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Exercise Planning


During the planning phase of training management, commanders at each echelon determine the need for training exercises and identify the types they will use. The need for an exercise is based upon--

  • Higher headquarters' analysis of subordinate unit proficiency.
  • Higher headquarters' issuance of the missions, goals, objectives, and guidance.
  • Commanders' evaluations of unit and soldier proficiency.

Higher headquarters employ the exercise planning steps explained in this chapter when directing subordinate units to participate in training exercises. Subordinate units also employ applicable planning steps based on information and orders received from higher headquarters. When commanders direct internal exercises, they must ensure that the exercises meet unit training needs and objectives.

Commanders must first analyze soldier, leader, and unit training proficiency. Then they select a particular type of training exercise. A training analysis must first establish the training requirements and the priorities for unit training programs, as described in FM 25-2. This analysis also determines the training objectives, which are based on the individual and collective skills that need initial or sustainment training. In so doing, the analysis must consider the three categories of command and control training:

  • Battle staff training.
  • Survivability training.
  • Combined arms training.

One or more of these categories must be included in the unit training objectives and integrated in the exercise. The exercise objectives should be specific, relevant, realistically obtainable, measurable, and supportive of exercise goals. Exercise objectives should be organized into functional areas to highlight activities that need improvement. Properly stated objectives provide players, controllers, umpires, and evaluators with a solid basis for conducting their evaluation and AARs. When the exercise objectives are established, the type of exercise to be conducted can be selected.








Battle Simulations

Situational Training Exercises


Preparing an Exercise Directive

Assigning Responsibilities

Planning Milestones

Conducting Research

Preparing a Supporting Plan Schedule

Preparing an Outline Plan

Conducting a Reconnaissance

Completing the Exercise Support Plans

Preparing the Scenario

Preparing an Operation Plan

Publishing the Letter of Instruction

Preparing a Contingency Plan

Preparing the Terrain

Conducting a Rehearsal

An exercise must never be conducted simply for its own sake. It must always help to attain training objectives, which are tied to the unit mission.


Once the initial analysis is completed, commanders determine the type of exercises to be conducted. Comparing the objectives with the kind of training that each exercise provides, they identify the proper exercise, within resource constraints, that can best meet the objectives. Table 1 shows the exercises that best fit the command and control training categories for each echelon of command.

Map exercises (MAPEXs) are employed to teach staff planning and coordination, as well as preparation of estimates and operations orders. They are not conducted below battalion level. Commanders employ tactical exercises without troops (TEWTs) to teach the effective use of terrain to subordinate leaders. TEWTs involve specific tactical problems, employing unite and weapon systems. Command post exercises (CPXs) are effective in training members of staffs, command posts, and communications systems above company level. FTXs provide realistic survivability and combined arms training for the total force. Battle staff sustainment training does occur in FTXs. However, to preclude the delays and inefficient use of troop-leading time that normally occur in the preliminary training of the staff, they should not be selected solely for this purpose. Battle staff skills should be sharpened through CPXs, TEWTs, and MAPEXs prior to an FTX.

Table 2 aids in selecting the appropriate exercise. It shows training exercises and some of the systems and objectives that can be trained effectively. The "X" indicates the exercise which best affords realistic training in the employment of the system or attainment of the objective indicated. For example, the training objective "Staff procedures" is shown only for the MAPEX, CPX, and command field exercise (CFX) since they are the most effective ways to train those objectives.



The planning phase must recognize the value of flexibility and the necessity for being thorough. Planners must plan for alternate types of exercises in case weather or other constraints prohibit the originally scheduled exercise. For example, if a brigade needs an FTX but there is a chance of funds being reduced or the possibility of excessive maneuver damage, contingency plans for a CFX or CPX should be prepared concurrently.

Exercises must be flexible. They should allow subordinate commanders the freedom to innovate within the framework of new or existing doctrine, tactics, techniques, and operating procedures. They should not follow rigid timetables that inhibit training and learning. Instead, they should establish schedules that provide sufficient time to correct mistakes and ensure learning and AARs at all levels.


Once a headquarters decides to conduct a training exercise, the needed resources must be identified and procedures begun to obtain them, in accordance with the training management procedures described in FM 25-2. The general steps below must be taken before beginning detailed work. They indicate whether the exercise can meet the training objectives. If any area appears inadequate, the commander must decide whether to proceed or consider an alternate training activity.

Facilities and Land

Planners must consider the environment for the exercise and the impact of weather. If inadequate land or facilities will seriously degrade training, planners may have to alter the exercises. For example, if an FTX has been selected but the available training areas are not large enough to allow unit tactics to be realistically played, the planners may--

  • Reduce the number of units in the exercise.
  • Use a MAPEX or a CPX in place of an FTX.
  • Conduct the exercise at a lower echelon.

Range facilities in the continental United States (CONUS) usually limit LFXs to company team level. The exception is the National Training Center (NTC) at Fort Irwin, California. At the NTC, resources and distances permit LFXs at battalion task force level. Except for scaled range training, range limitations also restrict fire coordination exercises (FCXs) to small units. Battle staff training during FCXs is generally limited to--

  • Fire support coordination.
  • Fire control.
  • Preparation and issuance of plans and orders.

