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TREND 13: Task force development of the fire support plan during the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP).


1. Key members of the task force (TF) staffs too often do not provide mission analysis briefs to the commander.

2. Poor information dissemination inadequately prepares the TF fire support officers (FSOs) and fire support elements (FSEs) to participate in the planning process.


1. FSOs/FSEs cannot provide timely and essential information to the subordinate fire support teams (FISTs).

2. The FISTs, in turn, have no time for concurrent planning.

3. In spite of battle staff focus on synchronizing fires with the TF scheme of maneuver, the commander's guidance for fires does not cover the entire operation.

4. Resulting fire support plans lack sufficient detail and coordination to carry through the entire TF mission.


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

  • Higher warning order (WARNO)
  • Facts from FA battalion, ALO, and others
  • Facts from higher/subordinate FSE & FIST
  • IPB products
  • Enemy COAs as developed by S2
  • High-value targets (HVTs) by enemy phase or critical event
  1. The TF FSO must:
- Understand the higher maneuver and FS plan

- Organize and analyze facts

- Identify specified and implied tasks

- Translate status of assets into capabilities and limitations

- Analyze effects of IPB on FS

  1. The TF FSO must brief the results of his mission analysis to the commander and conclude his brief with recommended essential fire support tasks.

  2. Prior to COA development, the TF FSO should receive the commander's approved essential fire support tasks (EFSTs) and issue a WARNO to his subordinate FISTs, the brigade FSE, and the FA battalion.

2. Course of Action Development. As COA development begins, the TF FSO must 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.

  1. The results of the mission analysis become the foundation for FS COA development. The FSO uses these results to plan the method for accomplishing the EFSTs. As a minimum, the FS 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.

  2. The desired output of COA development is a draft fire support plan. The draft FS plan provides the sequence of EFSTs and outlines the task, purpose, method, and end state for each EFST of the operation. The plan must include:
- Concept of fires/draft fires paragraph.

- Draft fire support execution matrix.

- Draft target list worksheet and overlay.

- Draft target synchronization matrix.

- Collection/recon and surveillance plan.

3. Wargaming. The more complete the FS plan is before COA analysis and comparison, the more efficient and effective the wargame.

  1. 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 FS plan and products to improve the plan.

  2. The wargame also provides a means to test the strength of the plan and build in flexibility by identifying decisions and branches for the FS plan.

  3. At the conclusion of the wargame, the FSO should have:
- Final fires paragraph.

- Final fire support execution matrix.

- Final target list and overlay.

- Final scheme of fires.

- Final target synchronization matrix.

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

5. References:

  1. Military Decision-Making: "Abbreviated Planning", CALL Newsletter #95-12 Update, May 97.

  2. White Paper: "Fire Support Planning for the Brigade and Below", Fire Support Division, USFSCAOD, USAFAS, Fort Sill, OK, 6 June 1997.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 14: Maintenance planning at the task force (TF) level.

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

RESULT: The BMO, unit maintenance collection point (UMCP) personnel, and forward recovery teams are not aware of the enemy situation nor the TF mission.


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

2. At the end of each battle, the TF 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 15: 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.

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

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

  3. 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 units command net to synchronize ground and air combat power and reduce the risk of fratricide.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 16: (LTP) Brigade staff understanding of the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP).


1. Most brigade staffers report little recent exposure to the Military Decision-Making Process.

  1. Many brigade staffs have not collectively practiced staff planning prior to LTP and have no planning SOP.

  2. Brigade Staffs attending LTP have three to five month's time in position.

  3. Most brigade staff officer roles and responsibilities have not been clearly identified nor defined, and most brigade XOs spend their LTP time focusing on staff roles, responsibilities, and procedures.

  4. Staff member's last duty positions were not on a prior staff and most S3 planners and assistant BOS Reps reported no staff experience at all.

2. To an untrained staff and to an XO faced with training the brigade staff to standard under tough time constraints, planning TTP appears to be an attractive solution to shortening the process. In reality, planning TTP confuses, complicates, and frustrates untrained staffs.

3. The Bronco's Abbreviated Decision-Making class (Recently renamed - MDMP-Timed Constrained) is an excellent example of great techniques and procedures applied to the steps in the doctrinal planning process. However, most LTP brigade staffs lack doctrinal and practical staff experience required to apply TTP.

RESULT: Untrained staffs seek TTP as a METHOD to facilitate planning shortcuts. While at LTP, XOs and staff members unsuccessfully apply planning TTP to the staff Military Decision-Making Process.


