Table of



Lesson 1




Lesson Description:

In this lesson, you will learn to prepare and issue an operation order (TOW), a warning order, and a fragmentary order.

Terminal Learning Objective:

Action: Prepare and issue an operation order (TOW), a warning order, and a fragmentary order.
Condition: You will be given information contained in this lesson.
Standard: Identify the procedures for preparing an operation, warning, and fragmentary order.

The material contained in this lesson was derived from the following publications—

FM 7-91
FM 23-34



Your job as a TOW section leader is to train the members of your section to think and act as an effective team in combat. It is one of the most challenging jobs on the battlefield because, unlike other leaders, you lead men instead of units. You must train your squads/crews to operate effectively on a battlefield that is heavily oriented toward armor/antiarmor weapons systems with tremendous range and lethality. Because your section is at the cutting edge of our nation's Army, you have a most demanding role. You must prepare your section to fight and win on all types of terrain, from the desert to the arctic, and in all kinds of visibility and weather.

The individual soldier's ability and effectiveness are determined by how well he is trained and led. Even if all your men are good at their own tasks and in great physical shape, are expert infantrymen, and want to do a good job, they will not be an effective fighting force unless you can focus their efforts toward a single goal or mission. This requires teamwork. Building teamwork in a TOW section is a great opportunity, challenge, and responsibility.

The importance of your men's individual tasks and collective skills must be emphasized constantly. On the battlefield, you can expect to meet an enemy who is well armed with weapons that have greater range, accuracy, and killing power than those of past wars. These highly efficient weapons allow the enemy to HIT what he can see and KILL what he hits. But you can survive and accomplish your mission if you reduce your unit's vulnerability by using cover, concealment, and suppression. You must learn to use cover and concealment to hide or disguise your positions or movement from the enemy's observation and suppression to force enemy gunners to be ineffective and inaccurate with their fires.

If you can use these three techniques and combine them with the all-important element of teamwork, success in training and in battle will follow.

For a successful mission, you must prepare and issue orders that have clarity, completeness, brevity, and the other characteristics of good orders. These orders must be prepared in accordance with the proper format. You must know what information to include to make your orders understood by your subordinates. This lesson will teach you how to prepare and issue operation orders, warning orders, and fragmentary orders. The three types of orders are the warning order, the operation order, and the fragmentary order. All three orders have the following characteristics and formats—

Clarity. Doctrinally established military terminology should be used to clearly convey identical meanings to all elements that receive the order.

Completeness. The order should contain all the required information and instructions to coordinate and execute the operation.

Brevity. Unnecessary detail should be avoided. Clarity and completeness must not be sacrificed in the interest of brevity.

Use of the Affirmative Form. In the interest of simplicity and clarity, the affirmative form of expression is used throughout orders.

Avoidance of Qualified Directives. Meaningless adverbs—for example, "attack vigorously"—and expressions that do not fix responsibility—for example, "try to hold"—must be avoided.

Authoritative Expressions. Avoid using vague language that indicates indecision and leads to uncertainty and lack of confidence by subordinates must be avoided. Direct and unmistakable terms that reflect intent and the will of the issuing commander are used.

Timeliness. Orders must allow subordinate leaders sufficient time for planning and preparation.




1.  . Operation orders are either defensive or offensive. Each has certain characteristics, as listed in the following subparagraphs.

a.  . A defensive order must contain the following—

(1)     Platoon mission.

(2)     Section mission.

(3)     Defensive position location.

(4)     Scheme of maneuver.

(5)     Type of emplacements and work priority.

(6)     Local security plan.

(7)     Critical signal instructions.

(8)     Location of the section leader's position and company command posts.

b.  . An offensive order must contain—

(1)     Platoon mission.

(2)     Section mission.

(3)     Concept of how the battle will be fought, to include—

(a)     Location of the objective.

(b)     Time of attack.

(c)     Location of the line of departure or the line of contact.

(d)     Order and route of march.

(e)     Consolidation instructions.

(f)     Location of overwatch positions.

(4)     Critical signal instructions.

c.  . An operation order (OPORD) gives subordinates the essential information needed to carry out an operation. This includes the situation, the mission, the assignment of subunit tasks and purposes, combat service support, and command and signal information. Figures 1-1 through 1-5 show the operation order format.

Figure 1-1. Operation Order Format.

Figure 1-1. Operation Order Format.


Figure 1-2. Operation Order Format (Continued).

Figure 1-2. Operation Order Format (Continued).


