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by CPT Robert Burks, SECOPS, NTC

0430, Vic Hill 720, Mojavia

LTC Todd woke to the sounds of explosions and quickly stumbled out of his cot trying to put on his boots as he exited the tent. He could see the flashes of small arms fire from his northern perimeter as he began to race for the Support Battalion Tactical Operation Center (TOC). As he reached the TOC, he saw the large fireball in his Class III area, and heard the deafening explosions. As he entered the TOC, he already knew he had lost his tankers before he asked the question. SPC Riley excitedly briefed his commander that 4-6 guerrillas were seen assaulting the fuel point and throwing hand grenades among the 5,000-gallon tankers.

This is an event that is played over and over again at the National Training Center (NTC). The unit's success in force protection relies on the quality of its defensive planning, execution of Troop-Leading Procedures, and its understanding of the requirements to balance the scales between force protection and mission support. The trend at the NTC indicates that most logistics commanders and leaders do not understand how to conduct defensive planning or its relation to Troop-Leading Procedures.

FM 7-10, The Infantry Rifle Company, and FM 7-20, The Infantry Battalion, describe Troop-Leading Procedures as an eight-step process:


1 - Receive the Mission
2 - Issue a Warning Order
3 - Make a Tentative Plan
4 - Initiate Movement
5 - Conduct Reconnaissance
6 - Complete the Plan
7 - Issue the Order
8 - Supervise, Inspect and Refine

The Troop-Leading Procedure (TLP) is the process by which you, the commander, receive a mission, plan it, and execute it. It should be instinctive and a routine way of thinking for any commander. It is imperative that the unit produces a timely order that is adequate and flexible, for TLPs and preparation for combat to occur. TLPs are time savers, and you, the commander, should conduct them in the order that most effectively uses the time available.


1. This first step of the TLP begins upon receipt of the initial mission from the DISCOM or Brigade. This mission could be in the form of a Warning Order, Operations Order, or briefing of an expected change in operation. As the commander, you should use the information available to establish a time schedule by identifying the actions that the unit must accomplish to conduct the operation. This timeline is developed by starting at mission time and working backwards (Backwards Planning).

2. You must take advantage of this time by focusing his energy on the terrain, weather and enemy's doctrine. This information is readily available and will form the basis of the unit's plan. Do not wait for the Brigade to publish its order. Seek out the information as it becomes available. Up to 12 hours may elapse between the Brigade's warning order and when the order is issued; in a high OPTEMPO battlefield you cannot afford to waste this time! This up-front effort will pay you dividends by giving the company more time to prepare for the mission.

3. Upon receipt of the Brigade's warning order, you should immediately develop and issue an initial Warning Order. This initial warning order will allow subordinates to begin conducting Pre-Combat Checks (PCCs), Pre-Combat Inspections (PCIs) rehearsals and, if required, preparations for movement. This initial warning order should include all available information so subordinate leaders can start developing their own plans. Table 1 shows the minimum requirements for the initial warning order.

Enemy SituationThis should include as much information as available. Relate the information to your level of operation.
Friendly SituationInclude the type of operation, higher mission statement, Bde task organization. This will allow your leaders to begin planning the appropriate rehearsals.
Movement InstructionsInclude locations and movement times. Cover recon members and times.
Coordinating InstructionsIssue any specified instructions, i.e., PCI times.
Time & Location of Company OPORD Where & when will you hold the operations order and who will attend?

Table 1. Initial Warning Order Requirements

4. After issuing this initial warning order, you should start working your own mission analysis. This process starts with the initial Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB).

a. FM 34-130, Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield, describes IPB as a four-step process that consists of:

  • Defining the Battlefield Environment.
  • Describing the Battlefield Effects.
  • Evaluating the Threat and
  • Determining the Threat Courses of Action

This process begins upon receipt of the Brigade's warning order and continues throughout the course of the operation.

b. IPB is not just conducted by the Battalion S2; it is conducted by you, the commander, and commanders at all levels to facilitate in focusing the planning process. There are three times during the TLP process where you will directly apply this product:

  • during the mission analysis
  • during course-of-action development
  • during the wargaming process.

c. You must begin this process by Defining the Battlefield Environment or what is best defined as your "playground" or area of operation and area of interest. Limiting the terrain in this manner enables you to save time and effort by focusing only on those areas and terrain features that will influence his Course of Actions and decisions.

