated civilians are of particular
concern. The civil affairs operations officer’s analysis considers how
operations affect public order and safety, the potential for disaster
relief requirements, noncombatant evacuation operations, emergency
services, and the protection of culturally significant sites. This officer
provides feedback on how the culture in the area of operations affects
each COA. If the unit lacks an assigned civil affairs officer, the
commander assigns these responsibilities to another staff member.
Note: Do not become derailed by extraneous minutiae. If the allocation of
the assets is appropriate to address a specific situation, then quickly assess
the results and continue the process.
An effective war game results in refining:
•• Each COA, including identifying branches and sequels that become
on-order or be-prepared missions.
•• The locations and times of decisive points.
•• The enemy event template and matrix.
•• The task organization, including forces retained in general support.
•• Mission command requirements, including control measures and
updated operational graphics.
•• CCIRs and information requirements — including the last time
information of value — and incorporating them into the information
collection plan.
An effective war game results in identifying or confirming:
•• Key or decisive terrain and determining how to use it.
•• Tasks the unit retains and tasks assigned to subordinates.
•• Likely times and areas for enemy use of weapons of mass destruction
and friendly chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear defense
•• Potential times or locations for committing reserve forces.
•• The most dangerous enemy COA.
•• The most dangerous civilian reaction.
•• Locations for the commander, command posts, and information system
•• Critical events.
•• Requirements for support of each warfighting function.
•• Effects of friendly and enemy actions on civilians and infrastructure
and how these will affect military operations.
•• The locations of NAIs, target areas of interest, decision points, and
information requirements needed to support them.
•• Hazards, assessing their risk, developing controls for them, and
determining residual risk.
•• The coordination required for integrating and synchronizing
interagency, host-nation, and nongovernmental organization
An effective war game results in analyzing:
•• Potential civilian reactions to operations.
•• Potential media reaction to operations.
•• Potential impacts on civil security, civil control, and essential services
in the AO.
An effective war game results in developing:
•• Decision points.
•• A synchronization matrix.
•• A decision support template and matrix.
•• Solutions to achieving minimum essential stability tasks in the AO.
•• The information collection plan and graphics.
•• Initial information themes and messages.
•• Fires, protection, and sustainment plans and graphic control measures.
An effective war game results in:
•• Analyzing and evaluating strengths and weaknesses of each COA.
•• Determining requirements for military deception and surprise.
•• Determining the timing for concentrating forces and starting the attack
or counterattack.
•• Determining movement times and tables for critical assets.
•• Estimating the duration of the entire operation and each critical event.
•• Projecting the percentage of enemy forces defeated in each critical
event and overall.
•• Projecting the percentage of minimum essential tasks that the unit can
or must accomplish.
•• Anticipating media coverage and impact on key audiences.
•• Integrating targeting into the operation, to include identifying or
confirming high-payoff targets and establishing attack guidance.
•• Allocating assets to subordinate commanders to accomplish their
Step 8: Conduct a war-game briefing (optional).
If time permits, the staff delivers a briefing to all affected elements to ensure
everyone understands the results of the war game. The staff uses the briefing
for review and makes sure it captures all relevant points of the war game for
presentation to the commander, chief of staff or executive officer, or deputy
or assistant commander in the COA decision briefing. In a collaborative
environment, the briefing may include selected subordinate staffs. A wargame
briefing format includes the following:
•• Higher headquarters’ mission, commander’s intent, and military
deception plan.
•• Updated IPB.
•• Friendly and enemy COAs that were war-gamed, including:
○○ Critical events.
○○ Possible enemy actions and reactions.
○○ Possible impact on civilians.
○○ Possible media impacts.
○○ Modifications to the COAs.
○○ Strengths and weaknesses.
○○ Results of the war game.
•• Assumptions.
•• War-gaming technique used.
Lessons and Best Practices
Observation: Units continue to have difficulty integrating and
synchronizing assets into the combined arms fight.
Discussion: Units at all levels often are challenged to synchronize
the capabilities of their assets to maximize the effectiveness of their
force. Synchronization of assets begins with COA development, is
refined during COA analysis, and is further refined during rehearsals.
Lack of synchronization often results in a disjointed effort, as opposed
to operating with unity of effort. Units are challenged to synchronize
and coordinate their intelligence efforts, and fires often are not
synchronized with obstacles to maximize engagement of the enemy.
Key combat multipliers often are piecemealed out during preparation
as opposed to organizing the effort based on priority of effort.
Recommendation: Course of action analysis is a critical step of the
MDMP in which all enablers should participate. An effective war game
results in defining the roles of all enablers and warfighting functions
and synchronizes their role in the fight. Key products to be developed
in the war game include the synchronization matrix, decision support
template, and decision support matrix.

Chapter 7
Course of Action Comparison
Course of action comparison is an objective process to evaluate COAs
independently of each other and against set evaluation criteria approved
by the commander and staff. Identifying the strengths and weaknesses of
COAs allows for the COA with the highest probability of success to be
selected and further developed in an operation plan or operation order. The
commander and staff perform certain actions and processes that lead to the
key outputs in Figure 7-1.
Figure 7-1. COA comparison (FM 6-0)
Step 1: Analyze advantages and disadvantages.
COA comparison starts with all staff members analyzing each COA from
their perspectives, using the evaluation criteria developed before the war
game. , Comparing the strengths and weaknesses of the COAs identifies
their advantages and disadvantages with respect to each other.
Step 2: Compare COAs.
Comparison of COAs is critical. The staff may use any technique that
facilitates developing those key outputs and recommendations and helping
the commander make the best decision. A common technique is the decision
Figure 7-2. Decision Matrix (FM 6-0)
The staff compares feasible COAs to identify the one with the highest
probability of success against the most likely enemy COA, the most
dangerous enemy COA, the most important stability task, or the most
damaging environmental impact. The selected COA should also:
•• Pose the minimum risk to the force and mission accomplishment.
•• Place the force in the best posture for future operations.
•• Provide maximum latitude for initiative by subordinates.
•• Provide the most flexibility to meet unexpected threats and
•• Provide the most secure and stable environment for civilians in the
area of operations.
•• Best facilitate initial information themes and messages.
Step 3: Conduct a COA decision briefing.
After completing its analysis and comparison, the staff identifies its preferred
COA and makes a recommendation. If the staff cannot reach a decision, the
XO decides which COA to recommend. The staff then delivers a decision
briefing to the commander. The XO highlights any changes to each COA
resulting from the war game. The decision briefing includes the following:
•• The commander’s intent of the higher and next higher commanders.
•• The status of the force and its components.
•• The current IPB.
•• The COAs considered, including:
○○ Assumptions used.
○○ Results of running estimates.
○○ A summary of the war game for each COA, including critical
events, modifications to any COA, and war-game results.
○○ Advantages and disadvantages (including risk) of each COA.
○○ The recommended COA. (If a significant disagreement exists,
then the staff should inform the commander and, if necessary,
discuss the disagreement.)

Chapter 8
Course of Action Approval
After the decision briefing, the commander selects the COA to best
accomplish the mission. If the commander rejects all COAs, the staff starts
COA development again. If the commander modifies a proposed COA or
gives the staff an entirely different one, the staff war-games the new COA
and presents the results to the commander with a recommendation.
After approving a COA, the commander issues the final planning
guidance. The final planning guidance includes a refined commander ’s
intent (if necessary) and new CCIRs to support execution. It also
includes any additional guidance on priorities for the warfighti ng
functions, orders preparation, rehearsal, and preparation. This guidance
includes priorities for resources needed to preserve freedom of action
and ensure continuous sustainment.