Figure 1-3. Operation Order Format (Continued)

Figure 1-3. Operation Order Format (Continued)


Figure 1-4. Operation Order Format (Continued)

Figure 1-4. Operation Order Format (Continued)


Figure 1-5. Operation Order Format (Continued)

Figure 1-5. Operation Order Format (Continued)

2.  .

a.     The most important part of receiving an order is clear understanding of what your unit has to accomplish in relation to the ground and to the other platoons or squads. Unless you know exactly what to do, what the other units are doing, and where and when these actions are to be done, your chances of success are greatly reduced. After hearing the entire order, do not leave until all your questions have been answered.

b.     Upon receiving the order and understanding the leader's plan, review your notes and answer the following questions—

(1)     What mission did I receive?

(2)     How much do I know about the enemy?

(3)     How does the terrain and weather influence the operation?

(4)     What supplies or equipment do I need?

(5)     Do I need to assign a special task to anyone?

3.  .

a.     In analyzing your mission, identify what your unit is to accomplish. Be sure that you know how much time you have to prepare. Be aware of any restrictions or special tasks that apply to your section.

b.     Establish a time schedule for your preparation. You will be told what time the operation is to begin and what time your unit must be ready to go. This allows you to allocate time to prepare for the mission. Identify the things that must be done to get ready and, working backward from "ready" time, allow your men time to accomplish each task. This technique is called reverse planning. Here is how reverse planning might work for a section leader—

(1)     1420:   Commander said to be ready.

(2)     1415:   Inspect assembly area.

(3)     1400:   Inspect squad.

(4)     1315:   Issue order to the squad leader.

(5)     1300:   Finalize section order.

(6)     1200:   Reconnoiter with commander/receive order.

(7)     1100:   Issue warning order to section.

(8)     1040:   Receive warning order.

4.  .

a.     Develop a clear idea of where the enemy is, what his strength is, and what kind of weapons and equipment he has. Tell your men how best to destroy or suppress the kind of enemy whom you are likely to meet.

b.     The enemy in a certain area sometimes uses the same pattern of operation repeatedly. For example, if you know that the enemy always ambushes in the vicinity of trail junctions, ensure that all your men know it.

5.  .

a.     Decisions pertaining to route, objective, sectors of fire, movement techniques, and so on. Are made by the commander. The section leader must study the terrain thoroughly if he is to properly use his men and equipment to gain an advantage over the enemy. Proper use of terrain will—

(1)     Provide cover and concealment before, during, and after the battle.

(2)     Increase the effectiveness of your fire.

(3)     Decrease the effectiveness of the enemy's weapons.

b.     Weather can affect the men; cold, heat, rain, or snow can create problems if your section is not prepared.

6.  . Plan supplies, equipment, and special tasks with emphasis on—

a.     Resupply of ammunition.

b.     Resupply routes.

c.     Coordination for resupply of batteries (if applicable).

7.  .

a.     An operation order contains the information and instructions needed to accomplish a specific mission. The amount of information included in your order depends upon the information that you received and the time available to prepare the order (and prepare for the operation).

b.     Below is an example of how you can organize your order to ensure that you tell your squad leaders everything that they need to know to perform the mission that you were given. The purpose of this format is to help you prepare your order. Use it as a checklist and remember that it is a guide. Give the order in language that the squad leaders can understand. For example, you may prefer to say, "Here's how we are going to get the job done," rather than "Execution."

(1)  . Information on enemy and friendly forces, to include the mission and intended actions of at least the next higher headquarters and the units on your left and right.

(2)  . What each section is to accomplish.

(3)  . The tactical plan for accomplishing the mission. For example:

(a)     Plan and control TOW section fire (defense).

(b)     General location of firing positions (primary, alternate, supplementary positions) (offense).

(c)     Overwatch positions (offense).

(d)     Tasks (missions) of each squad (the platoon order) or of teams and individuals (the squad order).

(4)  . Administrative information to include plans for ammunition and ration resupply, and casualty evacuation.

(5)  .

(a)     Where you will be during the operation and where the next higher leader will be.

(b)     Signals and other control measures to be used during the operation.

8.  .

a.     After you have received an operation order, thought it through and prepared your own order, you must issue that order. The commander should issue his orders from a position that allows the section leaders to see the ground on which they are going to operate.

b.     Section leaders should try to issue their orders from vantage points that overlook the terrain. However, often this will not be possible, and they will have to sketch the terrain on the ground. Terrain models are easy to build, and they allow the leader to relate his order with terrain features so that each man will know what to expect.




