Rehearsing key combat actions before execution allows participants to become familiar with the operation and to translate the relatively dry recitation of the tactical plan into visual impression. This impression helps them orient themselves to their environment and other units when executing the operation. Moreover, the repetition of combat tasks during the rehearsal leaves a lasting mental picture of the sequence of key actions within the operation. This appendix contains guidelines for conducting rehearsals. It describes rehearsal types and techniques. It lists responsibilities of those involved.
A rehearsal is a session in which a staff or unit practices expected actions to improve performance during execution.
F-1. Rehearsals allow staff officers, subordinate commanders, and other leaders to practice executing the course of action (COA) the commander chose at the end of the military decisionmaking process (MDMP). Rehearsals are the commander's tool. Commanders use them to ensure staffs and subordinates understand the commander's intent and the concept of operations. Rehearsals also synchronize operations at times and places critical to successful mission accomplishment.
F-2. For units to be effective and efficient in combat, rehearsals need to become habitual in training. All commands at every level should routinely train and practice a variety of rehearsal types and techniques. Local standing operating procedures (SOPs) should identify appropriate rehearsal types, techniques, and standards for their execution. Leaders at all levels conduct periodic after-action reviews (AARs) to ensure that units conduct rehearsals to standard and that substandard performance is corrected. AARs also provide opportunities to incorporate lessons learned into existing plans and orders, or into subsequent rehearsals.
F-3. Time is key to conducting rehearsals. It is probably the most precious resource available to commanders and organizations. The time required for a rehearsal varies with the complexity of the task to rehearse, the type and technique of rehearsal, and the level of participation. Rehearsals should be conducted at the lowest possible level, using the most thorough technique possible, given the time available. Under time-constrained conditions, staffs conduct reduced rehearsals. These focus on critical events determined by reverse planning.
F-4. During offensive operations, staffs address the following actions in order: the objective, passage of lines, and movement to the objective-then other phases of the operation. During defensive operations, staffs address counterreconnaissance, battle handover, and commitment of counterattack forces or the striking force-then other phases of the operation. Each unit has different critical events, based on its readiness and the unit commander's assessment.
F-5. Whenever possible, rehearsals are based on a completed operation order (OPORD). A contingency plan may be rehearsed to prepare for an anticipated deployment. The rehearsal is a coordination event, not an analysis. It is not a substitute for the war game. War games are preformed during the MDMP to analyze several COAs and determine the optimal one. Rehearsals are conducted during preparation to practice executing the COA that the commander chose at the end of the MDMP. Commanders avoid making major changes to OPORDs during rehearsals. They make only those changes essential to mission success.
F-6. Each rehearsal type achieves a different result and has a specific place in the preparation time line. The five types of rehearsals are-
F-7. The confirmation brief is routinely performed by a subordinate leader immediately after receiving any instructions, such as an OPORD or a fragmentary order (FRAGO). Subordinate leaders brief their commander on their understanding of the commander's intent, their specific tasks and purpose, and the relationship between their individual unit missions and those of other units in the operation.
F-8. A backbrief is a briefing by subordinates to the commander to review how subordinates intend to accomplish their mission (FM 5-0). Backbriefs are normally performed throughout preparation. They allow commanders to clarify the commander's intent early in subordinate planning. Commanders can-
COMBINED ARMS REHEARSAL
F-9. A maneuver unit headquarters normally executes combined arms rehearsal after subordinate units issue their OPORD. This rehearsal type ensures that-
F-10. Units usually conduct support rehearsals within the framework of a single or limited number of battlefield operating systems (BOSs). They are referred to by the primary BOS being rehearsed, for example, the fire support rehearsal. Units execute support rehearsals throughout preparation. Although these rehearsals differ slightly by BOS, they achieve the same results:
BATTLE DRILL OR SOP REHEARSAL
F-11. A battle drill or SOP rehearsal ensures that all participants understand a technique or a specific set of procedures. All echelons use these rehearsal types; however, they are most common for platoons, squads, and sections. They are performed throughout preparation and are not limited to published battle drills. They can rehearse such actions as a command post (CP) shift change, an obstacle breach lane-marking SOP, or refuel-on-the-move site operations.
