UNITED24 - Make a charitable donation in support of Ukraine!





SECTION I.     Organization and Facilities

      General Organization

      Brigade Command, Control, and Communication Facilities

      Battalion Task Force Command, Control, and Communication Facilities

      Company Team Command, Control, and Communication Facilities

SECTION II.     The Planning Process

      Troop-Leading Procedures

      Abbreviated Decision-Making Process

      Application of Troop-Leading Procedures

SECTION III.   Communication



      Means of Communications

      Communications Techniques

      Communications Security

SECTION IV.   Command Post Operations

      Brigade Tactical Operations Center Operations

      Battalion Command Post Operations

      Company Command and Control Operations

      Command Post Operation Techniques

SECTION V.    Command Post Survivability




To be successful in battle, commanders must be able to make good decisions quickly. Staffs must be able to assist commanders in making those decisions and translating them into action faster than the enemy. Units must be able to respond quickly to changing situations. Through command and control (C2), commanders will seize the initiative from the enemy and defeat it.

To make C2 happen, it must be properly organized in functionally operating facilities. Staffs must be well trained. Commanders and staffs must practice the C2 process regularly so that the procedures are instinctive.

The C2 process comprises--

  • Coordination.
  • Planning.
  • Directing.
  • Controlling.

The C2 process is executed through--

  • Leadership.
  • C2 facilities.
  • The planning process.
  • Communication.

The leadership environment effects the success of C2. In modern war, the enemy will seldom conform to our expectations. Beating the enemy demands bold, aggressive, risk-taking leaders. Leaders must be willing to take responsibility and use their initiative, guided by their commander's intent. Leaders must be able to think clearly and quickly. Speed and decisive action are essential.

Commanders must be determined to see their intent carried out. They should issue mission-type orders that impose restrictions on subordinates only to assure the coordinated action of the command. Terminology must be widely understood. The commander's intent will guide subordinate commanders in pursuit of the common goal in the absence of communications. The commander must be forward, monitoring the progress of the battle. He intervenes only when necessary.

Commander-subordinate relationships must be characterized by mutual trust and respect. Commanders and subordinates must know how the other thinks. Commanders must teach subordinates not what to think, but how to think. They must decentralize authority to their subordinates, allow freedom of action, and encourage the use of their initiative.


General Organization



The commander is responsible for all his unit does or fails to do. He cannot delegate this responsibility. The commander is responsible to both his superiors and his subordinates. The commander delegates to his subordinates the authority to accomplish their missions. He increases the effectiveness of the organization by delegating authority, holding subordinates responsible for their actions, and fostering a climate of mutual trust, cooperation, and teamwork.

Planning and Execution

Commanders fight the AirLand battle by synchronizing the execution of the close, deep, and rear fights. AirLand battle will be conducted at a greatly accelerated pace. This involves split-second response to orders and fast, violent execution. The commander must make his decisions based on his ability to see the battlefield. He must be present at the decisive point and take advantage of accurate, timely reports. The planning and execution cycle must be accelerated so the enemy continually finds itself attempting to react to new offensive operations against its flanks and rear. The challenge is to streamline C2 procedures to anticipate and execute immediately.


Intent is the commander's stated vision which defines the purpose of an operation and the end state with respect to the relationship among the force, the enemy, and the terrain. The intent does not summarize the concept of the operation nor does it describe subunit missions. The commander's intent must be clear to subordinates to allow them to take the initiative in the absence of detailed orders. Leaders must understand the intent of commanders two levels above them. This contributes to swift, coordinated, effective action by the unit.

Chain of Command

The commander issues orders and receives information through the chain of command. He issues all orders to the commander of the next lower unit. Bypassing commanders should occur only in urgent situations. In such instances, the bypassed commander should be notified by the commanders involved as soon as possible.

The Staff

Staff Functions

Staff officers assist their commander in accomplishing the mission. They help the commander make decisions by acquiring, analyzing, and coordinating information. Staff officers present critical information and a recommendation to the commander so he can make good decisions. Common staff functions are--

  • Providing information. Staff officers collect, analyze, and disseminate information. They ensure the critical facts are at hand for the commander.
  • Making estimates.
  • Making recommendations.
  • Preparing plans and orders.
  • Supervising the execution of decisions.

Staff Responsibility and Authority

Staff officers are assigned functional areas of interest and responsibility. Normally, the commander delegates authority to the staff to take final action on matters within command policy. The assignment of staff responsibility does not connote command authority over other staff officers or over any other command element.

Relationship with Subordinate Commands

Staff officers must understand the situations of the command's units. They must support subordinate units and establish good working relationships with subordinate commanders and staffs. The staff should make recommendations and offer advice to subordinate commanders; they may not, however, deny or refuse a subordinate commander's request, except in those areas where the commander has delegated authority for them to do so. Staff officers will contact a subordinate command only in the commander's name to transmit orders or instructions, but they may offer assistance or exchange information in their own or in the commander's name. If a staff officer determines a subordinate command is not complying with the commander's directives, the staff officer advises the subordinate commander or his staff of the noncompliance. The staff officer then reports his observation and recommendation to his commander. Staff officers normally honor in format requests for information from the higher level staff; they should be open for suggestions from subordinate units.

Command and Staff Communications

The command channel is the direct, official link between echelon headquarters and commanders. Orders and instructions to subordinate units pass on this channel. Within their authority, staff officers may use command channels when acting in the commander's name. The staff channel is the staff-to-staff link between headquarters for coordination and transmission of information. The technical channel carries technical instructions between commands.


Coordination is critical to the commander's synchronization of the battle. It must occur internally with combat, CS, and CSS units and externally with higher and adjacent units. It prevents the enemy from exploiting unit boundaries and enables the commander to produce maximum relative combat power at the decisive time and place.

Brigade Command, Control, and Communication Facilities

Brigade Command Group Functions

The brigade command group has the following functions (see Figure 1-1 for a diagram of the TAC CP):

  • Observe the battlefield.
  • Influence the battle with personal presence.
  • Control (synchronize) the battle -- close, deep, and rear.
  • Provide planning guidance.

Brigade Tactical Command Post Functions

The brigade TAC CP has the following functions (see Figure 1-1 for legend of terms, equipment and a diagram of the facility):

  • Conduct ongoing close operations.
  • Provide the commander with combat critical information.
  • Disseminate the commander's decisions.

Brigade Main Command Post Functions

The brigade main CP has the following functions (see Figures 1-2, 1-3, and 1-4 for diagrams of the facility):

  • Assist the brigade and TF commanders.
  • Monitor the close fight.
  • Synchronize (coordinate) CS and CSS.
  • Execute planned deep attacks.
  • Coordinate operations throughout brigade sector.
  • Fight rear operations.
  • Plan future operations.
  • Keep higher headquarters informed.

(See Figure 1-1 for additional legend of terms and equipment.)

Brigade Rear Command Post Functions

The brigade rear CP has the following functions (see Figure 1-5 for a diagram of the facility):

  • Sustain current operations.
  • Forecast future CSS requirements.
  • Conduct detailed CSS planning.
  • Serve as entry point for units entering brigade rear area.
  • Coordinate with FSB CP (collocate).
  • Serve as alternate main CP.

(See Figure 1-1 for additional legend of terms and equipment.)

Battalion Task Force Command, Control, and Communication Facilities

Battalion Task Force Command Group Functions

The battalion task force command group has the following functions (see Figures 1-6 and 1-7 for the organization of armor and mechanized infantry task force command groups):

  • Synchronize combat assets in support of close operations.
  • Control close operations.
  • Maintain current operation situation.
  • Provide close situation information to the main CP.

NOTE: Based on factors of METT-T, other elements, such as the engineer element, may be included in the task force TAC CP.

Battalion Task Force Main Command Post Functions

The battalion task force main CP has the following functions (see Figures 1-8 and 1-9 for diagrams of the facility):

  • Synchronize close operations by integrating CS and CSS into the maneuver plan.
  • Plan future operations.
  • Serve as alternate for the command group.
  • Keep higher headquarters informed.

Battalion Task Force Combat Trains Command Post Functions

The battalion task force combat trains CP has the following functions (see Figure 1-10 for a diagram of the facility):

  • Plan and coordinate sustainment for tactical operations.
  • Serve as alternate for the main CP.

Battalion Task Force Field Trains Command Post Functions

The battalion task force field trains CP executes sustainment for tactical operations (see Figure 1-11 for a diagram of the facility).

Company Team Command, Control, and Communication Facilities

Figures 1-12 and 1-13 illustrate the vehicles used by mechanized and armor company team command groups.


