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TREND 15: Logistics, personnel, and casualty estimates.


1. Task force CSS elements frequently make no effort to conduct either a formal or informal logistics, casualty, or personnel estimate.

2. Units conduct the planning process with no consideration of the current maintenance posture or projected combat power in the next 6, 12, or 24 hours.

3. Units do not balance anticipated casualties against their available evacuation resources, do not estimate casualty densities, or identify likely casualty zones.


1. CSS units are unable to identify key logistical shortcomings and tactical resupply requirements, or consider how to resolve these shortcomings.

2. Units enter the COA development and wargaming process with a distorted view of potential combat power.

3. Shortcomings in MEDEVAC capabilities are not identified.

4. Requirements for, positioning of, and command and control requirements for nonstandard MEDEVAC assets are not identified.

5. Soldiers become DOW who could otherwise have been saved.


1. Incorporate estimates into the staff planning process and train at Home Station.

2. Involve the S1, BMO, and medical platoon in the CSS estimate.

(TA.4.2.2 Project Future Requirements)

TREND 16: Task force predictive analysis.

PROBLEM: The main CP is rarely able to provide the task force commander with a predictive analysis during the fight. The main CP is not able to:

- Analyze information that they receive.

- Provide the commander with a picture of what the enemy will do.

- Make recommendations.


1. The battle staff should assist the commander by providing him with a clear picture of current and future events and COAs to assist him in the fight. The event matrix, SITEMP, and decision support matrix are tools for tracking events and making recommendations.

2. The task force XO, S2, assistant, and FSE need to track the battle at the map board or table and think one step ahead of friendly/enemy forces.

(TA.4.2.2 Project Future Requirements)

TREND 17: Maintenance planning at the task force (TF) level.

PROBLEM: The battalion maintenance officer (BMO) is frequently left out of task force planning, OPORD preparation, and the rehearsal process.

RESULT: The BMO, unit maintenance collection point (UMCP) personnel, and forward recovery teams are not aware of the enemy situation or the task force mission.


1. The BMO should be included in the planning process. At a minimum, there must be a maintenance representative for the task force commander or TOC.

2. At the end of each battle, the task force must focus on the combat power that could be developed over the next 2, 6, and 12-hour periods using sound maintenance practices.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 18: Planning for employment of attack helicopters. Commanders (air and ground) do not effectively mass the combat power of attack helicopters.


1. Typically, commanders and their battle staffs fail to accurately assess the threat, identify the decisive point, build a collection plan to confirm the threat's scheme of maneuver, and develop triggers for the employment of attack helicopters.

2. Normally, an attack battalion is assigned numerous missions encompassing the entire width and depth of the battlefield.


1. The battalion executes numerous "911" missions with poor situational awareness of the threat and friendly forces (resulting in fratricide or excessive aircraft losses).

2. The collection plan does not support the readiness condition sequencing and employment of attack aircraft, which causes the aircraft to remain at higher readiness levels than necessary and imposes unplanned refuel requirements before the mission is executed.

3. Poor triggers cause premature or late commitment of attack helicopters.


1. Plan: Attack aviation needs to be integrated into the ground scheme of maneuver during the wargaming process.

a. Commanders should identify the decisive point and the task and purpose of attack helicopters in his guidance to the battle staff.

b. Based upon the commander's guidance and the wargame results, the S2 should refine the collection plan to support the commitment of attack helicopters.

c. A competent LNO who has the authority to speak for the attack aviation commander must participate in the BCT battle staff's MDMP to ensure the proper employment of attack helicopters.

2. Prepare: Attack aviation commanders need to be part of the ground rehearsal. Their maneuver graphics and decision points need to be discussed during the rehearsal to ensure all commanders understand the conditions for commitment of attack aviation and their maneuver plan. This also allows synchronization and redundant eyes on decision points and triggers.

3. Execute: The attack battalion TAC should be collocated with the BCT TAC to facilitate situational awareness and anticipate employment. Additionally, attack company commanders need to be prepared to monitor the ground maneuver unit's command net to synchronize ground and air combat power and reduce the risk of fratricide.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 19: Task force integration of CSS into the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP). Task force planning cells and chain of command display an indifference to CSS integration and do not supervise the BOS, resulting in a lack of integration among the CSS staff and their products.


1. The S4 is not fully integrated into the planning process at the task force level. While the S4 is present at times for mission analysis, he is not fully integrated into any formal process and in effect is not part of the battle staff.