F-12. Techniques for executing rehearsals are limited only by the commander's resourcefulness. Generally, six techniques are used. (See fig. F-1.) The resources required for each range from extensive preparation time and resources to a map and overlay. As listed, each successive technique takes a decreasing amount of time and resources. Each rehearsal technique provides a different degree of understanding to participants.
Figure F-1. Rehearsal Techniques Relative to Time, Resources, OPSEC,
Participation, and Understanding
F-13. The following discussion addresses these considerations:
F-14. A full-dress rehearsal produces the most detailed understanding of the operation. It involves every participating soldier and system. If possible, organizations execute full-dress rehearsals under the same conditions-weather, time of day, terrain, and use of live ammunition-that the force expects to encounter during the actual operation. The full-dress rehearsal is the most difficult to accomplish at higher echelons. At those levels, commanders develop a second rehearsal plan that mirrors the actual plan but fits the terrain available for the rehearsal.
F-15. Full-dress rehearsal considerations include the following:
F-16. A reduced-force rehearsal involves only key leaders of the organization and its subordinate units. It normally takes fewer resources than a full-dress rehearsal. Terrain requirements can be the same as for a full-dress rehearsal, even though there are fewer participants. The commander first decides the level of leader involvement. The selected leaders then rehearse the plan while traversing the actual or similar terrain. Commanders often use this technique to rehearse fire control measures for an engagement area during defensive operations. A reduced-force rehearsal may be used to prepare key leaders for a full-dress rehearsal. It may require developing a rehearsal plan that mirrors the actual plan but fits the terrain of the rehearsal.
F-17. Reduced-force rehearsal considerations include the following:
F-18. The terrain-model rehearsal takes less time and fewer resources than a full-dress or reduced-force rehearsal. (A terrain-model rehearsal takes a proficient brigade from one to two hours to execute to standard.) It is the most popular rehearsal technique. An accurately constructed terrain model helps subordinate leaders visualize the commander's intent and concept of operations. When possible, commanders place the terrain model where it overlooks the actual terrain of the area of operations (AO). However, if the situation requires more security, they place the terrain model on a reverse slope within walking distance of a point overlooking the AO. The model's orientation coincides with that of the terrain. The size of the terrain model can vary from small (using markers to represent units) to large (on which the participants can walk). A large model helps reinforce the participants' perception of unit positions on the terrain.
F-19. Terrain-model rehearsal considerations include the following:
F-20. Commanders can use the sketch-map technique almost anywhere, day or night. The procedures are the same as for a terrain-model rehearsal, except the commander uses a sketch map in place of a terrain model. Effective sketches are large enough for all participants to see as each participant walks through execution of the operation. Participants move markers on the sketch to represent unit locations and maneuvers.
F-21. Sketch-map rehearsal considerations include the following:
F-22. A map rehearsal is similar to a sketch-map rehearsal, except the commander uses a map and operation overlay of the same scale used to plan the operation.
F-23. Map rehearsal considerations include the following:
NETWORK REHEARSAL (WAN/LAN)
F-24. Network rehearsals can be executed over wide-area networks (WANs) or local-area networks (LANs). Commanders and staffs execute network rehearsals by talking through critical portions of the operation over communications networks in a sequence the commander establishes. The organization rehearses only the critical parts of the operation. These rehearsals require all information systems (INFOSYS) needed to execute that portion of the operation. All participants require working INFOSYS and a copy of the OPORD and overlays. CPs can rehearse battle tracking during network rehearsals.
F-25. Network rehearsal considerations include the following:
F-26. This discussion addresses responsibilities for conducting rehearsals. It is based on the combined arms rehearsal. Responsibilities are the same for support rehearsals. However, position titles may be different; for example, in CSS units, the support operations officer takes the place of the S-3.