The planning process is a systematic approach to formulating tactical plans. Processes used are troop-leading procedures, the estimate of the situation, METT-T, and IPB. These processes are interrelated. They are accomplished based on the amount of time and other resources available. The following paragraphs explain comprehensively how troop-leading procedures are conducted. They include a discussion of commander and staff actions during troop-leading procedures. They also describe how the estimate, METT-T, and IPB are integrated into the troop-leading procedures.

Planning time for a given headquarters should not exceed one-third of the total planning time
available. This one-third lasts from receipt of the order from higher headquarters through
briefbacks from subordinates immediately following issuance of the OPORD.

Troop-Leading Procedures

Troop-leading procedures, although continuous, are not a cut-and-dried process. There are no distinct start and stop points. The eight steps are not always performed sequentially; some can occur simultaneously. Although this is a lengthy, comprehensive discussion, applicable to all levels of command, troop-leading procedures can be adjusted to fit the tactical situation. For example, the less time a unit has, the more it must abbreviate troop-leading procedures.

The collection, analysis, and distribution of information is a continuous staff requirement. Information analyzed by a staff section is exchanged with other staff sections and used to update situation statuses. Periodic staff huddles, are useful. To successfully execute the mission, the staff must focus on the information the commander needs.

NOTE: The following discussion of the eight steps in troop-leading procedures is presented in an outline format to allow the reader to track the staff and commander actions and processes with the entries in Figure 1-14 below. The outline format also corresponds with the formats for a WO, command estimate, and IPB, which are part of the troop-leading procedures.


Troop-leading procedures begin with the receipt of a new mission. A unit normally learns of a new mission through a WO from higher headquarters, followed later by an OPORD. A mission could also be announced in a FRAGO as a change to the current operation, or it could be deduced by the commander as a result of ongoing operations. A unit should begin planning as soon as possible. For example, a unit's LO at the higher headquarters CP may receive information on the unit's missions and area of operations. By passing on this information, the LO enables the commander and staff to begin their estimates and reconnaissance before higher headquarters issues its order.

Higher headquarters should take no more than one-third of the available time it has to issue its order to its units. Each successive unit likewise has the same obligation to issue its order in a timely manner. Whenever possible, orders should be issued to subordinates within one-third of the available time.

a. Initial Warning Order. As soon as the staff learns of a new mission, it should issue an initial WO to subordinate units. The initial WO should inform them about the nature and timing of the new mission.

b. Mission Analysis.

(1) When analyzing the mission, the order (if written) should be studied in front of a map with the overlays posted. This will allow a better understanding of the terrain on which the operation will take place. It will also allow implied tasks to be more readily identified. (See Figure 1-15 for an example mission analysis.)

(2) It is a good idea to list all identified tasks on paper. The list can be checked later to ensure that all tasks have been addressed in the plan.

(3) The following should be identified during the mission analysis:

(a) Specified tasks: the tasks stated in the order. Most specified tasks are found in paragraphs 2 and 3, but may be found elsewhere in the order.

(b) Implied tasks: the tasks not stated in the order that must be accomplished to satisfy the overall mission or to satisfy any of the specified tasks.

(c) Essential tasks: the tasks from the list of specified and implied tasks that must be accomplished to complete the overall mission. These tasks go into the restated mission for the unit.

(d) Limitations: the restrictions on the freedom of action of the friendly force. Restrictions prohibit the commander from doing something specific. Statements such as "be prepared to . . ." and "not earlier than . . ." are limitations. Radio-listening silence and time are also examples of limitations.

(e) Higher commander's intent, including--

1 Purpose of the operation.

2 End state. How the battlefield, in terms of the enemy and friendly forces, will look after the operation is over.

3 Intent of the commanders two levels up. Knowledge of the intent provides a framework for commanders to make decisions that support the overall operation.

4 Acceptable levels of risk.

(4) The restated mission contains the elements of WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY. It is developed from the list of essential tasks identified earlier. Multiple tasks are listed in the sequence in which they will occur. Tasks should be whole-unit tasks. The mission statement must be able to stand alone. It should, therefore, contain grid locations of critical locations. On-order missions identified as critical are included because the unit can be fairly certain it will execute the mission. Be-prepared missions, on the other hand, are not considered essential because the unit may or may not execute them; they should not be included in the restated mission.

c. Initial Time Analysis. Time is analyzed to determine how much is available, how it should be allocated, and how it will affect the command and control cycle.

(1) The ability to analyze time is one of the most important qualities in a commander. Time is vital to all operations. It drives planning and execution. The commander gets his first indication of time available from the higher headquarters WO. The amount of time a unit has to prepare for or to execute an operation determines the amount of detail required in the planning process. For this reason, commanders must know the command and control process and have a command and control organization, facilities, and communications to support it.

(2) The commander should use reverse planning to construct a timeline to accomplish troop-leading tasks. Reverse planning begins with the actions on the objective and works backwards to find a start time for events. The following events must be accomplished at all levels: conduct reconnaissance, plan, issue orders, and deploy forces. All are performed at the same time, if possible. If not, the events that take longest must be set in motion first. The commander also considers movement times from assembly areas or present positions to sectors, battle positions, or LZs. In the offense, he estimates time from crossing the LD to seizing the objective or specific key terrain, then he plans the sequences of units and events associated with it. Other important time considerations include how long key terrain must be held and how long the enemy will take to react.

(3) Time factors should be conservatively planned. During operations, the unexpected occurs. Time-distance factors are only a guide. When synchronizing operations, commanders consider how the factors of METT-T affect their units.

(4) The time analysis produces a schedule of the activities that must occur. Since it drives everything the unit does, the commander must approve this schedule.

(5) The orders spectrum shown in Figure 1-16 offers the commander several methods he can use to develop an order. The spectrum ranges from the quickest methods (on the left end of the spectrum) to the most time-consuming (on the right end of the spectrum). The time a particular staff requires to develop an order depends on many factors, including--

    • Physical condition of the staff.
    • Quality of command guidance.
    • Staff's level of training.
    • Staff's level of cohesion.

d. Information to the Commander. This may be the first time the commander is able to meet with his staff. The information may be presented in a briefing to update the commander on the current situation. This is followed by the XO's recommendation of the restated mission.

e. Commander's Restated Mission and Planning Guidance.

(1) The commander approves or disapproves the restated mission recommended by the staff, and issues his planning guidance to the staff. The commander's planning guidance should consist of the following:

(a) Restated mission.

(b) Higher commanders' intents (two levels up).

(c) His own (commander's) intent. Since he has not yet made a decision how to accomplish the mission, his intent may not be complete. The intent is shaped by and continues to evolve throughout the planning process. (See definition of intent in Section I.)

(d) Courses of action for the staff to consider during estimates.

(e) Time and place of the decision briefing.

(2) Step 5 of troop-leading procedures is conduct reconnaissance. However, the commander may decide to conduct his reconnaissance at this time instead of later. Reconnaissance missions to the units could also be issued at this time.


The staff should issue a WO to units immediately after the commander issues his planning guidance. The WO should be brief, but contain enough information for the units to prepare for the operation. Additional WOs can be issued later to keep the units informed and allow them to begin their planning earlier.

WOs normally do not have a specified format, but some of the information that should be in a WO follows (see Figure 1-17 for an example WO).

1. Subject. Use "warning order."

2. Situation. Use brief description of enemy and friendly situation.

3. Attachments and detachments. Changes to task organization are made as soon as possible so units can move and link up with new units.

4. Earliest time of move. Identifying the earliest possible movement time is important so subordinate units can begin their time analysis. Earliest movement time should correspond to the longest move that will be made. There may also be OPSEC reasons as well as C2 reasons for restricting the movement of subordinate units.

5. Nature and time of the operation. Give enough detail to begin planning and reconnaissance. The restated mission may be included.

6. Time and place of the OPORD. State when and where the orders group will meet to receive the OPORD.

7. A/L. Include changes to support requirements.

8. Acknowledgment. Ensure WO has been received by all addressees.


The decision making that forms the basis for the whole operation is performed in this step. Although each primary member of the staff perform an estimate, this discussion focuses only on the commander's (operations officer's) estimate. The discussion also addresses IPB.

The time factor is a major influence on how the estimate is performed. If there is enough time, the staff can provide a formal decision briefing to the commander. There may only be enough time, however, for the S3 and the commander to briefly discuss courses of action over a map. Commanders and staffs must be flexible enough to use the available time wisely when performing their estimates.

a. Command Estimate (commander's/operations officer's estimate). The estimate process is explained below. Included in this discussion is one example of an IPB technique. For a detailed review of the IPB process, refer to FM 34-130. See Figure 1-18 for a summary of the command estimate.

(1) MISSION. This paragraph is the commander's restated mission, which resulted from mission analysis conducted earlier.


