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TREND 27: (LTP) Brigade planning for Combat Observation Lasing Team (COLT) operations. Brigade planning, preparation, and execution of COLTs are not integrated into the scheme of fires.


1. COLT insertions are normally planned fairly well, but detailed task/purpose for each COLT is not delineated during the brigade wargame.

2. Brigades often do not plan the attack function for the COLT, thus degrading the COLT's ability to trigger fires.

3. The brigade often does not perform battlefield calculus and analysis of where the enemy is in relation to COLT observation posts (OPs). This negates the brigade's ability to use the COLT to employ Copperhead munitions; all conditions necessary to execute the Copperhead missions cannot be met.

RESULT: COLTs become another source for reporting enemy movement and not what is most desirable.a killer.


1. The entire staff should plan for COLT employment.

2. The fire support officer (FSO) and S2 need to fully understand the capabilities and limitations of COLTs. Specifically, they must understand the ranges at which the COLT can actually acquire a particular target and under different conditions.

3. The following is a good outline to follow for the employment of COLTs:


Once an NAI or TAI is established, an "observer" must be identified. Understanding what is to be done at the NAI or TAI is critical to assigning the proper observer, determining its position, and ensuring required resolution.


Analyze the terrain to identify possible OPs. Terrabase is an effective tool but is time intensive. A good technique is to input the NAI or TAI as OPs and select your OPs from where converging lines of sight (LOS) exist.


The asset assigned to an OP is based on the mission to be conducted and the capabilities of the asset. If Copperhead is to be designated from the OP, then a laser-equipped observer must be assigned. If obstacle reconnaissance is the mission, then a SAPPER scout may be a better choice.


The OP should be selected from the possible OPs identified in the terrain analysis. Again, the mission and capabilities must be considered, including the factors of the Copperhead coverage template, effects of terrain and weather, survivability, and the enemy situation. Alternate OPs should be identified as back-up if the primary is untenable.


Plan it like any maneuver operation. Determine the method: air, mounted, or dismounted. The OP's mission and the enemy situation drive this decision. Plan routes, check points, PZs, LZs, false insertions, air corridors, extraction, resupply, etc. Issue a detailed WARNO to the asset(s) selected.


Forward passage, aircraft, retrans, and terrain: all must be coordinated.


Indirect fires: SEAD, deception fires, defensive fires to support the OP, force protection zones. IEW support: Monitor recon nets to determine if insertion has been detected, jam enemy counter-recon nets or ADA nets as appropriate.

Logistics support: Resupply and medical plan must be established. Consider use of caches. Coordinate with/task maneuver units to recover compromised assets.


COLT orders, backbriefs, and rehearsal. Conduct PCCs/PCIs.


COLTs must have the skills to execute air insertions and infiltration and to stay alive. Brigades must oversee this insertion/infiltration and track it like any maneuver operation.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 28: (LTP) Task force completion of the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP) in a time-constrained environment.

PROBLEM: Task forces are well aware of the necessity to perform MDMP in a time- constrained environment during their NTC rotation. However, far too many task force staffs arrive for their LTP experience without first making an assessment of their ability to perform the MDMP, then they attempt to force their staffs towards a performance standard that they are unable to achieve.

RESULT: The frustration of identifying these training weaknesses in the midst of the LTP planning process does little to aid the task force staff in becoming more proficient with the MDMP in a time-constrained environment. When a task force staff has difficulty performing the MDMP at all, attempting to conduct it rapidly too often leaves the task force with a plan that lacks both detail and synchronization.

Technique: Task force XOs should have a solid understanding of where their staffs are in terms of their ability to perform the MDMP before they arrive at LTP. By doing so, they can then accurately structure the pace of planning they wish to perform for their single tactical mission at LTP and enhance their rotation training preparation.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 29: (LTP) CSS integration into the brigade planning process.

PROBLEM: Some units this quarter have not considered bringing the necessary personnel to LTP to effectively integrate CSS into the brigade planning process.

Technique: Brigade commanders wanting to maximize their unit's training time need to bring the right players. Doctrinally, the planners are the brigade's S1, S4, surgeon, and the FSB SPO. The brigade surgeon is not trained as a planner, so the C Medical Company Commander is the logical medical planner. Thus, for brigade CSS planners, the brigade's S1 and S4, FSB SPO, and C Medical Commander must attend LTP to achieve full training value.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 30: (LTP) Rear operations planning.

