by LTC Roy Krueger, Senior Maneuver O/C, Bde C2, JRTC
Probably the most difficult collective planning event your staff will do is the course-of-action analysis, or the wargame. The old saying, "Practice makes perfect" does not apply to wargaming, but the thought that practice will definitely cut down the time involved and produce a better product is true. Unfocused practice, however, does not achieve the training results most commanders, XOs, and S-3s desire. An example of unfocused practice could be the XO or S-3 quickly reviewing some doctrinal points with the staff, such as "Here are the eight steps of wargaming" and recapping some products their unit expects to develop from the wargame. From this review, they leap into a planning process, do a wargame, and relearn that the wargame can be a painful, slow event.
There is a wealth of material that talks processes, systems, and doctrinal guidelines for how to prepare for, and conduct, a wargame. Usually these sources focus on doctrinal generalities, or a specific area with the author's recommended solution. Generalities usually state "Do this" or "Do that" without giving the reader a "How to." Most articles focus on one issue that still leaves questions on other aspects of the wargame unanswered, and may never address key-related wargame areas that must be first integrated, then synchronized, to truly get the entire picture. Few sources get into the nuts and bolts on the full spectrum of conducting the wargame.
Focused practice, with an individual and collective train-up leading into the military decision-making process (MDMP), will give you better results than a quick doctrinal overview. It involves both training staff members on the systems and processes your unit uses as well as getting with them one-on-one or in small groups and going over the "How to's" of the various products you want them to produce. Once the staff member understands the end state for products he is to produce, he is able to start focusing on his key task of how to get there. Wargaming step 1, "gather the tools," is much more than getting the physical setup ready. It involves the staff doing detailed preparation for the wargame. Fleshing out their estimates with the necessary coordination and integration needed for the various critical events (as well as the things before, in-between, and after the critical events!) must occur if you are to have an effective and efficient wargame. Staff members must understand what needs to be synchronized in the wargame. Given this, they can do preliminary analysis, which will enable them to succinctly and accurately discuss their BOS/functional area issues during the wargame. The staff will never get to this state of proficiency if they are not trained individually and small group collectively before they do "the big one."
This article looks at the doctrinal wargame products detailed in FM 101-5, Staff Organization and Operations, and discusses each in detail, with the goal of defining planning considerations and looking at how staffs, events, and products are related to each other. Trainers and staff members should be able to read through this and have a better understanding of the question every new staff member has, "Just what is it, exactly, I am supposed to coordinate with these other guys?!" This article will not answer everything. It does relate issues to each other, and it provides a large number of planning considerations. The considerations should be consciously thought through before stating that an event has been prepared for and war-gamed "good enough."
The following 30 steps from FM 101-5 can be read separately or as part of the entire thought process. Where appropriate, I have referred to closely related subjects by paragraph number.
1. Refining or modifying the course of action (COA), to include identifying branches and sequels that become on-order or be-prepared missions.
Ideally, your COA meets the general doctrinal criteria of suitability, feasibility, acceptability, distinguishably, and completeness. After meeting these criteria, your COA may still turn out to be unsatisfactory, but it gives you a benchmark from which to start. A good relative combat power analysis, coupled with your Commander's guidance, should form most of your criteria for judging the worth of the COA. The wargame may show you flaws where you thought few or none existed. Most weaknesses of a good COA can be fixed with relatively small changes to the plan, but sometimes you realize that your COA has major weaknesses. If so, you will need to make drastic changes to the COA. Common reasons flaw discovery occurs:
Better to make the fix now than to hope the problem just goes away. Ideally, your refinements should be "tweaks" to the COA, but if a major change is needed, make everyone aware of it and give time to the staff to do further analysis on the impact before continuing the wargame.
A "branch" is defined as "A contingency plan or course of action (an option built into the basic plan or course of action) for changing the mission, disposition, orientation, or direction of movement of the force to aid success of the operation based on anticipated events, opportunities, or disruptions caused by enemy actions and reactions as determined by the wargaming process" (FM 101-5-1, Operational Terms and Graphics). These are usually "Be Prepared To" missions.
A "sequel" is defined as "Major operations that follow the current major operation. Plans for these are based on the possible outcomes (victory, stalemate, or defeat) associated with the current operation" (FM 101-5-1). These are usually "On-Order" missions.
I recommend that identified branches be issued to units not later than (NLT) the rehearsal, and preferably at the order. A good technique for a (bare minimum) product to issue is a complete COA sketch and statement that clearly defines what event will trigger the branch plan. Include task organization changes, if applicable.
As part of your brigade mission analysis, the CDR should decide what is enough and what is too much for subordinate units to plan. Not including all of the higher HQs' mission-essential taskings in the brigade order would cause the staff to identify a sequel that must be worked on as soon as the initial operations order (OPORD) is issued. This could be noted under coordinating instructions with a bullet such as, "On order (or be prepared to) continue the attack east to destroy remaining elements of the mechanized infantry battalion (MIB) to seal off the enemy penetration at Ferry Hills."
2. Refining location and timing of the decisive point.
Ideally, you start your COA development with a clear idea of what the decisive point is for the mission. FM 101-5-1 gives two applicable definitions:
The commander may have identified other decisive points which will become the nucleus of the missions you give subordinate units. Initial COA development focuses on events happening around the decisive point (such as actions on the objective). The wargame should assist you in refining how you will attack the decisive point. Worst case, you may realize the development plan really isn't a good development plan. That may have little impact on the plan, but it does change your focus somewhat. Other brigade critical events will develop from the wargame, some of which may become the decisive point for subordinate units.
3. Identifying key or decisive terrain and determining how to use it.
These terrain features should be identified during mission analysis (the intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) portion, focusing on observation and fields of fire, cover and concealment, obstacles, key terrain, avenues of approach (OCOKA)), primarily from the maneuver, intelligence, and engineer BOS analysis. COA development should incorporate these terrain features into the scheme of maneuver. By FM 101-5-1 definition, decisive terrain (.To designate terrain as decisive is to recognize that the successful accomplishment of the mission, whether offensive or defensive, depends on seizing or retaining it. The commander designates decisive terrain to communicate its importance in his concept of operations, first to his staff and, later, to subordinate commanders) must be at the heart of the COA or the COA is not suitable.
Key terrain (Any locality, or area, the seizure or retention of which affords a marked advantage to either combatant) is ignored at your own risk. The S-2 and Engineer should identify how the enemy control of key terrain will impact on your mission, while the S-3 should be able to exploit that terrain to hurt the enemy. Determining how to use or gain and maintain control of this terrain is an important step during COA development and wargaming. The S-3 will typically overlook this terrain if it is not highlighted in some manner, with the importance of the terrain articulated in a manner that can be tactically dealt with.
4. Refining the enemy event template and matrix.
Event templating is a systemic weakness for brigades conducting operations at JRTC. Observation shows that most S-3s use situation templates while developing their COAs, but units often do not create or use an event template until late in planning. Historically, the S-2's situation templates are generally correct, but are just a snapshot in time and usually the current enemy situation template at the start of the S-2's briefing. Based on analysis of historical data, the current enemy situation, the S-2 should be continually assessing and updating the two COAs; most likely and most dangerous. The vast majority of the S-2's effort during mission execution is confirmation or denial of templated threat COAs. By continuously updating threat COAs based on current intelligence, the S-2 can then develop a draft event template prior to mission analysis brief. "The differences between named areas of interest (NAIs), indicators, and target position locations (TPLs) associated with each COA form the basis of the event template. The event template is a guide for collection and reconnaissance and surveillance (R&S) planning. It depicts where to collect the information that will indicate which COA the threat has adopted" (FM 34-130, Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield). The associated event matrix that goes with the graphic provides the ".details on the type of activity expected in each NAI, the times the NAI is expected to be active, and its relationship to other events on the battlefield. Its primary use is in planning intelligence collection; however, it serves as an aid to situation development as well."
The S-2 should have his first draft of the event template completed before the mission analysis brief starts. It will get refined continuously, especially during the wargame, as well as when NAI activities are confirmed/denied. It is important for staffs to remember that the S-2 fight against the friendly COA in the wargame will most likely modify the event template and can cause changes in the enemy most dangerous (and most probable) COA.
The "reverse BOS" technique is absolutely essential for the situation template (SITEMP) and event template to be all they can be. Reverse BOS means each staff officer has a responsibility to assist the S-2 in refining the enemy BOS picture. For this technique to work, the S-2 must first brief the staff on the enemy's mission, give a brief description of the enemy's scheme of maneuver, and desired end state. This helps to ensure the "threat BOS" is synchronized and integrated. For instance, the engineer should be able to talk enemy employment of minefields, likely places they will be employed, composition, likely resupply caches and how the enemy places observation and fires on it. The Air Defense Officer can talk enemy air avenues of approach, types of enemy aircraft and their planning considerations for flight, likely or historical flight patterns and times. The fire support officer (FSO) could pinpoint terrain where templated mortars could easily fire from as well as good cache sites. The Civil Affairs officer can give an excellent assessment of the local civilian population and how their day-to-day patterns could impact the mission. The S-2 section assesses all this information and builds it into the master SITEMP and then event template. The XO should ensure that all appropriate staff coordinate with the S-2 prior to the mission analysis brief and then continually follow-through based on intelligence updates.
5. Refining task organization, to include forces retained in general support (GS) of the command.
The brigade staff should have broken down the task organization of assets during COA development, but there are almost always questions on the placement of many of the slice elements. Staff officers must come to the wargame prepared to discuss their elements' actions based on either the mission of the headquarters the element is assigned to, or the mission given directly to the element. As the battle is war-gamed collectively, a need to change the initial planned task organization may appear, to include changes in combat, combat support, and combat service support units. Supporting techniques:
6. Identifying tasks the unit must retain and tasks to be assigned to the subordinate commanders.
What tasks require brigade commander decisions and which are for his subordinates? Most of these answers will fall out of the wargame, or will at least become questions to ask the Commander if he is not present. An example of a retained task might be executing a planned air volcano--the commander may choose to reserve the decision of timing and location for himself.
Tasks assigned to subordinate units usually fall out of three primary sources:
Having three sources means you must have a system of tracking previously identified taskings. Someone must keep track of these tasks and ensure that they get assigned to a unit. All tasks could be tracked by one individual on a master board or list; or, each staff officer could maintain a master list which could be reviewed by the XO. Your next challenge is to ensure the staff captures the appropriate information during the wargame. The synchronization matrix is a good tool (see step 8), but it often does not capture all the details. Staff officers should individually keep track of BOS/functional area requirements. Use of the sketch-note technique, as spelled out in numerous articles and FM 101-5 is a good supplemental way of recording wargame results. This technique also serves to reinforce making the staff fully go through action, reaction, and counteraction.
7. Allocate combat, CS, and CSS assets to subordinate commanders to accomplish their missions.
(See step 5.) A common mistake units make at the Joint Readiness Training Center (JRTC) is that they give the main effort a "bunch of stuff" to help them in their mission, greatly increasing the commander's span of command. These additional units are often allocated with little thought about telling the unit WHY they were given the unit. For instance, if you attach a combat observation and laser team (COLT) to a batallion (Bn) it may have been for the express purpose of overwatching a specific brigade directed obstacle in the battalion sector. If so, tell them (that was an easy one). If you give a large proportion of the CA and PSYOP teams to a Bn, you must provide the Bn with a purpose on why they were given all the assets ("Go out and interface with the locals," or the ever-popular "Conduct CMO Operations" is not sufficient guidance. "The purpose of civil affairs (CA) activities from D-DAY through D+2 is to identify what humanitarian needs the villages of X and Y have that our unit can help them with. I want your assessment on the feasibility of what is needed and what you think we can do, by 0800 on D+3. I also want passive collection to focus on whether the enemy has been using these villages as a supply source" is an example of giving specific guidance that should indirectly or directly tie in with the tactical plan.). Assets should be allocated to a unit to help them in specific areas. These areas are not always clear to the receiving unit, so instead of keeping secrets, write the purpose into the order.
On the other hand, there will be times when you give an asset to a Bn knowing it could use that asset any number of ways and you think, "Let them figure it out." Still a wrong answer! Brigade owes its subordinates a nested concept of the effects to be achieved with the BOS or functional area. This can be a broad concept or fairly specific, but it drives home the why, or purpose, behind the task organization.
My remaining point on this issue concerns force protection. Specifically, security (or lack of) for small slice elements placed on the battlefield should be based on a conscious decision. A four-man Sentinel radar, coupled with a retransmit site or TLQ-32, does not provide a base cluster defense. These assets are usually manned with just enough manpower to give them 24-hour capability. By grouping them together with no dedicated security element, a brigade has simply clustered potential enemy high payoff targets in one spot. Who is responsible for securing these positions, especially when the slice units may not even be at 100-percent strength?
8. Developing a synchronization matrix and decision support template.
(See Step 6.) The synchronization matrix is one of several tools you can use to record the wargame. It is important that after you record the enemy and friendly set for a given event, then go through action, reaction, and counteraction, you capture decision points (both friendly and enemy), updated CCIR, and time and loss estimates. Look at the battlefield from the viewpoint of all the moving parts (don't lump all your maneuver elements under "maneuver;" different units are doing different things). After the "set" is determined, go through friendly action, enemy reaction, and friendly counteraction. You could continue with follow-on reaction and counteraction -- there is no constraint, except for time. Although you will read and hear different interpretations of how to work this process, I think the best technique is to lay out the sets on your map sheet or board, then always have friendly units start the action, followed by enemy reaction, then friendly counteraction. (Two physical setup techniques include the standard map drop on the wall and putting the map or a terrain model on a flat surface.)
Why? Your goal is to do something to the enemy, knowing that he will react in some manner, then determine how you can counter his reaction to hurt him even more, or at least minimize your losses. If you start by talking through an enemy action, then you must talk your reaction, enemy counteraction, and then your reaction to the enemy's counteraction. This second technique takes longer than my preferred technique.
It is during this process where the meat of targeting occurs, which should be captured by a combination of recording the notes and filling in the Attack Guidance Matrix (AGM). Observer to named area of interest (NAI) or high payoff target (HPT), firing system attacking the target, where and when, based on movement rates and time required to put fires on target, are examples of how you build targeting into this procedure. These are details easily lost if not recorded on the synch matrix or another tool. Lost details translate into misplaced taskings and a de-synchronized plan that does not inflict pain on the enemy by attacking his critical vulnerabilities.
Another way of considering the action, reaction, counteraction drill is to think about it like this: the action and reaction basically talk through how the friendly plan fights the enemy commander's plan (a talk-through of how we see the fight going). The counteraction really defines the changes, deletions, and/or additions to our friendly plan based on a better way to kill the enemy. If you get through a wargamed event and you have no changes to your original plan plus you have no targeting refinements, chances are you did no counteraction. Good targeting leads to good decision points, which get recorded on the synch matrix and are then converted into a Decision Support Template (DST) and a Decision Support Matrix (DSM). Another technique is a long-hand operational schedule, which basically lays out a projected sequence of numbered events based on friendly and enemy maneuver. Decision points are written into the operational schedule and they reference branches and sequels by number. Operational schedules are very common for air assault operations.
The Decision Support Template/Decision Support Matrix is a superior tool, IF THE COMMAND GROUP USES IT. (FM 101-5-1 defines the DST as, "A staff product initially used in the wargaming process which graphically represents the decision points and projected situations and indicates when, where, and under what conditions a decision is most likely to be required to initiate a specific activity.or event." It defines decision point as, "An event, an area, a line, or a point on the battlefield where tactical decisions are required resulting from the wargaming process before the operations order. Decision points do not dictate commander's decisions; they only indicate that a decision is required, and they indicate when and where the decision should be made to have the maximum effect on friendly or enemy courses of action.") If you do not use the DST, don't waste your time making one. With that said, the DST and matrix are very useful to both the commander and to his subordinates. It defines events (or times) when the commander must make a critical decision, and it cannot be beat as a memory jogger, especially when a supporting matrix is used. It can be built with sketch and matrix on one page, stuffed into a pocket, and used easily when needed. The DST/DSM should be prominently posted in the command posts so the staff can see a DP coming and prepare any relevant staff information needed for the commander before he asks for it. Subordinates can use it as a guide to cue them when they can expect a key decision to come from higher. The DST enables the commander and his staff to fight in a proactive, versus reactive, manner. While the benefits of using this tool are many, the lack of a DST (or a suitable substitute) can cause you to lose the fight.
9. Estimating the duration of critical events as well as of the entire operation.
Estimates on timing should be completed prior to the wargame by the various staff officers who have critical events that their staff sections are responsible for planning. Examples of this include breach times (ENG), smoke buildup and duration (CHEM, FSO), movement times and actions on the objective (S-3,S-4). The wargame brings all of these various time factors together. Ideally, the S-3 will know most of the critical times based on COA development, but usually times will not get fully refined and synchronized until the wargame. During the wargame, each staff member must be able to articulate his time constraints and/or requirements. If he was unable to coordinate with other key staff prior to the wargame, he must be prepared to quickly talk coordination issues at this time. The XO should be the honest broker in judging impacts of time estimates, looking at where other portions of the plan may be affected. The S-3 must be sensitive to other BOS/functional area requirements that may force him to modify his plan. A common JRTC problem during the conduct of the wargame is fighting combat multipliers without thinking through how or when a particular asset must move to be at the right place at the right time. Wishing for a problem to go away will not make it better.
A common critical event NOT often wargamed is suppress, obscure, reduce, and secure (SOSR). A breach force has to penetrate through a deep obstacle. A support force has been positioned to suppress the enemy, allowing the breach to create a vehicle lane for a mixed Light/Heavy assault force to move through. When does the support element need to be in position? What enemy will they need to suppress for how long? Who controls obscuration, when does it need to begin, and how long does it need to last? Who provides the obscuration (if an indirect system provides smoke, how long will that system be unable to fire high explosive (HE) and how long will it take them to get effective obscuration in place? Will terrain and enemy positioning cause the support force to move to be able to continue providing suppressive fire? Does this mean obscuration will be needed at another location? Control measures and taskings within the order must clarify the requirements defined through this thought process.
Another commonly miscalculated critical time involves the employment of Family of Scatterable Mines (FASCAM). Using FA ADAM-RAAM munitions as an example, consider the following events that need a timing estimate. When an HPT enters an NAI, how long will it take the observer to identify the HPT? Who does he call, and how long before the decisionmaker receives the request for fire? How long to make the decision and then to send the decision to the firing unit? How long to ready the FA to fire, to shoot the rounds, and to have the rounds arm? How long do we think it will take for the HPT to move from NAI to TAI? Does the minefield arm prior to arrival of the HPT? If the answer is "Yes," good. If the answer is "No," something must change.