F-27. Commanders and chiefs of staff (COSs) (at lower echelons, executive officers [XOs]) (COSs [XOs]) plan rehearsals.
F-28. Commanders provide the following information as part of the commander's guidance during the initial mission analysis. They re-evaluate it when they select a COA:
Chief of Staff (Executive Officer)
F-29. The COS (XO) ensures that all rehearsals are included in the organization's time-management SOP. COS (XO) responsibilities include-
F-30. Everyone involved in executing or supporting the rehearsal has responsibilities.
F-31. Commanders prepare to rehearse operations with events phased in proper order, from start to finish. Under time-constrained conditions, this is not always possible. Commanders-
Chief of Staff (Executive Officer)
F-32. The COS (XO), through war-gaming and coordinating with the commander-
F-33. Subordinate leaders complete their planning, including-
Conducting Headquarters Staff
F-34. Conducting headquarters staffs-
F-35. The following paragraphs list responsibilities during execution.
F-36. Commanders command the rehearsal, just as they will command the fight. 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, who uses it to fight. An effective rehearsal is not a commander's brief to subordinates. Its purpose is to validate synchronization-the what, when, and where-of tasks subordinate units will perform to execute the operation and achieve the commander's intent.
Chief of Staff (Executive Officer)
F-37. The COS (XO) normally serves as the rehearsal director. As such, he rehearses his role during the operation. He ensures each unit accomplishes its tasks at the right time and cues the commander to upcoming decisions. The COS's (XO's) script is the execution matrix and the DST. These are the foundations for the OPORD and list events in chronological order. The COS (XO)-
Assistant Chief of Staff, G-3 (S-3)
F-38. The G-3 (S-3) helps the commander with the forward fight and rehearses that task. The G-3 (S-3)-
Assistant Chief of Staff, G-2 (S-2)
F-39. The G-2 (S-2) plays the enemy commander during rehearsals. He bases his actions on the enemy COA the commander selects during the MDMP. The G-2 (S-2)-
F-40. Subordinate unit leaders, using an established format-
F-41. The recorder is normally the G-3 (S-3) or a representative from the operations cell.
F-42. During the rehearsal, the recorder-
F-43. At the end of the rehearsal, the recorder-
Conducting Headquarters Staff
F-44. The staff updates the OPORD, DST, and execution matrix.
F-45. The commander establishes the standard for a successful rehearsal. A properly executed rehearsal validates each leader's role and how each unit contributes to the overall operation-what is done, when relative to times and events, and where to achieve desired effects. Effective rehearsals ensure that commanders have a common visualization of the enemy, their own forces, the terrain, and the relationship among them. It identifies specific actions requiring immediate staff resolution and informs the higher commander of critical issues or locations that the commander, COS (XO), or G-3 (S-3) must personally oversee.
F-46. The commander (or rehearsal director in the commander's absence) assesses and critiques all parts of the rehearsal. Critiques center on how well the operation as rehearsed achieves the commander's intent and on the coordination necessary to accomplish that end. The internal execution of tasks within the rehearsal is usually left to the subordinate unit commander's judgment and discretion.
CONDUCTING A REHEARSAL
F-47. 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 receive all updated staff products.
F-48. Commanders do not normally address small problems that arise during rehearsals. Instead, these are recorded. This ensures the rehearsal's flow is not interrupted. If the problem remains at the end of the rehearsal, the commander resolves it then. However, if the problem can wait until the end of the rehearsal, it may not have been a real problem. 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 this is not done while participants are assembled, the opportunity to do so will be missed. Coordinating among dispersed participants and disseminating changes to them is more difficult than accomplishing these actions face to face.
BEFORE THE REHEARSAL
F-49. The rehearsal director begins the rehearsal on time by calling the roll. He then briefs participants on information needed to execute the rehearsal. 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.