When exercises use privately owned land, planners must also consider maneuver damage control.


Training exercises require support. Some exercises consume large quantities of allocated resources such as fuel, spare parts, flying hours, and maneuver area time. The planners must ensure that the exercises can be conducted within the resource levels and that the training received justifies the resources expended.

Commanders and staffs ensure that internal and external support equipment is sufficient. For example, communications and transportation for players, controllers, umpires, and evaluators must be adequate. Player units, including HQs, should use only organic transportation, communications, and TOE equipment. Doing so teaches them to employ the full capabilities of the unit. They should not rely on outside assistance to replace systems that are not mission capable or to beef up the authorized strength of the staff. Controller, umpire, and evaluator equipment must not come from player units.


The time allocated for each exercise must permit appropriate troop-leading steps to be exercised, as well as develop tactical situations that lead to logical and sound tactical employment of player units. The time should also be allocated for conducting complete logistical support of tactical operations, as well as for an appropriate AAR.


Planners must consider whether or not units or groups of individuals to be trained are of the proper size or strength to benefit from the type of exercise selected. For example, the soldiers of a tank platoon consisting of two-man tank crews can be expected to gain very little from an LFX. Personnel shortages might also cause commanders to conduct CFXs rather than FTXs.


Battle simulations, both manual and computer-supported or computer-assisted, provide effective training in many battle staff skills. Battle simulations can be used with virtually any scenario. They are readily adapted to specific local conditions and unit missions.

Simulations will not correct all command and control training problems or substitute for field training. If properly used, they can provide a readily acceptable means for exercising significant elements of the command and control system.

Battle simulations have the following characteristics:

  • They are relatively inexpensive.
  • They do not require large training areas.
  • They save training time.
  • They reduce preexercise and postexercise requirements.
  • They are flexible and easily tailored to unique training objectives.
  • They can present situations (nuclear, chemical, tactical air) that cannot be reproduced in other training environments because of safety or expense.

Battle simulations encourage multiechelon training. Higher and lower echelons can be exercised simultaneously with a minimum expenditure of valuable training resources. Simulations can portray joint service operations involving the Air Force, Navy, and Marines, as well as the combined elements of other nations. Battle simulations can also portray various equipment mixes or degraded operations, allowing commanders and staffs to exercise back-up systems and procedures.

Battle simulations provide realistic cues and feedback to the command as a result of decisions made by higher, lower, and adjacent units. Each command group executes and subsequently modifies its plans, based on the situation. Simulations force command groups to adjust plans, organizations, assets, and firepower to cope with changing battlefield situations. They may also force adjustments in command post configurations and procedures to deal effectively with unforeseen situations.

Battle simulations can create unique mixtures of organizations, equipment, missions, and operational situations. They do this while realistically portraying the unit METT. Questions and comments about battle simulations may be addressed to Deputy Commandant, Command and General Staff College, ATTN: ATSL-SWN, Fort Leaven-worth, KS 66027; AUTOVON 552-4612/2442, Commercial (913) 684-4612/2442.

Tactical engagement simulations such as MILES add significant realism to field exercises. They do so by confronting leaders and soldiers with realistic simulations of direct fire weapon systems in a training environment. Only units that have demonstrated high levels of proficiency during battle drill and situational training exercises should use MILES for training. Because MILES is the most realistic training short of actual combat, it should be approached with detailed planning that keeps the training objectives clearly in mind. For details on the planning and use of MILES, see TC 25-6.


The use of situational training exercises (STXs) should be considered in the development of an exercise. They teach the "best" or preferred way to accomplish a task and are a standard way in which a task should be executed. They are developed by the service schools to teach the doctrinally preferred way to perform a specific mission. FM 25-3 explains the STX concept. STXs can facilitate training through the application of standardized tactical formations and employment. Thus, they should be considered in planning and preparing for an exercise, whenever appropriate.


The preexercise is usually the longest of the three exercise phases. For large exercises, such as the FTX portion of Redeployment of Forces to Germany (REFORGER), this phase can take longer than a year. The preexercise phase develops all the support plans that govern the execution and postexercise phases.

Planning begins immediately after the decision has been made to conduct an exercise. The planning steps listed below are used to prepare for an exercise. Specific exercises may omit some. These steps are generally sequential; however, some may be performed simultaneously.

  • Preparing an exercise directive.
  • Assigning responsibilities for planning.
  • Conducting research.
  • Preparing a supporting plan schedule.
  • Preparing an outline plan.
  • Conducting a reconnaissance.
  • Completing the exercise support plans.
  • Preparing the scenario.
  • Preparing and issuing the operations plan (OPLAN).
  • Publishing the letter of instruction (LOI).
  • Preparing the terrain.
  • Conducting a rehearsal.

The training objectives and the echelon at which the exercise is to be conducted deter-mine how complex these steps will become. For example, at battalion level there may be little or no need to conduct detailed research or to write a planning schedule. Much of the planning can take place during training meetings. However, at division level, research and written planning schedules are necessary. They can be the key to a successful exercise.


The headquarters requesting or conducting the exercise issues an exercise directive. It starts the development process.

Before preparing the exercise directive, the exercise planner carefully considers the purpose of the exercise, the objectives stated or implied by the commander, and guidance from higher headquarters. The objectives are the basis for planning and developing the exercise directive. An exercise directive will--

  • Name the exercise director and provide for a staff. These personnel will plan the exercise.
  • Specify what type of exercise to conduct and state its specific training objectives.
  • Indicate the time frame for the exercise, its physical location, and the duration of its execution phase. The location, time, and duration must be consistent with the type of exercise selected, the participating units, and the training objectives.
  • Prescribe the type and number of participating units.
  • Identify the type and quantity of special equipment required.
  • Provide additional information such as funding, environment, and any pertinent assumptions. Funding data should specify both fund citations and fund limitations. Environmental information should describe the strategic setting to be played during the exercise. It should describe the type of exercise envisaged such as general or limited warfare or internal defense operations. It should also include area and background studies pertinent to the exercise site.


Planning and conducting a large exercise requires the same attention to detail as an actual combat operation. The exercise director and designated staff are responsible for planning and conducting the exercise to meet the training objectives stated in the exercise directive. See Figure 3 for a summary of planning staff duties and coordination. Normally, the planning staff G3/S3 acts as the principal coordinator for the exercise director.


Developed early in the process, milestones will ensure full and timely completion of the planning effort. Typical milestones for a brigade-size FTX are shown in Table 4. The planning milestones to support a large division exercise would be more extensive and include such actions as establishing budget requirements and acquiring maneuver land permits. Exercises that involve Reserve Component units also require extra planning and preparation time.


New missions spawn new tactical doctrine. In turn, the new doctrine generates requirements for improved weapon systems, equipment, and organizations. Thus, exercise planners must be thoroughly familiar with doctrine, TOES, and equipment requirements prior to development of training exercises. Exercise planners must conduct appropriate research to update controllers and participants prior to STARTEX. The intelligence staff provides the information for making the OPFOR and the combat environment realistic. Realism maintains the participants' interest and enthusiasm.

Such research identifies appropriate and available training support or training support materials. Up-to-date training support may come from Reserve Component activities such as maneuver area commands (MACs) or maneuver training commands (MTCs). These organizations develop and conduct exercises for Reserve Component units. Planners may request model training exercises developed by proponent service schools. Use of the models may save considerable planning time by providing examples and format guides. Planners should consider battle simulation kits, available through training and audiovisual support centers (TASCs) or training resource assistance centers (TRACs). They should consult after-action reports and lessons learned from previous exercises. Planners should also consult administrative references. These ensure that the exercise planning is consistent with policy governing the safety and welfare of the participants. Post and garrison regulations, range regulations, and unit SOPs are always pertinent and should be reviewed prior to the publication of exercise plans.


Training exercises must have complete, workable supporting plans. Exercises may fail to accomplish all intended training objectives if planners overlook guidance essential for conducting them. The supporting plan schedule lists all the major plans required for the exercise. It also designates the staff officer responsible for each plan and the time when it must be submitted for the commander's approval. The amount of time required to produce the plan will vary with the experience of the planning staff.

For a battalion-level exercise, the S3 prepares a planning schedule. It may be nothing more than a brief written set of milestones which identifies the tasks to be trained. At corps and division levels, the planning staff G3 prepares a planning schedule that calls for detailed supporting plans. The first step in preparing this schedule is to determine the data that will be used as a basis for the exercise. Using backward planning as described in FM 25-2, the G3 sets completion dates for each sup-porting plan based on its required publication date. The schedule allows for timely planning and detailed coordination between appropriate staff agencies.


The outline plan is the framework used to build the scenario--the story of the exercise. The procedures for developing the outline plan depend on the size of the unit involved. In small-unit exercises at company and battalion levels, the reconnaissance phase and the outline planning considerations are normally combined. For large-unit exercises, these two phases are separated. Nonetheless, exercise directors and staffs take the same actions in preparing outline plans for large-unit and small-unit exercises.


Planners should make the most efficient use of land allocated for exercises. They should first study updated maps of the areas with updated aerial photographs, if available. They should analyze the land to determine its military features, including observation and fields of fire, cover and concealment, obstacles, key terrain, and avenues of approach. For example, if an exercise starts with the mission "deliberate attack," the planners should first select the final objective. They then plan backward, choosing a possible assault position, a line of departure, an assembly area, and other control features normally used in the attack.

Planners must select locations for OPFOR activities or positions where specific actions are to take place. They conduct intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) for each phase of the exercise, using US and potential adversary doctrinal templates. Next, they select locations for roadblocks, road guards, and control points. Then they determine the overall scheme of the operation by visualizing the employment of the parent unit two command levels higher than the participating unit. For battalion exercises, they must visualize the employment of the entire division.

In selecting the locations, planners must remember that they are limited to the areas designated for the exercise. In special cases where the exercise may use land not owned by the military, they must get approval to use such land and consider environmental impact during initial planning.

Plans must be developed that fully use the terrain but do not abuse it. The use of legs, as illustrated in Figure 6, is one method of ensuring that terrain does not suffer from excessive maneuver damage.