Identify the Area of OperationThis is the geographical area the commander is assigned responsibility and authority to conduct operations. The limits of the AO is normally the boundaries specified in the operations order.
Identify the Area of InterestThis is the area that the threat has the ability to project power or move forces into the AO. This is the area from which information is required to permit planning for successful conduct of the operation.

d. Second in the IPB is a study of your Area of Operation and Interest to Describe the Battlefield Effects. This is the determination of how the battlefield environment, or Area of Operation/Interest, will influence friendly and enemy operations and COAs. This analysis allows you to quickly choose and exploit the terrain that best supports the mission. One process for conducting this evaluation is a Terrain and Weather Analysis of the area.

(1) The best terrain analysis is based on a reconnaissance of the area of operation. A reconnaissance is not always possible, but, in any event, you should conduct a map analysis and identify gaps in knowledge. These gaps will form the basis of the reconnaissance planning.

FM 7-20 describes the use of the acronym "OKOCA."
Rearranging the acronym to "OAKOC"


Avenues of Approach

Key Terrain

Observation and Fields of Fire

Cover and Concealment

provides a more logical framework for analysis.

(2) Terrain analysis begins with an evaluation of obstacles in the area of Operation and Interest. Obstacles are any manmade or natural terrain features that stop, impede, or divert military movement. Identify the terrain and man-made obstacles and their potential to effect mobility. This evaluation of obstacles will facilitate in the identification of mobility corridors and enemy avenues of approach. Analyze the terrain to determine if it is restricted or severely restricted. The remaining terrain is considered unrestricted and will form likely avenues of approach. When conducting this analysis, remember what is restricted for vehicles may be unrestricted for dismounted movement.

(3) Once the obstacle analysis is complete, you can identify Avenues of Approach into the area. These avenues of approach should support the threat's offensive capabilities and the movement and commitment of reserves. Dismounted infantry and most insurgents are less restricted by the presence of obstacles or hindering terrain and prefer areas that provide concealment and cover. Remember, even in dismounted movement, there are likely avenues of approach that allows for ease of movement, better concealment or a covered approach into your Area of Operation.

(4) With this information, you will then identify the Key Terrain in your area. Key Terrain is any location or area in which its seizure, retention, or control will afford a marked advantage to either combatant. A hilltop overlooking a choke point on an enemy's avenue of approach is an example of key terrain. Evaluate key terrain by assessing the impact of its seizure by the enemy upon the results of the battle. Key terrain is considered decisive terrain if it has an extraordinary impact on the mission. Decisive terrain is rare and does not exist in all operations, but when you designate key terrain as decisive, you are communicating that the success of the mission depends on retaining it.

(5) Observation is your ability to see the enemy either visually or through the use of surveillance devices. A field of fire is the area that a weapon or group of weapons may effectively cover with fire. The evaluation of observation and fields of fire will allow you to determine potential engagement areas, identify defensible terrain and identify where you are most vulnerable to observation and fire. Analyze the area surrounding key terrain and ask yourself, "If I wanted to control this terrain, where would I do it from?" These points may become the positions from which you or the enemy fight. Evaluate fields of fire for all flat trajectory weapons you own. Combine the analysis of each factor limiting observation and fields of fire into a single product. This will show areas of poor observation and deadspace. Use this product to help you identify potential engagement areas. This analysis will help you to identify potential battle positions and possible LP/OP locations.

(6) The last step in terrain analysis is the evaluation of Cover and Concealment. Cover is protection from the effects of direct and indirect fires. It can be provided by ditches, river banks, folds in the ground, buildings, walls and embankments. Concealment is protection from observation. It can be provided by woods, underbrush, tall grass, and cultivated vegetation. Evaluate cover and concealment in the same manner as for observation and fields of fire. This evaluation will aid you in identifying defensible terrain, approach routes and deployment areas.