2. The S4 and other CSS players are not included in COA development or the wargaming process.

3. The S4 often conducts his own CSS mission analysis at a separate location (CTCP) and includes only some key CSS players in this process.

4. The S4 writes an OPORD Paragraph 4 and issues this in the task force orders process; however, there is no identification of who has ownership for the CSS players (support platoon, medical platoon, BMO, chaplain, S1) and who is responsible for delivering these key players an OPORD. The trend is that the S4 does not take ownership of these players and does not give an OPORD to the CSS players.

5. CSS rehearsals are hit or miss and not an institutional part of task force operations, and when they are conducted, they are not to standard.

6. CSS annexes are not produced.

7. CSS graphics continue to be inadequate and are incomplete. Graphics do not include main and alternate routes (MSRs and ASRs), dirty routes, decontamination points, aid stations, maintenance collection points, graves registration points, casualty collection points, etc.


1. Lack of integration results in an obvious disconnect between the battle staff and the CSS side of the planning process. Ultimately, this disconnect results in a CSS plan that does not effectively support the task force scheme of maneuver.

2. CSS sub-elements are left to fend for themselves, are not read in on the plan, and do not have adequate situational awareness to be effective.


1. Mirror the task force maneuver format for the orders process and state the task and purpose of each CSS asset.

2. Clarify which unit is responsible for supporting another and when that support begins and ends.

3. Ensure that the CSS BOS is integrated into the task force orders process and that the S4 issues an order to subordinate leaders and soldiers. He must issue a five-paragraph order to the CSS operators to address how the CSS plan will happen.

a. At the task force orders process, the S4's target audience is the company commanders, to whom he tells when and where assets will be. The "how" of the operation is not addressed.

b. If the key CSS players are not integrated fully into the task force orders process, they will not know the plan. An OPORD delivered by the S4 to the CSS players will fill this void.

4. Once all the players know the plan, conduct a CSS rehearsal. Do not wait until the rehearsal to develop the plan.

5. The problem with inadequate graphics can be fixed by implementing a checklist and following it. Develop the checklist during a properly conducted mission analysis, identifying all required CSS control measures and graphic symbols. Make sure the S4 has the checklist for reference.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 20: Integration of the signal officer (SIGO) into the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP).

PROBLEM: Task forces seldom integrate the SIGO into the planning process early enough to have him develop a plan and to present recommendations for the command and control assets.


1. The task force should integrate the signal officer into the planning process at the early stages.

2. The SIGO and NCOs can make a tentative plan as long as they have a general idea of the enemy situation, friendly situation, and the commander's intent.

a. The executive officer or the operations officer should review this tentative command and control plan.

b. The signal officer, at the operations order and at the rehearsal, should brief the revised and final plan, including the locations of the TOC, TAC, Jump TOC, Retrans Systems, MSE Systems, the commander, the operations officer, and special emitters like EPLRS, TAC SAT, TAC LAN, etc.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 21: Fire Direction Officer (FDO) integration into the Military Decision-making Process (MDMP).

PROBLEM: The FDO's responsibilities during the staff planning process are not well defined.

RESULT: The staff does not analyze the Essential Fire Support Tasks (EFSTs) further than broad statements such as suppress lead MRBs, attrit the lead MRB, and provide smoke, FASCAM, Copperhead, etc.

Techniques: All members of the battalion staff must have a good understanding of the staff planning process and all members must contribute to varying degrees. The information and tools each member should bring to the planning table must be defined.

1. The FDO can contribute significantly to the planning process by reviewing the following information from the maneuver order:

a. The commander's intent or concept of fires: This answers when and where the commander wants fire support, why he wants fire support, and what he desires in the way of effects, duration, and timing.

b. Commander's criteria (compilation of the following):

- Attack guidance matrix: identifies desired effects and when to attack a target type.

- HPTs: identifies the priority to attach a target type by FS means.

c. Target list: Identifies where they plan to attack target types.

d. FS execution matrix (FSEM): Identifies how the scheme of fires will achieve the commander's intent.

2. By front loading the planning process with an understanding of these areas, the FDO can determine:

a. The number of rounds or volleys necessary to achieve the commander's intent. For example, if the commander wants to destroy an MRC west of PL EXCALIBUR with artillery, the S2 can provide the number and types of vehicles that an MRC would consist of, and the FDO can determine the volume of fire necessary to achieve the effect.

b. Where the commander wants to use artillery to achieve his intent. Based on the target list and the FSEM, the FDO can determine when the commander plans to achieve his effect. This can impact on the artillery's requirement to position units forward to mass or offset guns for special missions. It can also contribute to identification of constraints and limitations during the mission analysis that the FSCOORD may have to resolve or consider.

