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Chapter IV


Confirmation Brief - This briefing is given by subordinate leaders to the higher commander immediately after receiving the OPORD. Subordinate leaders brief the commander on:

  • Their understanding of his intent.

  • Their specific task and purpose.

  • The relationship between their unit's missions and the other unit's in the operation.

Who Attends: The attendees at the confirmation brief vary little by technique. From the issuing headquarters the commander and primary staff should attend the confirmation brief. The commander and S-3 are sufficient from the subordinate units. At company level, platoon and squad leaders give the confirmation brief. Because of its place in the MDMP timeline, immediately following the OPORD, all of the attendees are normally already present.

How Long: All the confirmation briefs should not take more than 15 minutes total. Give the leaders a few minutes after the OPORD to talk to the staff. This allows the commanders to solicit information, but set a time limit. Ensure that the confirmation briefs start on time. During the break, realign the chairs in the TOC if needed.

  • Have all the players listen to the other confirmation briefs so they understand what is happening around them. Ensure staff members are present to clarify issues as required.

  • If the best location for issuing the OPORD is overlooking the terrain on which you will operate, then the best place to perform the confirmation brief is the same spot. Use the same tools that the scheme of maneuver was briefed on during the OPORD. This technique will provide instant feedback for the XO/S3 to improve on the effectiveness of OPORD presentation.

  • Establish a logical order of brief. One technique might be Scout/COLT, maneuver units, fire support, M/C, air defense, military police, etc. Another is: main effort, supporting effort, attachments, etc.

Technique: If time is severely limited, have the S3 and XO listen to some of the briefs. For example the DS Artillery battalion commander briefs the S3 and FSO; the engineer commander briefs the S3 and staff engineer; the MP, CI etc., can brief the XO. Be careful, distributing the briefings may not be the best technique if the commander, S3, and XO do not have the same understanding of the plan. Establish briefing points. Briefers should know what key points the commander needs to hear to ensure they both understood what the unit was told to do. Although some points will be the same, most will be different depending on the BOS proponent.

Technique: Confirmation Brief Checklist. Place this format outline on a small chart near the map board so it is easily followed:

1. Explain the enemy's most probable course of action.

2. Explain the higher commander's intent and concept.

3. Explain any identified decisive points or actions.

4. Unit task and purpose.

Backbrief - This is a briefing by subordinates to the commander explaining how the subordinates intend to accomplish their mission. This helps the commander clarify his intent early in the subordinates' tactical estimate process. It allows the higher commander to:

  • Identify problems in his concept of the operation.

  • Identify problems in a subordinate unit commander's concept.

  • It reveals how subordinates intend to accomplish their mission.

The backbrief may be conducted throughout the MDMP, but is best used prior to the subordinate issuing his OPORD. The actual time must be established early (usually at the higher OPORD briefing) to ensure the subordinate has integrated the backbrief into his timeline and will be prepared. The two most commonly used types for the backbrief are the sketch map and map rehearsal.

Who Attends: The attendees at the backbrief vary little by technique and are much the same as the confirmation brief. From the issuing headquarters, the Commander and primary staff should be on hand for the backbrief. The Commander, S-3, and FSO are sufficient from the subordinate units. At company level the Platoon/Squad Leaders and attached squad or section leaders provide backbriefs. If possible, have all the players listen to the others back-brief so they understand what is happening with the forces around them.

Technique: Use the same cartoon or concept sketch as used during the OPORD. Add an acetate drop to the butcher chart or map. On the new drop have the subordinate commanders brief and draw their concept over the higher unit's concept sketch, each unit using a different color. Have the unit write its task and purpose in the corresponding color on the drop. This provides a graphic product that stays in the TOC for later reference. Because of time and distance factors involved, it is not always possible to have every one come together for the briefing simultaneously. When this situation occurs, this technique allows the briefer to at least see the concept of the units that briefed earlier.

Technique: The higher Commander travels to the subordinate TOCs or CPs with the butcher chart and acetate drop in his HMMWV. When all the briefings are complete, the Commander has one product with all the subordinate concept sketches drawn on it. This provides a record for the TOC of decisions and changes (such as approved graphic control measure modifications or a request to change a unit boundary).

How Long: The backbrief by subordinate commanders should not take more than 10 minutes each. The senior commander must remember and respect the subordinates' timeline. If the Commander cannot get to every backbrief, then he must prioritize. The XO/S3 could take the backbriefs from the supporting efforts or from the slice units such as the MP platoon or Scout Platoon.

Technique: Backbrief Checklist. The Commander establishes the sequence of briefings. Each backbrief should include:

1. A copy of the subordinate unit graphics so the higher staff can begin the de-confliction process.

2. An explanation of your assumptions, task organization, mission statement, and concept cartoon.

3. A discussion in detail of actions at critical points such as the breach or passage point. The commander may designate a sequence for these events to be discussed (i.e., passage, visual contact, direct fire contact, actions on objective) to present a common, and easier to understand, information sequence.

4. A request for any additional resources or graphics changes.
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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias