LINKING SUPPORTING TASKS AND PURPOSE
Page 2-6, FM 100-5 says that "In battle, initiative requires the decentralization of decision authority to the lowest practical level." Decentralization, however, "risks some loss of synchronization," and commanders must "balance these competing risks, recognizing that loss of immediate control is preferable to inaction."
PROBLEM: Decentralization during OOTW operations too often result in squads operating without a coordinated purpose, or the ability to mass and concentrate, and without mutual support and adequate sustainability.
RESULT: Consistent loss of synchronization.
Operation: Same Peace Enforcement, as part of 1st Battalion.
Purpose: Same as above, at battalion level.
Supporting effort: Designate one company or Co/Tm to accomplish one of the specified or implied tasks that support the accomplishment of the essential task, i.e., the main effort.
Technique: The supporting effort must be linked to the main effort.
The subordinate element planning and executing the supporting effort must clearly understand that if the supporting effort fails, the success of the main effort is jeopardized.
CONDITION: Within Area of Operations Alpha 1 (AO A1), there are belligerent forces close enough to K-town to potentially interfere with the main effort to clear K-town.
ASSESSMENT: To maximize the probability of the main effort's success, belligerent forces in AO A1 must be prevented from interfering with the main effort.
Company-level Restated mission: Company B clears AO A1 NLT 241200 Sep xx to prevent interference with the main effort in K-town.
Technique: The company commander conducting the supporting effort must designate a main effort within his company.
Step 2: Designate a main effort.
Step 3: Platoon-level Restated mission: 1st platoon (+) establishes Checkpoint Romeo NLT 231200 Sep xx to block belligerent traffic that could interfere with the battalion main effort in K-town.
Step 4: Designate supporting efforts.
Step 5: Platoon-level Restated missions:
NOTE: Hourly, one mobile patrol manned by MP PLT(-) covers MSN 1-2 and 1-9 sites. These patrols are escorted by Compton Police Dept. Cruiser.
The Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) successfully used the chart above during its involvement in quelling the 1992 Los Angeles riots. Specifically, the chart proved useful in monitoring the OOTW phenomenon of "mission creep." The 10th Mountain Division noted after its mission in Somalia that "mission creep is an invariable part of any operation." (10th Mountain, Operation RESTORE HOPE AAR, p. 49.) Mission creep occurs because of an undefined end state, coupled with a lack of mission focus and unclear definitions. (10th Mountain Operation RESTORE HOPE AAR, p. 34.)
1) The chart provides a single picture of the tasks and resources committed and available.
2) Include all tasks on the matrix as well as liaison requirements. This will prevent the commander from knowingly spreading himself too thin.
3) The chart provides an effective graphic aid to instantly depict unit status to higher headquarters.
4) The chart can assist in task prioritization. Setting priorities will enhance identification of essential tasks, and, therefore, the designation of the main and supporting efforts. Priorities will also determine which tasks cannot be accomplished with the resources at hand.
In the original Peace Enforcement scenario, the Battalion/Task Force had a UN mandate to 1) separate belligerents; 2) protect civilians; 3) assist PWs and interned noncombatants; 4) conduct mine awareness training; and 5) assist NGOs.
The mission analysis of these requirements placed separate belligerents as the essential task for this operation, and that is what the battalion was resourced to specifically accomplish.
It is likely that in the course of establishing the buffer zone and clearing it of belligerents, the other parts of the mandate could be achieved as a by-product.
The use of common terminology and the designating and linking of main and supporting efforts can greatly enhance OOTW mission analysis. Successful mission analysis, in turn, leads to successful mission planning, preparation and execution.
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