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FM 101-5-1
Operational Terms and Graphics

Appendix C
Military Decision-Making Process and Tactical Mission Graphics

The basic tenets of Army doctrine are initiative, depth, agility, synchronization, and versatility. If commanders and staffs are to adhere to these tenets, they need information in a format that assists them to adapt quickly to the changing factors of mission, enemy, terrain, troops, and time available (METT-T). The graphics portrayed in Chapter 3, Chapter 4, and Chapter 5 are used to plot locations and directions of movement; however, the decision maker normally requires additional information not readily available by studying a current situation map. The battlefield envisioned by our current doctrine requires rapid and frequent changes in task organization of units to retain or take the initiative and move optimally task-organized forces to the critical point on the battlefield. Military decision-making process graphics are a tool for portraying the necessary information.


Commanders require two general categories of information when analyzing the situation map: the status of equipment and personnel, and the composition of the task-organized forces. Two common methods for displaying information and identifying status are the bar chart and the gumball chart.

Bar Chart
The bar chart is used to display quantities or percentages. Its major advantage is that it provides a simple method for comparing status indicators to each other and to a set, standard reference point. Bar charts also give the staff flexibility to display and relate various types and combinations of information for the commander. Figure C-1 shows examples of various styles and information.

Gumball Chart
The gumball chart provides a clear picture of the status of designated elements using a color code established in the unit standing operating procedures. The chart assists the commander to quickly assess the status of critical elements and assists the staff to focus on problem areas. The color code chosen should be consistent throughout all echelons of the command. The following is a commonly used color code: GREEN indicates that the unit is at 85 percent or greater strength (combat capable); AMBER indicates that the unit is at 70 to 84 percent strength (combat capable with minor deficiencies); RED indicates that the unit is at 50 to 69 percent strength (combat ineffective, unit has major losses or deficiencies); and BLACK indicates that the unit is at less than 50 percent strength (requires reconstitution before next mission). See the example in Figure C-2.

Figure C-2. Example of Gumball Charts
Note:The circles (gumballs) would be filled in with the appropriate colors (GREEN/AMBER/RED/BLACK)

Combat Effectiveness Graphics
Situation reports (SITREPs) focus on the collection of information about the ability of subordinate units to perform their mission. Appropriate staff elements use various formats to report factors such as the status of fuel, ammunition, vehicle availability, and personnel. The task force commander, however, provides the net assessment of his unit's ability to perform the mission. This assessment can be expressed using decision graphics as shown in Figure C-3.

The center column of Figure C-3 visually depicts the overall combat rating of the unit, and the right column specifies the status of selected items of interest. The standing operating procedures (SOP) will specify the items of interest to be reported higher. The subordinate commander may add to this list for his internal reporting and tracking. The four items shown in the right column are ammunition, weapons, POL, and personnel.


The assets available to a commander are established in the operation order and may be later modified by fragmentary and warning orders. The composition of task-organized forces may be portrayed by using the standard symbol system. These symbols do not provide decision makers with a graphic portrayal of information relating to task-organized composition. Figures C-4 and C-5 show a task force organized around the headquarters of the 1st Battalion, 72d Infantry Regiment (Mechanized), of the 1st Brigade, 52d Infantry Division (Mechanized). The task force unit symbol (Figure C-4) does not tell the decision maker how the unit is organized or what the overall combat effectiveness may be.

Although this data may be available through other charts, reports, and briefings, its impact can be lost when it is in various locations. Figure C-5 shows TF 1-72 as a task-organized composition graphic. Figure C-6 shows examples of "shorthand" unit symbols for use as decision graphics.


Combat effectiveness graphics and task-organized composition graphics can be combined to form decision graphics. Examples of composite decision graphics at the company/team, battalion/task force, and brigade levels are at Figures C-7, 8, and 9. Green, amber, red, or black can be used for the fill colors or outlines of the unit decision graphics to show the status of the subordinate units.

Subordinate units are assumed to be one echelon lower than the parent organization. If any subordinate unit is not one echelon lower, a size indicator should be used for clarity. For example, Task Force 1-6 Armor shows the platoon size indicator over the air defense artillery platoon shorthand symbol (Figure C-8) because the platoon is two echelons lower than the parent organization (TF 1-6 Armor). Figure C-9 shows an example of a brigade-level decision graphic.

Updated 27 July 1997.

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