(a) Analysis of the Situation. The situation is analyzed using METT-T. The factors of METT-T compose the total tactical environment in which military units are employed. Mission was analyzed during step 1 of the troop-leading procedures, receive the mission. Enemy, terrain, and weather are analyzed during the IPB, The analysis of troops (or the friendly situation) follows IPB. Finally, an analysis of the time needed to execute the mission is conducted. Keep in mind that a time analysis has already been accomplished during step 1 of the troop-leading procedures. Since the mission has been analyzed, the next item of discussion for METT-T is IPB.

1 Intelligence preparation of the battlefield. IPB is a systematic and continuous process of analyzing the enemy, weather, and terrain in a specific geographical area. The IPB process integrates enemy doctrine with weather and terrain to determine how the weather and terrain will influence the enemy's fight.

a IPB is a commander's business. It is integral to the command estimate. The commander and all members of the staff participate in the IPB process. The S3 uses the IPB to analyze the enemy, terrain, and weather in his estimate. He must know the IPB process. He must also be able to evaluate the quality of the S2's work. The S1 and S4 use the IPB to determine the impact of enemy, terrain, and weather on personnel and logistical operations. The CS staff uses the IPB in a similar manner for their operations.

b IPB is a lengthy process. The S2 must start the IPB process at the earliest possible moment. Early identification of the area of operations will enable the S2 to start the terrain analysis. As a minimum, the situation template should be finished when the S3 begins his analysis of the situation.

Some of the techniques provided in the following discussion will assist staffs at both brigade and battalion level in performing the IPB. Figure 1-19 illustrates the IPB process.

NOTE: The IPB, the first step in the analysis of the situation in the command estimate, is discussed in the following paragraphs. The second step (own situation) follows immediately after.

a. BATTLEFIELD AREA EVALUATION (Overlay #1: Combined Obstacles Overlay).

(1) Identify the area of operations. This is the geographical area assigned by the higher headquarters and defined on the higher headquarters operations overlay (see Figure 1-20).

(2) Identify the area of interest. This is determined by the commander. It contains enemy forces that could affect future operations. In the absence of guidance from the commander, make the area of interest at least half again the size of the area of operations (see Figure 1-20). Outline the area of interest on the combined obstacles overlay (see Figure 1-21 for an example combined obstacles overlay).

b. TERRAIN ANALYSIS (Overlay #1, Combined Obstacles Overlay). The terrain is analyzed using the five military aspects of terrain (the sequence may vary according to the way IPB is developed):

  • Obstacles.
  • Cover and concealment.
  • Observation and fields of fire.
  • Key terrain.
  • Avenues of approach.

(1) Identify NO-GO terrain. Use green crosshatch markings. NO-GO terrain hinders ground movement in all directions. It substantially reduces the speed of movement. It is also a function of the type of force that will move through that terrain. The following define NOGO terrain features:

(a) Built-up areas 500 square meters or larger. Built-up areas can be smaller if surrounding terrain makes them difficult to bypass.

(b) Hydrology. Water features that cannot be forded or spanned by an AVLB.

(c) Slopes. Slopes of 45 percent or greater uphill (directional).

(d) Vegetation. Trees 6 to 8 inches thick and with less than 20-foot intervals (armor only).

(e) Elevation. Terrain with elevation changes of 200 to 400 meters per kilometer.

(f) Roads and trails. Wooded areas with one trail per kilometer and no hard surface roads (armor only).

(g) Manmade obstacles.

(2) Identify SLOW-GO terrain. Use green single-hatch markings. SLOW-GO terrain hinders ground movement, but to a lesser degree than NO-GO terrain. Little effort is needed to enhance mobility. The following define SLOW-GO terrain feature:

(a) Hydrology. Water features that can be forded in several areas.

(b) Slopes. Uphill slopes of 30 to 45 percent.

(c) Vegetation. Trees 2 inches thick with less than 20-foot intervals (armor only).

(d) Elevation. Terrain with elevation changes of 100 to 200 meters per kilometer.

(e) Roads and trails. Wooded areas with one hard surface road or two trails per kilometer, or one hard surface road and one trail per kilometer (armor only).

(3) Identify GO terrain. GO terrain is not marked on the map. GO terrain is fairly open terrain that presents no hindrance to ground movement. Mobility does not require enhancement.

(4) Identify mobility corridors. These are routes a force can use to move from one place to another while deployed. They traverse GO terrain predominantly, bypassing NO-GO terrain and occasionally passing over SLOW-GO terrain. These routes are identified for forces two levels down. Units have the following mobility corridor widths:

    • Company--500 meters.
    • Battalion--1.5 kilometers.
    • Brigade/regiment--3 kilometers.
    • Division--6 kilometers.

These are only planning widths. Mobility corridors may be only as wide as the width of the vehicles in some conditions. Consideration must be given to the type of movement formation two levels down (column, wedge, inverted wedge, diamond, box, etc) and the ranges of weapon systems used throughout the depth of the formation.

(5) Identify avenues of approach (Overlay #2, Avenues of Approach). Place overlay #2 on top of overlay #1. Use axis of advance graphic symbols. Determine avenues of approach one level down. Identify both friendly and enemy avenues of approach. Identify avenues of approach throughout the area of interest. (See Figure 1-22 for an example avenue of approach overlay.)

(a) For offensive operations, identify friendly avenues of approach first. Identify enemy counterattack avenues of approach second.

(b) For defensive operations, identify enemy avenues of approach first. Identify friendly counterattack avenues of approach second.

(c) Mark friendly avenues of approach in black. Label them alphabetically left to right facing the enemy. Label the size force.

(d) Mark enemy avenues of approach in red. Label them numerically left to right facing the friendly force. Label the size force.

(e) Mobility corridors can be combined to make avenues of approach. Maximum distances between mobility corridors (sizes of avenues of approach) are as follows:

1 Division avenues of approach have regimental mobility corridors no more than 10 kilometers apart.

2 Regimental avenues of approach have battalion mobility corridors no more than 6 kilometers apart.

3 Battalion avenues of approach have company mobility corridors no more than 2 kilometers apart.

4 Company avenues of approach are at least 500 meters wide.

(6) Determine the most likely enemy avenues of approach. This is done by placing a double arrowhead on the most likely avenues of approach. Avenue of approach overlays can be sent to subordinate units, but this should not preclude subordinates from doing a complete terrain analysis on their own.

(7) Identify key and decisive terrain (Overlay #l). Draw a black circle around the terrain and label it "K#" or "D#."

(a) Key terrain is any feature that, in the control of a combatant, will provide an advantage over the opposing force. Key terrain is important to the accomplishment of the operation.

(b) Decisive terrain is key terrain that has an extraordinary impact on the mission. Control of this terrain determines success or failure of a particular mission. It is normally designated by the commander. In some situations, there may not be recognizable decisive terrain.

(8) Analyze observation and fires, and cover and concealment.

c. WEATHER ANALYSIS. Analyze the effects of weather on terrain, troops, and equipment for both friendly and enemy operations.

(1) Determine visibility (including fog) and light data. Low visibility--

(a) Hinders the defense and favors the offense.

(b) Makes C2 more difficult.

(c) Degrades reconnaissance, surveillance, and target acquisition.

(2) Determine wind speed and direction.

(a) Both factors usually favor the force upwind.

(b) Both affect employment of smoke and chemicals.

(c) As wind speed increases, wind chill becomes a consideration.

(3) Evaluate precipitation data.

(a) Precipitation decreases cross-country mobility and visibility.

(b) Extensive cloud cover reduces the effectiveness of CAS and aerial resupply.

(4) Evaluate temperature effects on personnel and equipment.

After the terrain and weather analyses, the S2 and S3 can determine the effects of terrain and weather on enemy and friendly courses of action in their estimates.

d. THREAT EVALUATION. Threat evaluation is a detailed study of the enemy's composition, organization, tactical doctrine, weapons and equipment, and supporting battlefield functional systems. It is a continuous process resulting in doctrinal templates. Doctrinal templates convert enemy order of battle into graphic displays of how the enemy might look, according to doctrine, without the effects of weather and terrain.

(1) Information sources include--

(a) Higher headquarters' intelligence overlays, INTSUMs, and PERINTREPs.

(b) Order of battle handbooks.

(c) Doctrine, training, and equipment publications.

(2) The staff should maintain the following enemy information:

(a) Composition (order of battle).

(b) Strength.

(c) Committed forces and units currently in contact.

(d) Reinforcements. Enemy units not committed in or out of the friendly sector, but which can react to the friendly course of action.

(e) Artillery, engineer, air, and NBC assets, and other forces, such as EW, air defense, antitank, unconventional warfare, and combat surveillance.