Commanders include the risk they are willing to accept in the final planning
guidance. If there is time, commanders use a video teleconference to discuss
acceptable risk with adjacent, subordinate, and senior commanders. However,
commanders still obtain the higher commander’s approval to accept any risk
that might imperil accomplishing the higher commander’s mission.
Based on the commander’s decision and final planning guidance, the
staff issues a WARNORD to subordinate headquarters. This WARNORD
contains the information subordinate units need to refine their plans. It
confirms guidance issued in person or by video teleconference and expands
on details not covered by the commander personally. The WARNORD
issued after COA approval normally contains:
•• The area of operations.
•• Mission.
•• Commander’s intent.
•• Updated CCIRs and EEFIs.
•• Concept of operations.
•• Principle tasks assigned to subordinate units.
•• The COAs considered, including:
○○ Preparation and rehearsal instructions not included in the SOPs.
○○ A final timeline for the operations.

Chapter 9
The Assessment Process
Assessment is the determination of the progress toward accomplishing a task,
creating an effect, or achieving an objective (JP 3-0). Assessment precedes
and guides the other activities of the operations process. Assessment involves
deliberately comparing actual events to forecast outcomes to determine the
overall effectiveness of force employment. More specifically, assessment
helps the commander determine progress toward attaining the desired
end state, achieving objectives, and performing tasks. It also involves
continuously monitoring and evaluating the operational environment to
determine what changes might affect the conduct of operations.
Throughout the operations process, commanders integrate their own
assessments with those of the staff, subordinate commanders, and other
unified action partners. Primary tools for assessing progress of the operation
include the operation order, the common operational picture, personal
observations, running estimates, and the assessment plan. The latter includes
measures of effectiveness, measures of performance, and reframing criteria.
The commander’s visualization forms the basis for his personal assessment
of progress. Running estimates provide information, conclusions, and
recommendations from the perspective of each staff section.
Assessment is continuous; it precedes and guides every operations process
activity and concludes each operation or phase of an operation. Broadly,
assessment consists of, but is not limited to, the following activities:
•• Monitoring the current situation to collect relevant information.
•• Evaluating progress toward attaining end-state conditions, achieving
objectives, and performing tasks.
•• Recommending or directing action for improvement.
Monitoring is continuous observation of those conditions relevant to the
current operation. Monitoring within the assessment process allows staffs
to collect relevant information, specifically information about the current
situation that can be compared to the forecast situation described in the
commander’s intent and concept of operations. Progress cannot be judged,
nor effective decisions made, without an accurate understanding of the
current situation.
During planning, commanders monitor the situation to develop facts and
assumptions that underlie the plan. During preparation and execution,
commanders and staffs monitor the situation to determine if the facts are
still relevant, if their assumptions remain valid, and if new conditions
emerged that affect the operations.
CCIRs and decision points should focus the staff’s monitoring activities and
prioritize the unit’s collection efforts. Information requirements concerning
the enemy, terrain and weather, and civil considerations are identified and
assigned priorities through reconnaissance and surveillance.
Staffs monitor and collect information from the common operational
picture and friendly reports. This information includes operational and
intelligence summaries from subordinate, higher, and adjacent headquarters
and communications and reports from liaison teams. Staffs also identify
information sources outside military channels and monitor their reports.
These other channels might include products from civilian, host-nation,
and other government agencies. Staffs apply information management and
knowledge management to facilitate getting this information to the right
people at the right time.
Staff sections record relevant information in running estimates. Staff
sections maintain a continuous assessment of current operations as a basis
to determine if they are proceeding according to the commander’s intent,
mission, and concept of operations. In their running estimates, staff sections
use this new information and these updated facts and assumptions as the
basis for evaluation.
Evaluating is using criteria to judge progress toward desired conditions
and determining why the current degree of progress exists. Evaluation is
at the heart of the assessment process, where most of the analysis occurs.
Evaluation helps commanders determine what is working and what is not
working, and it helps them gain insights into how to better accomplish the
Criteria in the forms of measures of effectiveness (MOEs) and measures of
performance (MOPs) aid in determining progress toward attaining endstate
conditions, achieving objectives, and performing tasks. MOEs help
determine if a task is achieving its intended results. MOPs help determine if
a task is completed properly. MOEs and MOPs are simply criteria — they
do not represent the assessment itself. MOEs and MOPs require relevant
information in the form of indicators for evaluation.
A measure of effectiveness is a criterion used to assess changes in system
behavior, capability, or operational environment that is tied to measuring
the attainment of an end state, achievement of an objective, or creation of
an effect (JP 3-0). MOEs help measure changes in conditions, both positive
and negative. MOEs help to answer the question “Are we doing the right
things?” MOEs are commonly found and tracked in formal assessment
plans. Examples of MOEs for the objective to “Provide a safe and secure
environment” may include:
•• Decrease in insurgent activity.
•• Increase in population trust of host-nation security forces.
A measure of performance is a criterion used to assess friendly actions
that is tied to measuring task accomplishment (JP 3-0). MOPs help answer
questions such as “Was the action taken?” or “Were the tasks completed
to standard?” A MOP confirms or denies that a task has been properly
performed. MOPs are commonly found and tracked at all levels in
execution matrices. MOPs are also commonly used to evaluate training.
MOPs help to answer the question “Are we doing things right?”
Current operations integration cells use MOPs in execution matrices and
running estimates to track completed tasks. The use of MOPs is a primary
element of battle tracking. MOPs focus on the friendly force. Evaluating
task accomplishment using MOPs is relatively straightforward and often
results in a yes or no answer.
In the context of assessment, an indicator is an item of information that
provides insight into a measure of effectiveness or measure of performance.
Indicators take the form of reports from subordinates, surveys and polls,
and information requirements. Indicators help to answer the question “What
is the current status of this MOE or MOP?” A single indicator can inform
multiple MOPs and MOEs.
MOE MOP Indicator
Answers the question:
Are we doing the right
Answers the question:
Are we doing things
Answers the question:
What is the status of
the MOE or MOP?
Measures purpose
Measures task
Measures raw data
inputs to inform
MOEs and MOPs.
Measures why in the
mission statement.
Measures what in the
mission statement.
Information used to
make measuring what
or why.
No hierarchical
relationship to MOPs.
No hierarchical
relationship to MOEs.
Subordinate to MOEs
and MOPs.
Often formally tracked
in formal assessment
Often formally tracked
in execution matrices.
Often formally tracked
in formal assessment
Typically challenging
to choose the correct
Typically simple to
choose the correct
Typically as challenging
to select correctly as the
supported MOE
or MOP.
Figure 9-1. Assessment measures and indicators (ADRP 5-0)
Evaluation includes analysis of why progress is or is not being made
according to the plan. Commanders and staffs propose and consider possible
causes. In particular, the question of whether changes in the situation can be
attributed to friendly actions is addressed. Commanders and staffs consult
subject matter experts, both internal and external to the staff, on whether
staffs have identified the correct underlying causes for specific changes in
the situation. Assumptions identified in the planning process are challenged
to determine if they are still valid.
A key aspect of evaluation is determining variances — the difference
between the actual situation and what the plan forecast the situation would
be at the time or event. Based on the significance of the variances, the staff
makes recommendations to the commander on how to adjust operations to
accomplish the mission more effectively.
Evaluating includes considering whether the desired conditions have
changed, are no longer achievable, or are not achievable through the
current operational approach. This is done by continually challenging the
key assumptions made when framing the problem. When an assumption is
invalidated, then reframing may be in order.