(7) Terrain and weather analysis are inseparable. Weather analysis will evaluate the weather's direct effect on operations. The analysis of your area should include, but is not limited to, the areas listed in Table 2.

VisibilityLow visibility will hinder your defensive operations because cohesion and control become more difficult to maintain, your R&S is impeded and target acquisition is less accurate.
WindsWinds of sufficient speed can reduce the combat effectiveness as a result of blowing dust, smoke, sand , etc. What direction will the wind blow during the operation?
PrecipitationPrecipitation affects soil trafficability and visibility. Will some restricted terrain become severely restricted terrain with the advent of rain or snow?
Cloud CoverCloud cover can effect ground operations by reducing or limiting illumination.
Temperature &
Extremes of temperature and humidity will reduce personnel and equipment capabilities. What will the temp be during the operation and what effect will it have on soldiers and equipment?

Table 2. Weather Analysis

(8) Upon completion of the initial terrain analysis,

  • Discuss these observations with your subordinate leaders. Do not worry if this initial analysis is not very detailed. At this point in time, you and your subordinates need only gain an appreciation for the terrain. As the planning process continues, you will become more familiar with the terrain in your area of operation.

  • Start the construction of a detailed sand table and terrain sketch for use during the orders brief. Humans are a visual animal, and being able to "see" the operation will greatly increase soldiers' comprehension of the briefing. It is important to construct these visualization aids to scale. Make the terrain model as large as practical. A good rule of thumb is about 1 meter = 1 kilometer.

e. The third step in the IPB process is Evaluating the Threat and Determining the Threat Courses of Action. This evaluation is the determination of threat force capabilities, his doctrinal principles, and the Tactics Techniques and Procedures he prefers to employ.

(1) The goal is to know the enemy and develop threat models which accurately portray how the enemy will normally execute operations. It is not enough to know only the numbers and types of enemy vehicles and soldiers. You must thoroughly understand when, where, and how he uses all of his assets. Table 3 shows an example of threat model creation.

This model will depict how the enemy prefers to conduct operations under ideal conditions. Threat models consist of three parts: Doctrinal templates, Description of preferred tactics, and identification of HVTs.

Doctrinal TemplatesDoctrinal templates illustrate the deployment pattern and disposition preferred by the enemy when not constrained by the effects of the battlefield. Doctrinal templates are normally scaled graphic depictions for a standard operation. Even unconventional operations lend themselves to graphic depiction. One example is how the enemy routinely establishes a convoy ambush.

Description of Tactics & OptionsThis description addresses the operations of the elements portrayed on the template. The description should also address typical time lines and how each BOS contributes to the operations success.

Identification of HVTsDevelop the initial list of HVTs by mentally war-gaming and thinking through the operation under consideration of how the enemy will fight.
Threat capabilities are the broad COAs and supporting operations which the threat can take to influence the accomplishment of the friendly mission. Review what the enemy can bring to bear against you and the planning stages.

Table 3. Threat Model Creation

(2) After determining the threats' capabilities, you must determine the likely Threat Courses of Action. This is the integration of the effects of the terrain and weather on the enemy's doctrine to determine how he will fight the battle. The end result of your enemy COA development is a situational template that will show how the enemy will conduct his fight. The enemy COA should answer the questions in Table 4.

WhatThis is the type of operation.
WhenThe time the action will begin.
WhereThe avenues of approach and objectives that make up the course of action.
How The method the enemy will employ its assets, such as dispositions, location of main effort, the scheme of maneuver, and how it will be supported.
WhyThe objectives or end state the enemy wishes to accomplish.

Table 4. Enemy Course of Action

(3) The determination of the enemy's course of actions will complete the IPB process and allow you to begin the analysis of the unit's mission. Keep the products you developed on-hand to assist in mission analysis. These products will help you better visualize how the terrain, the enemy, and the friendly course of action interrelate.