(f) Enemy engineer obstacles and fortifications.

e. THREAT INTEGRATION. Analyze the enemy two levels down. There are three parts to threat integration: the situation template, the event template, and the decision support template.

(1) Situation template (Overlay #3, Situation Template). The situation template is a doctrinal template with terrain, weather, and known intelligence applied (see Figure 1-23.) This template becomes the intelligence overlay of the OPORD. Use red unit or graphic symbols. Ensure all units are accounted for and no units are duplicated. For example, a templated company with a known enemy platoon location should have a (-) symbol.

(a) Plot known enemy locations (solid symbols).

(b) Template assumed enemy locations (dashed).

(c) Identify boundaries, CPs, and reserves.

(d) Identify PIR. PIR is located in the coordinating instructions of paragraph 3 of the OPORD. If organic elements are not capable of gaining the information, request information from higher headquarters.

(2) Event template (Overlay #4, Event Template). The event template shows significant battlefield events and enemy activities that provide indications of enemy courses of action (see Figure 1-24). It is used for focusing intelligence collection assets.

(a) Select NAI. NAI are places where enemy activity will confirm or deny enemy courses of action. Use circles with numbers inside.

(b) Determine the enemy's most probable course of action.

(c) Determine the enemy situation. The S2 can now prepare paragraph 1a (enemy situation) of the OPORD. The S2 also develops the unit R&S plan (see Figure 1-25). The S3 can now determine the enemy situation portion of his estimate.

(3) Decision support template (Overlay #5, Decision Support Template). The decision support template identities enemy activities, relative to time and location, that may require tactical decisions. It is developed through wargaming by the entire staff. This template is useful for contingency planning. In addition, the S3 can use the decision support template in his wargaming when he analyzes courses of action later. The following steps will be helpful in preparing a decision support template.

(a) Prepare a decision support matrix. This supports the decision support template. Place the matrix on the template outside the area of interest. Fill in the matrix as the wargaming proceeds. (See Figure 1-26 for an example decision support template and matrix.)

(b) Draw time lines. Label them with H-hour times. Movement rates are determined as the number of minutes the enemy will take to travel 1 kilometer. Use this formula: rate (in minutes per kilometer) equals 60 divided by speed (in kilometers per hour). For example, if the enemy's most likely movement rate is 25 kilometers per hour through an area, the enemy movement rate will be 2.4 minutes per kilometer. Enemy movement rates will most likely be dependent enterrain and formation.

(c) Identify TAI. TAI are locations for effective interdiction of enemy forces by deep battle or, if necessary, close battle. Use rectangles with numbers inside.

(d) Identify decision points. Decision points are based on the time and distance factors necessary to react to the enemy's approach to TAI. Use the formula for the movement rate in minutes per kilometer, described above. Indicate decision points using triangles with numbers inside.

NOTE: The overlays/templates previously described pertain to brigade level IPB. When time is limited or when battalion-level IPB is conducted, the following overlays/templates can be produced:

  • Overlay #1: Combined Obstacles Overlay. Put all terrain analysis on this overlay, including avenues of approach.
  • Overlay #2: Threat Integration. The situation template, event template, and decision support template are put on one overlay.
This method saves time and acetate, though information will be more cluttered. In most cases, however, information contained on these two overlays is still readily understandable.
NOTE: IPB is a useful aid to planning. There is a tendency, however, to believe the assumptions made in IPB are in fact true and to develop plans accordingly. This is dangerous because it could make friendly forces susceptible to surprise by the enemy. Commanders and staffs must be aware of this possibility. They must develop plans to prevent the command from being surprised by unexpected enemy actions.

IPB is the commander's, as well as the whole staff's tool in decision making. Hence, the
commander and the staff should be actively involved in the IPB process.

NOTE: This concludes the discussion of IPB. The analysis of the situation in the command estimate continues with an analysis of the unit's own situation and an analysis of time (execution time).

2 Own situation. The S3 receives information from all staff officers to help him determine the status of friendly form relative to the type of operation to be conducted. Much of this information (facts) might have been identified when the staff and commander exchanged information before the development of the restated mission (mission analysis) and commander's planning guidance. With the aid of the staff, the S3 projects the status of the unit at the beginning of the operation. The S3 does this by making assumptions about the changes that can occur between then and the time of execution.

a Composition. This is a summary of forces that can aid in accomplishing the mission. Familiarity with the unit, task organization, staff officers, subordinate leaders, and reference documents can aid the S3 in determining the unit's composition. Command and support relationships must be identified.

b Disposition. This is determined for the present and the future by the S3 with the aid of the commander, subordinate leaders, and other staff officers. The S3 can also use overlays, situation maps, or previously published documents. The information addressed should include the location of combat, CS, and CSS units.

c Strength. This listing develops friendly capabilities and vulnerabilities to aid the commander in selecting courses of action. Factors to be considered include the unit mission and intent of the commander one and two levels up, current location of subelements, current and future locations of flank unit's and higher commander's reserves, the seven battlefield operating systems, and unit morale. The commander should also consider the effects on soldiers; pacing items; and the logistical status of the organic, attached and OPCON combat, CS, and CSS units for the operation. Strength is determined by the number of weapon systems and personnel strength, not by unit size. Battalions determine strength based on the number, type, and status of available platoons.

d Significant activities. This refers to the selected items of information, such as successful tactical techniques or unit morale, considered during planning.

e Peculiarities and weaknesses. These should be considered and their influence on possible friendly courses of action should be noted. Only pertinent headings are used. They can include personnel, intelligence, operations, logistics, and civil-military operations. Input from the appropriate staff officer is added.

3 Time (execution time). During step 1 of troop-leading procedures, the mission and planning time were analyzed. In addition to understanding how to organize planning time, the commander must determine how much time is required to execute critical tasks of the mission. Analysis of execution time will help determine the degree of success, plan for contingencies, and anticipate requirements. This analysis, although rather subjective, requires a knowledge of movement rates and the amount of time it takes to move forces from one point to another (see Table 1-1). Elements of analysis are--

a Start time of mission execution.

b Movement time.

c Maneuver time.

d Time required to seize or secure objectives.

e How long key terrain must be held.

(b) Own Courses of Action. After analyzing the situation using METT-T the courses of action are developed.

A course of action is a possible plan to accomplish the mission. It is usually stated in broad terms, with the details determined during the analysis (step (3) in the command estimate). It may be revised, modified, or changed during the analysis. The S3 should develop a manageable number of different courses of action for all staff members to analyze. Imagination and creativity are required. Each course of action should be viable. The S3 should avoid the pitfall of developing only one good course of action among other less feasible courses of action.

Areas that should be addressed in courses of action are task organization, scheme of maneuver, main effort, and use of reserves. Courses of action include WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW, and WHY, but not WHO. The units who perform tasks in courses of action are determined when the commander makes his decision.

Use the following steps in developing courses of action.

1 Analyze relative combat power.

a Relative combat power is the overall relationship of enemy versus friendly combat power. It provides conclusions about friendly capabilities pertaining to the operation being planned. It analyzes all the available combat power of friendly forces and enemy forces (from the situation template), assuming that all forces are in contact at once.

b The planner analyzes two levels down for both friendly and enemy forces. For example, a brigade would normally analyze the relative combat power of enemy versus friendly companies.

S3s should remember that war is, as Jomini noted, "an impassioned drama and in no way a
mathematical operation." This step merely provides the planner with a notion of
WHAT, not HOW.

2 Array initial forces. The initial array of forces begins at the expected point of initial contact. Using the planning ratios for various combat missions found in Table 1-2, and giving careful consideration to the terrain and enemy templating assumptions, the planner can make some general conclusions about the type of operations he can conduct. He might also get the beginning indication of where the operation might take place. For example, the minimum ratio for an attack is 3:1. This provides the planner with an appreciation of forces required to accomplish the mission.

3 Develop the scheme of maneuver.

a The scheme of maneuver provides the HOW of a course of action. It identifies the main effort and addresses the five elements of the battlefield framework:

      • Deep operations.
      • Security operations.
      • Close operations.
      • Rear operations.
      • Reserve operations.

b At brigade level all five elements of the battlefield framework are normally addressed. At battalion level, however, deep operations and rear operations are not normally addressed.

4 Determine C2 and maneuver control measures.

a Ensure the span of control is not exceeded. Subordinate headquarters should control two to five subordinate units.

b Control measures should be the minimum required to control the operation. They should not normally split avenues of approach or key terrain, but should allow one unit to have responsibility for the area. Additionally, space should be provided on the flanks of each avenue of approach to allow for maneuver and fires. The main effort may be in a narrower area, while the area of the supporting effort may be wider.

5 Develop course of action statements and sketches. Figure 1-27 shows an example of a course of action statement and sketch.

a The course of action statement addresses WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW, and WHY, but not WHO. The sketch provides a generic picture of the statement. Together they identify the scheme of maneuver and the main effort. Each course of action should accomplish the mission, be viable, and be different from the others.

b At brigade level, courses of action include the five elements of the battlefield framework. At battalion level, however, deep operations and rear operations are normally not addressed.

c At brigade and lower levels, the sketch can be an acetate overlay on a map. The statement can be written somewhere on the overlay.

The following is another technique for developing a course of action.

1. Determine the decisive point. The battalion main effort, which could be to gain or retain terrain, destroy enemy forces, or secure friendly forces, focuses on the decisive point during the decisive phase of the battle. A point is potentially decisive if the essential tasks and purpose of the command, detemnined through mission analysis, could be achieved there.

2. Determine the supporting efforts. The commander can determine what supporting efforts are needed by asking the question, "What else must be done to allow the main effort to succeed?"

3. Determine Purposes. The commander determines the purposes to be achieved by the main and supporting efforts. He links the main effort's purpose directly to the battalion's purpose. He links the supporting efforts' purposes directly to the main effort's purpose.

4. Determine the Essential tasks. Determine the essential task(s) required for subordinate units (main and supporting efforts) to achieve the purposes determined above.

5. Task organize. Develop a generic task organization based on the number of available company headquarters. This task organization allows achievement of the common purpose. Weight the main effort. Ensure more risk is taken in the areas away from the main effort (economy of force). Do not consider assets, such as CAS or FASCAM, that may be unavailable to the battalion during execution.

6. Establish control measures. Establish control measures that clarify responsibilities and synchronize the efforts of subordinates to support the possible main effort. Allow as much freedom of action as possible.

7. Prepare a course of action statement and sketch. This is accomplished in the same manner described in the previous discussion.

(3) ANALYSIS OF COURSES OF ACTION. Analysis identifies the advantages and disadvantages of courses of action. The S3 analyzes (wargames) each course of action against likely enemy courses of action. Wargaming is a logical step-by-step process that relies heavily on tactical judgment and experience. The analysis process is action-reaction-counteraction.

During war-gaming, the course of action can be changed or modified, or another one can be developed. Additionally, the S3 identifies requirements for CS and CSS.

The rules for wargaming include the following:

    • List the advantages and disadvantages as they become obvious during the wargaming process.
    • Remain unbiased.
    • Continually assess the feasibility of the course of action to see if it meets the requirements of the mission.
    • Avoid comparing courses of action.
    • Avoid drawing premature conclusions.
    • Trace each course of action from beginning to end against the most likely enemy course of action and variations.
    • The S2 must interpret the template to anticipate enemy actions.

Before starting, post the enemy situation (situation template), the friendly situation, and the course of action to be analyzed on a map. Then war-game using the following steps.

(a) List enemy capabilities (retained for analysis). Often there is not enough time to war-game every enemy capability. List the most important enemy capabilities that can be war-gamed in the time available.

(b) List friendly forces. Use the METT-T analysis of troops (friendly situation).

(c) List the critical events. Use the task list from mission analysis to identify critical tasks that are essential to mission accomplishment or that require detailed analysis.

(d) List the assumptions. Assumptions are made when necessary facts are not available. Assumptions are usually based on factors of METT-T that cannot be controlled. The validity of each assumption is tested against the question, "Is the assumption absolutely necessary for the solution of the problem?" or "Would the end result change if the assumption were not made?" If the answer is no, the assumption is not valid and should not be used.

(e) Select the criteria for analysis. List the criteria for analysis that will be used to judge the value of the course of action and determine the advantages and disadvantages. The following are sources for criteria:

1 Principles of war.


3 Commander's intent.

4 Analysis of battlefield operating systems.

(f) War-game (visualize) the battle and assess the results. Do this for each course of action. War-gaming techniques include--

      • Avenue-in-depth technique, which focuses on one avenue at a time.
      • Belt technique, which divides the battlefield into areas that run the width of the sector. This allows the commander to analyze each critical event and all forces involved.
      • Box technique, which is a microanalysis of isolated critical areas and is less time-consuming.

1 Select a war-gaming technique and use it to--

a Analyze the critical events of the courses of action against enemy capabilities using the criteria listed.

b Identify requirements for CS and CSS.

c Identify requirements for external support.

d Identify the necessary changes to courses of action.

e Address degree of risk of failure for each course of action.

2 Record and display results, including the advantages and disadvantages. A war-gaming worksheet can aid in recording the results and determining requirements. Figure 1-28 shows a sample worksheet.

3 Repeat the steps for each course of action.

(4) COMPARISON OF COURSES OF ACTION. The fourth step in the estimate process consists of comparing options and choosing a course of action.

(a) Comparison matrix. An effective technique for comparing courses of action is to use a comparison matrix. To set it up, list the significant factors used in step 3 (analysis) of the estimate on the left side of the chart: list the course of action numbers across the top. (figure 1-29 provides an example format for a course of action comparison matrix.) The simplest way to use this matrix is to give a plus to the best course of action for each factor. If two or more courses of action are equally superior, give them both a plus. All others receive a minus. Another way is to rank the courses of action. The best course of action for each significant factor is given a 1, the second best a 2, and so on. The course of action with the lowest total sum supports the significant factors best. This comparison matrix conveniently summarizes the results of the analysis and comparison. It aids the staff in deciding their recommendations, and aids the commander in forming his decision during the decision brief.

(b) Discussion. The weights of one factor's advantages and disadvantages are rarely the same as those for another factor, so weighting significant factors might be necessary. One or several of the METT-T factors might be considered more important than others--for example, an assault might need to be conducted on a particular objective before BMNT. In this example, time may be more important than the other significant factors. If the example chart in Figure 1-29 is used, speed may be weighted as twice as important as the other factors. The commander/S3 could annotate "x2" beside "speed" on Figure 1-29. If the numbering system previously described is used to rank courses of action, the value assigned to each course of action is doubled. This makes the already significant course of action factor "speed" more significant than other significant course of action factors.

NOTE: This method of weighting a course of action is just one way the commander can indicate the importance of one factor over others. However, the commander should be careful when weighting significant factors. Seldom is one factor so vital to the mission that it causes the planners to rule out other viable courses of action that do not take advantage of that specific factor.

(5) RECOMMENDATION/DECISION. The staff recommends to the commander the best course of action.

NOTE: This concludes the discussion of the command estimate.

b. Decision Briefing to the Commander. The staff provides a decision briefing to the commander. Its purpose is to aid the commander in making a decision. Each course of action is outlined, the advantages and disadvantages of each presented, and a recommendation made. The commander may decide on a specific course of action or a variation of courses of action. Figure 1-30 lists a technique for effective briefings.

c. Commander's Decision. The commander considers the staff recommendation presented by the S3, completes his estimate, and announces his decision and concept.

d. Commander's Concept of the Operation. The commander's concept provides the necessary elements of paragraph 3a of the OPORD, concept of the operation. The commander's concept is a clear, concise statement of the task organization, the mission statement, the commander's intent, the general scheme of maneuver, supporting fires, and the acceptable degree of risk. The commander's concept takes the same form as the staff recommendation, except that the commander confirms the units to be employed. The main effort in the scheme of maneuver is critical--it affects all planning. The commander's concept provides the least information needed to further develop the tactical plan and to issue the order.

e. Additional Guidance. The commander can provide the staff with more planning guidance besides his decision and concept. How much he provides depends on the experience of the staff and on how well they know the commander. This extra guidance helps the staff complete the plan and prepare orders. The commander can include an elaboration on the scheme of maneuver, fire support plan, and CSS. He outlines any task organization changes he wishes to make. He also designates subordinate units to be employed, which is a command responsibility that cannot be delegated. The S3 can only recommend units (though not as part of the operations estimate "recommendation").

f. Develop a Tentative Plan.

(1) The tentative plan results from the commander's decision and concept and becomes the basis for the finalized plan. It consists of--

(a) Task organization (maneuver units).

(b) Mission.

(c) Scheme of maneuver.

(d) Operations overlay.