Monitoring and evaluating are critical activities; however, assessment is
incomplete without recommending or directing action. Assessment may
diagnose problems, but unless it results in recommended adjustments, its
use to the commander is limited.
Based on the evaluation of progress, the staff brainstorms possible
improvements to the plan and makes preliminary judgments about the
relative merit of those changes. Staff members identify those changes
possessing sufficient merit and provide them as recommendations to
the commander or make adjustments within their delegated authority.
Recommendations to the commander range from continuing the operation
as planned, to executing a branch, or making unanticipated adjustments.
Making adjustments includes assigning new tasks to subordinates,
reprioritizing support, adjusting information collection assets, and
significantly modifying the course of action. Commanders integrate
recommendations from the staff, subordinate commanders, and other
partners with their personal assessment. Using those recommendations, they
decide if and how to modify the operation to better accomplish the mission.
Although establishing cause and effect is sometimes difficult, it is crucial to
effective assessment. Sometimes, establishing causality between actions and
their effects can be relatively straightforward, such as in observing a bomb
destroy a bridge. In other instances, especially regarding changes in human
behavior, attitudes, and perception, establishing links between cause and
effect proves difficult. Commanders and staffs must guard against drawing
erroneous conclusions in these instances.
Effective assessment incorporates both quantitative (observation-based)
and qualitative (opinion-based) indicators. Human judgment is integral to
assessment. A key aspect of any assessment is the degree to which it relies
on human judgment and the degree to which it relies on direct observation
and mathematical rigor. Rigor offsets the inevitable bias, while human
judgment focuses rigor and processes on intangibles that are often key to
success. The appropriate balance depends on the situation, particularly the
nature of the operation and available resources for assessment, but rarely
lies at the ends of the scale.

Chapter 10
Operations Order
The operations order serves as a directive to subordinate units to relay
the commander’s orders. It is intended to coordinate the activities of all
organizations participating in the specified mission.
The S-3 section prepares, coordinates, authenticates, reviews, publishes, and
distributes written operations orders and plans. The operations officer must
be firmly in charge of the OPORD process. He should serve as the unifying
force the rest of the staff routinely works with to generate a product that
is concise yet informative to subordinate leaders. Each staff section will
produce an annex to the main order containing information pertinent to its
field of expertise. The S-3 must ensure these annexes are completed in time
for review and publication with the base order.
Normally, the XO coordinates with staff primaries to assist the S-3 in
developing the OPLAN or OPORD. Based on the commander’s planning
guidance, the XO:
•• Dictates the type of order to be issued.
•• Sets and enforces the orders production timeline.
•• Determines which staff sections publish which portions of the order.
Prior to the commander’s approving the OPLAN or OPORD, the XO and
S-3 along with the rest of the staff ensures it is internally consistent and is
nested with the higher commander’s intent, which is done through:
•• Plans and orders reconciliation.
•• Plans and orders crosswalk.
The following is an example of a way to format a typical OPLAN/OPORD.
Copy # of # copies
Issuing headquarters
Place of issue
Date-time group of signature
Message reference number
OPLAN/OPORD (Number) [(Code name)] [(Classification of title)]
(UNCLASSIFIED [U]) References:
(U) Time Zone Used Throughout the OPLAN/OPORD:
(U) Task Organization:
1. (U) Situation
a. (U) Area of Interest
b. (U) Area of Operations
(1) (U) Terrain
(2) (U) Weather
c. (U) Enemy Forces
d. (U) Friendly Forces
(1) (U) Higher Headquarters’ Mission and Intent
(a) (U) Higher Headquarters Two Levels Up.
(b) (U) Higher Headquarters
(2) (U) Missions of Adjacent Units
e. (U) Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Nongovernmental
f. (U) Civil Considerations
g. (U) Attachments and Detachments
h. (U) Assumptions
2. (U) Mission
3. (U) Execution
a. (U) Commander’s Intent
b. (U) Concept of Operations
c. (U) Scheme of Movement and Maneuver
(1) (U) Scheme of Mobility/Countermobility
(2) (U) Scheme of Battlefield Obscuration
(3) (U) Scheme of Information Collection
d. (U) Scheme of Intelligence
e. (U) Scheme of Fires
f. (U) Scheme of Protection
g. (U) Cyber Electromagnetic Activities
h. (U) Stability Tasks
i. (U) Assessment
j. (U) Tasks to Subordinate Units
k. (U) Coordinating Instructions
(1) (U) Time or condition when the OPORD
becomes effective
(2) (U) Commander’s Critical Information Requirements
(3) (U) Essential Elements of Friendly Information
(4) (U) Fire Support Coordination Measures
(5) (U) Airspace Coordinating Measures
(6) (U) Rules of Engagement
(7) (U) Risk Reduction Control Measures
(8) (U) Personnel Recovery Coordination Measures
(9) (U) Environmental Considerations
(10) (U) Soldier and Leader Engagement
(11) (U) Other Coordinating Instructions
4. (U) Sustainment
a. (U) Logistics
b. (U) Personnel
c. (U) Health Service Support
5. (U) Command and Control
a. (U) Command
(1) (U) Location of Commander and Key Leaders
(2) (U) Succession of Command
(3) (U) Liaison Requirements
b. (U) Control
(1) (U) Command Posts
(2) (U) Reports
c. (U) Signal
(Commander’s Last Name)
(Commander’s Rank)
(The commander or authorized representative signs the original copy. If the
representative signs the original, add the phrase “For the Commander.” The
signed copy is the historical copy and remains in the headquarters’ files.)
(Authenticator’s Last Name)
(Authenticator’s Rank)
(Use only if the commander does not sign the original order. If the
commander signs the original, no further authentication is required. If
the commander does not sign, the signature of the preparing staff officer
requires authentication and only the last name and rank of the commander
appear in the signature block.)
A – Task Organization
B – Intelligence
C – Operations
D – Fires
E – Protection
F – Sustainment
G – Engineer
H – Signal
I – Not used
J – Public Affairs
K – Civil Affairs Operations
L – Information Collection
M – Assessment
N – Space Operations
O – Not used
P – Host-Nation Support
Q – Knowledge Management
R – Reports
S – Special Technical Operations
T – Spare
U – Inspector General
V – Interagency Coordination
W– Operational Contract Support
X – Not used
Y – Not used
Z – Distribution
DISTRIBUTION: (Furnish distribution copies either for action or for
information. List in detail those who are to receive the plan or order. Refer
to Annex Z (Distribution) if lengthy.)
Annexes Explained
Appendix 1 – Intelligence Estimate
Tab A – Terrain (Engineer Officer)
Tab B – Weather (Staff Weather Officer)
Tab C – Civil Considerations
Tab D – Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield Products
Appendix 2 – Counterintelligence
Appendix 3 – Signals Intelligence
Appendix 4 – Human Intelligence
Appendix 5 – Geospatial Intelligence
Appendix 6 – Measurement and Signature Intelligence
Appendix 1 – Army Design Methodology Products
Appendix 2 – Operations Overlay
Appendix 3 – Decision Support Products
Tab A – Execution Matrix
Tab B – Decision Support Template and Matrix
Appendix 4 – Gap Crossing Operations
Appendix 5 – Air Assault Operations
Appendix 6 – Airborne Operations
Appendix 7 – Amphibious Operations
Appendix 8 – Special Operations (S-3)
Appendix 9 – Battlefield Obscuration (CBRN Officer)
Appendix 10 – Airspace Command and Control
(S-3 or Airspace Command and Control Officer)
Appendix 11 – Rules of Engagement (Staff Judge Advocate)
Tab A – No-Strike List (S-3 with Staff Judge Advocate)
Tab B – Restricted Target List (S-3 with Staff Judge Advocate)
Appendix 12 – Cyber Electromagnetic Activities
(Electronic Warfare Officer)
Appendix 13 – Military Information Support Operations
(Military Information Support Officer)
Appendix 14 – Military Deception (Military Deception Officer)
Appendix 15 – Information Operations (Information Operations Officer)
ANNEX D – FIRES (Chief of Fires)
Appendix 1 – Fire Support Overlay
Appendix 2 – Fire Support Execution Matrix Appendix 3 – Targeting
Tab A – Target Selection Standards
Tab B – Target Synchronization Matrix
Tab C – Attack Guidance Matrix
Tab D – Target List Work Sheets
Tab E – Battle Damage Assessment (S-2)
Appendix 4 – Field Artillery Support.