3. After COA analysis, comparison, and decision brief, the staff begins a deliberate wargame of the selected COA. During this phase, the FDO focuses on the entire scheme of fires, to include the specifics of the EFST (i.e., FASCAM aimpoints and number and type of rounds per aimpoint; Copperhead EAs and artillery positions; smoke aimpoints and number of rounds; mass missions; and munitions and volume required to fire).

a. The FS matrix is a systematic approach to understanding the scheme of fires. Used during the wargame, it focuses the staff on keeping elements that must be thoroughly understood. This includes triggers, FS event, observers, intent of the event, effects, and units/munitions to fire.

b. By the end of the wargame, all munitions, ammo resupply, artillery, and maneuver schemes of movement are synchronized with each other and against enemy COAs. The FDO should point out the critical areas within the scheme of fires where any deviation from the plan would be difficult to execute.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 22: CSS Integration into the battalion Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP)


1. Most battalions demonstrate the ability to plan, prepare, execute, and reconstitute logistics. However, CSS operations are seldom integrated into the battalion's battle rhythm and do not facilitate the battalion's tactical posture.

2. The S4, S1, and XO are not primary players during the orders process. CSS is often an afterthought and seldom addressed.

3. The S4 often leaves the wargame to gather information or solve problems that should be handled by the ALOC.

4. CSS is briefed but rarely rehearsed during battalion rehearsals. Who, what, when, where, and how should be briefed during the battalion rock drill for R3SP, LRPs, medical support plan, MSRs, resupply triggers, and reconstitution of battalion assets.

5. The S4s are not using a CSS execution matrix and their CSS plan is rarely rehearsed.

6. The S4s are not using a checklist during the battalion orders process, hindering their ability to both validate and synchronize the plan and ensure it supports the Essential Field Artillery Tasks (EFATs).

7. The S3 does not provide timely ammunition guidance or establish future requirements thus hindering the S4's ability to develop an adequate resupply plan.

8. Battlefield calculus is rarely conducted and ammunition requirements/triggers are not clearly identified (155mm).


1. A battalion logistician (S4/S1 or battalion XO) should be present at all battalion orders drills, aggressively representing the CSS arena, and ensuring integration and synchronization of CSS operations. Better integration of CSS operations provides necessary time to reconstitute Class III (B) and V and reconfigure ammunition, thus posturing the battalion's CSS for the future battle.

2. The battalion XO orchestrates the orders process by acting as the chief of staff, ensuring all of the necessary players are present and participating.

3. The S4 must know the battalion's current logistical status before conducting mission analysis.

4. Develop a battalion OPORD CSS checklist that lists critical CSS functions which must occur before, during, and post battle, including grid locations of CSS entities. The list should be completed by phases of the battle and should include:

a. Logistics essential support tasks (method, purpose, end state).

b. Specific CSS triggers (Class III [B], V, CASEVAC, recovery, and CAT movement),

c. MSR and ASR.

d. Location of CAT, BAS, AXPs, R3SP, UMCP, chemical CCPs, and patient decon sites.

5. At a minimum, answer the essential field artillery tasks (EFATs) before leaving the battalion wargaming process and include them in any rehearsals.

6. Clear, timely ammunition guidance from the S3, better battlefield calculus, and ammunition positioning improves ammunition operations.

7. Focus on integrating resupply operations with the battalion operation whether it be centralized or decentralized. This facilitates resupply operations in a more stable environment with less distraction and economizes the use of battalion logistical assets.

8. The S4 should maintain situational awareness and status of logistical assets and provide the S3 advice on execution of the logistics operations.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 23 : Brigade fire support planning.

PROBLEM: Although brigade fire support elements normally adequately prepare the FSOs/FSEs for participating in the planning process, they often struggle with providing timely and essential information to the battalion/TF FSOs to permit concurrent planning. The FSEs are hesitant to:

- Plan fires in support of the close fight.

- Anticipate and provide for the transition from the deep to the close fight.

- Assign specific tasks to battalion FSEs for execution.

RESULT: The resulting fire support plans lack sufficient detail, flexibility, and the synchronization necessary to enable the brigade to attack the enemy throughout the depth of the battlefield and appear to the enemy as fighting one continuous fight.