PROBLEM: Most brigade commanders state that they are willing to "accept risk in the rear." Staffs, more often than not, translate "risks" into little or no planning effort devoted to the rear operation. Staffs, instead, concentrate their planning efforts to the deep and close operation.

Technique: The brigade commander should assign the rear operation planning to the forward support battalion (FSB) commander. The FSB commander, S3, S2, and the brigade support area (BSA) special staff execute parallel planning, using the brigade S4 and FSB SPO (or brigade logistics planning officer) as the liaison officer during the brigade planning process. This way the BSA staff gets current information (such as assets allocated to the rear operation from brigade and the triggers for these assets) and the brigade gets the rear operation plan (to include risk assessment) for their wargaming process.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 31: Task force fire support observer plans.

PROBLEM: Task force observer plans are usually developed after wargaming.

RESULT: Observer plans lack the detail and synchronization required to ensure observers are in position and prepared to execute the scheme of fires.


1. Observation planning should begin during course of action (COA) development and be refined during the wargaming process.

Step 1. The FSO must clearly identify the task force essential fire support tasks (EFSTs) in terms of task, purpose, method, and end state. By doing this, the FSO can concentrate on how and where to position available observers to best accomplish the EFSTs.

Step 2. The FSO must coordinate with the task force S2 to determine enemy information as portrayed in the situational and event templates. This helps the FSO to visualize what the enemy formations will look like in relation to the terrain and when/where enemy actions/events should occur in terms of time and space. Additionally, the S2 can provide a through terrain analysis to help the FSO in determining possible OP locations in terms of line-of-sight, trafficability, and survivability.

Step 3. The products included in the task force OPORD should include detailed guidance for each planned observation post (OP). Address the following items:

- OP location with visibility/equipment requirements.

- Time to occupy (friendly/enemy event).

- Route.

- EFST to execute (specific and detailed task and purpose).

- Security requirements/arrangements.

- Disengagement criteria.

2. The FSO should develop a check list of OP selection tasks for inclusion in the SOP. An example listing of tasks follows:

Step 1. Identify the requirements for an OP during the wargaming. The OP may be required to execute the R&S plan or to trigger fire support targets.

Step 2. Conduct terrain analysis. Terrabase is an effective tool to accomplish this task. Run a shot from the NAI/TAI or the target to determine possible OP locations. This method saves time by identifying all possible OP locations.

Step 3. Allocate assets. Choose based on the mission of the OP. If Copperhead is used, a G/VLLD equipped observer is necessary; a recon observer may need SAPPERs; a surveillance OP may use scouts. Consider brigade COLTs and brigade reconnaissance teams (BRTs) in addition to task force observers or scouts.

Step 4. Select the OP site. Select from likely OP sites developed during terrain analysis. Consider mission and capabilities of the asset (i.e., angle-T, limited visibility, enemy situation).

Step 5. Plan movement and occupation of OPs within the constraints of the scheme of maneuver.

Step 6. If the observer is a company/team FIST, specify tasks to subordinate units responsible for executing.

Step 7. Confirm requirements of observation plan and disseminate changes.

Step 8. Facilitate execution.

(TA.4.3.2 Develop Courses of Action)

TREND 32: Course of Action (COA) development.


1. Task force S3s do not understand how to develop COAs based on the commander's decisive point and are not able to define in doctrinal terms what they want the company/teams to do.

2. COAs are frequently not developed with the S2's SITEMP or on a map where the terrain can be visualized.

Procedures: Doctrinal references are FM 7-20 and FM 101-5-1.

a. Chapter 2 of FM 7-20 provides guidance to commanders and staffs on the development of COAs.

b. FM 101-5-1 provides the correct doctrinal definitions that should be used when assigning company/team tasks and purposes.

(TA.4.3.2 Develop Courses of Action)

TREND 33: The wargaming phase of the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP).


1. Units have limited time training as a complete staff on the MDMP.

2. Units have the most difficulty with wargaming. During a rotation, most units improve their performance with the various phases of the MDMP with wargaming being the one exception.

3. Units attempt to wargame before fully developing a complete COA. Units develop a COA based off a vague concept directed by the task force commander.

4. Units seldom wargame against several enemy COAs.

5. Wargaming methods detailed in FM 101-5 are seldom incorporated into the process

because the incomplete COA will not allow the unit to select a method outlined in the FM.