5. The mission analysis will consist of an analysis of the higher mission and intent, an analysis of your own mission, and finish with a restated mission for the unit. To understand how your own mission interrelates and supports your unit, you must understand your higher commander's mission and intent. Table 5 provides a list of questions you should be able to answer after your analysis of the Higher Mission and Intent.

Purpose of the OperationThe most critical item you must gain from higher is the purpose of the operation both one and two levels up.
IntentAnalyze the commander's intent and concept of the operation one and two levels up to gain an appreciation for how each commander intends to use his forces to achieve the overall purpose. Where is the decisive point or time for the Brigade & Battalion? Draw a sketch depicting the battalion scheme of maneuver. Study how each company's task and purpose relates to the battalion main effort.
End StateIdentify, through the commander's intent and concept of the operation, how and where the battalion commander intends to have his unit postured at the end of the fight.
RiskDetermine where or when to accept risk and the effect this risk may have on the accomplishment of your mission.

Table 5. Higher Commander's Intent

a. Once you have a clear understanding of the overall operation, you will begin the analysis of your own mission. Before you can develop your restated mission statement, you must review the operations order and answer the questions in Table 6.

PurposeWhat is the purpose given to your unit and how does it relate to the purposes of the other companies?
Specified TasksWhat additional tasks does the OPORD specify for your unit to accomplish? Are any of these tasks essential to overall success of the operation?
Implied TasksWhat tasks, not specified in the OPORD, must your unit execute to successfully accomplish your essential and specified tasks?
Essential TasksWhat essential tasks, your unique contribution to the fight at the decisive point, did the brigade designate for your unit? What is the doctrinal definition of this task? Does this task imply other tasks or place limitations on your freedom of action? What specific results must your unit attain in terms of the terrain, the enemy, or friendly force?
LimitationsWhat limitations does the OPORD place on your freedom of action? Limitations are restrictions placed on a commander specifying things that he cannot do or that he must do. If these are limitations, why has the higher commander limited your possible courses of action?
Assets AvailableAnalyze the combat readiness of your troops and equipment. Have your XO and CSM brief you on the state of the unit. Better yet, go check for yourself.
Time AnalysisIdentify specific and implied times which actions must occur throughout the planning, preparation, and the execution of the operation. Analyze the timing of the execution in terms of terrain, the enemy and friendly forces. Update your previous timeline with all of the events that affect your unit.

Table 6. Questions to Ask

b. The final step in mission analysis is developing your unit's restated mission statement. Your restated mission should include WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY. The element of WHAT is your essential tasks. If your unit must accomplish two or three essential tasks, list them in the order in which they must occur. WHY is your purpose, the accomplishment of which defines mission success.

6. The last item you should discuss as part of Step 1 in the TLP is the development of a Security Plan. The National Training Center has observed that most CSS units do not make security plans for their new site prior to moving. RESULT: Creates a relaxed atmosphere and results in unnecessary casualties. Your security plan should address, at a minimum, the threat level, security sweeps, key terrain, and LP/OP locations. This plan is a living document and you must continue to refine it as more information becomes available.


1. Step 2 of the TLP is issuing a detailed warning order that includes the restated mission statement and all information compiled thus far. It is important to your subordinates' TLP that you issue the best warning order possible and update as needed with additional warning orders. Do not wait for more information or withhold any known information. The warning order allows subordinate units to continue the planning and preparation that started with the initial warning order.

2. The warning order should address those items not covered in the unit's SOP that the unit must conduct to accomplish the mission. Table 7 shows the minimum requirements for the warning order.

SituationEnemy - Define for your subordinates the area of operation, area of interest and a brief layout of the terrain using the five military aspects of terrain OAKOC. Brief the threat evaluation.

Friendly - State the commander's intent and mission statement one and two levels up. Brief the higher concept of the operation and allow the subordinates to copy all of the graphics.
MissionGive your restated company mission statement.
Give subordinates all of the limitations identified up to this point and any other instructions that allow for proactive planning and preparation, including priorities of work.