Second, planners reconnoiter the ground to verify the tentative plan prepared from maps and aerial photographs. Ground reconnaissance should consider such points as--

  • The use of chemical agents and decontamination requirements.
  • The impact of tactical engagement simulations.
  • The effect of low visibility operations.
  • Maneuver damage and safety.
  • The impact of the equipment such as the M1 tank as compared to wheeled vehicles.

A ground reconnaissance validates the plan backward from the objective. It verifies that the plan is appropriate for the participating units. At the objective, the planners critically examine the terrain, as would an enemy commander, to determine the most realistic locations for scheduled activities. The planners then move through the remaining portion of the area and determine the most realistic locations for other planned events. The planners should change the original plan as necessary. Then they submit it to the directing authority for approval before making any further plans. If the map and aerial photographic reconnaissance has been thorough, the original plan may require only minor changes.


For the training exercise to run smoothly and accomplish its objectives, written support plans must contain practical guidance for the exercise participants. The plans discussed in this section are distributed to the appropriate controllers, umpires, evaluators; OPFORS, and players.

Intelligence Plans

The planning staff G2 prepares the intelligence plan in coordination with the planning staff G3 and the chief controller. The plan should provide for--

  • OPFOR units to portray OPFOR tactics.
  • Realistic input of combat information.
  • Timely introduction of information into the exercise intelligence.

Before writing an intelligence plan, the G2 studies the directive and the scenario. In coordination with the G3 and designated OPFOR commander, the G2 prepares a series of OPFOR situations. These will guide the exercise in a scenario that reflects the tactical doctrine, capability, and vulnerability of the selected adversary. The G2 then reconnoiters the terrain to ensure that the OPFOR situations are feasible. The intelligence plan and its support documents must be carefully coordinated with the control plan and the operations plan.

OPFOR Situation. This portion of the plan covers the various enemy situations that must be portrayed by the OPFOR. To clarify it, planners prepare a situation overlay for each phase. Given the OPFOR situations and overlays, the OPFOR commander makes a detailed plan of operations for the required tasks. This plan includes simulating OPFOR units that are not physically portrayed.

The play of intelligence sources and agencies is described. These include--

  • Aerial surveillance and reconnaissance.
  • Surveillance devices.
  • Patrols.
  • Signal intelligence.
  • Electronic intelligence.
  • Prisoners of war.
  • Technical intelligence.

Counterintelligence, guerrilla activities, enemy propaganda, counterpropaganda, and intelligence activities in rear areas are also portrayed. Planners first determine what systems the player units have for collecting this information. The types of intelligence portrayed by the OPFOR must be varied enough to exercise all the intelligence collecting agencies of the player unit.

The NBC attack capabilities of the OPFOR are developed in enough detail to require the player units to interpret the information gathered. Plans should be made for early dissemination of--

  • Meteorological data.
  • Recent OPFOR NBC activities.
  • Intelligence bulletins on OPFOR equipment.
  • Unusual diseases.
  • Other pertinent information.

Whenever possible, OPFOR capabilities should be represented by replicating actual intelligence targets for friendly units to detect. This not only refers to combat-electronic warfare intelligence (CEWI) activities, but applies across the board for all systems. It is essential that exercises duplicate the tasks, conditions, and standards that must be mastered to fight air-land battles in a realistic environment.

Situations are developed for disseminating electronic warfare support measures (ESM) information, current OPFOR electronic warfare order of battle (OB), and recent OPFOR electronic warfare activities. OPFOR tactical deception (TD) and counter-deception activities are standard parts of exercise scenarios. They are necessary for realism. The TD story must be plausible, complete, and consistent with previous, current, and anticipated OPFOR activity.

Intelligence information released to friendly forces must depict both the TD and the true exercise activities of the OPFOR, though not necessarily at the same time. There should be enough information in both categories so that friendly forces will have difficulty in reaching a quick decision about the OPFOR. Information for bringing the play back to the intended path must also be ready in the event that friendly forces accept the initial OPFOR TD activity as the true picture. OPFOR counterdeception activities should be realistic and inhibit friendly development of TD activities. Planners always distinguish between exercise and actual security and intelligence measures.

Directive to OPFOR Commander. The planning staff G2 prepares a directive outlining the OPFOR commander's responsibilities. It cites the training objectives, announces the exercise dates, and specifies the suspense date for the OPFOR commander's operation plan. The directive also defines the command relationship between the OPFOR commander and the exercise director or chief controller.

Special Instructions to the OPFOR. These instructions are an enclosure to the OPFOR commander's directive and outline matters of interest to the entire OPFOR unit. At a minimum, these instructions cover--

Intelligence Information Distribution. This plan provides the scheme of intelligence play before and during the tactical play of the exercise. It includes the information to be released, guidelines on how to release it, and a schedule for its distribution. The intelligence information released falls into two categories:

  • What the unit receives automatically through command channels.
  • What the unit receives only when it takes the proper action to obtain it.

The most realistic method of starting intelligence play in large-unit exercises is for the next higher tactical headquarters to disseminate intelligence to the participating unit early in the exercise. Disseminating area analysis and intelligence summaries and reports provides the necessary background to initiate intelligence play. The OPFOR plan and situation and the intelligence information distribution scheme are carefully coordinated to ensure synchronization. They also introduce events designed to see how the friendly force will react to air-land battles. The reactions of friendly units become key points of discussion for the AAR.