6. Units have difficulty with recording wargame results. Units have not trained adequately on the methods outlined in FM 101-5 or developed SOPs to record and display the results.


1. Units must train on the MDMP with emphasis on wargaming. The wargame is a disciplined process with rules and steps that attempt to visualize the flow of the battle.

2. Units must become familiar with the wargaming techniques and recording methods outlined in FM 101-5. A unit SOP can be developed to enhance the process.

3. A complete COA must be developed prior to wargaming. If one friendly COA is developed in an effort to save time, the unit should wargame against several enemy COAs in order to develop branches to the base plan.

4. Adhering to the established timeline allows the staff to remain focused during the process and forces the staff to prioritize the amount of detail given to the effort.

5. The wargame should result in refining or modifying the COA, to include identifying branches and sequels that become on-order or be-prepared missions. It should refine location and timing of the decision point.

6. A synchronization matrix and decision support template (DST) should also be a result of the process. It should project the percentage of total enemy forces defeated in each critical event.

(TA.4.3.3 Analyze Courses of Action)

TREND 34: Wargaming. Wargaming is not focused and rarely synchronizes the task force plan.


1. The task force XO does not facilitate the process, and the battle staff loses its focus on the critical events that need to be wargamed and the relationship between events and the decisive point.

2. The timeline is not managed effectively, and the wargame ends up taking well over half of the available time.


1. The task force XO or S3 should take charge of the wargaming process to ensure that the battle staff stays focused on the critical events and the decisive point.

2. Use a synchronization matrix to help facilitate and record events that are being wargamed by phase and synchronized by BOS.

3. Staffs should take a few minutes prior to initiating the wargame (while plans CPTs are gathering tools for the wargame) to ensure each BOS representative understands the concept for his piece of the fight.

(TA.4.3.3 Analyze Courses of Action)

TREND 35: (LTP) Task force wargaming. The wargaming phase of the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP) is habitually a weakness for the task force staff.

PROBLEM: Most task force XOs and task force S3s have had little experience wargaming, and few have had experience wargaming in their current duty positions.

RESULT: This lack of experience results in an inability to organize an effective task force wargaming effort.


1. Determine what wargaming method/technique best accommodates the planning requirements of the unit.

2. Determine:

a. Which staff members will attend.

b. What products the staff must have in order to participate effectively in the wargaming effort.

c. How the staff's input will be managed throughout the conduct of the wargame.

d. How information developed from the wargame will be recorded.

e. How the recorded information is applied to enhance the OPORD.

3. Consider how time will be managed as the wargame is conducted. Staffs have shown that they are most effective during the first 50 to 60 minutes of intensive wargaming, and beyond that, a significant degradation occurs in quality.

(TA.4.3.3 Analyze Courses of Action)

TREND 36: (LTP) Wargaming.

PROBLEM: Wargaming is the most difficult step in the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP) for units to complete successfully. Units have continued to struggle with this training issue for the past 10 years.


1. Successful wargaming depends on the staff's ability to complete a course of action (COA). If the staff is spending a lot of wargaming time developing BOS task/purpose issues to support the COA, then they are not wargaming. Rather, they are still in the COA development step. You must support the COA with the BOS "how, what and where" before you can determine the "when" in wargaming.

2. Answer the following questions prior to wargaming to dramatically improve overall wargaming efficiency:

a. Have all the BOS been integrated into the COA? If not, has the BOS been overlooked?

b. Did the commander forget to address a BOS in his guidance? If so, find out why the staff member responsible for the BOS has not provided support for the COA.

c. Does each BOS have a clear task and purpose for each critical event of the operation? If not, either the S3 or the BOS representative must define the task and purpose for the critical event.

3. References:

a. FM 101-5, dated 31 May 97, pages 5-16 to 5-24.

b. CALL Pubs 97-9, 97-16, 97-17, and 98-4, CTC Trends for NTC, with TTPs.

c. CALL Pub 95-12 Update, Military Decision Making: "Abbreviated Planning."

d. NTC "How To" video, "Wargaming."

(TA.4.3.4 Compare Courses of Action )

TREND 37: Battalion maintenance officer (BMO) troop-leading procedures.

PROBLEM: The BMO does not use troop-leading procedures effectively or establish priorities of work at the Unit Maintenance Collection Point (UMCP).

a. Inadequate timelines.

b. Inadequate WARNOs and OPORDs.

c. Inadequate rehearsals.

d. Junior leaders are frequently prevented from conducting their own pre-combat checks (PCCs) and pre-combat inspections (PCIs) prior to each mission.