1. Upon receipt of the new mission, the FSE begins a battle drill to confirm the current status of the fire support system and to gather the other needed inputs for the first step in fire support planning. These are:

a. Higher WARNO or order.

b. Facts from FA battalion, ALO, others.

c. Facts from higher/subordinate FSE and FIST.

d. IPB products.

e. Enemy COAs as developed by S2.

f. HVTs by enemy phase or critical event.

2. The FSO must:

a. Understand the higher headquarters maneuver and fire support plan.

b. Organize and analyze facts.

c. Identify specified and implied tasks.

d. Translate status of assets into capabilities and limitations.

e. Analyze effects of IPB on fire support.

3. The FSO should brief the results of his mission analysis to the commander and conclude his brief with recommended essential fire support tasks (EFSTs). Prior to COA development, the FSO should receive the commander's approved EFSTs and issue a WARNO to his subordinate FSOs and to the FA battalion.

4. As COA development begins, the FSO should conceptualize how to integrate fires into the developing COA. The commander's guidance becomes the start point for where and how the FSO allocates assets to each COA.

5. The results of the mission analysis become the foundation for fire support COA development. The FSO uses these results to plan the method for accomplishing the EFSTs. As a minimum, the fire support portion of a COA allocates acquisition assets (collection plan), attack assets, planned attack locations (target/TAI/EA), and the sequence (concept of fires) of these attacks required to achieve the effects specified in the EFSTs.

6. The desired output of COA development is a draft fire support plan. The draft fire support plan provides the sequence of EFSTs and outlines the task, purpose, method, and end state for each EFST of the operation. The plan should include:

a. Concept of fires/draft fires paragraph.

b. Draft fire support execution matrix.

c. Draft target list worksheet and overlay.

d. Draft target synchronization matrix.

e. Collection/R&S plan.

7. The more complete the fire support plan is before COA analysis and comparison, the more efficient and effective the wargame. The wargame provides final detail and refinement, validates capabilities, and synchronizes the fire support plan. Based on issues identified by the wargame, the FSO can modify the draft fire support plan and products to improve the plan. The wargame also provides a means to test the strength of the plan and build in flexibility by identifying decisions and branches for the fire support plan. At the conclusion of the wargame, the FSO should have:

a. Final fires paragraph.

b. Final fire support execution matrix.

c. Final target list and overlay.

d. Final scheme of fires.

e. Final target synchronization matrix.

8. Using a cartoon sketch, map overlay, or terrain model can help convey the details of the fire support plan more clearly. Once approved, the consolidated products become the fire support annex and are added to the maneuver order.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 24: Completion of an engineer battlefield assessment (EBA) as part of the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP).

PROBLEM: Most assistant battalion engineers (ABEs) are proficient in completing an engineer battlefield assessment (EBA) in accordance with FM 5-71-3 prior to arriving at the NTC. However, due to battlefield friction, reduced planning timelines, and simultaneous monitoring of current operations, EBAs are generally not conducted to standard.


1. ABE sections and engineer battalion plans sections should incorporate the time constraints, battlefield friction, and stresses of continuous operations into their Home Station training.

2. Detailed SOPs, to include distribution of labor within the sections, are a useful tool as well as cross-training among the sections to allow leaders more flexibility in who completes/assists in the completion of the EBA.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 25: Engineer planning and planning products. Engineer staffs are prepared to conduct horizontal planning to a degree; however, the vertical planning process remains unstructured and not in accordance with FM 5-71-3.


1. The engineer battalion XO does not closely coordinate with the battalion S3 and is seldom able to establish any type of battalion planning timeline.

2. Although the battalion S3, S2, and the assistant battalion engineer (ABE) participate together in brigade mission analysis and the brigade wargaming process, critical steps in the development of the engineer estimate are missing, as the engineer battalion is not planning concurrently.

3. The brigade engineer (battalion commander), with his staff, is not developing a detailed scheme of engineer operations (SOEO) to support each maneuver course of action (COA) and then integrating the SOEO for the selected COA into brigade wargaming.

4. The engineer battalion conducts its own separate wargame and identifies critical vertical tasks after the brigade plan is completed, so the tasks are not integrated or coordinated.


1. Key engineer tasks are left out of both the brigade's SOEO and the engineer battalion's plan as each works through his respective processes.

2. Published engineer orders lack sufficient detail and specificity to conduct successful operations. Since the engineer battalion did not conduct a structured planning process, the battalion order is merely a plagiarized version of the engineer annex. It does not provide the detailed subunit orders and service support instructions to units remaining under battalion control.

3. The brigade engineer annex is incomplete. The annex does not include all information critical to the brigade engineer plan or required for subordinate engineer planning.


1. Based upon the unique relationship of having an engineer battalion whose assets are usually task organized under maneuver battalion control, the engineer battalion must conduct parallel planning with the supported maneuver brigade. Engineer parallel planning requires a focus on both vertical planning (identification, integration, synchronization of tasks to support the engineer mission) and horizontal planning (integration, synchronization of tasks to support the maneuver brigade).

2. The engineer battalion, with the assistant battalion engineer (ABE), should study and know the planning process as outlined inFM 5-71-3. The battalion XO should take ownership of how planning is structured within the engineer battalion.

3. The XO and S3 must coordinate critical junctures when the engineer staff is required to supplement S3/ABE efforts in the brigade planning process. This will drive development of the battalion planning timeline.

4. Once the timeline is set, the S3/XO must determine what products will result from each part of the process and whether they come from the battalion staff or the S3/S2/ABE. There should be a continuous exchange of products/information between these two cells to facilitate effective engineer planning for both the maneuver brigade and the engineer battalion.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 26: (LTP) Brigade Staff understanding of the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP).


1. Prior to LTP, active component (AC) brigade staff members have only approximately three to five months time in position.

2. During unit in-briefs, staffs report that their Home Station training had not focused on "staff planning procedures." In fact, most AC brigade staffs state that they have had little recent exposure to the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP) at all.

3. Reserve component (RC) staffs have a tough time applying planning TTP to doctrine to be successful in a time constrained, planning environment.

4. All brigades attending LTP come without a working or validated planning standard operating procedure (SOP) or tactical SOP (TACSOP).


1. Planning at the staff level is slow and inefficient due to individual staff inexperience.

2. The commander's staffs have not yet had the time or opportunity to define their roles, responsibilities, and procedures in MDMP.

3. Staff officers cannot reference their unit's SOP to understand how to accomplish their individual and collective tasks.

4. The XO's and staff's first MDMP attempts results in trial and error approach. Their time is consumed in refining staff procedural issues and not the tactical issues.


1. Regardless of how well the staff understands doctrinal planning procedures, they must collectively experience the process before they become efficient and proficient planners. LTP provides time away from Home Station training detractors for the XO and staff to work on those staff planning skills.

2. When brigade commanders receive the NTC CG's 120-day LTP letter, they have an opportunity to input their training objectives and schedule training for their brigade.

a. If the staff has had little experience with planning, use the "crawl, walk, run" training approach.

b. Schedule time for the battalion/brigade XOs and staff members to review unit planning procedures.

c. Focus on the AAR process. The Lessons Learned from the individual and collective analysis of what happened, why it happened, and solutions found in that process is the single most effective way the staff will improve its ability to function.

3. Center the recons on the terrain that the unit is planning to fight in the LTP order. With sufficient time, Operations Group can deconflict the rotational and LTP schedule and develop the order on terrain available on days of the recon. Unit commanders and staffs can focus their recons on the terrain as it relates to the order and make better use of their recon time. If there is specific terrain that the brigade commander wants his units to see, then he should schedule it at another time during the training.

4. In an effort to save time, brigades have tasked subordinate units to see specific terrain in their AOI. In the LTP, brigade recon days are generally centralized at brigade level, offering the brigade commander time to address issues and concerns to the entire brigade. Once the commander has completed his recon objectives, the LTP will decentralize the recon to task force and company level. Assigning specific recon objectives to subordinate commanders will prevent an unfocused recon. Again, there is time in the schedule to recon other maneuver areas if the brigade commander plans wisely.

5. The best use of staff AARs is afforded to units who elect to conduct two orders during their LTP session. Here is why. The first order allows the XO and staff to work on the process and staff procedures. The AAR, followed by another planning exercise, allows the staff to immediately train the lessons learned and not weeks after the staff returns to home station. Units electing the two-order option usually plan the first two and fight the last on the JANUS system. Unit staffs that exercise the two-order option have had tremendous improvements. Once again, scheduling the two-order option must be carefully planned and scheduled well prior to the unit's LTP arrival date.

6. All units conduct at least one brigade staff AAR and one brigade execution AAR while at LTP. While the LTP theater is fairly hi-tech, it does not provide units with recorded AARs to take home. Be sure to have someone appointed as scribe during the AAR to record the valuable lessons learned.

7. Plan and schedule early.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

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