Appendix 5 – Air Support
Appendix 6 – Naval Fire Support
Appendix 7 – Air and Missile Defense (Air and Missile Defense Officer)
Tab A – Enemy Air Avenues of Approach
Tab B – Enemy Air Order of Battle
Tab C – Enemy Theater Ballistic Missile Overlay
Tab D – Air and Missile Defense Protection Overlay
ANNEX E – PROTECTION (Chief of Protection/Protection
Coordinator as designated by the commander)
Appendix 1 – Operational Area Security
Appendix 2 – Safety (Safety Officer)
Appendix 3 – Operations Security
Appendix 4 – Intelligence Support to Protection
Appendix 5 – Physical Security
Appendix 6 – Antiterrorism
Appendix 7 – Police Operations
Appendix 8 – Survivability Operations
Appendix 9 – Force Health Protection
Appendix 10 – Chemical, Biological, Radiological,
and Nuclear Defense (CBRN Officer)
Appendix 11 – Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD Officer)
Appendix 12 – Coordinate Air and Missile Defense (Air Defense Officer)
Appendix 13 – Personnel Recovery (Personnel Recovery Officer)
Appendix 14 – Detainee and Resettlement
ANNEX F – SUSTAINMENT (Chief of Sustainment [S-4])
Appendix 1 – Logistics (S-4)
Tab A – Sustainment Overlay
Tab B – Maintenance
Tab C – Transportation
Exhibit 1 – Traffic Circulation and Control
(Provost Marshal)
Exhibit 2 – Traffic Circulation Overlay
Exhibit 3 – Road Movement Table
Exhibit 4 – Highway Regulation (Provost Marshal)
Tab D – Supply
Tab E – Field Services
Tab F – Distribution
Tab G – Contract Support Integration
Tab H – Mortuary Affairs
Appendix 2 – Personnel Services Support
Tab A – Human Resources Support (S-1)
Tab B – Financial Management (S-8)
Tab C – Legal Support (Staff Judge Advocate)
Tab D – Religious Support (Chaplain)
Tab E – Band Operations (S-1)
Appendix 3 – Heath Service Support (Surgeon)
ANNEX G – ENGINEER (Engineer Officer)
Appendix 1 – Mobility/Countermobility
Tab A – Obstacle Overlay
Appendix 2 – Survivability
Appendix 3 – General Engineering
Appendix 4 – Geospatial Engineering
Appendix 5 – Environmental Considerations
Appendix 1 – Defensive Cyberspace Operations
Appendix 2 – Information Network Operations
Appendix 3 – Voice, Video, and Data Network Diagrams
Appendix 4 – Satellite Communication
Appendix 5 – Foreign Data Exchanges
Appendix 6 – Spectrum Management Operations
Appendix 7 – Information Services
ANNEX I – Not Used
ANNEX J – PUBLIC AFFAIRS (Public Affairs Officer)
Appendix 1 – Public Affairs Running Estimate
Appendix 2 – Public Affairs Guidance
Appendix 1 – Execution Matrix
Appendix 2 – Populace and Resources Control Plan
Appendix 3 – Civil Information Management Plan
Appendix 1 – Information Collection Plan
Appendix 2 – Information Collection Overlay
Appendix 1 – Nesting of Assessment Efforts
Appendix 2 – Assessment Framework
Appendix 3 – Assessment Working Group
ANNEX N – SPACE OPERATIONS (Space Operations Officer)
ANNEX O – Not Used
(Knowledge Management Officer)
Appendix 1 – Knowledge Management Decision Support Matrix
Appendix 2 – Common Operational Picture Configuration Matrix
Appendix 3 – Mission Command Information Systems Integration Matrix
Appendix 4 – Content Management
Appendix 5 – Battle Rhythm
Appendix 1 – Special Technical Operations Capabilities Integration Matrix
Appendix 2 – Functional Area I Program and Objectives
Appendix 3 – Functional Area II Program and Objectives
ANNEX T – Spare
ANNEX X – Spare
ANNEX Y – Spare
Lessons and Best Practices
Observation: Units are often challenged to write and publish quality
Discussion: Observations from recent CTC rotations show that units
often neglect to conduct a thorough MDMP for upcoming missions.
Most units produce a daily FRAGORD that is simply a cut and paste
from the higher headquarters’ order. Various FRAGORD writers are
often identified during an exercise, including the Planner, the JAG,
and the S-6. The confusion resulting from an unclear orders-writing
procedure hampers situational understanding among the staff and
with subordinate units.
Recommendation: Clearly delineate the orders-writing procedure
in the SOP. A clear understanding among the staff on how orders are
staffed and written will enhance situational understanding across the
command post.
Observation: A lack of staff integration during the orders process
hinders the unit’s ability to produce a complete operations order
(OPORD)/fragmentary order (FRAGORD).
Discussion: Many units have difficulty in bringing all of the
individual staff efforts together into a coordinated planning effort,
and do not establish formal touch points or synchronization meetings
for the purpose of revising and refining plans with inputs from all of
the warfighting functions.
Recommendation: Conduct daily (or as needed) staff planning
meetings in order to disseminate commander’s guidance, receive
operational updates, integrate warfighting functions, and guide the
operations process. Update the unit TACSOP with a synchronization
matrix that includes all warfighting functions.
After the order is issued, the commander and staff participate
in formal or informal confirmation briefing(s), as required, with
subordinate staffs. This ensures that subordinate staffs understand the
commander’s intent and concept.
The staff assists subordinate staffs by reviewing subordinate
commander’s plans and orders upon completion, and integrating
subordinate graphics into the staff products.

Chapter 11
Rehearsals allow leaders and their Soldiers to practice key aspects of the
concept of operations. These actions help Soldiers orient themselves to their
environment and other units before executing the operation. Rehearsals help
Soldiers build a lasting mental picture of the sequence of key actions within
the operation.
Rehearsals are the commander’s tool to ensure staffs and subordinates
understand the commander’s intent and the concept of operations. They
allow commanders and staffs to identify shortcomings in the plan not
previously recognized. Rehearsals also contribute to external and internal
coordination, as the staff identifies additional coordinating requirements.
Effective and efficient units habitually rehearse during training.
Commanders at every level routinely train and practice various rehearsal
types. Local standard operating procedures (SOPs) identify appropriate
rehearsal types and standards for their execution. All leaders conduct
periodic after-action reviews to ensure their units conduct rehearsals to
standard and correct substandard performances. After-action reviews also
enable leaders to incorporate lessons learned into existing plans and orders,
or into subsequent rehearsals.