These are examples of basic staff estimates that should be thought out before the wargame to allow the XO and S-3 to spend time synchronizing efforts versus determining what needs to get done and when.
10. Projecting the percentage of total enemy forces defeated in each critical event, and overall.
There are a great many ways to determine this, with each staff tending to estimate losses based on its own internal developed technique. The most important thing the staff should remember is that whatever technique/formula it uses, the staff should use it consistently throughout the wargame. This same technique/formula should also be used to estimate friendly losses during combat. Someone must record the estimated losses and general locations, then periodically summarize current strength and discuss culminating points as appropriate. One benefit of consistently tracking enemy losses is that it will allow the S-2 to determine how his enemy event template may change. NOTE: Often S-3s and XOs get frustrated when the S-2 starts to fight a different battle plan than what he originally briefed. There are six perspectives that dominate the battlefield and lead to the frustration in both the S-2/S-3.
If the changes in the SITEMP and event template are based on the friendly array of forces, or enemy losses, we must be flexible enough to deal with this. If the S-2 changes the entire enemy plan because of a whim, then the XO has a problem he must fix quickly.
11. Identifying likely times and areas for enemy use of WMD and friendly NBC defense requirements.
Generally, the S-2 and the Chemical Officer will have identified likely times, areas, purpose or desired effect, delivery system and agent types for enemy use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) either during Mission Analysis or COA development. The other staff should consider this template as they refine the COA, particularly in regards to templated friendly positions. The S-2 and/or chemical officer (CHEMO) must fight this template, no matter how ugly it gets, so the friendly forces can determine their counteractions. The priority for consideration of counteractions should follow the three principles of NBC defense: avoidance, protection and decontamination. It is easier to avoid WMD than to increase mission-oriented protective posture (MOPP) or conduct decontamination operations. The counteractions will include both passive and active measures, ranging from deception, pre-positioning of NBC equipment, covering supplies that can't be decontaminated, identification of reconnaissance assets to confirm or deny enemy use of WMD, changing planned locations for units or events, to task organization of chemical assets and boundary changes. (NOTE: A JRTC trend is that the FOX reconnaissance vehicles are rarely integrated into the R&S plan, due to no good reason.)
WMD use is a good area to think about how you do action, reaction, and counteraction. Friendly has their plan (action), as briefed in the initial discussion of the event. The enemy (S-2) talks his reaction to our plan. This is the point where many staffs stop discussion, yet the counteraction is arguably the most important part of wargaming. This is the step where the staff says, "Holy cow, I didn't realize that!" and they determine what items from their original plan need to be changed to either minimize their losses or to turn the tables onto the enemy. At the JRTC we will often hear a statement similar to, "The enemy will use WMD on the 155 platoon or a 105 battery." General timing of this templated attack is noted, then the staffs often move on. The XO, S-3 and other staff should be immediately asking some questions, such as:
The ultimate NBC counteraction is the conduct of decontamination operations. Decontamination operations are only conducted when time and assets are available. There are three levels of decontamination, as outlined in FM 3-5, NBC Decomtamination. These are immediate, operational and thorough.
Without a brigade plan that is coordinated and integrated prior to the wargame, then talked through as part of a critical event, WMD use can stop the battle now, in favor of the enemy. A common trend seen at JRTC is that this product of wargaming gets overlooked because it is "too hard to do." What that statement really means is that no one has bothered to think through the requirements to conduct NBC defense. The time to learn about NBC is not when half of your tactical operations center (TOC) is twitching on the ground because of a nerve agent attack.
12. Identifying the location and commitment of the reserve.
This item can (and should) be looked at in two ways -- the enemy reserve and the friendly reserve. For the enemy reserve, we base our fight on the S-2's event template and SITEMP locations. As the S-2 fights the battle against the friendly COA, he is likely to refine the commitment criteria, the timing, and the expected strength of the enemy reserve. The S-2 should, at a minimum, determine one or more enemy commander decision points for the commitment and expected target of the reserve. These decision points may now tie into friendly commander decision points designed to get into the enemy commander's decision cycle.
The S-3 will have a templated location for placement and composition of the friendly reserve. As the battle is war-gamed, he may discover several things by looking at how the enemy fights and by doing some time/space analysis. A consideration often not thought of is this, "What is the threat that will require my use of the reserve, and what is the needed composition of the reserve to deal with that threat?" All too often in the defense, a brigade will designate the armor/mechanized team as the reserve throughout planning, preparation, and execution. Although a good likely candidate as the reserve against an armored attack (defense execution), this task organization is not adequate to deal with a (dismounted) PSOC or CLF threat that fights from the rough, NO-GO terrain.
The reserve should have several brigade-approved axes for a counterattack (ending in an attack-by-fire position, usually), possibly several tentative battle positions, passage points, phase lines, and other graphic control measures as needed for when they pass into another unit's sector. Because reserve operations will typically involve two or more subordinate elements, the brigade is obligated to plan these graphics. A technique is for the reserve commander to coordinate on the ground with the receiving unit, then pass these graphics back to brigade for approval. The drawback to this technique is that the more we force the reserve commander to coordinate on the ground (remember that this commander is likely a company commander or platoon leader with no staff to support him), the less time he has to spend doing TLP with his unit. The other feasible option is for brigade to plan the control measures, then refine them based on ground reconnaissance by the executors.
13. Identifying the most dangerous enemy course of action.
The enemy's most dangerous COA, as briefed during mission analysis, should be refined considerably during both COA development and analysis. This refinement is based primarily on one subject, which is "Where did the commander choose to assume risk, and what is the risk he chose to assume?" The initial, mission analysis MDCOA did not take into account the friendly force arrayal. The friendly COA chosen may lend itself to a totally different enemy MDCOA. The S-2 should have a good feel for where the brigade is assuming risk prior to the wargame. This will allow him to modify/update the enemy most dangerous COA. If time permits, the most dangerous COA should also be war-gamed. At a minimum, the S-2 must identify the enemy commander's decision point where he moves into the most dangerous COA. A branch plan to counter this should be developed by the S-3, even if it is completed after the OPORD is over.