Control Plans

Control plans provide instructions for controlling and evaluating the exercise and organizing the control group. To build a control group, the planning staff G3 prepares the control plan based on the exercise scenario and appropriate references. Instructions for the control group must conform to the scenario and the intelligence plan. The success of the exercise depends largely on how thorough these plans are and how well they are executed.

Safety Instructions. The effort to attain maximum realism may cause hazardous conditions and situations to arise. These hazards could have an adverse effect on the progress of the exercise, as well as on the individual participants and the local civilian communities. To minimize accidents and injuries, planners must prepare and issue specific safety instructions to all units well in advance of the exercise. The control personnel in the exercise area are responsible for implementing these instructions. This in no way, however, lessens the command responsibility within the player units for issuing, clarifying, and enforcing safety rules. Safety instructions include--

  • Objectives and responsibilities.
  • Accident causes and preventive measures.
  • Accident reporting. Spot reports, as well as formal accident reporting and investigative procedures, are prescribed.

Because current equipment is very mobile, command instructions must emphasize its safe operation during training exercises and under administrative conditions during day, night, and reduced visibility.

Uniform Markings, Color Control, and Exercise Rules. This portion of the control plan prescribes--

  • Uniform markings for OPFOR, controller, evaluator, umpire, and observer personnel.
  • Markings for vehicles, aircraft, and equipment.
  • Pyrotechnics, munitions, and lasers permitted in the exercise and instructions for their use.
  • Flag-signaling devices allowed and instructions for their use.
  • Funding authorization and source of supply.
  • Controller rules.
  • Guidance concerning the use of civilians (or military personnel disguised as civilians) in exercise play, their identification, and treatment.
  • Guidance for civil-military relationships. The plan must be closely coordinated with the exercise G5 and the public and unit information programs and activities. Additionally, it will include procedures for identifying and treating civilians who reside in or near the exercise area but who do not participate.

Umpires, personnel, vehicles, and installations participating in combined land exercises with other nations must be marked in accordance with NATO Standardization Agreement (STANAG) 2100, Edition 5.

Controller, Umpire, and Evaluator Assignments. Controllers, umpires, and evaluators are essential for the effective and efficient operation of training exercises. Controllers ensure that events occur at the appropriate times and places according to the exercise scenario and schedule of events. Controllers represent all headquarters and units not physically present as players. Evaluators observe the activities of players and player units to determine whether they perform tasks to predetermined standards. Evaluators provide input to the AARs. Umpires determine the outcome of battle engagements and the effects of fires, obstacles, and support activities. They report the results both to player units and the control organization. The planning staff G1 coordinates with appropriate staff members to recommend sources of personnel and selection criteria to the exercise director. Members of the control group should be taken from nonplaying units because playing units should be at full strength. During any one exercise, controller, evaluator, and umpire duties are normally assigned to separate individuals. However, the exercise director may have to assign two or more of these functions to the same person due to shortages of qualified personnel.

Each controller, evaluator, and umpire is assigned to a specific section for the duration of the exercise. The chief controller deter-mines these specific assignments based on the scope of the exercise and the available personnel and required equipment. If possible, personnel assigned as evaluators should have experience in the position being evaluated. Whenever feasible, commanders should evaluate commanders. For a description of the duties of umpires, controllers, and evaluators, refer to specific exercises in Chapter 3 and to Appendix E.

Controller, Umpire, and Evaluator Communication and Transportation. To control and coordinate exercises, good communications are essential. A large-unit FTX may operate over extended distances and require highly mobile controllers, umpires, and evaluators. In such a case, obstacles to continuous and efficient communication are numerous. The G4, the special security officer (SSO), and the signal officer assist the planning staff G3 to coordinate communication and transportation needs. Since the player units require their organic communication equipment and vehicles during the exercise, the G3, G4, and signal officer should acquire this equipment from other sources.

Schedule of Controller, Umpire, and Evaluator Training. Controllers, umpires, and evaluators must be trained to execute their assignments. The amount of training depends on the backgrounds and experience of these individuals as well as the scale of the exercise. The schedule provides for--

  • A detailed orientation to the exercise, including the training objectives, the methods for attaining the objectives, the scenario, and the supporting plans.
  • A detailed reconnaissance of the exercise area.
  • Schooling that emphasizes duties, use of control equipment, map reading, and tactics.
  • Rehearsals or MAPEXs to ensure complete understanding of the exercise.
  • Orientation on the conduct of the AAR.

Appendix E describes controller, evaluator, and umpire training.

Controller Reports. The chief controller prepares a guide for reports. It lists required reports, provides the format for those reports, and designates special areas of interest for evaluation during each part of the exercise.

Administrative and Logistics Plans

The administrative and logistics plan provides for actual combat service support of the exercises. The planning staff G4 coordinates with the G1, G5, and appropriate special staff officers regarding CSS. The G4 determines the availability of essential supplies and maintenance support and plans for medical evacuation and traffic control.