1.  .

a.     Warning orders give subordinate units notice of a contemplated action or order which is to follow. The purpose of the warning order, is to initiate the troop-leading procedure in subordinate units. Warning orders have no prescribed format. The platoon leader issues his warning order to the squad leaders, platoon sergeant, and forward observer. Each squad leader issues his warning order to his entire squad. The amount of detail included in a warning order depends on the time available, the means of communication, and the information necessary for subordinate leaders. However, the warning order should cover at least the following—

(1)     The mission, which should be a clear, concise statement of the task to be accomplished by the squad or the platoon.

(2)     The time that the operation or action is to take place.

(3)     Any specific instructions or special equipment and material required for the mission.

(4)     The time and place for issuance of the complete order and who is to attend.

b.     Warning orders are brief written or oral orders. Figure 1-6 shows a sample warning order format.

Figure 1-6. Example of Warning Order Format.

Figure 1-6. Example of Warning Order Format.

2.  . The following is a sample platoon warning order and a subsequent squad warning order—

a.  . Our mission is to attack the town of Hicks at 1830. The enemy has some good positions in the buildings. There may also be enemy tanks in the town. Draw six grenades for each man and one light antitank weapon (LAW) for each man. Each squad will carry 10 blocks of C4, 10 nonelectric blasting caps, 10 fuse lighters, 100 feet of detonating cord, and 10 feet of fuse. The platoon sergeant will tell you where and when you can pick it up. Let me know by 1330 if you have any problems with radios and weapons. Meet me back here at 1405. At that time, we will move up to the ridge, overlooking the town, where I will give the complete order.

b.  . Our mission is to attack the town of Hicks at 1830 as part of the platoon. The enemy has well-prepared positions in the buildings and probably has tanks with him. Each man will carry six grenades and one LAW in addition to the standard load for rifles and grenade launchers. Sergeant Evans, your team will handle our demolitions:   Draw 10 blocks of C4, 10 nonelectric blasting caps, 10 fuse ignitors, 100 feet of detonating cord, and 10 feet of fuse. Make sure you testburn the fuse. Private Smith, carry a climbing rope and a grappling hook. The platoon sergeant will be here in 20 minutes to tell us where and when we can pick up our ammunition and equipment. I'm leaving now to get the platoon order. Sergeant Jones is in charge until I get back. We will meet here at 1515 for the OPORD.




1.  . Fragmentary orders (FRAGOs) provide pertinent extracts from a more detailed order. They provide instructions, as they are developed, before the complete order has been issued; they provide specific instructions to leaders who do not need the complete order; and, more often, they provide timely changes to existing orders. Fragmentary orders do not have a specific format. However, to ensure understanding, the fragmentary order should follow the basic format of the operation order. Information unchanged from the operation order is omitted in a follow-up fragmentary order, as is nonessential or incomplete information.

2.  .

a.     A FRAGO provides brief, specific, and timely instructions without loss of clarity. FRAGOs contain changes or information of immediate concern. These orders may be written or oral. The FRAGO is issued to change an order that already has been issued.

b.     Only those items that are changed from the original order should be included in the FRAGO as long as clarity is not sacrificed.

c.     The words "no change" may be used to omit elements of the original OPORD that have not changed.

d.     There is no standard format for a FRAGO, but all changes should be presented in the same sequence as in the OPORD.

e.     When possible, the FRAGO should be issued to all personnel concerned at a central location. When that is not possible, the FRAGO may be issued by radio, telephone, or messenger. Regardless of how it is issued, all changes to the mission caused by the FRAGO must be understood by all who received the original order.

3.  .

a.  :   The enemy is reinforcing his defensive positions. The timetable for the attack has been moved forward 30 minutes.

b.  :   No change.

c.  :   (YOUR) Antiarmor platoon will notify the Company/Team Commander when the last element clears stationary unit from the Phase line HIT to occupy Battle position one (BP1), BP2, BP3, and BP4 to support the attack.

d.  :   No change.

e.  :   No change.

4.  . The overlay is a graphic representation of the leader's scheme of maneuver and concept. It ensures coordinated action among all units. The fewest possible control measures are used so as not to clutter or confuse the overlay. However, the overlay must have enough control measures to allow flexibility when issuing changes to the operation order or the fragmentary order. If control measures or symbols other than those specified in FM 101-5-1 are used, a legend should be placed on the overlay to define the graphic.

Practice Exercise

Table of Contents