Units conduct rehearsals at the lowest possible level, using the most
thorough technique possible, given the time available. Under timeconstrained
conditions, leaders conduct abbreviated rehearsals, focusing on
critical events determined by reverse planning. Each unit will have different
critical events based on the mission, unit readiness, and the commander’s
Rehearsal Types
Each rehearsal type achieves a different result and has a specific place in the
preparation timeline. The four types of rehearsals are the:
•• Back brief.
•• Combined arms rehearsal.
•• Support rehearsal.
•• Battle drill or SOP rehearsal.
Back Brief
A back brief is a briefing by subordinates to the commander to review how
subordinates intend to accomplish their mission. Normally, subordinates
perform back briefs throughout preparation. These briefings allow
commanders to clarify the commander’s intent early in subordinate
planning. Commanders use the back brief to identify any problems in the
concept of operations.
The back brief differs from the confirmation brief (a briefing subordinates
give their higher commander immediately following receipt of an order)
in that the back brief gives subordinate leaders time to complete their plan.
Back briefs require the fewest resources and are often the only option under
time-constrained conditions. Subordinate leaders explain their actions from
the start to the finish of the mission. Back briefs are performed sequentially,
with all leaders reviewing their tasks. When time is available, back briefs can
be combined with other types of rehearsals. Doing this lets all subordinate
leaders coordinate their plans before performing more elaborate drills.
Combined Arms Rehearsal
A combined arms rehearsal is a rehearsal in which subordinate units
synchronize their plans with each other. A maneuver unit headquarters
normally executes a combined arms rehearsal after subordinate units
issue their OPORD. This rehearsal type helps ensure that subordinate
commanders’ plans achieve the higher commander’s intent.
Support Rehearsal
The support rehearsal helps synchronize each warfighting function with
the overall operation. This rehearsal supports the operation so units
can accomplish their missions. Throughout preparation, units conduct
support rehearsals within the framework of a single or limited number of
warfighting functions. These rehearsals typically involve coordination and
procedure drills for aviation, fires, engineer support, or casualty evacuation.
Support rehearsals and combined arms rehearsals complement preparations
for the operation. Units may conduct rehearsals separately and then
combine them into full-dress rehearsals. Although these rehearsals differ
slightly by warfighting function, they achieve the same result.
Battle Drill or SOP Rehearsal
A battle drill is a collective action rapidly executed without a deliberate
decisionmaking process. A battle drill or SOP rehearsal ensures that all
participants understand a technique or a specific set of procedures. Throughout
preparation, units and staffs rehearse battle drills and SOPs. These rehearsals
do not need a completed order from higher headquarters. Leaders place priority
on those drills or actions they anticipate occurring during the operation.
Rehearsal Responsibilities
Commanders provide certain information as part of the commander’s
guidance during the initial mission analysis. They may revise the following
information when they select a course of action:
•• Rehearsal type.
•• Rehearsal technique.
•• Location.
•• Attendees.
•• Enemy course of action to be portrayed.
Executive Officer
The executive officer ensures all rehearsals are included in the
organization’s time-management SOP. The XO responsibilities include:
•• Publishing the rehearsal time and location in the OPORD or
•• Conducting staff rehearsals.
•• Determining rehearsal products, based on type, technique, and mission
•• Coordinating liaison officer attendance from adjacent units.
Rehearsal Preparation
Everyone involved in executing or supporting the rehearsal has
responsibilities during preparation.
Executive Officer
The XO through war-gaming and coordination with the commander:
•• Prepares to serve as the rehearsal director.
•• Coordinates time for key events requiring rehearsal.
•• Establishes rehearsal time limits per the commander’s guidance and
mission variables.
•• Verifies rehearsal site preparation.
•• Appropriate markings and associated training aids.
•• Parking areas.
•• Determines the method for controlling the rehearsal and ensuring its
logical flow.
Subordinate Leaders
Subordinate leaders complete their planning. This planning includes:
•• Completing unit OPORDs.
•• Identifying issues derived from the higher headquarters’ OPORD.
•• Providing a copy of their unit OPORD with graphics to the higher
•• Ensuring they and their subordinates bring all necessary equipment.
Conducting Headquarters Staff
Conducting headquarters staff members:
•• Develop an OPORD with necessary overlays.
•• Deconflict all subordinate unit graphics.
•• Publish composite overlays at the rehearsal, including at a minimum:
Movement and maneuver, intelligence, fires, sustainment, signal
operations, and protection.
Rehearsal Execution
During the rehearsal execution, the commander, XO, assistants, subordinate
leaders, recorder, and staff from the conducting headquarters have specific
Commanders command the rehearsal just as they will command the
operation. They maintain the focus and level of intensity, allowing no
potential for subordinate confusion. Although the staff refines the OPORD,
it belongs to the commander. The commander uses the order to conduct
operations. An effective rehearsal is not a commander’s briefing to
subordinates. It validates synchronization — the what, when, and where
— of tasks that subordinate units will perform to execute the operation and
achieve the commander’s intent.
Executive Officer
Normally, the XO serves as the rehearsal director. This officer ensures each
unit will accomplish its tasks at the right time and cues the commander to
upcoming decisions. The executive officer’s script is the execution matrix
and the decision support template. The XO as the rehearsal director:
•• Starts the rehearsal on time.
•• Has a formal roll call.
•• Ensures everyone brings the necessary equipment, including
organizational graphics and previously issued orders.
•• Validates the task organization. Link-ups must be complete or on
schedule, and required materiel and personnel must be on hand. The
importance of this simple check cannot be overemphasized.
•• Ensures synchronization of the operational framework being used.
•• Rehearses the synchronization of combat power from flank and higher
organizations. These organizations often exceed the communications
range of the commander when they are away from the command post.
•• Synchronizes the timing and contribution of each warfighting function.
•• For each decisive point, defines conditions required to commit the
reserve or striking forces, move a unit, close or emplace an obstacle,
fire at planned targets, or change the posture of sustainment activities.
•• Disciplines leader movements, enforces brevity, and ensures
•• Keeps within time constraints.
•• Ensures that the most important events receive the most attention.
•• Ensures that absentees and flank units receive changes to the OPORD
and transmits changes to them as soon as practical.
•• Communicates the key civil considerations of the operation.
Operations Officer, S-3
•• Portrays the friendly scheme of maneuver.
•• Ensures subordinate unit actions comply with the commander’s intent.
•• Normally provides the recorder.
Intelligence Officer (S-2)
The intelligence officer portrays the enemy forces and other variables
of the operational environment during rehearsals. The S-2 bases actions
on the enemy course of action that the commander selected during the
MDMP. The S-2:
•• Provides participants with current intelligence.
•• Portrays the best possible assessment of the enemy course of action.
•• Communicates the enemy’s presumed concept of operations, desired
effects, and end state.
•• Explains other factors of the operational environment that may hinder
or complicate friendly actions.
•• Communicates the key civil considerations of the operation.
Subordinate Leaders
Subordinate unit leaders, using an established format, effectively articulate
their unit’s actions and responsibilities as well as record changes on their
copies of the graphics or OPORD.
The recorder is normally a representative from the S-3. During the
rehearsal, the recorder captures all coordination made during execution
and notes unresolved problems. At the end of the rehearsal, the recorder
presents any unresolved problems for resolution, restates any changes
directed by the commander, and estimates when a fragmentary order
codifying the changes will follow.
Rehearsal Details
All participants have responsibilities before, during, and after a rehearsal.
Before a rehearsal, the rehearsal director states the commander’s
expectations and orients the other participants on details of the rehearsal,
as necessary. During a rehearsal, all participants rehearse their roles in the
operation. They make sure they understand how their actions support the
overall operation and note any additional coordination required. After a
rehearsal, participants ensure they understand any changes to the OPORD
and coordination requirements, and they receive all updated staff products.