F-50. Before the rehearsal, the staff develops an OPORD with at least the basic five paragraphs and necessary overlays. Annexes may not be published; however, the responsible staff officers should know their content. The rehearsal is not a substitute for the war game. During the war game, the staff analyzes feasible COAs to determine the optimal one to recommend to the commander. The rehearsal allows commanders and other key players to practice implementing the COA the commander has decided to adopt.
Introduction and Overview
F-51. The rehearsal director begins by introducing himself and all other participants as needed. He then gives an overview of the briefing topics, the rehearsal subjects and sequence, and the time line, specifying the no-later-than ending time. He explains AARs and how and when they occur, and discusses how to incorporate changes into the OPORD. He explains, in detail, any constraints, such as pyrotechnics use, light discipline, weapons firing, or radio silence. He ensures that all participants understand safety precautions and enforces their use. Last, he emphasizes results and states the commander's standard for a successful rehearsal. He allows subordinate leaders to 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.
F-52. The rehearsal director orients the participants to the terrain or rehearsal medium. He identifies magnetic north on the rehearsal medium, and points out symbols representing actual terrain features. He explains any graphic control measures, obstacles, and targets. He issues supplemental materials, if needed.
F-53. An effective technique for controlling rehearsals is to use a script. It keeps the rehearsal on track and is a checklist to ensure the organization addresses all BOSs and outstanding issues. The script has two major parts: the agenda and the response sequence.
F-54. Agenda. The execution matrix, DST, and OPORD outline the rehearsal agenda. These tools, especially the execution matrix, both drive and focus the rehearsal. The commander and staff will use them to control the operation's execution. Fire support and CSS rehearsals follow the fire support execution matrix or logistic synchronization matrix. These two products are tied directly to supported unit's execution matrix and DST.
F-55. An effective rehearsal requires the enemy force to be portrayed realistically and quickly, without distracting from the rehearsal. One technique for doing this is for the G-2 (S-2) to prepare an actions checklist, a sequence of events much like the one for friendly units, but from the enemy perspective.
F-56. Response Sequence. Participants respond in a logical sequence: either by BOS, or by unit as the organization is deployed, from front to rear. The commander determines the sequence before the rehearsal. It is posted at the rehearsal site, and the rehearsal director may restate it.
F-57. Effective rehearsals allow participants to visualize and synchronize the concept of operations. As a rehearsal proceeds, participants verbally walk through the concept of operations. They focus on key events and the synchronization required to achieve the desired effects. The commander commands the rehearsal. He gives orders at the point he expects to give them 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. Everyone should avoid "re-war-gaming" except as absolutely necessary to ensure subordinate unit commanders understand the plan.
F-58. The rehearsal director emphasizes integrating fire support, events that trigger different branch actions, and actions on contact. The fire support coordinator (FSCOORD) states when fires are initiated, who is firing, from where, the ammunition, and the desired target effect. Subordinate commanders state when they initiate fires per their fire support plans. The rehearsal director speaks for any staff section not present and ensures all actions on the synchronization matrix and DST are addressed at the proper time or event.
The rehearsal director concludes the orientation with a call for questions.
DURING THE REHEARSAL
F-61. After the rehearsal director finishes discussing the ground rules and answering any questions, the G-3 (S-3) reads the mission statement, the commander reads the commander's intent, and the G-3 (S-3) lays out the current friendly situation on the rehearsal medium. The rehearsal then begins, following the rehearsal script.
F-62. The following paragraphs outline a generic set of rehearsal steps. It was developed for combined arms rehearsals. However, with a few modifications, it can be used for fire support and CSS rehearsals. They support any rehearsal technique. The products depend on the rehearsal type.
Step 1-Deployment of Enemy Forces
F-63. The G-2 (S-2) briefs the current enemy situation and places markers indicating enemy forces on the rehearsal medium where they would be before the first rehearsal event. He then briefs the most likely enemy COA. The G-2 (S-2) also briefs the status of reconnaissance and surveillance operations (for example, citing any patrols still out or any observation post positions or combat outposts).
