Engineer Estimate

The engineer estimate is an extension of the military decision-making process. It is a logical thought process that is conducted by the engineer staff officer concurrently with the supported maneuver force's tactical planning process. The engineer estimate--

  • Generates early integration of the engineer plan into the combined arms planning process.
  • Drives the coordination between the staff engineer, the supported commander, and other staff officers.
  • Drives the development of detailed engineer plans, orders, and annexes.

Each step of the engineer-estimate process corresponds to a step of the military decision-making process. Like the military decision-making process, the engineer estimate is continuously refined. Table A-1 shows the relationship between these two processes. Each step of the engineer-estimate process is discussed in detail in the following paragraphs. The military decision-making process provides the framework for the discussion of the corresponding engineer-estimate actions. For more information on the engineer estimate, see ST 100-9.


The staff engineer quickly focuses on several essential components of the basic order and engineer annex when he receives the mission. These components are the--

  • Enemy situation
  • Mission paragraph.
  • Task organization.
  • Logistics paragraph.
  • Engineer annex.

From these components, he determines the--

  • Type of operation (offensive or defensive).
  • Current intelligence picture.
  • Assets available.
  • Time available (estimate).


Developing facts and assumptions is a detailed and sometimes lengthy process. The staff engineer must maintain his focus on the information required by the maneuver commander and his battle staff to make decisions. Facts and assumptions pertain to both the enemy and the friendly situation. The staff engineer uses the EBA as the framework for developing facts and assumptions. The EBA consists of three parts (see Table A-2). They are--

  • Terrain analysis.
  • Enemy mission and M/S capabilities.
  • Friendly mission and M/S capabilities.

The EBA is a continuous process that is continually refined as the situation becomes clearer. Each time new information is collected or the conditions change, the staff engineer must evaluate its impact on the mission and refine the facts and assumptions, as necessary.


Terrain analysis is a major component of the IPB. The objective of the terrain analysis is to determine the impact that the terrain (including weather) will have on mission accomplishment. The staff engineer supports the intelligence officer in this process. Normally, using the OCOKA framework, they determine what advantages or disadvantages the terrain and anticipated weather offer to both enemy and friendly forces. This process has a direct impact on the planning of engineer operations. Table A-3 shows examples of how the components of OCOKA may impact engineer support.


Threat analysis and threat integration are also major components of the IPB. Enemy mission and M/S capabilities are a subcomponent of the threat analysis and integration process. The staff engineer supports the intelligence officer during the threat evaluation by focusing on the enemy's mission as it relates to enemy engineer capability. When executing this component of the EBA, the staff engineer must first understand the enemy's anticipated mission (attack or defend) and consider how enemy engineers will be doctrinally employed. The staff engineer then develops an estimate of the enemy's engineer capabilities. To do this, he uses the S2's order of battle and knowledge of enemy engineer organizations engineer force necessary to augment the and other assets (such as combat vehicle reconnaissance effort that will confirm or self-entrenching capabilities) that may impact engineer operations. The staff engineer must also consider hard intelligence pertaining to recent enemy engineer activities.

The staff engineer then uses the S2's situation template and the enemy's capability estimate to plot the enemy's engineer effort and its location. Coordinating with the S2, the staff engineer recommends PIR and the deny the situation template. Enemy engineer activities must be organic to the total combined arms R& S plan. See Table A-2 for a quick summary on enemy mission and M/S capabilities.

In the defense, the staff engineer plots the enemy's--

  • Mobility assets, capabilities, and location in its formation.
  • Use of SCATMINES.
  • Engineers that support the reconnaissance effort.
  • HVT (such as bridging assets, breaching assets. and SCATMINE delivery systems).
  • Countermobility and survivability capabilities in a transition to a defense.

In the offense, the staff engineer plots the enemy's--

  • Tactical- and protective-obstacle effort.
  • Use of SCATMINES.
  • Survivability and fortification effort.


The third component of the EBA is to estimate the friendly engineer capability and its impact on mission accomplishment. To perform this function, the staff engineer uses the information he developed in the first step (receive the mission).

Knowing the type of operation, the staff engineer quickly prioritizes the development of capability estimates. He considers engineer forces task-organized to his supported unit as well as the assets that other members of the combined arms team have (such as mine plows) to determine the assets that are available. Assets under the control of the higher engineer HQ and adjacent engineer units should be noted for future reference in the event a lack of assets is identified during COA development.

Having determined the assets available and having already estimated and refined the time available with the S3, the staff engineer uses standard planning factors or known unit work rates to determine the total engineer capability. For example, in the offense, the staff engineer would focus first on the total numbers of breaching equipment (armored vehicle-launched bridges (AVLBs), MICLICs, ACEs, engineer platoons, and combat engineer vehicles (CEVs)) and translate that into breach lanes. In the defense, the staff engineer would determine the number of minefield, hull- or turret-defilade positions, and tank ditches he could construct with available resources. The staff engineer uses the results of his capability estimates during the COA development. Table A-2 contains an outline of this analysis.