Commanders do not normally address small problems that arise during
rehearsals. Instead, the recorder keeps a record of these problems. This
ensures the commander does not interrupt the rehearsal’s flow. If the
problem remains at the end of the rehearsal, the commander resolves it then.
If the problem jeopardizes mission accomplishment, the staff accomplishes
the coordination necessary to resolve it before the participants disperse.
Identifying and solving such problems is a major reason for conducting
rehearsals. If commanders do not make corrections while participants are
assembled, they may lose the opportunity to do so. Coordinating among
dispersed participants and disseminating changes to them often prove more
difficult than accomplishing these actions in person.
Before the Rehearsal
Before the rehearsal, the rehearsal director calls the roll and briefs
participants on information needed for execution. The briefing begins with
an introduction, overview, and orientation. It includes a discussion of the
rehearsal script and ground rules. The detail of this discussion is based on
participants’ familiarity with the rehearsal SOP.
Introduction and Overview
Before the rehearsal, the rehearsal director introduces all participants as
needed. Then, the rehearsal director (normally the XO) gives an overview of
the briefing topics, rehearsal subjects and sequence, and timeline, specifying
the no-later-than ending time. The rehearsal director explains any constraints,
such as pyrotechnics use, light discipline, weapons firing, or radio silence.
For safety, the rehearsal director ensures all participants understand
safety precautions and enforces their use. Last, the director emphasizes
results and states the commander’s standard for a successful rehearsal.
Subordinate leaders state any results of planning or preparation (including
rehearsals) they have already conducted. If a subordinate recommends a
change to the OPORD, the rehearsal director acts on the recommendation
before the rehearsal begins, if possible. If not, the commander resolves the
recommendation with a decision before the rehearsal ends.
The rehearsal director orients the participants to the terrain or rehearsal
medium. The rehearsal director identifies orientation using magnetic north
on the rehearsal medium and symbols representing actual terrain features.
After explaining any graphic control measures, obstacles, and targets, the
rehearsal director issues supplemental materials, if needed.
Rehearsal Script
An effective means for the rehearsal director to control rehearsals is the use
of a script. It keeps the rehearsal on track. The script provides a checklist so
the organization addresses all warfighting functions and outstanding issues.
It has two major parts: the agenda and response sequence.
An effective rehearsal follows a prescribed agenda that everyone knows and
understands. This agenda includes, but is not limited to:
•• Roll call.
•• Participant orientation to the terrain.
•• Location of local civilians.
•• Enemy situation brief.
•• Friendly situation brief.
•• Description of expected enemy actions.
•• Discussion of friendly unit actions.
•• A review of notes made by the recorder.
The execution matrix, decision support template, and OPORD outline the
rehearsal agenda. These tools, especially the execution matrix, both drive
and focus the rehearsal. The commander and staff use them to control the
operation’s execution. Any templates, matrices, or tools developed within
each of the warfighting functions should tie directly to the supported unit’s
execution matrix and decision support template. Examples include an
intelligence synchronization matrix or fires execution matrix.
An effective rehearsal realistically and quickly portrays the enemy force
and other variables of the operational environment without distracting from
the rehearsal. One technique for doing this has the S-2 preparing an actions
checklist. It lists a sequence of events much like the one for friendly units,
but from the enemy or civilian perspective.
Response Sequence
Participants respond in a logical sequence: either by warfighting function
or by unit as the organization deploys, from front to rear. The commander
determines the sequence before the rehearsal. The staff posts the sequence
at the rehearsal site, and the rehearsal director may restate it.
Effective rehearsals allow participants to visualize and synchronize the
concept of operations. As the rehearsal proceeds, participants talk through
the concept of operations. They focus on key events and the synchronization
required to achieve the desired effects. The commander leads the rehearsal and
gives orders during the operation. Subordinate commanders enter and leave
the discussion at the time they expect to begin and end their tasks or activities
during the operation. This practice helps the commander assess the adequacy
of synchronization. Commanders do not “re-war-game” unless absolutely
necessary to ensure subordinate unit commanders understand the plan.
The rehearsal director emphasizes integrating fires, events that trigger
different branch actions, and actions on contact. The chief of fires (fire
support officer) or firing unit commander states when to initiate fires, who
to fire them, from where the firing comes, the ammunition available, and the
desired target effect. Subordinate commanders state when they initiate fires
per their fire support plans. The rehearsal director speaks for any absent staff
section and ensures the rehearsal addresses all actions on the synchronization
matrix and decision support template at the proper time or event.
The rehearsal director ensures that the rehearsal includes key sustainment
and protection actions at the appropriate times. Failure to do so reduces
the value of the rehearsal as a coordination tool. The staff officer with
coordinating staff responsibility inserts these items into the rehearsal.
Special staff officers should brief by exception when a friendly or enemy
event occurs within their area of expertise. Summarizing these actions at
the end of the rehearsal can reinforce coordination requirements identified
during the rehearsal. The staff updates the decision support template and
gives a copy to each participant.
Under time-constrained conditions, the conducting headquarters staff may
provide copies before the rehearsal and rely on participants to update them
with pen-and-ink changes.
Ground Rules
After discussing the rehearsal script, the rehearsal director:
•• States the standard (what the commander will accept) for a successful
•• Ensures everyone understands the parts of the OPORD to rehearse. If
the unit will not rehearse the entire operations, the rehearsal director
states the events to be rehearsed.
•• Quickly reviews the rehearsal SOP if all participants are not familiar
with it.
•• Establishes the timeline that designates the rehearsal starting time in
relation to H-hour. For example, begin the rehearsal by depicting the
anticipated situation one hour before H-hour.
•• Establishes the time interval to begin and track the rehearsal. For
example, a 10-minute interval equates to one hour of actual time.
•• Updates friendly and enemy activities as necessary; for example,
describing any ongoing reconnaissance.
During the Rehearsal
Once the rehearsal director finishes discussing the ground rules and
answering questions, the S-3 reads the mission statement, the commander
reads the commander’s intent, and the S-3 establishes the current friendly
situation. The rehearsal then begins, following the rehearsal script.
Step 1 – Enemy Forces Deployed
The S-2 briefs the current enemy situation and operational environment and
places markers on the map or terrain board (as applicable) indicating where
enemy forces and other operationally significant groups or activities would
be before the first rehearsal event. The S-2 then briefs the most likely enemy
course of action and operational context. The S-2 also briefs the status of
information collection operations (for example, citing any patrols still out or
any observation post positions).
Step 2 – Friendly Forces Deployed
The S-3 briefs friendly maneuver unit dispositions, including security forces,
as they are arrayed at the start of the operation. Subordinate commanders
and other staff officers brief their unit positions at the starting time and
any particular points of emphasis. For example, the chemical, biological,
radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) officer states the mission-oriented
protective posture level, and the fire support officer or fires unit commander
states the range of friendly and enemy artillery. Other participants place
markers for friendly forces, including adjacent units, at the positions they
will occupy at the start of the operation. As participants place markers, they
state their task and purpose, task organization, and strength.
Sustainment and protection units brief positions, plans, and actions at the
starting time and at points of emphasis the rehearsal director designates.
Subordinate units may include forward arming and refueling points, refuelon-
the-move points, communications checkpoints, security points, or
operations security procedures that differ for any period during the operation.
The rehearsal director restates the commander’s intent, if necessary.