Step 2-Deployment of Friendly Forces
F-64. The G-3 (S-3) briefs friendly maneuver unit dispositions, including security forces, as of the rehearsal starting time. Subordinate commanders and other staff officers brief their unit positions at the starting time and any particular points of emphasis. For example, the chemical officer states the mission-oriented protective posture (MOPP) level, and the FSCOORD states the range of friendly and enemy artillery. Other participants place markers for friendly forces, including adjacent units, to positions on the rehearsal medium that they will occupy at the rehearsal starting time. As participants place markers, they state their task and purpose, task organization, and strength.
F-65. CS and CSS units brief their subordinate unit positions at the starting time and at points of emphasis the rehearsal director designates. Subordinate units may include forward arming and refueling points (FARPs), refuel-on-the move points, or communications checkpoints. The rehearsal director restates the commander's intent, if necessary.
Step 3-Advancement of the Enemy
F-66. The rehearsal director states the first event on the execution matrix. Normally this involves the G-2 (S-2) moving enemy markers according to the most likely COA at the point on the execution matrix being rehearsed. The depiction must tie enemy actions to specific terrain or to friendly unit actions. The G-2 (S-2) portrays enemy actions based on the situational template developed for staff war-gaming. The enemy is portrayed as uncooperative, but not invincible.
F-67. As the rehearsal proceeds, the G-2 (S-2) portrays the enemy and walks the enemy through the most likely COA (per the situational template), stressing reconnaissance routes, objectives, security force composition and locations, initial contact, initial fires (artillery, air, attack helicopters), probable main force objectives or engagement areas, likely chemical attack times and locations, and likely commitment of reserves. The G-2 (S-2) is specific, tying enemy actions to specific terrain or friendly unit actions. The walk-through should be an accurate portrayal of the event template.
Step 4-Decision Point
F-68. When the enemy movement is complete, the commander assesses the situation to determine if a decision point has been reached. Decision points are taken directly from the DST.
F-69. If units in reserve participate, they rehearse all of their branches, beginning with the most likely.
F-70. When it becomes obvious that the operation requires additional coordination to ensure success, the participants immediately accomplish it. Doing this is one of the key reasons for rehearsals. The rehearsal director ensures that the recorder captures and all participants understand coordination.
Step 5-End State Reached
F-71. Achieving the desired end state ends that phase of the rehearsal. In an attack, this will usually be when the organization 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.
F-72. At this point the commander states the next branch he wants to rehearse. The rehearsal director "recocks" 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 the desired end state is attained. They complete any coordination needed to ensure all understand and can meet any requirements. The recorder records any changes to the branch.
F-73. The commander then states the next branch to rehearse. The rehearsal director "recocks" the situation to the decision point where that branch begins, and participants repeat the process. This continues until all decision points and branches the commander wants to rehearse have been addressed.
F-74. 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 to a rehearsal, but consider how doing this affects subordinate commanders' preparation time.) Additional rehearsals, conducted as time permits, may be more complex and realistic.
F-75. At the end of the rehearsal, the recorder restates any changes, coordination, or clarifications the commander directs, and estimates how long it will take to codify changes in a written FRAGO.
AFTER THE REHEARSAL
F-76. After the rehearsal, the commander leads an AAR. The commander reviews lessons learned and makes the minimum required modifications to the existing plan. (Normally, a FRAGO 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 can confuse subordinates and desynchronize the plan. The commander issues any last-minute instructions or reminders and to reiterate the commander's intent.
F-77. Based on the commander's instructions, the staff makes the necessary changes to the OPORD, DST, and execution matrix based on the rehearsal's results. Subordinate commanders incorporate these changes into their units' OPORDs. The COS (XO) ensures these changes are briefed to any leader or LNO who did not participate in the rehearsal.
F-78. A rehearsal is the final opportunity for subordinates to identify and resolve "dangling" issues. An effective 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, verbal FRAGOs. As soon as possible, the staff publishes these verbal FRAGOs as a written FRAGO that changes the OPORD.
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