1. Brigade commanders and staffs must collectively practice and gain full understanding of the MDMP before their LTP session.

2. The Bronco's MDMP-Timed Constrained class is on the mark. However, brigade commanders cannot maximize their unit's LTP experience when their staffs are struggling with fundamental doctrine and unit planning procedures. Recommend commanders accomplish the following prior to their LTP session:

  1. Develop a unit planning SOP defining commander and staff roles, responsibilities, and procedures.

- Submit planning SOP to LTP 60-90 days prior to the LTP session.

- LTP coaches will review the unit's planning SOP and provide the unit feedback prior to their LTP rotation.

  1. Ensure staffs are trained and understand MDMP IAW FM 101-5.

- Units with successful LTP experiences have conducted staff planning drills in the weeks and months prior to their LTP training period.

- Work out problems associated with commander/staff planning procedures and responsibilities at Home Station.

  1. Come to LTP prepared to apply planning TTP to the MDMP.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 17: (LTP) Task force focus on tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs) vice doctrine.

PROBLEM: The current practice of addressing tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs) is causing task forces (TFs) to move away from doctrine, endorsing/reinforcing the concept that the purpose of an NTC rotation is to find a way to defeat the OPFOR. TF staffs are consistently in search of the "major notion" that permits winning against the OPFOR.

RESULT: As units arrive at NTC with less Home Station training, pursuit of the "TTP solution" leaves leadership confused as to how to plan.


1. Units must demonstrate a high level of pre-rotational training proficiency in doctrinal procedures before the TTPs can add value.

2. The NTC philosophy should relate TTP as observations, and not allow TTP to become a method unto itself.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 18: (LTP) Aviation Liaison Officer (ALO) integration into the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP).


1. New ALOs, especially those assigned to newly formed staffs, are not always integrated into the staff.

2. Many ALOs are unfamiliar with the Army's decision making process, especially wargaming.

3. Close air support (CAS) continues to be cited at NTC as the largest killer during brigade force-on-force engagements.


1. The brigade's ALO is responsible for employing CAS IAW the commander's intent. He is the ground commander's senior Air Force advisor and often controls a brigade asset with the equivalent destructive combat power of a mechanized task force.

2. When ALOs fully participate in staff planning sessions, the potential for enormous target effect exists. Training time with the units, Air Force/Army doctrinal expertise by ALO and Army staffs, and everyday Army "lingo" contribute to the ALO's ability to do his job.

3. Successful employment of CAS is dependent on the ALO's ability to fully understand his role, responsibilities, and contributions during MDMP.

  1. ALOs need to understand the Army's MDMP.

  2. The ALO's CAS planning is accomplished concurrently with the development of the ground scheme of maneuver. Concurrent CAS planning will help prevent CAS from becoming an "add-on" after completion of the plan.

  3. Coordinate collective training events with S3 air, ALO, FSO, and FSCOORDs.

- Incorporate the brigade's CAS METL battle tasks into brigade staff training.

- Focus on tasks assessed as training weaknesses.

- Coordinate in advance for ALO/BALOs/ETACs participation.

4. As a doctrinal self-help tool, staffs can use the Integrated Task List for the Air-Ground Training Feedback System available from CALL website, URL

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

TREND 19: (LTP) Brigade planning for fire support.


1. The brigade fire support element (FSE) does not develop a complete scheme of fires during the planning phase.

  1. Brigade FSE personnel do not normally have all of the tools available they need for wargaming.

  2. They do not have a complete understanding of the product they are supposed to produce.

RESULT: The brigade has no well-developed, completely disseminated, or absolutely understood scheme of fires.

  1. The scheme of fires is normally completed after the wargame is finished. Thus, the brigade FSO must go back and capture target grids, observer locations, FA position areas, and graphical control measures.

  2. Combined arms and fire support rehearsals do not meet the needs of the brigade in ensuring the fire support plan is integrated with maneuver and synchronized.

  3. The effects that fire support was to achieve (i.e., suppress, destroy, and obscure) are rarely addressed in detail. Methods are incompletely determined for fire support events.

  4. The brigade deep fight quickly becomes ineffective after the first deep engagement.

  5. The transition from deep to close to rear normally does not take place.

  6. Close air support (CAS) is not effectively integrated into the brigade fire support plan.

  7. Artillery movement plans are only loosely tied to fire support events.

  8. Staff supervision of the brigade fire support plan is not conducted with a keen eye toward ensuring subordinate organizations are planning and preparing along a course that would result in success for the brigade.