Step 3 – Initiate Action
The rehearsal director states the first event on the execution matrix.
Normally this involves the S-2 moving enemy markers according to the
most likely course of action. The depiction must tie enemy actions to
specific terrain or to friendly unit actions. The S-2 portrays enemy actions
based on the situational template developed for staff war gaming.
As the rehearsal proceeds, the S-2 portrays the enemy and other operational
factors and walks through the most likely enemy course of action (per the
situational template). The S-2 stresses reconnaissance routes, objectives,
security force composition and locations, initial contact, initial fires
(artillery, air, and attack helicopters), probable main force objectives or
engagement areas, and likely commitment of reserve forces.
Step 4 – Decision Point
When the rehearsal director determines that a particular enemy movement
or reaction is complete, the commander assesses the situation to determine
if a decision point has been reached. Decision points are taken directly from
the decision support template.
If the commander determines the unit is not at a decision point and not at
the end state, the commander directs the rehearsal director to continue to the
next event on the execution matrix. Participants use the response sequence
and continue to act out and describe their unit’s actions.
When the rehearsal reaches conditions that establish a decision point, the
commander decides whether to continue with the current course of action
or select a branch course of action. If electing the current course of action,
the commander directs the rehearsal director to move to the next event
in the execution matrix. If selecting a branch, the commander states the
reason for selecting that branch, states the first event of that branch, and
continues the rehearsal until the organization has rehearsed all events of
that branch. As the unit reaches decisive points, the rehearsal director
states the conditions required for success.
When it becomes obvious that the operation requires additional coordination
to ensure success, participants immediately begin coordinating. This is one
of the key reasons for rehearsals. The rehearsal director ensures that the
recorder captures the coordination and any changes and that all participants
understand the coordination.
Step 5 – End State Reached
Achieving the desired end state completes that phase of the rehearsal. In an
attack, this will usually be when the unit is on the objective and has finished
consolidation and casualty evacuation. In the defense, this will usually be
after the decisive action (such as committing the reserve or striking force),
the final destruction or withdrawal of the enemy, and casualty evacuation
are complete. In stability tasks, this usually occurs when a unit achieves the
targeted progress within a designated line of effort.
Step 6 – Reset
At this point, the commander states the next branch to rehearse. The
rehearsal director resets the situation to the decision point where that
branch begins and states the criteria for a decision to execute that branch.
Participants assume those criteria have been met and then refight the
operation along that branch until they attain the desired end state. They
complete any coordination needed to ensure all participants understand and
can meet any requirements. The recorder records any changes to the branch.
The commander then states the next branch to rehearse. The rehearsal
director again resets the situation to the decision point where that
branch begins, and participants repeat the process. This continues until
the rehearsal has addressed all decision points and branches that the
commander wants to rehearse.
If the standard is not met and time permits, the commander directs
participants to repeat the rehearsal. The rehearsal continues until
participants are prepared or until the time available expires. (Commanders
may allocate more time for a rehearsal but must assess the effects on
subordinate commanders’ preparation time.) Successive rehearsals, if
conducted, should be more complex and realistic.
At the end of the rehearsal, the recorder restates any changes, coordination,
or clarifications that the commander directed and estimates how long it will
take to codify changes in a written FRAGORD.
After the Rehearsal
After the rehearsal, the commander leads an after-action review. The
commander reviews lessons learned and makes the minimum required
modifications to the existing plan. (Normally, a FRAGORD effects these
changes.) Changes should be refinements to the OPORD; they should not
be radical or significant. Changes not critical to the operation’s execution
may confuse subordinates and hinder the synchronization of the plan. The
commander issues any last-minute instructions or reminders and reiterates
the commander’s intent.
Based on the commander’s instructions, the staff makes any necessary
changes to the OPORD, decision support template, and execution matrix
based on the rehearsal results. Subordinate commanders incorporate these
changes into their unit’s OPORDs. The COS (XO) ensures the changes
are briefed to all leaders or liaison officers who did not participate in the
A rehearsal provides the final opportunity for subordinates to identify and
fix unresolved problems. The staff ensures that all participants understand
any changes to the OPORD and that the recorder captures all coordination
done at the rehearsal. All changes to the published OPORD are, in effect,
oral FRAGORDs. As soon as possible, the staff publishes them as a written
FRAGORD that changes the operation order.
Lessons and Best Practices
Observation: Fires rehearsals are often ineffective or not conducted.
Discussion: A noted trend at the CTCs indicates that many unit fires
cells and commanders do not have a clear understanding of how to
conduct effective fires rehearsals, both as part of the combined arms
rehearsal (CAR) and as technical fire support rehearsals. Rehearsals
and back briefs occur during preparation and ensure an orderly
transition between planning and execution. Rehearsals also allow
leaders to assess their subordinates’ preparations.
Recommendation: Use the CAR to enable commanders and staffs
to visualize the concept of operations and sequence of events. The
technical fire support rehearsal is conducted to verify the fire support
plan and also the communication links for mission execution. The
target list, including any refined target locations. The observation
plan, including primary and alternate observers, primary and alternate
Observation Posts (OPs), the task and purpose of each target, and the
engagement criteria for each target are discussed for all fire support
events. Priority of fires, by phase of the operation. Priority of targets,
ensuring that everyone understands the priority of engaging targets
if two targets must be attacked simultaneously. Primary and alternate
communications nets, including an anti-jam plan. Fire support
coordination measures, ensuring they are de-conflicted. That all unit
obstacles are covered by fire.

Chapter 12
Four Forms of Reconnaissance
The four forms of reconnaissance are zone, area, route, and reconnaissance
in force.
The S-3 assigns zone reconnaissance when the enemy situation is vague
or when he needs information concerning cross-country trafficability. It
is appropriate when previous knowledge of the terrain is limited or when
combat operations have altered the terrain. The reconnaissance may be
threat-oriented, terrain-oriented, society-oriented, infrastructure-oriented,
or a combination. Additionally, the unit commander may focus the
reconnaissance effort on a specific force, such as the enemy’s reserve.
A terrain-focused zone reconnaissance must include the identification
of obstacles, both existing and reinforcing, as well as areas of chemical,
biological, radiological, and nuclear (CBRN) contamination.
A single continuous line enclosing the reconnaissance area, such as an
objective, defines the “area” for an area reconnaissance. A named area
of interest, when focusing on a relatively small area such as a building,
bridge, or key piece of terrain, can also define the reconnaissance area. Area
reconnaissance enables the unit to conduct decentralized reconnaissance in
multiple areas simultaneously.
Route reconnaissance is conducted to determine whether the route is clear
of obstacles and/or threat forces and how well or how poorly it will support
the planned movement. The route is a prescribed course from a start point to
a specific destination (release point). It can be a road or an axis of advance.
At the unit level, route reconnaissance is a task often performed during zone
or area reconnaissance. If enemy contact is expected, it is normal to assign
a unit one major route. If enemy contact is unlikely, it is normal to assign a
unit two routes.
The normal conduct of a zone, area, and route reconnaissance with a
multidimensional focus includes such factors as society and infrastructure
as well as the threat and terrain.
Conduct a reconnaissance in force when the enemy is operating within an
area and it is not possible to obtain adequate intelligence by other means.
It is an aggressive reconnaissance, conducted as an offensive operation,
to answer clearly stated commander’s critical information requirements
(CCIRs). It differs from other reconnaissance operations because the normal
conduct is only to gain information about the enemy and not the terrain. The
end state of a reconnaissance in force is to determine enemy weaknesses
that higher headquarters can exploit.