Timeline - Update your earlier timeline. Outline all known beginning and ending times, to include those for the next higher unit. This includes time and location for your operations order.

Rehearsals - Specify what types of mission-specific rehearsals or drills you expect subordinate units to conduct within the framework of their timelines.

Security - Brief the security plan.
Service SupportAddress any changes to the support requirements.

Table 7. Warning Order Requirements


1. The majority of your planning at this point is conducted based on a map reconnaissance. You will need to confirm, deny or adjust your initial plan later after conducting your actual reconnaissance.

2. The first step in developing a tentative plan is the development of Courses of Action (COAs). The purpose of COA development is simply to determine some possible ways for the companies to accomplish their mission. The COA is as detailed as necessary to clearly describe how you plan to use your forces to achieve the task and purpose. Focus your efforts on the actions the unit must take at the decisive point. At the Support Battalion level, there is usually only enough time or freedom in the Brigade scheme of maneuver to develop one course of action for each essential task. If time permits, you should develop at least two courses of action. Do not attempt to war-game the COA or to begin the integration of CS and CSS assets at this point; this will occur during course of action analysis in step 6 of the Troop-Leading Procedures. The result of COA development is a statement and a sketch for each course of action that describes WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, and WHY.

3. In developing the tentative plan, you should identify your main and supporting efforts. This will help focus your attention and efforts on those essential tasks required to accomplish your mission. This effort might be in relation to the enemy's most likely avenue of approach into the BSA or the greatest threat to the BSA; i.e., enemy reconnaissance elements that are calling for artillery against the BSA. The key is knowing the enemy threat to the BSA.

a. Determine the task and purpose of the main effort first, since the main effort is the unit that contributes the most to the achievement of the BSA's purpose. With the SITEMP and Battalion graphics posted in front of you, ask yourself: Why and where will I employ my main effort? Identify a potential location (the main effort's decisive point) for this task and purpose to occur, given the friendly and threat array of forces.

b. Determine what supporting tasks and purposes must occur for the main effort to succeed. Continue to determine why you need to employ forces to ensure success, until you account for all of the threat that can affect your course of action.

c. Mark where these tasks and purposes will potentially occur on your overlay, as this will assist you in the development of control measures later.

d. The unit may have more tasks and purposes than subordinate units to accomplish them. However, the purpose is merely the "why" you can use a force, not what or who. You might determine later on that you can use a combat multiplier to achieve some of the less critical purposes. You also may be able to combine two or more purposes under one depending on the amount of force and the task required to accomplish them. (See Table 8.)

Decisive Point or TimeThe decisive point on the battlefield is that point, area, or time where your unit satisfies its purpose for the operation. In the defense, the decisive point on the battlefield is usually the engagement area. The decisive point is the focus for the development of all courses of action.
PurposesDetermine WHY (purpose) and generally where you need to employ your subordinate forces to achieve your unit's purpose. Define each subordinate's purpose clearly and relate it to the battalion's purpose. Supporting effort purposes may relate directly to the main effort. This will provide a collective focus of effort so subordinate leaders can link their actions to the actions of those around them.
TasksDetermine the essential tasks required to achieve the purposes identified above. A task is a clearly defined and measurable activity accomplished by individuals and units. When assigning tasks, use doctrinal terms such as those defined in FM 101-5-1. What you are describing for your subordinate leaders is the effect of his firepower, maneuver or protection, relative to the terrain, enemy, or a friendly force. Begin with the main effort's task by asking: What must my main effort do to accomplish its purpose? Determine what you want done and where you want it done.
Task-OrganizeNext, determine the specific number and type of combat systems necessary to accomplish each task. Resource the main effort first and continue in order of priority until you have no resources left to commit. Because you may not have enough resources to accomplish all of the tasks and purposes identified in the course of action, resource the most critical tasks and purposes first.
Establish Control MeasuresDevelop the maneuver control measures necessary to clarify the task and purpose of the main and supporting efforts and to convey their intent. Maneuver control measures, such as routes, TRPs, check points, battle positions, etc., enhance the understanding of the scheme of maneuver.
Complete COA SketchComplete a COA sketch for each of your courses of action. This sketch can be used later to visualize your concept of the operation during warning orders and leading up to your OPORD. Technique: Create an overlay with Battalion and Company maneuver graphics, which drops over the terrain sketch and blown-up SITEMP developed during the IPB process.