(2) A WO may be issued at this point to update subordinate units on further developments. This is especially important when units must move early.


a. Movement can be started in several ways: with a new WO, a FRAGO, or a movement order. The unit may have to reposition to start the operation on time. Movement of subordinate units may be necessary to change task organization. Some movement, especially by reconnaissance units, may be necessary immediately after receipt of the WO from higher headquarters. If there is enough time to issue the OPORD before any movement begins, the movement instructions can be included in the OPORD. Often, movement may have to occur simultaneously with planning.

b. During initial time analysis, conduct time distance analysis to determine when the unit must start movement so it can conduct the mission on time.

c. Since the XO or S3 is often busy during the planning of an operation, the planning and preparation of a movement plan may become the task of a junior staff officer. Training of junior staff officers in movement planning will be valuable. See Appendix A, Movement.


a. Reconnaissance should be conducted whenever possible. The commander may want to conduct reconnaissance immediately after restating the mission and providing planning guidance to the staff. Otherwise, commanders may conduct reconnaissance after the decision briefing. In this case, the commander will use reconnaissance to confirm his decision or to make necessary changes to the plan.

b. The situation, especially the time available, dictates the type and quality of reconnaissance. To best use available time, leaders should do an initial map reconnaissance to find routes and locations to reconnoiter before departing. For best results, map reconnaissance begins immediately on receipt of the higher headquarters' WO; it should continue through mission accomplishment. Physical reconnaissance can be conducted along the same routes units will use. In addition, necessary coordination with other units, such as for passage of lines, can be made during reconnaissance.

c. Other leaders, such as the S3, may conduct reconnaissance, either with the commander or separately. The leaders should be accompanied by a security element, which usually will be composed of subordinate unit members.

d. Before departing on reconnaissance, the leader should leave instructions with the person next in charge. In his contingency plan, the leader should provide the following information:

(1) Where the leader is going.

(2) Others that are going with the leader.

(3) Time the leader will be gone.

(4) What should be done if the leader does not return.

(5) Other actions, such as actions on enemy contact and things to be accomplished while the leader is away.

e. Subordinate units can also be given reconnaissance missions. These missions could be based on the S2's R&S plan, developed from the NAI on the event template during IPB. All pertinent information is reported to the TOC so the information can be used to complete the plan.


a. Preparation of the Plan/Order. (See FMs 71-1,71-2, and 101-5 for example OPORD formats.)

(1) After the commander makes his decision and issues his concept, the staff quickly prepares the plan/order. Using the tentative plan as a basis makes this process more efficient. Reconnaissance results are used in preparing the plan/order. Multiple copies of the plan/order must be made and overlays must be accurately copied. Standard procedures should be established to include all staff members in the reproduction procedure. Each staff officer can be made responsible for producing appropriate portions of the plan/order.

(2) The following are integrated into the plan/order:

(a) Fires.

(b) Air defense.

(c) Engineer.

(d) Intelligence.

(e) EW.

(f) MP.

(g) NBC.

(h) Signal.

(i) C2.

(j) CSS.

(3) Orders do not command an operation; they assist in control. An order provides a visualization and articulation of the commander's intent and enough information so that all subordinate units can work together toward the desired end. Commanders and their staffs must ensure that orders are not lengthy and that redundancy is reduced. Short, concise mission-type orders are used, but only if a common doctrinal understanding and a good SOP exist. Use only the words and graphic control measures necessary to ensure a coordinated effort.

(4) A good plan is clear, brief, and complete. It is simple to understand and to execute. Mission-type orders that describe WHAT, not HOW are used to give subordinates maximum latitude and minimum restrictions. A good plan uses positive expression. It is timely. A 70-percent solution given on time is better than a 100-percent solution delivered too late. A good plan provides decentralization. It delegates authority to the maximum extent consistent with control. A good plan is flexible. It allows for changes as the situation changes.

(5) Annexes are used only when absolutely necessary and when the information is important to the whole command. Annexes must not serve as a substitute for subordinate unit orders. Resist the temptation to allow the staff to spell out in great detail how a CS unit, for example, is to do its job. Subordinate unit commanders must develop their own orders and plans and not rely on detailed guidance from higher headquarters.

(6) Graphics. The staff should follow the guidelines below when preparing the plan/order.

(a) Ensure graphics are simple, yet clear enough for a subordinate element to understand.

(b) Include the number of control measures necessary to ensure execution of the operation as intended.

(c) To add flexibility, provide additional checkpoints where there are no control measures. Checkpoints provide a reference for unanticipated maneuver. They also simplify FRAGOs. The plotting of TIRS points outside the area of operations will also aid in the transmittal of FRAGOs and provide a means of operating outside the area if necessary.

b. Approval of the Plan/Order. The commander approves the plan or order by signing the original copy.


a. An OPORD is a directive issued by a commander to subordinate commanders for coordinated execution of an operation. A FRAGO is an abbreviated OPORD used to convey changes to an OPORD as required by the situation. Both can be used when issuing orders.

b. A number of different orders groups can be established in the unit's SOPs to speed the issuance of orders and to provide flexibility in issuing orders for different purposes.

(1) Orders group Alpha (hasty planning): commander, XO, S3, S2, FSO, and engineer.

(2) Orders group Bravo (detailed planning): orders group Alpha, plus S1, S4, FAC, air defense officer, and other necessary CS and CSS officers.

(3) Orders group Charlie (issue orders): orders groups Alpha and Bravo, plus company team commanders and LOs.

c. The commander should use the following techniques in issuing orders:

(1) Use any aids that can help personnel to understand the conduct of the operation. At battalion and company level, issue the order from a vantage point overlooking the terrain on which the operation will be conducted. If that is not possible, use aids such as sand tables, sketches, or graphics.

(2) The order should be issued at the time and place stated in the WO. The most secure means available should be used. As a minimum, an overlay order, including an execution matrix, should be issued to subordinate leaders. All essential personnel should be present. They should be oriented to the maps, graphics, and other aids to provide them with an initial reference point from which they can gain an understanding. A time check should be made at the conclusion of the order and the meeting.

(3) The order is normally briefed orally to the orders group. If a written order is also issued, the staff briefs only the most essential information. Members of the orders group can read the details later. The meeting should normally last no longer than 30 minutes. More time should be taken, however, to ensure understanding.

(4) During issuance of the order, the commander personally provides his intent and concept of operation to the orders group. All personnel should leave the meeting with a clear understanding of his intent and the intent of the next higher commander.


Once orders are issued, the commander supervises combat preparation and execution. He ensures his intent is understood and his decisions are implemented. Supervision spans a wide variety of activities, including leadership and synchronization of the battle.

a. Rehearsal. When time permits, commanders conduct briefback rehearsals with their subordinate commanders. The briefback rehearsal ensures the commander's intent is understood. It also ensures greater synchronization of operations during execution. Key staff officers may participate; staff sections also conduct their own rehearsals. The requirement for briefback rehearsals may be specified in WOs. Consideration must be given, however, to the need for subordinate commanders to plan and prepare their own operations. Rehearsals are discussed in detail in Chapter 2, Section II.

b. Intelligence Update. Just prior to the start of the operation, the commander should receive an intelligence and weather update from the S2.

c. Execution. During execution of the operation, the commander should position himself where he can best command and control the battle. He will monitor the situation, assess the important information, make decisions, and issue FRAGOs. FRAGOs normally contain the minimum necessary changes to the plan.

The following actions will aid the commander during the execution of the operation.

(1) Subordinate commanders should coordinate departures from the plan with the commander. If they cannot contact the commander, subordinate commanders may take action based on their knowledge of the commander's intent and their own judgment. Subordinate commanders must notify the commander of their action at the earliest opportunity.

(2) SOPs should specify essential information about enemy and friendly situations to keep reporting simple.

(3) The staff should have periodic huddles to update all members on essential information they might have missed in the confusion of ongoing operations.

NOTE: This concludes the step-by-step discussion of troop-leading procedures.

Abbreviated Decision-Making Process


If planning time is short, the commander may abbreviate the decision-making process only in the amount of time required for each step. All steps should be completed, in the proper order, as outlined in preceding paragraphs. The following paragraphs address techniques for shortening the process so that the best possible plan can be produced in a timely manner.

Mission Analysis

The mission analysis step of the decision-making process can be shortened as follows.

Facts and Assumptions

The staff must keep the facts and assumptions up to date on a continuous basis. Time to prepare written estimates may not be available. The staff must therefore be prepared to give their estimates orally.

Analysis of Higher Mission and Intent

Commanders may give a more detailed explanation of the higher commanders' mission and intent. This information can be sent to subordinate units immediately in the form of a WO.

Commanders may also perform much of the task analysis themselves, or in consultation with one or two key personnel (i.e., the XO or S3).

The XO must organize the staff according to a specific timeline. He can also shorten planning time by developing preformatted methods of transmitting information so the commander can focus on the crucial bits of information that are needed for decision making at each step in the process.

Commander's Guidance

Regardless of planning time available, the commander must develop his intent fully and ensure that all staff members understand it.

Commanders can significantly shorten planning time by giving detailed and directive guidance. For example--

  • Give the staff specific direction on how to develop courses of action.
  • Give the staff specific courses of action to develop.
  • Specify the number of courses of action to be developed.
  • Develop the entire course of action and issue it to the staff, thus allowing them to move directly to war-gaming.

After the commander's guidance is issued, another WO is issued. This WO should include the restated mission, the commander's intent, aspects of the planning guidance that subordinate units would find useful, and the planning time line.

When mission analysis is condensed, staff members should raise concerns to the commander about mission analysis before course of action development. The staff and commander must have a common basis of understanding or the following steps will take much longer and probably will not reflect the commander's true intent.

Course of Action Development

Unless the commander has developed a course of action and issued it as part of commander's guidance, the staff must find ways to shorten the time required for course of action development. Normally, any serious compromise of the steps involved in course of development will be felt adversely during war-gaming. Therefore, time reductions in this step usually flow from improved staff training, experience, and efficiency.

Analysis of Courses of Action

Analysis of courses of action is the most time-consuming of all the planning steps. There are several factors that can speed up the process.

The Commander

The commander can direct that the staff war-game the courses of action against only one situation template. The commander selects a situation template based on his assessment of which one is the biggest threat to the accomplishment of his intent.

The Staff

Staff assistants set up the war-gaming battlefield (maps, acetate, automation tools) during the mission analysis and course of action development steps.

The S3

The S3 can select a war-gaming method that takes less time. The box method, in which the staff focuses on one or two critical points, is an example. Another way is to use the avenue-in-depth technique to analyze only the activities of the unit making the main attack.

The commander can shorten the process by participating in the war game. This makes the war-game briefing unnecessary. War-gaming itself may be condensed, but not eliminated. The use of "experienced" war-gamers can speed the process. Also, the use of automated simulations may help to decrease the time devoted to calculations and combat calculus.

Comparison of Courses of Action

When there is only one course of action being analyzed, this step is omitted. When this step is used (more than one course of action), its length is often governed by the number and complexity of comparison tools considered. To shorten this step, the XO should use one consolidated decision matrix instead of one from each staff section. Also, decision matrixes can be simplified by unweighting them or reducing the number of factors or criteria considered.

Decision and Execution

A formal decision brief probably will not be needed if the commander has narrowed the courses of action at the outset and has been interactive during staff planning.

The time required to create and distribute the order may be reduced by using standard orders formats and abbreviated orders that are graphic intensive. Another time-saving technique is to have the commander and key staff deliver the order to the subordinate commander, or visit soon after receipt. What might be lacking in the written OPORD can be made up with a personal visit from the commander or his personal agent.

Application of Troop-Leading Procedures

Troop-leading procedures are used at all echelons of command. The previous discussion of troop-leading procedure provides commanders and staffs with a detailed explanation of the processes involved in planning. The application of troop-leading procedures in practice will vary with each situation.

Company commanders will not be able to perform all the planning processes contained in the troop-leading procedures. They cannot produce a detailed IPB product. They will have to visualize all elements of the IPB that relate to their area of interest. This includes identifying enemy avenues of approach and dead space, reconnoitering as far forward as possible, and viewing the AO from the enemy's perspective. Company commanders should seek assistance from the battalion staff. Ten to 15 minutes of staff coordination can preclude much wasted time and effort. Company commanders can also receive assistance during planning from their XOs, 1SGs, and fire support team chiefs.



Communication is the means through which C2 is exercised. The chain of command and succession of command must be known throughout the organization. There must be open lines of communications up, down, and laterally. The commander should--

  • Provide for redundancy in means of communications. When possible, have a backup means at key locations.
  • Make sure subordinates know what to do during interruptions in communications. Ensure SOPs specify immediate actions in case of jamming. This should include code words and prearranged frequencies to switch to.
  • Avoid overloading the communications systems. Use them only when absolutely necessary. Practice disciplining communications procedures by eliminating nonessential conversations.
  • Minimize the use of radios to preserve them.
  • Pay particular attention to maintaining effective lateral communications.


Responsibilities for communications are as follows: senior to subordinate, supporting to supported, reinforcing to reinforced, passing to passed (for forward passage of lines), passed to passing (for rearward passage of lines), left to right, and rearward to forward. All units take prompt action to restore lost communications. These responsibilities also apply to the establishment of liaison between headquarters.

Means of Communications


Wire is the primary means whenever the situation permits. Wire is normally used when the unit is stationary. It is used for communicating in AAs and in defensive positions.


Messengers are used between C2 facilities and between higher and lower headquarters. Although messengers are slower and more vulnerable than other means of communications, they can be used when other means cannot.

Sound and Visual

Sound and visual signals may be included in SOI extracts or in unit SOPs. Visual signals include lights, flags, armandhand, and pyrotechnics. Sound signals include metalonmetal, rifle shots, whistles, and bells.

Mobile Subscriber Equipment

Key brigade personnel can communicate with the brigade, higher headquarters, or adjacent units through the MSE. The brigade CPs also have tactical computers that connect them to higher headquarters faster.

Telephone Lines

Commercial telephone lines can be used with permission of higher headquarters.


Radio should not be the primary means of communication before contact is made with the enemy. To avoid detection by enemy direction-finding equipment, use all other means to communicate until it becomes absolutely necessary to use the radio. Once units make contact, the primary means of communication will be FM voice. Unit radio nets are described below.

Command Nets

Command nets are for C2. They are controlled by the S3. All subordinate units are normally on this net.

Operations and Intelligence Net

The OI net is controlled by the S2. Intelligence reports and operations matters are sent on this net.

Administrative/Logistics Net

This net is used for A/L traffic within the battalion or brigade. It is controlled by the S4.

Special Radio Nets

Brigades and battalions have FS nets, air defense early warning nets, and a USAF tactical air request net. At battalion level, the scout platoon net can also function as a surveillance net.

Communications Techniques

The eavesdrop technique may be used at all levels. It requires radio stations to monitor and use message traffic on a given net, even if they are not the direct recipients of the message. For example, the battalion and company commanders may neither respond to nor relay a report by a company to the battalion. They simply monitor and use the information as necessary. This allows commanders to stay abreast of the situation without having to respond to all reports. The main CP takes the bulk of the reports. The main CP can provide essential information to the commander on request. All C2 elements monitor transmissions.

Other techniques include the following:

  • Ensure communications checks have been conducted prior to starting an operation. Ensure that an actions-on-jamming plan has been completely disseminated.
  • Send all necessary spot report information the first time.
  • Have the NCS enforce radio discipline continuously. This will reduce unnecessary transmissions.

Communications Security

Radio Transmissions

Radio transmissions should be brief to reduce the EW signature. Using a secure means or operational and numerical codes will also reduce the chance of enemy detection. Use low-power transmissions and terrain to mask signals from enemy direction-finding equipment. Messengers or wire should be used for lengthy messages. Units must practice the use of SOIs, SOPs, and operational terms.

Physical Security

Physical security protects cryptographic systems and classified documents from capture or loss. Before an area is vacated, it should be inspected for any materials that will provide friendly information to the enemy. Wire lines are patrolled to prevent enemy tapping. When SOI codes or cryptographic equipment is lost or captured, the facts are reported promptly to the next higher command. The SOP must contain instructions for destruction of equipment and classified documents to prevent their capture or use by the enemy. The battalion should establish priority for issue of SOIs and extracts.


Brigade Tactical Operations Center Operations

Brigade Command Group

The command group, operating under the brigade commander, operates well forward at the critical location of the battle. The primary function of the command group is to influence the battle through personal presence. Other functions include providing planning guidance, conducting ongoing close operations, and disseminating the commander's decisions.

Tactical Command Post

The brigade TAC CP, with the S3 in charge, is the forward-most CP in the brigade. It operates approximately as far forward as the battalion main CPs. It consists of intelligence, operations, and FS personnel. The brigade command group will go forward from this CP to see the critical location of the battle.

Main Command Post

The brigade main CP, with the XO/2IC in charge, locates in the brigade area generally forward of the division main CP, but behind the battalion main CPs. It consists of staff personnel representing all facets of brigade operations. The main CP has a support area with assets that provide CSS to the brigade's C2 elements. Assets in the support area also help provide security for the main CP. The alternate CP is normally the TAC CP or a battalion CP.

Rear Command Post

The brigade rear CP, with the S1 in charge, is collocated with the FSB CP. It has A/L personnel.

Battalion Command Post Operations

The battalion command group is located forward with the companies.

The main CP has all the battalion's staff representatives. The battalion XO is in charge. The alternate CP is normally the combat trains CP or a mortar FDC. These facilities, therefore, monitor the tactical situation in addition to performing their other functions.

The S4 is normally in charge of the combat trains CP. This CP is usually positioned 1 to 2 kilometers from the main CP to facilitate coordination of CSS. It monitors both the tactical and CSS situations.