14. Identifying the location of the commander and unit command posts.
The Signal Officer can give good communications advice in this arena, but he is rarely the staff officer best suited to develop the C2plan. The issue of locating command posts is bigger than just determining where the commander needs to be on the battlefield and when. (See "Six TOC Functions" and "Five Elements of Command and Control".) This plan involves several key planning considerations, which should be answered by the Commander/XO/S-3 prior to developing the C2plan. Considerations include:
Common mistakes made by units include the following:
Examples of some potential Brigade-level Command Posts:
15. Identifying additional critical events.
The XO and S-3 should have determined these immediately after the commander approved the COA. The FM 101-5, p 5-18, definition: "Critical events are those that directly influence mission accomplishment. They include events that trigger significant actions or decisions (commitment of an enemy reserve), complicated actions requiring detailed study (a passage of lines), and essential tasks identified during mission analysis." Identifying critical events is a necessary step when determining what will be war-gamed. Getting this information out early to the staff allows them to prepare themselves and update their estimates based on specifics required for war-gaming. During the wargame itself, there may be critical events that get discovered, but these are relatively rare. Note that the importance of critical events is that they require a premium on multi-staff coordination, integration, and synchronization.
Ideally, you will have the time to war-game all identified critical events. However, time will not always be available. This causes the XO to prioritize the critical events and accomplish as many as possible. The sacrifice of quality over time spent on an event is related to the hard decision the XO must make. There may be some events that can wait until after the OPORD is to be war-gamed. Identify this fact in the order and, after completing the follow-on wargame, issue a FRAGO. In the event the staff cannot collectively complete all critical events, the XO should, at a minimum, get small working groups together with selected staff to war-game the event as best they can.
16. Identifying additional requirements for CS and CSS support.
A common reality of planning in the field is that only select CS and CSS considerations get actively reviewed by the S-3 as he is initially developing the COA. This then requires good initiative on the part of staff officers in these BOS to determine where they fit in, to bring up critical information and analysis early to the XO and S-3, and to ensure it is considered in the COA development and expanded in the wargame. Two examples of additional requirements:
The XO must take everyone who is not in the S-3's "core group" and ensure they remain focused on COA development issues, then ensure they get their input into the development in a timely manner. This approach makes participation in the wargame all the more important. Since the developed COA(s) may not have thoroughly integrated and accounted for all BOS issues, these issues must be discussed quickly and thoroughly during the appropriate critical event in wargaming.
A good technique to work integration issues with all the staff is to do the above, then get all the staff together so the S-3 can review the COA with them (once he has his baseline COA complete). Go around to each staff member and get his "major muscle movement" issues. This is a good time to capture task organization changes. When this is complete, the S-3 recaps the modified COA, then the XO gives wargame guidance to the staff so they can do their preliminary staff work.
As the staff gets into the wargame, it should become clear where casualties will occur, as well as locations for equipment or vehicle losses. This allows the S-1/S-4 to better plan how and where they need to place assets such as casualty collection points, ambulance transfer points, and maintenance collection points. The actions required by maneuver and CS units will also further define special logistical requirements needed for mission accomplishment. CS elements may possibly be reorganized, based on newly discovered needs, and the movement timing and placement of these assets should be refined.
Synchronization with the entire BOS is of utmost importance during the wargame, for if it does not get accomplished here, it will be very difficult to do later. FM 101-5-1 defines synchronization as, "The arrangement of military actions in time, space, and purpose to produce maximum relative combat power at a decisive place and time." FM 101-5 says, "Synchronization is arranging activities in time and space to mass at the decisive point." It further states, "Though separated in time and space, these activities must be well synchronized if their combined effects are to be felt at the decisive time and place.In the end, the product of effective synchronization is maximum use of every resource to make the greatest contribution to success."
17. Determining requirements for deception and surprise.
These requirements should be reviewed starting with the Commander's Guidance after the mission analysis brief, then incorporated into the COA development. If this does not happen, chances are that deception and surprise which get "built in" during the wargame will be relatively minor. Planned deception and surprise should be looked at along with everything else that is a part of the event you war-game. It is worthy as a separate line on the synchonization matrix, or could be discussed as part of the actions of the unit assigned to accomplish the deception or surprise.
Elements to consider for deception include the following:
A good point to remember is that deception and surprise should be integrated along with everything else during COA development, then it gets synchronized during the wargame. This is not to say that integration or synchronization cannot happen at any other time, but COA development and analysis are custom made for integration and synchronization. Additional requirements may appear in the wargame, but baseline requirements should have been integrated into the plan from the beginning.
Deception does not need to be a grand, all-encompassing operations order in and of itself. Small tactical deceptions that are nested into the over-all scheme of maneuver create the conditions for success. Examples include:
18. Refining command and control (C2) requirements, to include control measures and updated operational graphics.
This task is relatively simple to do, but the staff should have a standing operating procedure (SOP) to explain how new control measures are added to the graphics. Many things will come out of a wargame that require specific placements of control measures, whether they are battle positions, restrictive fire control measures, checkpoints, or locations for communications checkpoints (CCPs). As staff officers realize they need something to control their portion of the battle, it should be recorded. New control measures should be consolidated and "quality controlled" by the XO or S-3 immediately after the wargame so all the staff understand what control measures will be used and can refer to the correct designations from a master graphic.
Additionally, the staff may realize they need additional C2assets on the ground for a given event (refer to Step 14 above). Command Post requirements align very closely with graphical control measure requirements.
19. Finalizing CCIR and IR with the Last Time Information is of Value (LTIOV).
(See Step 21.) Although commonly associated with PIR, LTIOV is equally applicable to all CCIR. CCIR is defined as "Information required by the commander that directly affects his decisions and dictates the successful execution of operational or tactical operations." (FM 101-5-1) There will come a time in every plan where the potential use of information becomes irrelevant. Since CCIR is the preferred method to narrow down information, allowing the commander information he must have in a real hurry, useless CCIR should not be tracked by units once it reaches the LTIOV. A consideration for the planner is once LTIOV is reached, is that other information now becomes CCIR?