Actions by Friendly Force
Attack by fire – A tactical mission task in which a commander uses direct
fires, supported by indirect fires, to engage an enemy force without closing
with the enemy to destroy, suppress, fix, or deceive that enemy. (FM 3-90-1)
Breach – A tactical mission task in which the unit employs all available
means to break through or establish a passage through an enemy defense,
obstacle, minefield, or fortification. (FM 3-90-1)
Bypass – A tactical mission task in which the commander directs his unit
to maneuver around an obstacle, position, or enemy force to maintain the
momentum of the operation while deliberately avoiding combat with an
enemy force. (FM 3-90-1)
Clear – 1. A tactical mission task that requires the commander to remove
all enemy forces and eliminate organized resistance within an assigned area.
(FM 3-90-1) 2. The total elimination or neutralization of an obstacle that is
usually performed by follow-on engineers and is not done under fire.
(ATTP 3-90.4)
Control – A tactical mission task that requires the commander to maintain
physical influence over a specified area to prevent its use by an enemy or to
create conditions necessary for successful friendly operations. (FM 3-90-1)
Counterreconnaissance – A tactical mission task that encompasses all
measures taken by a commander to counter enemy reconnaissance and
surveillance efforts. (FM 3-90-1)
Disengage – A tactical mission task where a commander has his unit break
contact with the enemy to allow the conduct of another mission or to avoid
decisive engagement. (FM 3-90-1)
Exfiltrate – A tactical mission task where a commander removes Soldiers
or units from areas under enemy control by stealth, deception, surprise, or
clandestine means. (FM 3-90-1)
Follow and assume – A tactical mission task in which a second committed
force follows a force conducting an offensive task and is prepared to
continue the mission if the lead force is fixed, attrited, or unable to continue.
(FM 3-90-1)
Follow and support – A tactical mission task in which a committed force
follows and supports a lead force conducting an offensive task. (FM 3-90-1)
Occupy – A tactical mission task that involves a force moving a friendly
force into an area so that it can control that area. Both the force’s movement
to and occupation of the area occur without enemy opposition. (FM 3-90-1)
Reduce – 1. A tactical mission task that involves the destruction of an
encircled or bypassed enemy force. (FM 3-90-1) 2. A mobility task to create
and mark lanes through, over, or around an obstacle to allow the attacking
force to accomplish its mission. (ATTP 3-90.4)
Retain – A tactical mission task in which the commander ensures that
a terrain feature controlled by a friendly force remains free of enemy
occupation or use. (FM 3-90-1)
Secure – A tactical mission task that involves preventing a unit, facility,
or geographical location from being damaged or destroyed as a result of
enemy action. (FM 3-90-1)
Seize – A tactical mission task that involves taking possession of a
designated area using overwhelming force. (FM 3-90-1)
Support by fire – A tactical mission task in which a maneuver force moves
to a position where it can engage the enemy by direct fire in support of
another maneuvering force. (FM 3-90-1)
Effects on Enemy Forces
Block – A tactical mission task that denies the enemy access to an area or
prevents his advance in a direction or along an avenue of approach. Block
is also an obstacle effect that integrates fire planning and obstacle effort to
achieve the tactical task. (FM 3-90-1)
Canalize – A tactical mission task in which the commander restricts enemy
movement to a narrow zone by exploiting terrain coupled with the use of
obstacles, fires, or friendly maneuver. (FM 3-90-1)
Contain – A tactical mission task that requires the commander to stop, hold,
or surround enemy forces or to cause them to center their activity on a given
front and prevent them from withdrawing any part of their forces for use
elsewhere. (FM 3-90-1)
Defeat – A tactical mission task that occurs when an enemy force has
temporarily or permanently lost the physical means or the will to fight. The
defeated force’s commander is unwilling or unable to pursue his adopted
course of action, thereby yielding to the friendly commander’s will, and can
no longer interfere to a significant degree with the actions of friendly forces.
Defeat can result from the use of force or the threat of its use. (FM 3-90-1)
Destroy – A tactical mission task that physically renders an enemy force
combat-ineffective until it is reconstituted. Alternatively, to destroy a
combat system is to damage it so badly that it cannot perform any function
or be restored to a usable condition without being entirely rebuilt.
(FM 3-90-1)
Disrupt – 1. A tactical mission task in which a commander integrates direct
and indirect fires, terrain, and obstacles to upset an enemy’s formation
or tempo, interrupt his timetable, or cause enemy forces to commit
prematurely or attack in piecemeal fashion. (FM 3-90-1) 2. An obstacle
effect that focuses fire planning and obstacle effort to achieve the tactical
task. (FM 90-7)
Fix – A tactical mission task where a commander prevents the enemy from
moving any part of his force from a specific location for a specific period.
Fix is also an obstacle effect that focuses fire planning and obstacle effort to
achieve the tactical task. (FM 3-90-1)
Interdict – A tactical mission task where the commander prevents, disrupts,
or delays the enemy’s use of an area or route. (FM 3-90-1)
Neutralize – A tactical mission task that results in rendering enemy
personnel or materiel incapable of interfering with a particular operation.
(FM 3-90-1)
Suppress – A tactical mission task that results in temporary degradation of
the performance of a force or weapons system below the level needed to
accomplish the mission. (FM 3-90-1)
Turn – 1. A tactical mission task that involves forcing an enemy force
from one avenue of approach or mobility corridor to another. 2. A tactical
obstacle effect that integrates fire planning and obstacle effort to achieve the
tactical task. (FM 3-90-1)
Center of gravity – The source of power that provides moral or physical
strength, freedom of action, or will to act. Also called COG. (JP 5-0)
Combat power – The total means of destructive, constructive, and
information capabilities that a military unit or formation can apply at a
given time. (ADRP 3-0)
Graphic control measure – A symbol used on maps and displays to
regulate forces and warfighting functions. (ADRP 6-0)
Intelligence preparation of the battlefield – A systematic process of
analyzing and visualizing the portions of the mission variables of threat,
terrain, weather, and civil considerations in a specific area of interest and for
a specific mission. By applying intelligence preparation of the battlefield,
commanders gain the information necessary to selectively apply and
maximize operational effectiveness at critical points in time and space.
(ADRP 1-02)
Mission command – The exercise of authority and direction by the
commander using mission orders to enable disciplined initiative within the
commander’s intent to empower agile and adaptive leaders in the conduct of
unified land operations. (ADP 6-0)
Running estimate – The continuous assessment of the current situation
used to determine if the current operation is proceeding according to the
commander’s intent and if planned future operations are supportable. (ADP
Situational understanding – The product of applying analysis and
judgment to relevant information to determine the relationship among the
operational and mission variables to facilitate decisionmaking. (ADP 5-0)

Chapter 13
Joint Publications
JP 3-0, Joint Operations, 11 August 2011
JP 5-0, Joint Operation Planning, 11 August 2011
U.S. Army Publications
ADP 5-0, The Operations Process, May 2012
ADP 6-0, Mission Command, May 2012
ADRP 1-02, Terms and Military Symbols, September 2013
ADRP 3-0, Unified Land Operations, May 2012
ADRP 5-0, The Operations Process, May 2012
ADRP 6-0, Mission Command, May 2012
ATP 5-19, Risk Management, April 2014
FM 3-07, Stability, June 2014
FM 3-24, Insurgencies and Countering Insurgencies, May 2014
FM 3-55, Information Collection, May 2013
FM 3-90-1, Offense and Defense, Volume I, March 2013
FM 6-0, Commander and Staff Organization and Operations, May 2014

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No. 15-06 MDMP MAR 15