1. The BMO and the UMCP establish a timeline that can support the upcoming missions.

2. The BMO must ensure that the maintenance platoon understands the mission requirements.

3. Maintenance platoons need to stay aware of the tactical situation. The main focus is to get combat power back into the battle, and maintenance leaders must ensure mission accomplishment.

(TA.4.4 Direct and Lead Subordinate Forces)

TREND 38: Bradley Stinger Fighting Vehicle (BSFV) platoon troop-leading procedures.

PROBLEM: Air defense platoon leaders do not use troop-leading procedures or establish timelines effectively.

a. Situational awareness is lacking.

b. Hasty and inadequate OPORDs (do not include five paragraphs or a risk assessment).

c. Ineffective or nonexistent rehearsals.

d. Inadequate and missing graphics.

e. Late linkup with company/teams.

f. No face-to-face cross-talk between ADA section leaders and the element for which they are providing coverage.


1. Platoon leaders should follow troop-leading procedures, establish a timeline, and be persistent to follow it.

2. Delegate some tasks to NCOs within the platoon (i.e., graphics).

3. Develop portions of the platoon OPORD parallel with the planning process (i.e., paragraph 3 can be developed during the wargame process and paragraph 2 can be developed during mission analysis while cross-talk is being done with the S2).

4. The key is to find ways to save time and facilitate the 1/3 - 2/3 rule.

(TA.4.4 Direct and Lead Subordinate Forces)

TREND 39: Task force signal officer and NCOIC troop-leading procedures (TLPs).


1. Many times the soldiers do not fully understand their mission, their reporting procedures, or their route. This creates confusion during the execution phases of missions.

2. There is poor situation awareness without TLP at every level. Placing the retrans system on the wrong slope of a hill will put the lives of the retrans team at great risk, as well as the lives of the soldiers the commander can no longer reach.

Technique: The SIGO, commo chief, and all the NCOs must exercise the TLP steps. They should be clear and concise when conducting a platoon or section OPORD. Signalers must fully understand the scheme of maneuver or the commander's intent in order to support the mission.

(TA.4.4 Direct and Lead Subordinate Forces)

TREND 40: Engineer unit troop-leading procedures (TLPs). Troop-leading procedures (TLPs) at both company and platoon level are often inadequate and lack the required substance to properly allow the company, platoon, and squad to succeed.


1. TLPs are often overlooked and/or rushed to a point where they have no effect on the mission.

2. Engineer units often develop timelines (from already late maneuver timelines) that do not identify key engineer essential planning and execution tasks.

3. Development of a tentative plan usually falls short because of incomplete application or a misunderstanding by the company XO during the tactical planning process.

4. Generally, engineer company XOs do not identify essential, specified, and implied tasks that are critically important to mission accomplishment.

5. Unit orders lack clarity regarding the unit commander's intent, scheme of engineer operations, and sub-unit tasks.

6. Unit commanders misunderstand the importance of time management.

7. Rehearsals and backbriefs are executed poorly.

a. Most units conduct confirmation briefs and backbriefs at maneuver, TF, and engineer company levels, but very seldom do engineer company commanders backbrief the engineer battalion commander and/or staff.

b. When engineer company commanders conduct a backbrief, it is usually without established formats that prescribe what is to be included.


1. Two elements are absolutely critical to the successful execution of superbly executed TLPs--operational guidance and specific timelines. Commanders must command their company. Their focus should be on:

a. Troop-leading procedures.

b. Pre-combat checks/pre-combat inspections (PCCs/PCIs).

c. Rehearsals.

d. Development of realistic timelines that promote unity, clarity, and synchronization within the company on the battlefield.

2. Commanders should train their XOs in the tactical planning process. This does not happen overnight, but rather with months of coaching, mentoring, and repeated, multiple warfighting experiences, coupled with focused candid feedback. The company XO needs to understand that he is a critical member of the combined arms team and must understand all aspects of tactical planning in order to effectively integrate and synchronize the mobility and survivability battlefield operating system (BOS).

3. FM 5-100, pg. 7-1 to 7-11, and FM 71-123, provide excellent cookbook approaches to tactical planning.

(TA.4.4 Direct and Lead Subordinate Forces)

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