The administrative and logistics plan must match the scenario and operation plan. It contains instructions for the realistic play of CSS for both OPFOR and friendly units. It also provides for the concurrent training of the CSS elements involved. Logistic support must conform to the logistic policies of the exercise. The planning staff G4 coordinates closely with the G1 and G5 to prepare the plan, which covers all phases of the exercise.

Appendixes to the administrative and logistics plan pertaining to CSS must--

  • Establish a list of mandatory supply items to be brought to the exercise area by supporting troops.
  • Describe the procedures for obtaining and maintaining training supplies.
  • Establish available supply rates for all types of munitions.
  • Determine logistics requirements for special items such as decontamination materials, fog oil, and NBC simulators.

Planners estimate the required types and quantities of these various supply items early in the planning phase to ensure that the appendixes will contain all this information.

Movement Plan

The number of player units, OPFOR, and control personnel involved in a large-unit field exercise requires the planning staff G4 to prepare a detailed movement plan. This plan coordinates transportation assets and controls traffic. When the exercise is conducted off military controlled land, this plan must be coordinated with appropriate civil authorities. Failure to do so may result in military and civilian traffic problems that could interfere with the exercise time schedule.

Maneuver Damage Control Plan

The maneuver damage control plan is closely related to the claims plan described later in this chapter. The maneuver damage control plan prescribes--

  • General policies.
  • Responsibilities of commanders and units.
  • Areas of responsibility.
  • Training and orientation of troops, claims personnel, and repair teams.
  • Restrictions, limitations, and precautions to be observed. These include rules governing vehicle travel, use of airstrips and railroads, communications, command post sites, and wire and cable laying.
  • The organization and duties of maneuver damage control teams.
  • Participation of umpire and control personnel.
  • Preexercise reports, spot damage reports, player and support unit location reports, and postexercise repair reports.

If possible, aerial and other photographs of the exercise area should be made prior to and immediately after the exercise. They will assist with cleanup and resolution of maneuver damage claims.

Civil-Military Operations Plan

The CMO plan, prepared by the planning staff G5, establishes the scope and objectives of CMO play in the exercise. It may cover the employment of civil affairs units and staffs during the exercise, as well as those portions of the PSYOP plan consolidating PSYOP activities in support of the civil affairs plan.

Emergency or Readiness Measures Plan

Since forces involved in an exercise may be required for actual operations, an emergency deployment plan is prepared. Multiple and secure notification means are provided for this purpose. The planning staff G3 prepares this plan.

A situation may require implementation of operation or alert plans and warrant the immediate termination of the exercise. If so, the exercise director transmits in the clear a duly authenticated, preselected code word. In turn, the code word is transmitted by each player and control echelon taking part in the exercise, and the exercise is terminated. All communication circuits are cleared for emergency traffic. Circuits out of action due to exercise play are restored immediately.

Planners make careful distinctions between exercise instructions and the actual instructions for an operation or alert plan. Before leaving their garrisons, all units are told the locations and availability of live ammunition in case play is terminated and execution of a contingency plan is ordered. Live ammunition to be carried during the exercise is loaded according to local SOP. Coordinating and arranging for convoy routes from the exercise location to deployment positions must occur during the planning phase. If the exercise area is an unreasonable distance from the planned deployment position, contingency plans must be developed prior to the exercise.

Orientation and After-Action Review Plan

The planning staff G3 prepares this plan. It contains detailed instructions for orientation before the exercise and for the AAR.

The preexercise orientation is essential to ensure that all personnel start with the same information and carry out their duties with interest and enthusiasm. The orientation develops an understanding of the training objectives and how to attain them. Key personnel are designated to attend the orientation to ensure that player units receive the necessary information. A briefing schedule is published and a rehearsal conducted.

AARs occur as soon as practicable following major events, exercise phases, or ENDEX. Effective AARs are as brief and concise as possible considering the amount of information to be covered. At a minimum, AARs include commanders and staff. If possible, they include participating soldiers. Players discuss their reasons for taking actions. Controllers, umpires, and evaluators make their observations. The OPFOR should give its view of the exercise. In scheduling AARs, planners should consider the physical condition of the soldiers and the locations of units. They also need to consider the time needed to collect, collate, and evaluate reports from controllers, evaluators, umpires, and OPFORs. For larger scale exercises, the G3 should schedule multiechelon AARs, as described in Appendix G.

Information Plan

The planning staff information officer coordinates with all staff sections to prepare a public information plan that will develop public support of the Army's mission. The scope and objectives of the exercise determine the extent of this plan. In the interest of sound public relations, the exercise director should prepare the local population for any unusual or inconvenient situations that may arise.

All exercises have certain security, political, and public relations implications. Planners weigh these implications carefully and formulate a basic concept for publicity for each exercise. They determine a suitable press release date in advance. It takes into consideration the requirements for security, public relations, and items of international and political interest. They weigh the release of detailed information concerning the nature and location of the exercise and the participating forces in relation to security and political implications. Invitations to the press are prepared by information officers and cleared by SSOs. The invitations may request that the exercise be given no publicity until a predetermined date.