The staff engineer combines his analysis of the terrain and enemy and friendly capabilities to form facts and assumptions about the following:

  • Likely enemy engineer effort and the most probable enemy COA.
  • Potential enemy vulnerabilities.
  • Critical friendly requirements.
  • Impact of these factors on the mission.


The staff engineer participates in the mission analysis by identifying engineer tasks that are mission critical and have an impact on the overall mission. The staff engineer identifies engineer tasks from the higher unit's entire OPORD, not just the engineer annex. The staff engineer must look in numerous places to fully understand the total scheme of maneuver, the commander's intents, and instructions from the higher unit's staff engineer. The staff engineer should concentrate on the following portions of the OPORD as he receives and identifies the engineer mission:

  • Mission (paragraph 2).
  • Commander's intent (two levels up) (paragraphs 1b and 3).
  • Scheme of maneuver (paragraph 3).
  • Scheme of engineer operations (paragraph 3).
  • Subunit instructions (paragraph 3).
  • Coordinating instructions (paragraph 3).
  • Service support (paragraph 4).
  • Command and signal (paragraph 5).
  • Engineer annex.

Mission analysis has several components, with the staff engineer focusing on engineer capabilities in each component. They are--

  • Specified tasks.
  • Implied tasks.
  • Assets available.
  • Limitations (constraints and restrictions).
  • Risk.
  • Time analysis.
  • Essential tasks.
  • Restated mission.


Tasks derived directly from the WARNORD, the OPORD, or the commander's intent. Examples are obstacle zones, obstacle belts with intents, the required number of breach lanes, and the type of breach designated by the higher commander.


Implied tasks are developed by analyzing the mission in conjunction with the facts and assumptions developed earlier. For example, obstacle-handover coordination during a relief-in-place mission, if not specified, is an implied task. A classic example of an implied task is identifying and planning a river-crossing operation (not specified in the higher OPORD) to seize an objective if a river crossing is necessary to accomplish the mission but is not specified in the higher OPORD.


The staff engineer should have already identified the available engineer assets in the EBA. He should also examine the total force structure of the combined arms team. This helps the staff engineer as he participates in the COA development. For instance, the amount of firepower available may help to determine whether the force should conduct an in-stride breach versus a deliberate breach.


Constraints are those specified tasks that limit freedom of action. Designated reserve targets, obstacle belts (with intents), and breach-lane requirements are examples of constraints the staff engineer must consider in his mission analysis. Restrictions are limitations placed on the commander that prohibit the command from doing something. Therefore, they greatly impact the COA development. Obstacle zones and belts are excellent examples of restrictions because they limit the area in which tactical obstacles can be placed.


A commander may specify a risk he is willing to accept to accomplish the mission. For instance, the priority obstacle effort in a defense may be employed on the most likely enemy AA while situational obstacles are to be planned on the most dangerous AA as an economy-of-force measure. The staff engineer must understand how a risk involving an engineer capability specifically impacts combined arms-operations and must advise the commander accordingly.


The staff engineer must ensure that engineer operations are included in the combined arms time analysis. The time analysis has several steps. The first step is to determine the actual time available. The staff engineer establishes a factor an assumption of the time available while preparing the friendly capabilities portion of the EBA. Now he refines his time analysis. A good tool to use in this process is a basic time-line sketch that includes such items as the--

  • Supported unit's OPORD.
  • Engineer unit OPORD.
  • Movement times.
  • Line-of-departure or prepare-to-defend times.
  • Rehearsals.
  • Hours of darkness or limited visibility.

This technique assists the staff engineer in accurately refining the estimate of the amount of time actually available and adjusting the friendly engineer capability accordingly.


Specified and implied tasks that are critical to mission success are identified as essential tasks. The staff engineer focuses the development of his plans, staff coordination, and allocation of resources on the essential tasks. The staff engineer does not ignore the other specified and implied tasks, but his planning centers on the essential tasks.


The restated mission follows the same format as any mission statement. The who, what, where, and why are based on the mission analysis.


The staff engineer needs to receive planning guidance to tailor the schemes of engineer operations that he will develop during COA development. The amount of guidance required is based on the experience of the staff engineer and maneuver commander, the time available, whether habitual relationships between the engineer and maneuver units have been established, and the SOPs. Some areas in which the staff engineer might require guidance are--

  • Situational-obstacle planning.
  • Use of digging assets (survivability versus countermobility).
  • Use of maneuver forces in the obstacle effort.
  • Risk acceptance of M/S tasks.
  • Interpretations of higher commander's intent pertaining to M/S.

The next step of the military decision-making process is developing the maneuver COAs. COA development centers on the employment of maneuver forces. The staff engineer assists in this process by considering the impact engineer operations has on maneuver. The staff engineer must participate in order to tailor the scheme of engineer operations for each COA. He develops a scheme of engineer operations for each maneuver COA. The staff engineer does not develop complete plans, just a concept. It is developed using the same steps as the maneuver COA but without the detailed force allocation. If time permits, the staff engineer may begin working on the details for each plan. The process is as follows:

  • Analyze relative combat power.
  • Identify engineer missions and allocate forces.
  • Develop tentative schemes of engineer operations.
  • Balance assets against support requirements.
  • Integrate into the maneuver COA.