Table 8. Determination of Tasks and Purposes

4. Once you have developed your tentative plan, it is essential that you once again issue Warning, Fragmentary and Movement Orders. Brief your subordinates on the tentative plan; issue reconnaissance instructions and any other movement instructions. When describing your course of action, ensure that you emphasize that this is an unrefined plan. This concept brief is important because it allows your subordinates to see where you are going with the plan and it allows them to begin their own mission analysis upon the task and purpose for their section. The concept brief should clearly and briefly answer questions in Table 9.

WhyWhat is the purpose and result of the operation?
WhatWhat are the Battalion's essential tasks?
WhenWhen does the operation begin or end?
WhereWhere will the operation occur?
HowWhat is the scheme of maneuver, and what are the tasks and purposes of the subordinate elements? What is the main effort?

Table 9. Development of Concept Brief


Initiate movement consists of beginning all necessary tasks to prepare or posture the unit for the operation. This step may include movement to a staging area, departing for a reconnaissance, or something as simple as timing routes to the SP. The key is: understand what steps are necessary to ensure we meet our "be prepared to defend" time, and enforce those standards. Remember, you may not be there for the movement. It is essential you issue all information necessary for your subordinate leaders to plan for the move early in the planning process.


1. Take time for reconnaissance. Reconnaissance allows you to confirm, deny, or refine your course of action.

2. Although the Brigade commander and staff may have taken you on a leader's reconnaissance at some point during the Troop-Leading Procedures, conduct a leader's reconnaissance with your own subordinates. This will allow your leaders to see as much of the terrain and enemy as possible and it should help them to visualize your course of action more clearly. Select a vantage point that provides the best view of the decisive point. From your vantage point:

  • explain to your subordinates the Brigade's and BSA's area of operation.
  • describe where you expect the enemy (mounted or dismounted) to enter the BSA.
  • walk through the enemy likely course of action.
  • put out the BSA's task and purpose and the task and purpose for each company.
  • brief the tentative plan.

3. If time and situation permits, the unit should drive through the engagement area from the enemy's point of view.


1. The commander must conduct an analysis or wargame of the course of action. This forces you to fight your course of action against the enemy's most probable course of action to determine if the plan is viable. By war-gaming the plan, you can better visualize how the fight will occur, determine when and where you will need to make decisions, and identify when and where you will require the use of CS and CSS assets. The advantages and disadvantages of each course of action will become apparent as you mentally fight the COA.

The end result of the wargame is a detailed direct fire plan, a
synchronized indirect fire plan, and refined obstacle and ADA plan.

2. There are two basic techniques used to wargame. These are:

  • the box
  • the avenue of approach

You may use any or a combination of these techniques. The key is to fight the plan and to gain a clear understanding of how the fight will occur. (See Table 10.)

BoxThe box method focuses the wargame on a specific area of the battlefield. This may be the engagement area or some critical area where the decisive action will take place. Determine the size of the box by the situation; it should include all of the units, friendly and enemy that impact on the decisive action.

This technique is a good one to use when time is limited as it ensures a focus on the decisive action. However, its disadvantage is that by considering only those actions at the decisive point you may overlook other critical actions.

Avenue of
This method is most effective when war-gaming a defensive COA when there are several avenues of approach to consider. Using the enemy's most probable course of action, war-game friendly and enemy actions along one avenue of approach at a time.