The S-2 should go into the wargame with estimated LTIOV. Based on action, reaction, and counteraction, much of this will get refined. To help ensure that the right collection asset is where it needs to be and when, the S-2 develops the Intelligence Synchronization Matrix (ISM). This is really just an expanded intelligence portion of the BOS synchronization matrix. As a result of the action, reaction and counter-action, intelligence requirements should be matched to the criteria to execute a decision identified in the wargame. The LTIOV timelines are determined from the DPs recorded on the DST. Additionally, the staff may realize that there are other Intelligence Requirements based on how the battle progresses in the wargame. This will allow the S-2 and S-3 to modify the collection plan (see Step 20). Another consideration is that the S-2 and S-3 could tie the LTIOV into events that will occur on the battlefield, versus time. The wargame should validate the collection plan.
20. Finalizing the reconnaissance and surveillance plan and graphics for the basis of the collection plan.
(See Steps 19 and 21.) A draft R&S plan should have been given to the R&S executors by the conclusion of the COA development, or at least they should have received several R&S specific warning orders. Depending on the time requirements of needed information, it is possible that some of your R&S assets are already in the execution mode. For the purpose of discussion, I will assume that the unit has the ability to issue this plan to the R&S unit sometime after the wargame.
The R&S plan must be nested with the brigade's overall concept of the operation. It must also focus on answering CCIR first, then other IR if any assets are still available. The plan cannot be focused purely on the collection of information. All BOS must be considered in terms of how they can support the elements conducting R&S. Communications, resupply, casualty evacuation, infiltration and extraction means and routes, fire support, and potential linkup with the brigades maneuver forces must be considered. Brigades will sometimes put all of the R&S assets, to include battalion reconnaissance platoons, under brigade control and, at other times, battalions will be left to manage their own platoons. No matter how the units handle their command and control, all planning considerations still apply and brigade still must view this as a brigade operation.
Be very careful to not overtask units with multiple NAIs. Part of the mission analysis brief should define current capabilities of R&S assets, so the commander can give good priority of coverage guidance to the S-2 and S-3. The status of these assets will change over time, so it is a good technique to update changes in friendly assets available just before the wargame. The staff should also take the potential compromise of units into consideration during the wargame, so they can work out extraction and casualty evacuation plans.
21. Refining CCIR and incorporating them into the R&S plan and graphics.
(See Steps 19 and 20.) Incorporation of CCIR into the R&S plan is primarily focused on PIR much more than FFIR and EEFI. However, some EEFI and FFIR may be directly related to the units conducting the R&S plan (planned LZs, routes, or objectives). Commander emphasis on EEFI may cause the planners to run into conflicts with gathering PIR (how can I gather information on the breach point or objective if the commander does not want to let the enemy know what his objective is?). A conflict like this will require the staff to get guidance from the commander on where he is willing to take risk, and it may drive the commander to modify his CCIR.
From the larger picture, the R&S plan is only part of the brigade concept of the operation. This means the staff cannot get so wrapped up in a war-gamed R&S critical event that they fail to note the impact of what the reconnaissance units are (or might be) doing on the rest of the plan. This is the reason why the S-3 must be involved in the plan from its birth -- it cannot be a stand-alone S-2 plan. The time to discover major conflicts is not during the synchronization process (COA analysis), it is during the integration process (COA development).
22. Developing fire support, engineer, air defense, information operations, and CSS plans and graphics.
These plans should first be integrated during COA development, based on commander's guidance. Depending on the type of operation, certain BOS (especially CSS) typically are not able to finalize their planning until late in development, but that lateness makes this no less a critical step. The synchronization of these efforts is what should be focused on in the wargame. "If I do this, then that means you must first do this and I will need to have that before...." The staff looks at the initial planning, coordination, and integration efforts already completed as a collective whole, to see what other plans need to be refined.
A good technique for XOs to ensure the above listed assets (as well as the various other staff assets commonly found within a brigade, such as Military Police, PSYOP, CA, operational law) are focused early in both integration or COA development, in preparation for the wargame, is the following:
An example of a CSS concept paragraph for a battalion follows:
We will accomplish our CSS mission by operating in a split configuration for the battle, to more quickly support across the width of the BN sector. The combat trains will jump 4 hours prior to the defend by time to the vic of CP 7 (east of BP 4-2), while the forward aid station will move east of BP 4-3 at the same time. The main aid station will move to the NE of BP 4-1. Significant to this operation is our ability to get CL V into the cache points NLT 242200.
"Information Operations" scares many staffs, because it is an unknown, strange "thing." It is really a fancy title put on a sub-product of the MDMP, and, in many cases, it requires a much longer time period (than combat arms missions) to get an assessment and see the results. It uses the same systems we already have in place; it just requires different data to be inputted into the MDMP. Different staff officers will play key roles; i.e., the S-3 must make sure the plan supports maneuver, but he has little to do with the actual planning. The targeting synchronization process your unit uses should suffice as a procedure to continually process this information.
Reference all of the BOS, it is helpful for the staff to remember that a good enemy fights as a combined arms team just the same as the U.S. Army does. They will have different assets, capabilities, and limitations, but their goal is the same as ours. They will use their systems to the best of their capabilities, applying their strengths to our weaknesses while protecting their weaknesses from our strengths. As we integrate our BOS to achieve the common purpose, we must look across and attack the entire spectrum of the enemy. Our main effort may be to seize an objective, but prior to the attack we have positioned Stinger ambushes to destroy enemy resupply helicopters; we ambush their patrols; PSYOP attacks them mentally; CA, S-4, and OPLAW work with the host nation and local civilians to minimize their interference while maximizing support we can get from them.
Some common CSS concerns include the following questions: Do the CSS routes move through terrain already secured by friendly forces? Are locations within supporting distance of the supported units? Are assets positioned where they can do the most good for the mission? Do routes lead through friendly or enemy obstacles? At what time will obstacles become active? Do resupply vehicle drivers/TCs know about these obstacles? Are CSS locations away from enemy avenues of approach and potential LZs (air assault)? Do you want to be near an LZ for rotary-wing resupply operations? When and where will expected enemy reconnaissance assets go, and will it affect CSS operations? Have all positions avoided templated chemical areas? Does the dirty route (required when there is a templated persistent area) avoid crossing the MSR? Does it lead from the templated point of contamination to a planned decontamination site linkup point? Is passive as well as active air defense considered when selecting (lucrative target) CSS locations? Do CSS positions avoid locating on friendly or likely enemy indirect fire targets? Are there any planned targets positioned so that CSS units could use them to call fires, if needed?