The battalion rear CP is located with the battalion field trains in the BSA. The HHC commander is in charge of it.

Company Command and Control Operations

Companies have command groups rather than CP facilities. CP functions are normally conducted by the company XO from his tank. The 1SG may assist the XO with logistical reporting and serve as an alternate for company CP functions.

Command Post Operation Techniques


CPs monitor communications nets, receive reports, and process information into the essential friendly information and enemy intelligence the commander needs. This information is maintained on maps and charts. All communications are remoted out to the maps. Personnel use headsets to better hear the net they are operating on. Each staff section maintains daily journals to log messages and radio traffic.


CPs maintain information in the form of easily understood map graphics and charts. Status charts can be combined with situation maps to give commanders friendly and enemy situation snapshots that are needed for the planning process. The information can be updated quickly. For simplicity, all map boards should be the same size and scale, and overlay mounting holes should be standard on all map boards. This allows for easy transfer of overlays from one board to another.

Map Posting Procedures

All graphics should be posted on an overlay. Operations graphics are posted on the OI map board. FS, air defense, and engineer graphics are posted on the appropriate map boards. The following procedures for posting friendly and enemy information on the OI map will aid commanders and staff officers in following the flow of battle. Friendly and enemy unit symbols should be displayed on clear acetate placed on the operations overlay. These symbols can be marked with regular stick cellophane tape or with marking pen. The exact unit location is indicated by the center of mass of the symbol. Units normally keep track of subordinate units two levels down. This may be difficult during the conduct of combat operations. It may be necessary to track locations of immediate subordinate units instead.

Friendly Forces

Posted friendly information should include all subordinate units, CPs, trains, higher headquarters CPs, and flank unit locations. (See examples of friendly unit graphic symbols in Figure 1-31.)

Enemy Forces

Spot reports depicting time, location, direction of movement, and composition should be marked in red. Use cellophane stickers or red pen. If red is unavailable, use double lines. Another method is to log the spot report, assign the report a number, and place the number by or on the unit symbol. Try to put as much information as possible on the unit marker without losing clarity. Unknown enemy information is not added to the symbol until the information is confirmed. (See Figure 1-32 for examples of enemy unit graphic symbols.)


Obstacles should be shown in green on at least the engineer overlay. If possible, known obstacles should also be displayed on the OI map.


Figure 1-33 shows examples of charts in the main CP.

Information Kept at the Operations and Intelligence Map

This information includes--

  • Task organization.
  • SOI data.
  • Unit status chain (SITREP or SLANT report).

- These are updated as reported by the units.

- Units report changes only.

- Color codes for status are a useful technique for reporting status during combat.

  • Charts.

- These should correspond to and be easily transferred from the report formats.

NOTE: Maintain files of OPORDs and corresponding subordinate unit orders.

Main Command Post Actions Upon Receipt of a Message

Upon receiving a message, the main CP staff will--

  • Log receipt of the message.
  • Acknowledge understanding and receipt of the message.
  • Ensure each staff section in the CP receives the information. This could be done by writing the message on multicarbon paper transmittal slips. Coordinate with staff sections as necessary.
  • Take the necessary action, using combined arms with integrated CS and CSS.
  • Post the information.
NOTE: The XO will monitor activities and step in when necessary.


The following techniques can be useful in accomplishing main CP operations.

During the battle, indicators are more the rule than minute details. Reports are formatted so they can be sent in abbreviated form during the battle to provide combat critical information quickly. After the battle, the same reports can be sent with more detailed information so the staff can do more detailed planning.

SLANT reports (SITREPs) state operational status of a unit by its type of weapon systems. For example, for a company with Mls/M2s/TOWs/mortars/infantry squads/engineer squads, the report would look something like this: "My slant is 6/3/0/0/2/1." This is more brief than a logistic status report, but it gives sufficient operational indication of that unit's status. Fuel and ammunition status could also be included. Color codes for status can also be used. This gives logisticians and operations personnel information on unit support requirements.

Spot reports should include enemy description, location, activity, and time.

Logistic status reports, used on A/L nets, can be expanded versions of SLANT reports with more detailed information. These reports can be sent during lulls in the battle.

Subordinate commanders coordinate with each other on their higher commander's command net during the battle. The higher commander eavesdrops on his command net to stay updated on the situation. Main CPs also eavesdrop to gain combat information from subordinate units. This allows subordinate commanders to use initiative and provide feedback to the commander. The commander monitors the situation and steps in when necessary. His silence is approval of what is going on.

The XO of the unit (2IC) sends the consolidated situational updates to higher headquarters. This allows the commander to stay on his internal net to tight the battle and eavesdrop on his higher commander's net. If the commander cannot switch frequencies to talk on the higher commander's net, the XO can also take calls.

CPs should broadcast periodic situation assessments. This will clarify the battlefield picture and compare this picture with what is seen on the battlefield. Corrections can then be made to the picture.

Guidons call is a technique to alert all stations: on a command net to listen with full attention to a net call that requires conflation of receipt. An example of guidons call is "Guidons, guidons, this is (sender's call sign), message traffic." Subordinate stations answer in turn. Only subordinate commanders XOs, or S3s answer.



There are several considerations in positioning CPs. CPs should be located on ground that is trafficable, even in poor weather. The area around the CP should be large enough to contain all vehicles. Other considerations for positioning CPs follow:

  • Ensure line-of-sight communications with higher, lower, and adjacent units.
  • Avoid redundancy of communications.
  • Mask signals from the enemy.
  • Use terrain for passive security (cover and concealment).
  • Collocate with tactical units for mutual support and local security.
  • Avoid possible enemy TRPs for enemy artillery and CAS.
  • Locate the CP near an existing road network out of sight from possible enemy observation. Subordinate commanders and LOs must be able to find it.


Operations Security

OPSEC considerations for positioning CPs follow.

There should be no signs advertising CP locations. CP vehicles should be dispersed. All vehicles and equipment should be thoroughly camouflaged. Noise and light discipline should be maintained.

A security force should be posted to protect CPs. Security force positions should be established as in any defensive position. A 360-degree perimeter should be maintained. The security force should be positioned far enough out from CPs to prevent enemy fires on the CPs. It should be equipped with antitank weapons to protect CPs from enemy armor. Additionally, a reserve reaction force should be established. Communications must be established between the security force and the CPs. Always rehearse the execution of the perimeter defense.

At brigade level, the security force consists of support area personnel and off-duty personnel. There may also be MPs. Battalions normally must rely on off-duty personnel. The command group may assist in securing a CP if they happen to be collocated. Units may rarely be able to employ combat elements to help secure a CP. Often, however, CP survivability will depend on concealment and mobility.

The following are some OPSEC techniques to consider.

  • In general, the enemy threat is reduced when C3 assets are positioned off major enemy mounted avenues of approach. CPs should be positioned so the enemy bypasses them.
  • If antennas are remoted outside the perimeter, an LP/OP should be employed to secure them.
  • Near and far recognition signals must be disseminated to all subordinate units and elements of the CP. These signals, challenges, and passwords should be used to control access into the CP perimeter.
  • In case of artillery or air attack, designate a rally point and an alternate CP location at a minimum of 500 to 1,000 meters away.


CPs may displace as a whole or by echelon. Displacement as a whole is normally done for short movements, with communications maintained by alternate means and minimal risk of degrading CP operations. CPs normally displace by echelon. A portion of the CP, called a jump CP, moves to the new location, sets up operations, and takes over operational control of the battle from the main CP. The remaining portion of the CP then moves to rejoin the jump CP. The jump CP consists of the necessary vehicles, personnel, and equipment to temporarily take over CP operations while the remainder is moving.

The XO or S3 selects a general location for the new CP site. The jump CP can be accompanied by a quartering party. The quartering party may consist of a security element and personnel and equipment for quartering the remainder of the CP. The signal officer, who is usually part of the quartering party, ensures communications on all nets can take place from the new site. When the jump CP becomes operational, it also becomes the NCS for the unit's nets. The remainder of the CP then moves to rejoin the jump CP.

At brigade level, the role of the jump CP can be performed by the TAC CP if necessary. In this case, the TAC CP may or may not be positioned at the new location. Jumping in this manner can be done in both offensive and defensive operations. If it has radios, the plans section's M577 can serve as an alternative jump CP.

At battalion level, the jump CP would normally have to come from within the main CP. Another technique is to hand off control to the command group and move the main CP as a whole. The command group can also split. The commander can move with the main effort, while the S3 moves with the supporting effort.

At company level, the 1SG, with the combat trains behind the company, should be prepared to take over CP functions from the XO when the XO gets heavily involved in fighting.

Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list