When publicity is not desired, planners establish policies for handling press inquiries. The information plan also provides for--

  • Initial releases announcing the exercise.
  • The extent of hometown press releases.
  • Radio, television, and other news media coverage.
  • The extent of press coverage and the invitations to be issued.
  • Support of news media representatives.
  • Briefings to be given and courtesies to be extended.
  • Unit orientation.
  • Exercise news publications or other news features.

Claims Plan

When a large-unit field exercise uses privately owned land, buildings, or equipment, the planning staff G4 must prepare a claims plan. This plan is prepared in coordination with the G1, staff judge advocate, engineer officer, G5, and G3. The plan designates--

  • A claims officer, who is appointed early to execute the leases for the property required. The same officer is responsible for settling any claims arising from the exercise.
  • The amount of land, equipment, or building space required.
  • A rental procedure, to include the length of time that facilities or land will be required.
  • The limitations imposed on the use of all leased property.
  • The means for issuing these instructions to all units.
  • A means of processing claims.
  • The procedure for obtaining claims releases.
  • Off-limits areas.

Comptroller Plan

For funding purposes, large field exercises normally require the assignment of a comptroller to the planning staff. Comptroller activities in support of the exercise include--

  • Preparing the comptroller plan.
  • Monitoring the exercise expenditures.
  • Advising the planning staff on financial matters.

Records and Reports Plan

The planning staff G3 formulates a plan for required records and reports based on the exercise director's guidance. At a minimum, it requires an AAR upon completion of the exercise. The plan designates the commanders who must conduct AARs and prescribes the format, number of copies, and suspense date for after-action reports. All reports are tabulated to show the--

  • Proper title.
  • Basic references.
  • Submitting unit.
  • Time interval covered.
  • Suspense date.
  • Format.
  • Number of copies required.
  • Method of transmission.


Once the exercise director has approved the outline plan, the planning staff G3 and G2, with other staff participation, complete the scenario. Scenarios are stories for training exercises. They list the events that lead up to the points requiring player units to execute their operation orders (OPORDs) and thus begin the exercises. These lists include the facts necessary to place player units in the desired tactical settings prior to STARTEX. Scenarios guide umpire, controller, and evaluator personnel so that the exercise will progress according to predetermined plans. Although scenarios are normally in narrative form, overlay scenarios may be used for small exercises with limited objectives. Scenarios portray a series of tactical situations. They are supported by OPLANs to include the annexes and overlays necessary to meet the command objectives.

Each free-play scenario presents an initial situation and provides sufficient detail and guidance so the player can prepare an OPLAN, annexes, and overlays. After STARTEX, higher headquarters and the player commander control the activities, based on METT and a realistic enemy. Using this type of scenario, a player is free, within doctrine and the higher unit OPORD, to initiate activity. Each controlled-play scenario presents detailed situations and events created to accomplish a specific exercise objective. It is normally keyed to a rigid schedule of events with a predetermined message release list.

The two scenarios differ in purpose. Free-play scenarios allow commanders maximum latitude in executing missions. Conversely, controlled-play scenarios cause commanders to take specific actions in response to pre-determined events.

Controlled-play scenarios are best used when exercise objectives are to train on specific battle staff, survivability, or combined arms and services tasks under specific conditions. Examples include operations in a chemical environment, deliberate river-crossing operations, and military operations on urbanized terrain (MOUT). Controlled-play scenarios are best supported by schedules of events that ensure the timely insertion of incidents.

Free-play scenarios are best used when the exercise objective is to integrate systems, survivability, and battle staff training in the most realistic, full-threat environment possible. Free-play scenarios can use battle simulations such as Pegasus, First Battle, or CAMMS.

Scenarios contain the following elements:

  • A general situation that provides the participants with the background information normally available in a combat situation.
  • An initial situation that starts the action by the player unit and causes the commander to issue orders committing units.
  • A subsequent situation that continues the exercise and causes controllers, umpires, and evaluators to maintain control. It includes all major events necessary to accomplish the exercise objectives within the allotted time.

Considerable guidance is required from player unit commanders regarding the pace of the exercise. The scenario developers must plan thoroughly to balance the number and types of requirements placed on the players and the time allocated to complete them. The planners must not attempt to do too much in too little time. It is better to conduct a few events to standard and have time for con-ducting good AARs and for repeating any events as necessary, rather than to attempt more events than can be executed using the appropriate troop-leading procedures.

General Situation

At a minimum, the general situation includes--

  • A general statement describing the events that precipitated the current situation causing the commitment of US forces.
  • The strategic and tactical situation, to include friendly forces two echelons higher.
  • A description of the OPFOR situation, to include the disposition of their forces two echelons higher.
  • An analysis of the area of operations.

In developing the general situation, planners should establish the troop list of the next higher echelon and the time frame for the execution phase of the exercise. Adjustments can be made as the training and support situations change; however, major revisions should be avoided.

Initial Situation

The initial situation places the player unit in a tactical situation before STARTEX. If a preexercise phase is used to prepare an OPLAN, the prepared OPLAN is converted to an OPORD at, or prior to, STARTEX by a fragmentary order (FRAGO). However, if a preexercise phase is not used, an OPLAN is developed during the initial phase. It provides the basis for subsequent operations. The requirements for the initial situation will depend on when the player OPLAN is developed. In any case, the controllers should review the OPLAN for format and content, since the preparation, dissemination, and supervision of plans, orders, and estimates are normally prime objectives of any exercise. The annotated OPORD shown as an annex in FM 101-5 should be used as a model format.