23. Identifying or confirming the locations of decision points, NAIs, TAIs, and the information needed to support the decision points.
(See Step 28.) Many commanders will give guidance on where they see decision points on the battlefield. These decision points should always be tied in with CCIR. Given this, the staff has a start point for identifying supporting NAIs (named areas of interest) during COA development, as well as other potential NAIs. The wargame should look hard at where we want to target the enemy (targeted areas of interest -- (TAIs)), what we plan to target him with, then modify the location of NAIs. This modification will be based on how soon we must know of an enemy activity so we can obtain the planned effects of fires on the target at the TAI -- a necessary drill before and during the wargame.
Definitions from FM 101-5-1:
Decision points for the commander will be tied in with an NAI, or perhaps multiple NAIs that, when taken together, confirm or deny an enemy action. Multiple NAIs looking at IRs may be required to get the full picture of an enemy action. If needed, this should come out during the wargame. TAIs are where the result of the commander's decision, or a pre-planned action, will affect the enemy.
24. Determining the timing of force concentration and initiation of the attack or counterattack.
Initial estimates on these subjects should have been worked out both in COA development and the staff preparation for the wargame. Modifications to the planned timing of events will come from two basic areas: how the S-2 fights the enemy with all of the resulting impact on friendly forces, and from detailed staff analysis that gives time estimates for critical enabling tasks to complete the given critical event. It is useful to determine what "force concentration" really means. Your assets must be in the right place at the right time to do the essential mission. This is massing effects. "Mass" is defined as, "To concentrate or bring together fires, as to mass fires of multiple weapons or units." (FM 101-5-1). FM 100-5, Operations, has a better definition: "Mass the effects of overwhelming combat power at the decisive place and time." The key is to be able to put the desired effects on the enemy so he feels the effects at the decisive time. It does not imply you must get all of your units into one tight, small geographical area. It is also important that "massing" applies to all the BOS, not just fires. For instance, the effects of a jammer may be to force enemy artillery nets to not be responsive when ground maneuver attacks an enemy position. The effects are felt by the lack of indirect fires falling on friendly forces.
"Effects" has the broader mental affect of conceptually tying all available lethal and non-lethal fires together to create the conditions for mission accomplishment. As you war-game a given critical event, you will find that your desired effects may require something to happen either before or after this critical event takes place. This "something" must be built into the plan and war-gamed if time permits. At a minimum, the appropriate staff and the recorder must note the required actions so it does not get forgotten after the wargame is completed.
The S-2's event template will drive the timing of many friendly events. As the enemy commander (S-2 during the wargame) reaches his various decision points, the brigade is able to confirm or deny more of the SITEMP. This impacts on decisions the commander must make and should considerably help in refining CCIR (see Step 19). The S-2's reaction and counter-reaction show how the enemy will attack us. Force protection measures may require an additional adjustment to various timings. This helps drive the required synchronization of many events (see Step 23).
25. Developing the intelligence collection and dissemination plan.
At brigade and battalion levels, the R&S plan is the basis for the collection plan because it is the tasking document for organic or attached assets the commander controls. In other words, a Brigade Commander can task a battalion or other unit to conduct R&S, but he cannot task a unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to fly over his sector.
Once PIR and IR are refined, SOR (Specific Orders and Requests) are developed. The orders part is what a brigade and battalion generally include in their respective R&S plans. The "Requests" part goes to higher HQs, adjacent units, other agencies, or host-nation authorities. When agreements are worked out (1st Brigade will have Division UAV coverage from 021400-1800 JUN) the S-2 can add that to the collection plan.
The XO and S-3 must ensure that staff attention is given to the R&S plan. A technique is for staff "seconds" to work R&S issues while the primaries are focused on the overall plan. Always remember that the R&S plan is part of the overall plan. (See Step 21.)
26. Determining movement times and tables.
(See Step 24.) Convoy movement is often planned by brigade CSS planners; the overall enemy and friendly situation surrounding the convoy routes will determine when the S-3 has to take a more active role. When planned by the S-4/CSS community, history shows that they will plan times and tables at a location separate from the Main CP. This, in turn, lends itself to a poorly prioritized movement flow, and the movement times do not take into account many factors involving timing at and around the release point. A way to fix this is to have a dedicated convoy planner at the wargame. The staff must highlight selected equipment that must come in early and the planned destinations. With the XO as the adjudicator, movement tables will be continually adjusted with all BOS requirements taken into consideration. At the conclusion of the wargame, or another specified time, the convoy planner should review the new movement tables and timelines with representatives from all the staff to verify composition and location within the convoy.
As stated, activities at and around the release point cause considerable turbulence to the movement plan. If the unit is immediately deploying into a potential combat situation, it is useful to have a brigade C2node with redundant communications to the tactical commander on the ground and to the start point C2node. The RP C2node will be able to guide the flow of units from the SP based on backlogs, traffic jams, or enemy activity through constant communication with the SP C2node. Enroute Traffic Control Points should have communications with both start and release point CPs.
27. Identifying, analyzing, and evaluating strengths and weaknesses of the COA.
Commander's Guidance notes usually provide a number of factors to consider in evaluating a given COA. A good relative combat power analysis should also provide the staff with significant factors to consider. In terms of the wargame, it is imperative that if the COA shows itself to be unfeasible, it must immediately be changed or dropped from consideration. Evaluation of your weaknesses will help the S-2 identify a better enemy most dangerous course of action. It will also confirm whether or not your COA is taking risk where the commander was willing to assume risk. (See Step 1.)
The staff must all understand not only where risk is being taken, but also what risk is being taken. This knowledge will allow them to plan mitigating actions as appropriate, so they can lessen the risk. A stated risk that is ignored by the staff will be the risk that jumps up and bites you in your rear end.
28. Integrating the targeting process, to include identifying or confirming high payoff targets and determining attack guidance.