Table 10. Wargame Techniques

3. The best method for conducting the wargame is to gather your battalion staff together and ensure that they thoroughly understand both the friendly and enemy course of action, one and two levels up. You must replicate the reactions of the enemy as accurately as possible. Technique: Use the battalion S2 (96B20) or the XO as the enemy commander, thus providing an uncooperative opponent. This also allows the unit to gain a thorough understanding of the plan. Table 11 provides the information necessary to conduct the wargaming.

TerrainIncorporate the results of your reconnaissance into your modified combined obstacle overlay and reevaluate terrain considered restricted, severely restricted.
Update your SITTEMP with any new enemy information and ensure each member present at the wargame thoroughly understands the enemy's capabilities and limitations.
Friendly ForcesFind out the combat power of the units adjacent to yours. Their ability or inability to fight the enemy they are tasked with, given their combat power, may have a significant impact on your course of action.
Critical EventsIdentify the critical events that you will analyze during the wargame and select a technique to war-game the COA.
AssumptionsSpecify what assumptions you made during the development of the COA so each participant in the wargame is clear on what your facts and assumptions are.
Wargame each
War-game each COA on a map or accurate sketch that has all of the friendly graphics and the SITTEMP posted. Begin the wargame by dividing the COA into a series of friendly actions or events. Then, for each friendly action, determine the likely result or enemy reaction and what your likely counteraction will be. Continue this process of action, reaction, counteraction to mentally fight the course of action through to mission accomplishment or the COA fails.

As you war-game, you will identify when and where you will need to integrate combat multipliers and where your unit will probably incur casualties. Make note of these times/locations for later use in your refinement of the fire support, obstacle, and CSS plan. Add additional graphics as necessary to further clarify your scheme of maneuver. At the conclusion of each action, reaction, counteraction sequence, reassess yours and the enemy's strength and disposition and make note of any advantages or disadvantages you identify prior to war-gaming the next action.

Table 11. Wargaming Process

4. When you complete wargaming of each course of action, you then compare the courses of action (COAs). Then, select the one that is most likely to accomplish the assigned mission.

a. Consider the advantages and disadvantages of each COA. They may pertain to the accomplishment of the purpose, use of terrain, destruction of or protection from the enemy, or any other aspect of the operation that you feel is important.

b. Consider the critical events of the operation. These are events or activities that will have a major impact on the success of the mission. Use these advantages/disadvantages and the accomplishment of critical events to compare your courses of action.

5. The last step is to finalize the plan. This will require the integration of CS and CSS assets and then a determination of the command and control requirements.

a. On the basis of where and how many personnel and vehicle casualties you determined the unit would incur during the wargame, have the XO integrate the plan to handle these casualties in paragraph 4 of the OPORD. This includes, but is not limited to, the identification of unit casualty/maintenance collection points, when battalion assets will occupy them, location of combat lifesavers, etc.

b. Based upon your visualization of the fight, determine what other command and control requirements are necessary to ensure the success of the mission (paragraph 5 of the OPORD). These include graphic control measures, signals, and communication required during the fight with other units.

c. Complete the addition of your FSB CSS graphics to the BCT's CSS overlay. Techniques:

  • Use a different color for your FSB graphics than those of the BCT.

  • Use only the minimum graphics necessary to get the job done.

  • Complete the preparation of your OPORD by finalizing your SITEMP, maneuver, fire support, engineer, and CSS plans and graphics.

  • Use the S3 NCOIC to supervise available command post members to copy graphics for each leader.

d. Often at the battalion and company levels, let alone the platoon level, there is not enough time to write out every single detail necessary for a thorough five-paragraph OPORD. Also, your subordinates will find it difficult to copy it all down and still listen to you during the OPORD. Therefore, it is practical to give your subordinates a document that contains the necessary information, be it a matrix, OPORD outline, or just overlays with graphics and the critical tasks. This way your subordinates can listen to you as you explain the details during the order instead of trying to write every word down. If time is short, spend your time thinking through the plan -- not on the written product. A single, well-visualized commander's intent with a concept of maneuver and support is more important for your subordinates.