1. Discuss and synchronize events and decision points during course of action development and wargaming, so that the scheme of fires allows subordinates to clearly follow the sequence of events. Provide detailed information. The brigade staff should thoroughly wargame the basic task force fight with specific timelines and triggers. The fire support plan, when issued to subordinate organizations, should give them a framework for planning without fear of massive changes as execution time draws near.

2. Plan the scheme of fire support throughout the brigade's battle space, deep, close, and rear. Too often, the brigade does not plan the close fight, and rear operations are seldom considered.

  1. The brigade fire support plan often ends after the last deep engagement, which doctrinally, as well as practically, is not correct. If the brigade only plans deep and puts the burden for all close planning on the task forces, the transition from deep to close will never take place as envisioned by the brigade fire support officer.

  2. If, instead, the brigade plans the fire support fight throughout the zone or sector by planning one continuous fight, he can force the transition from deep to close to rear. There will be no gaps in the transition because it is a single integrated plan developed by a single headquarters.

3. The very essence of top-down fire planning is that the brigade fire support element develops the fire support plan and subordinate fire support elements refine it. In transitioning from deep to close to rear, the brigade is not handing off fires to subordinate headquarters. Rather, it is handing them the entire responsibility for execution of the brigade fire support plan. The scheme of fires worksheet has proven effective for facilitating this planning and refinement. An example of a completed worksheet for a portion of the scheme of fire support is shown below as a way to capture results of the wargame.

This line corresponds to maneuver phases.
TRIGGER/DPCRPs at NAI 4CAS Tot - 2 minN. MB MRC at AN 9000This line is used to provide the trigger to execute the FS event or to indicate a DP that would move us to another event - top-down.
Panel marker NK 123456This block is for the specific on-the-ground trigger - bottom-up refined.
FS EVENT1. AN 90012. AN 00013. CTB 2Event sequence # and target or CTB #.
FASCAMSEAD for CTB 2CAS on N. MRCDescription of event - asset and HPT.
PRI OBS/EXECOLT 1COLT 1ETAC 1Primary executor - may need bottom-up refinement.
OP LOCATION Primary executor location to execute from - bottom-up refinement.
ALT OBS/EXECOLT 2COLT 2COLT 1Alternate executor - may need bottom-up refinement.
OP LOCATION Alternate executor to execute from - bottom-up refinement.
TASKEmplace FASCAM minefield to delay N. MRB in passesSuppress AA in MRC/mark TGT areaDestroy 1 tank and 3 BMPs in N. MRCTask of this event: Tells observer what he is trying to do with this event = attack guidance. Enemy formation and effect.
PURPOSETo allow attack by CASTo prevent losses to CAS aircraft while attacking N. MRC at FASCAMTo attrit 1/3 from N. MRC and delay N. MRBPurpose of this event: Tell observer why he is attacking the event so he can do the right thing without additional guidance. In terms of friendly maneuver.
EFFECTSN. MRB delayed 10 minAAA suppressed at H-1 UP markN. MRB delayed 5 minEffects or end state of event - gives us criteria to assess our event and reattack if required.
WPN/UNITR BN 155DS BN 1552 A-10sThe top-down asset to accomplish task.
med density
BN 3
8 MaverickThe bottom-up refinement from FA or ALO on the specifics of the attack asset.
NFA 1, NFA 2
NFA 1, NFA 2
NFA 1, NFA 2
The FSCM that supports the event or changes with the event.
NOTES CTB 2: 1234-1236-1638-1644CTB 2: 1234-1236-1638-1644Other notes or remarks

4. Conduct complete and thorough staff supervision of the plan. The scheme of fire support worksheet provides an excellent staff supervision document.

  1. To alert the brigade FSE and subordinates, highlight with dark lines any areas that require bottom-up refinement. Subordinate elements should be required to submit the execution details of that event (i.e., exact trigger description and grid, the time the trigger was emplaced, refined target number and grid for the same task and purpose, refined primary target number and grid for the same task and purpose, refined primary and alternate observers and OP grid, and refined weapon/unit/munition/volume).

  2. As the information is received from subordinates, the brigade FSE can determine whether the subordinate's plan will accomplish the event properly (i.e., triggers in the proper location, volume of fire sufficient to achieve the required effects, etc.). If further refinement is necessary, direct that the refinement take place.

(TA.4.3 Determine Actions)

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