The targeting process is not a substitute for the MDMP, but it is an integral sub-process on how we conduct action, reaction, and counteraction throughout the wargame. FM 6-20-10, Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for the Targeting Process, is an excellent reference. D3A (decide, detect, deliver, assess) happens throughout the MDMP, with the planning peaking during the wargame. Unfortunately, we normally see a shallow Mission Analysis and incomplete wargame. One of the first elements to drop from a wargame is the deliberate integration of D3A. Common sense and doctrine both show that the wargame and targeting meeting should be done as one, to both save time and be more fully synchronized. However, if a staff realizes they have not thought through targeting, they may need to conduct a follow-on targeting or synchronization meeting to correct this key deficiency. Collection assets must be tied into deliver assets, and this, in turn, generates taskings. Triggers must be established. All of this must be tied into the scheme of maneuver. Just as importantly, this information must be issued to subordinates in a clear, concise, timely manner that fits in with guidance you have already issued
Here are some techniques to better integrate D3A into your plan.
29. Synchronizing smoke operations.
Smoke is available to the brigade from three primary sources: the chemical platoon, indirect fires, and CLV carried by soldiers. Each has associated strengths and weaknesses that the planners should consider when they select areas to be smoked. Some doctrinal comments from FM 7-30, The Infantry Brigade, include, "The brigade employs two categories of smoke, hasty and deliberate. Hasty smoke is employed for short-term requirements with a minimum of planning. It can be delivered by all smoke assets, but it is normally delivered by artillery, mortars, and smoke pots. Deliberate smoke is characterized by integrated planning. It is used over extended periods to cover friendly activities throughout an entire operation.normally produced by mechanical generators and smoke pots." On page 8-18, the FM defines the four applications of smoke (obscuration, screening, deception, and identification or signaling), which are worthy of review. Further discussion is in FM 3-50, Smoke Operations, pages 7 and 13.
A common trend noted at the JRTC is that the breaching fundamentals, SOSR (suppress, obscure, secure, and reduce), get ignored more often than not. FM 90-13-1, Combined Arms Breaching Operations, is an excellent source for information on both smoke and some typically associated operations that consume planners. Although the breach is the event commonly associated with SOSR, SOSR applies to most parts of a given scheme of maneuver. The beauty of SOSR is that it provides a planning consideration guideline, or foundation, for approaching a brigade attack in both macro and micro scale.
First, it is essential to understand what SOSR means. Using FM 101-5-1 definitions:
During mission analysis, various staff officers will be able to assess smoke capabilities and limitations, such as available munitions, area coverage capabilities and associated time factors, equipment or munitions requirements to make obscuration happen at likely points on the battlefield. During COA development of these planning factors get built into the COA as ways to reduce tactical risk (deny the enemy visibility, protect the force, deceive the enemy). The common problem in field planning is that synchronization of smoke is far from complete at this stage and is often just a general concept.
COA analysis preparation is where the staff earns its money on this issue. Once the smoke provider (FSO, Chemical Officer, or other) understands the maneuver requirements, the chemical officer (as the chief of smoke in the TOC) must do his homework. First he must be able to clearly articulate the purpose behind the smoke requirement at every point needed. It must be expressed in terms of its desired effects on the enemy and acceptable degradation of friendly units. Once the purpose of smoke is understood, he determines details. Who is commander of the ground tactical plan the smoke mission will support? Who will operate the smoke control point to adjust the smoke on target? What resources must be at the smoke control point to ensure the OIC can communicate with all the smoke assets and the ground unit commander? How do we plan for 360-degree coverage to ensure success when the wind changes? How long of a smoke duration over how large an area is needed? How many rounds of projected smoke, gallons of fog oil, or number of smoke pots are required to accomplish the mission? How long will it take for the smoke to build to an acceptable level? How does the smoke asset move into the position required to lay smoke? Are these assets integrated into the maneuver movement plan? What is the command and support relationship, and will it change during mission execution? Are specific graphic control measures needed? Will resupply of smoke munitions be required? What redundancy can be built into the plan? Is the smoke asset vulnerable to enemy attack, and, if so, what force protection measures can be implemented to safeguard the force? What are follow-on smoke requirements, does the smoke provider need to move, do they need resupply, and how long will it take? What other staff sections must be coordinated with to lay the groundwork for synchronization before the wargame? Do not forget that obscurants do not just affect the enemy -- they can also obscure friendly observation and target acquisition, as well as degrade command and control. Some general planning guidelines for smoke employment are:
If the staff does their homework before the wargame, they will be able to quickly discuss related issues as it pertains to action, reaction, and counteraction. This will further allow the staff to focus on fine-tuning and adjusting the plan to accommodate the required actions. If the data is not developed before the wargame, the staff will either become bogged down in working out details as a group, or (more likely) they will assume away issues. The statement, "Assumptions make an amateur of you and me," as it applies here, is very true. It also kills soldiers.
30. Identifying additional hazards, assessing their risk, developing control measures to reduce risk from all identified hazards, and determining residual risk.
(See Steps 3, 5, 13, 15, 18, 23, 27, and 28 for related material.) The first rule to understand is that risk assessment is part and parcel of the entire MDMP. Where does the commander assume risk? What is the risk he is assuming? What risk does each staff member propose when he suggests a particular COA for employment of assets? There are tactical trade-offs for every decision we make. Our job is to identify those trade-offs early, analyze them, and then incorporate risk reduction (a.k.a. force protection) into our plan. Risk should be thought of both from a tactical point of view as well as from the more formal risk assessment, complete with mitigating factors.
Another way of looking at risk is to consider what the relative combat power analysis is all about. The RCPA helps the commander apply his strength against enemy weakness, and protect his weakness from enemy strength. It should consider maneuver, firepower, protection, and leadership. How can we combine these elements of combat power together so we have the most efficient success coupled with minimizing losses?
To be effective, staffs must be trained in a crawl, walk, run methodology. The Commander should be integrated into this training whenever and wherever possible, in terms of his role in the MDMP and in terms of his explaining what he expects the staff to do for him. The XO and S-3 must both assume the role of primary trainers and work both one-on-one and collectively with subsets of the staff as well as with the complete staff.
No professional staff member conducts MDMP with the intent to fail in the planning role. Still, until the staff officer or NCO understands the steps of the MDMP and knows what standards are expected of him, he will continuously do less than should be done. He will be unprepared to address issues within the MDMP to the desired degree of detail. This is an education problem that can be fixed with continuous, planned garrison training, supplemented by computer simulations, and culminating in free-play field training exercises and combat training center (CTC) rotations.
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