The staff engineer compares the anticipated enemy engineer capability with the friendly engineer capability needed to defeat it. For example, in the offense, the staff engineer considers the enemy doctrinal norms, hard intelligence, recent activities, and the time the enemy has to prepare. Then he determines if the friendly engineer capability is sufficient to overcome the enemy capability. Likewise, in the defense, the staff engineer looks at enemy capability and when and where he expects that capability to be employed. Then he determines what will defeat it and what assets are available to ensure success.


Based on the maneuver COA, situation analysis, mission analysis, and commander's intent, the staff engineer assesses the engineer requirements. This is the most important step in developing a scheme of engineer operations.


The scheme of engineer operations focuses on how the engineer efforts integrate into and support the maneuver COA. Like the maneuver COA, the scheme of engineer operations is generic without a specific engineer force allocation or unit designation. It must address all phases of the operation, particularly when engineer priorities must change to support the maneuver.


The staff engineer reviews his scheme of engineer operations in light of the assets he has available (using his EBA product). Hasty-estimate tools, such as belt-planning factors, blade-hour estimates, and breach-lane requirements, are used to quickly assess whether adequate assets are available to support the plan. All shortfalls are noted and the scheme of engineer operations is refined, if necessary. The plan is refined by--

  • Shifting assets to the main effort.
  • Shifting priorities with the phases of the operation.
  • Recommending to the commander to accept risk.
  • Requesting additional assets.


The staff engineer prepares a statement describing the scheme of engineer operations. This statement addresses how engineer efforts support the maneuver COA. He integrates the necessary graphics to illustrate this tentative engineer plan (for example, breach-control measures and obstacle graphics and intent).


Staff analysis identifies the best COA to recommend to the commander. War-gaming techniques are used to analyze the COAs. War gaming is a systematic visualization of enemy actions and reactions to each friendly COA. The staff engineer participates in war gaming to--

  • Ensure that the scheme of engineer operations supports the maneuver plan and is integrated with the other staff elements.
  • Further identify weaknesses in his plan and make adjustments, if necessary.
  • Ensure that the S2 integrates enemy engineer assets and actions as he portrays the enemy force.

The three techniques for war gaming are as follows (see Table A-4):

  • Avenue in depth.
  • Belt.
  • Box.

The next step, after each COA is independently war-gamed, is to compare the results. The goal of comparing COAs is to analyze their advantages and disadvantages relative to the other plans. Each COA is compared to the others using specific evaluation criteria. These evaluation criteria may be developed by the staff or may be directed to the staff by the commander during his planning guidance.

The staff engineer compares COAs in terms of which scheme of engineer operations best supports accomplishing the mission. His comparison is only part of the total comparison by the staff.


The objective of the comparison is to make a unified recommendation to the commander on which COA is best. The staff engineer may have to give greater consideration to a COA that he can least support if it looks like it is the best selection from the other staff perspectives. The staff engineer must be prepared to inform the maneuver commander of--

  • Which risks to accept.
  • What additional assets he needs to avoid risks.
  • Where he can obtain the assets.
  • How influential he has to be to obtain the assets.

This is where knowledge of the higher and adjacent unit engineer assets becomes important.

Based on the staff's recommendations, the commander makes a decision on which COA to adopt for final planning. He may select a specific COA, modify a COA, or combine parts of several COAs. In any event, the commander decides and issues to the staff additional guidance for developing the plan. This guidance concentrates on synchronizing the fight, focusing on bringing the combat multipliers together.


The staff engineer focuses his planning efforts on the scheme of engineer operations for the selected maneuver COA. The staff engineer determines the C2 necessary to accomplish the engineer missions (see Chapter 2 for additional information). The scheme of engineer operations is fine-tuned based on the war-gaming process, the commander's guidance, and situation updates. As the staff engineer fills in the details of his plan, he refers back to his initial mission analysis to ensure that all missions have been taken into account. The staff engineer ensures that all engineer tasks are assigned to maneuver and engineer units as part of the subunit instructions. Final coordination is made with other staff members to ensure total integration and mutual support.

The staff engineer conveys his written plan through his input in the basic OPORD (scheme of engineer operations, subunit instructions, and coordinating instructions paragraphs) and the engineer annex (see Appendix B). As part of the combined arms staff, the staff engineer also participates in the OPORD brief to the assembled command group. As with the other primary staff officers, the staff engineer gets only one chance to brief the command group on the scheme of engineer operations. This is the first step in a properly executed and well-coordinated engineer plan. The focus of the staff engineer is briefing the subordinate commanders; the maneuver commander and staff should already know the plan. It helps to develop standard briefs as a guide. Time is always critical; repeating information covered by other staff members should be avoided, and only critical items should be covered, to include SOP items. Above all, the staff engineer should be thoroughly familiar with the total plan so that he is comfortable answering questions.

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