The OPORD causes the player to execute the mission assigned by higher head-quarters. The OPORD clearly expresses the way the player unit commander visualizes the flow of the battle. If the player's OPORD does not comply with higher headquarters' directives or if execution of the order would create a serious safety hazard, the order should be returned for correction.

The initial situation should cause the G2/S2 to begin IPB. Through careful analysis of the terrain, avenues of approach, and adversary doctrinal templating, the player unit can determine the most dangerous avenue of approach and the most likely enemy configuration. At STARTEX, the player unit should have sufficient enemy intelligence information as would realistically be available in wartime. This information should be provided through player channels to the lowest level to ensure a consistent portrayal of the enemy situation. Failure to disseminate intelligence to subordinate units should be addressed in the AAR.

Subsequent Situations

Exercise planners develop the subsequent situations by creating a list of events that--

  • Ensures a logical flow for the exercise.
  • Obtains a realistic time estimate for the entire exercise.
  • Ensures all training objectives are achieved.

Events are concise written statements of tactical activities. Planners list them in chronological order and estimate when they will occur. They may cross reference events and their scheduled times by arranging both in column format. Such a list will help the exercise flow to a logical conclusion. Once they prepare the list of events, planners develop corresponding incidents with execution times, if appropriate, that provide controllers, umpires, evaluators, and OPFORs with a way of realistically presenting each event to the player. The list should indicate--

  • Where each event or incident takes place.
  • Who is involved in each.
  • How each is initiated.

The events, incidents, and additional information become a schedule of events and an enclosure to the scenario. The enclosure is an abbreviated publication arranged chrono-logically in column format. It provides a ready index to the time, place, soldiers or units involved, and the activity planned for a given situation. It also estimates the time required to conduct the exercise, including the time for troop orientation before STARTEX and for an AAR after each exercise phase or at ENDEX. Planners should adjust this time estimate after the exercise is rehearsed. For free-play scenarios, the schedule of events will be much less detailed than for a controlled-play scenario. Items on the schedule of events cause specific actions or reactions by the players within or among various systems. The schedule of events should provide sufficient information to allow follow-up and observations by controller and umpire personnel. These events, actions, and reactions become topics of discussion in the AAR.


The exercise scenario is the basis for the OPLAN. The OPLAN is the responsibility of the planning staff G3. However, all members of he planning staff must share in developing the OPLAN to produce the various supporting annexes and overlays that it requires.

The complexity of the OPLAN may vary with the scope of the exercise. For example, the OPLAN for a battalion-level exercise may be issued as a verbal order. Warning orders and FRAGOs to initiate, continue, change, or halt operations are often prepared in advance in support of exercises conducted for the purpose of evaluating or testing multiple units under like conditions.


The LOI provides exercise information to all participants. It may include references to information such as the maneuver damage plan or the safety SOP, already published in other sources.

The LOI is prepared in a format that is easy to use and provides all the necessary information. If the exercise is very large or complex, annexes to the LOI may address specific subjects.

The first draft of the LOI is published far enough in advance of STARTEX to allow all concerned agencies, major subordinate commands, and special staff members to respond and submit comments. The final version of the LOI is published only when these comments have been considered and incorporated. At division level, planning should start at least 60 days prior to STARTEX. For exercises above division, a minimum of 30 additional days should be allowed for each echelon.

Those who plan and participate in exercises must be kept well informed throughout the planning process. The LOI should not be used as the sole method of providing information. Briefings, updates, fact sheets, or in-process reviews (IPRs) may also be used, as appropriate or whenever important changes occur that will influence the exercise development.


The planning staff G3 is responsible for preparing the contingency plan. It stipulates what actions are to be taken in the event of adverse weather, actual war, or other factors limiting exercise. If the plan calls for an alternate exercise, then the planning process for it must be given the same consideration as the original exercise, including the appropriate support plan.


Preparation of the terrain may be necessary to provide a realistic environment, to protect the terrain from excessive maneuver damage, and to ensure troop safety while employing high-mobility systems. For example, in a live-fire exercise, electronically or mechanically controlled targets may be in-stalled in foxholes or bunkers to represent the OPFOR. Dug-in, remotely controlled machine gun simulators may represent OPFOR fire from the objective. Barbed wire obstacles on the objective, demolition pits along the routes of approach, enemy fighting positions, and simulated gun emplacements can all add realism. Safety devices to facilitate control and safe operation should be installed when-ever demolitions or live-fire exercises are incorporated in the training exercise.


As a final check on planning, the exercise is rehearsed. This rehearsal does not include players. It occurs far enough in advance of the exercise for planners to correct errors and adjust the schedule. Controllers, umpires, evaluators, and OPFORs should rehearse so that they are all thoroughly familiar with their duties. For large exercises, it is critical to rehearse communications. The agency or individual who originally directed the exercise should be represented at the rehearsal in order to make necessary changes and to approve the exercise.

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