1. Your OPORD should provide the battalion with a visualization and an articulation of your intent and enough information to ensure that all subordinate units work toward the desired end. Your subordinates should walk away from your OPORD with a clear mental picture of what you expect their unit to do to achieve that end.

a. Select a location for the OPORD that overlooks your area of operation if possible. Ensure that the location is secure and facilitates an increased understanding of the order.

b. Avoid issuing the order during hours of darkness. If you must issue it at night, it is preferable to do it in a location which allows your subordinates to see the terrain board and map.

c. Make the maximum use of the sketches you developed earlier to help paint the picture as you describe how the fight will unfold.

d. You should give your subordinates a written copy of your order with appropriate graphics. This will enable your subordinates to listen to your briefing rather than writing. Also, if you have already addressed some items in detail, such as terrain, the enemy, and the higher concept, in an earlier warning order, then you only need to brief any changes.

2. At the conclusion of the OPORD briefing, answer any questions and conduct a confirmation brief using your terrain model. The terrain model should include an accurate representation of the terrain, the enemy, and the friendly graphics. Focus this confirmation brief on WHAT and WHY the company will execute. The purpose of this confirmation brief is to further clarify your scheme of maneuver.


1. The best plan may fail if it is not managed correctly. Once you issue the order, you must continue to refine the plan, continue coordination with adjacent units, and supervise combat preparation and execution. All these are essential to successful mission accomplishment:

Confirmation briefs




Continuous coordination

2. Confirmation briefs, backbriefs and rehearsals are not the same thing; each one may occur during a different phase of the operation from planning to execution.

a. Confirmation briefs are conducted immediately after you issue the order to your subordinates. This ensures they understood the tasks and purposes you assigned them. The best way to conduct this is to have them recite back what they think they heard you tell them. This immediate feedback and spot-check will save many wasted hours of planning if your intent was not clearly understood.

b. Backbriefs occur after your subordinates have had time to digest what they were told and developed their plan for the operation. You should designate a time for all your leaders to come together and brief on how they plan to execute their portion of the plan. Technique: Have subordinate leaders conduct the backbriefs on the same terrain model on which you gave your operations order. This briefing will ensure your subordinates have created a plan that will successfully accomplish their task and purpose. It is also essential to ensure coordination between adjacent elements and to integrate and synchronize the plan.

c. Rehearsals are essential to ensure that everybody understands what the other unit is going to do and ensures full integration and synchronization of assets. An NTC observation is that few logistics units conduct rehearsals, despite having the time. You must establish the priority for rehearsals based on time available. Your rehearsals should include all phases of the operation. Include backbriefs of individual tasks and a walk-through of the execution on sand tables. Follow this with a walk-through and then full speed exercise (Crawl, Walk, Run).

The key to success . . . REHEARSALS
  • Enhances execution
  • Prevents fratricide
  • Identifies shortcomings
  • Synchronizes the operation

Tactics, Techniques & Procedures

  • Rehearse in MOPP4
  • Rehearse at night, in the dust
  • Rehearse shifts of fires
  • Rehearse breaking contact
  • Rehearse calling for fire, calling for CAS
  • Rehearse SPOT report
  • Rehearse casualty reporting
  • Rehearse moving to supplementary positions


Many logistics leaders arrive at the NTC and say they "do not have the time to conduct Troop-Leading Procedures or defensive planning." All leaders should use Troop-Leading Procedures to ensure any type of operation is executed successfully. These are required skills if logisticians are to balance the scales between force protection and mission support. Logisticians must understand the effectiveness of properly executed Troop-Leading Procedures and conduct the training required to develop these skills.

The BSA defense is one of the most difficult
missions to successfully plan and execute.

WHY? Leaders will find themselves faced with
limited time, resources, and a relentless enemy.

Leaders must understand . . .
  • How to determine where to kill the enemy.
  • Where to position their forces to kill the enemy.
  • How to develop a Direct and Indirect Fire plan to synchronize mission execution.

Security Operations Training in the Brigade Support Area (BSA)
Integrating the Special Staff into the FSB Orders Process

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias