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TREND 31: Precombat Inspections (PCIs)

PROBLEM: Units unprepared for on-order missions.

EXAMPLE: An on-order mission to set up checkpoints could have been a failure. One platoon conducting proper PCIs discovered that their basic ammunition load had not been uploaded.

Technique: Establish comprehensive precombat inspection (PCI) checklists.

(TA.4.4 Direct and Lead Subordinates)

TREND 32: Company-level engagement area development for a deliberate defense. Commanders frequently do not write an effective backwards planning time schedule in preparation of the company defensive engagement area.


1. Commanders usually do not have time.

2. They frequently do not think of doing a backwards planning schedule.

3. They usually issue an operations order to get the platoons moving because time is critical.


1. Engineer assets are not used effectively.

2. Obstacles not tied with fire support targets and direct fire systems.

3. Platoon leaders are often confused on what priorities to follow.

4. Mounted rehearsals are seldom conducted to ensure all weapons systems can identify enemy vehicles and shift fires to alternate TRPs within the engagement area.


1. The commander should issue a detailed backwards planning time schedule during the operations order to ensure that platoon leaders understand the priorities.

2. Make sure the schedule addresses the following areas:

  • Who will mark TRPs for day/night visibility and when.

  • When platoons will submit platoon fire plans to the company.

  • When, where, and who conducts flank unit coordination with other units.

  • Limited visibility plan and rehearsal time.

  • Which platoons will install hasty protective minefields separate from the engineer obstacle plan.

  • When key leaders will conduct a leader's reconnaissance with the FSO, engineer, and platoon leaders to ensure all planned obstacles, FA targets, and direct fire systems are tied together to destroy the enemy at the desired TRP.

  • Who is responsible for certain battalion obstacle coverage/security or help with employment and when.

  • Link-up times for dig assets, how many fighting positions to dig for each platoon, and hand-off times to other platoons or another unit.

  • When and where to dig-in infantry fighting positions.

  • How, where, and when to dig-in a prestock of ammunition.

  • Where and when to recon or prepare alternate/supplemental battle positions.

  • Where and when platoons should recon and stay in hide positions.

  • When and how platoon and company rehearsals will be conducted.

  • Movement times and signals for moving from the hide to primary battle positions.

  • LOGPAC times and how to execute.

  • Who, where, and when to conduct security sweeps to clear out enemy OPs and recon assets.

3. Use engineer assets efficiently to ensure fighting positions are dug to standard.

  • Avoid wasting valuable engineer blade time. Be very clear on:

    • How much dig time a platoon has.

    • How many vehicles should be dug to standard.

    • When and where the engineers should be passed off to other units.

  • Assign the company XO as CINC DIG to ensure times and standards are met.

4. The senior engineer responsible for obstacles in the company engagement area, the commander, and his fire support officer should slug-in all obstacles and artillery targets to ensure they are synchronized with the company direct fire plan.

5. The commander should also confirm with the FSO what triggers the FA fires and who the primary and alternate shooters are to ensure they can identify the trigger and TRP.

6. Conduct a mounted rehearsal including driving through the engagement area.

(TA.4.4.1 Prepare Plans and Orders)

TREND 33: Platoon Orders Process/Troop-Leading Procedures (SCOUT)


1. Incomplete OPORD.

2. Failure to follow troop-leading procedures.

RESULT: Lack of time for subordinate leaders to conduct orders process.

Techniques: Since the scout platoon is always one of the first to be deployed:

1. Platoon leader must have well-refined SOP for TLP.

2. Eliminate lengthy paragraphs in the OPORD scheme of maneuver.

  • Use matrix or preformatted OPORDS.

  • Establish scout battle drills.

(TA.4.4.1 Prepare Plans and Orders)

TREND 34: Lack of Written Company SOP


1. Company has no written SOP.

2. Incomplete draft version is all that exists.


1. Finalize draft SOP ASAP. Capture wisdom of those who experienced Bosnia before they depart.

2. Consider writing a standard SOP for "normal" combat operations and include an annex for SASO.

3. Document in the SOP applicable lessons learned during the current rotation for HIC.

(TA.4.4.1 Prepare Plans and Orders)

TREND 35: Assembly Area Procedures

PROBLEM: Unit lacks an SOP for occupying a TAA.

RESULT: Unit sent quartering party to locate the site. They neglected to conduct NBC reconnaissance, mark vehicle position, provide guides, etc.


1. Establish an SOP for TAA.

2. Continue to refine SOP after each mission.

(TA.4.4.1 Prepare Plans and Orders)


PROBLEM: Although the unit possesses significant experience, little is documented in a formal TACSOP.


1. Establish an SOP for TAA.

2. Continue to refine SOP after each mission.

(TA.4.4.1 Prepare Plans and Orders)

TREND 37: Orders/TLP

PROBLEM: Frequently changing orders at levels above the team.


1. Commander had inadequate time to conduct a thorough planning process.

2. Commander issued detailed WARNO, followed up with FRAGOs.

Technique: Ensure that leaders at all levels have an opportunity to develop orders IAW 1/3-2/3 rule.

(TA.4.4.1 Prepare Plans and Orders)

TREND 38: Poor OPORD Format


1. Commander consistently neglected to include paragraphs 4 and 5 in OPORD.

2. SOP refinement a slow process.


1. Difficulty in providing details to platoon leadership.

2. Lack of SOP makes detailed, time-consuming OPORDS essential.

Technique: Conduct orders process drills at Home Station.

(TA.4.4.1 Prepare Plans and Orders)

TREND 39: OPORD Paragraph 4 (Logistics)

PROBLEM: S-4 did not brief service support during TF OPORD.

RESULT: Base order lacks paragraph 4 (Logistics) or service support annex/graphics.

Technique: Emphasize work on the orders process during Home-Station training.

(TA.4.4.1 Prepare Plans and Orders)

TREND 40: Base Camp Defense Planning

PROBLEM: Lack of adequate sector sketch for base camp defense plan.


1. Develop a comprehensive sector sketch and routinely update it.

2. Make sure sketch contains at least the following critical items:

  • Key terrain features.

  • Crew-served weapons FPFs.

  • Indirect fire targets.

  • TRPs.

(TA.4.4.1 Prepare Plans and Orders)

TREND 41: Fire support rehearsals are not conducted or are ineffective.


1. Fire support rehearsals are often neglected during stability operations.

2. Fire support systems are complicated, skills are perishable.

3. Requires absolute accountability and accuracy of all indirect fires. Demands detailed planning, targeting, and rehearsal.

4. Low demand for indirect fires.


1. The low demand can lull fire supporters into a false sense of security.

2. Unprepared to respond when called.


1. Conduct brigade and task force fire support rehearsals daily.

2. Focus the rehearsal on an assessment of the most critical fire support tasks for the unit.

3. Develop battle drills to test the readiness of the unit's decision, detection, and delivery subsystems.

4. Test the unit at different times of the day and night to ensure total responsiveness.

5. Rehearse:

  • Plans to support observation points, checkpoints, and convoys with obscuration, screening, and killing fires.

  • Plans to support joint military working group and civil-military commission meetings.

  • The counterfire system.

  • The use of precision munitions.

6. Reference: FM 6-20-40, Fire Support for Brigade Operations (Heavy).

(TA. Develop and Complete Plans or Orders)

TREND 42: Fire support rehearsals are not conducted to standard during SASO. Conduct of fire support (FS) rehearsals is not standardized to support stability and support operations.


1. Units fail to draw on lessons learned from FS rehearsals conducted during high-intensity operations.

2. Key FS command/staff personnel irregularly participate.

3. Target verification is sporadic and often incomplete.

4. Discrepancies between target numbers in FS plans and those in IFSAS.

5. The purpose of FS plans (what maneuver action they supported) often unclear or not stated.

6. Brigade FS rehearsal participation usually limited to the TF FSO level.

7. Brigade and TF FS rehearsals in most cases did not include all FS plans.

8. Often excluded radar assets and coverage.

9. Frequently failed to rehearse cross-boundary FS coordination.

10. Almost always failed to rehearse FS graduated-response matrix.


1. Rehearse all FS plans. Include all FS assets involved (attack aviation, CAS, artillery, mortars, AC-130, radar, brigade/TF FSOs, FISTs, and observers).

2. Make sure all key maneuver and FS personnel (observers a must) participate in FS rehearsals.

3. During target verification, cover target number and location.

4. Rehearse all planned FS plans at TF and brigade level. Ensure actual observers participate and understand their FS plan(s).

5. Incorporate the FS graduated-response matrix into all rehearsals.

6. Rehearse every plan involving cross-boundary coordination.

7. Discuss radar coverage and overall S-2 intelligence in terms of how it affects FS.

(TA. Develop and Complete Plans or Orders)

TREND 43: The largest gap in the fire support community is lack of a standardized rehearsal.


1. Rehearsal methods are inconsistent and not conducted to standard.

2. Most difficulty experienced with FM rehearsals.

RESULT: Failure to know how to conduct a rehearsal that is adequate for the critical fire support tasks that must be rehearsed.

Technique: Make sure the FM rehearsal covers at least the following items:

  • Time hack.

  • Commanders critical fire support tasks and his scheme of fires.

  • Participation of all key players: ALO, ETAC, company FSOs, COLTs, FOs, mortar platoon leader, firing battery platoon FDCs.

  • Situation update.

  • Target list verification. (Note: IFSAS is the approved solution to cut down on unneeded conversations about targets. If the target list has any changes, list only the changes and not the entire list.)

  • Fire support assets available:

    • CAS time on-station with designated targets, if any.

    • Army aviation.

    • Organic mortars.

    • 155mm SP howitzer platoons.

    • AC 130 (if allocated).

  • List of observers: FIST-V teams, COLT teams, and FOs.

  • Practice calls for fire on the type missions allocated for the next day's missions:

    • CAS.

    • Army aviation with Hellfire.

    • Copperhead.

    • Mortar illumination.

  • Allow for any questions or alibis.

(TA. Develop and Complete Plans or Orders)

TREND 44: TF incapable of generating overwhelming combat power at decisive point.


1. Lack of detailed planning and rehearsal.

2. Failure to identify vulnerabilities in enemy killing zones.


1. Attack tempo drops considerably at previously templated obstacles.

2. Failure to mass fires.


1. Study the map before assigning maneuver axes to subordinate units.

2. Identify restrictive terrain which could potentially be reinforced by enemy obstacles and fires.

3. Rehearse all operations.

4. Use a terrain model whenever possible.

5. Plan out in all required detail an operation that can sustain attack tempo and focus overwhelming combat power against an enemy fighting on well-prepared ground.

(TA. Develop and Complete Plans or Orders)

TREND 45: Incomplete Company OPORDs


1. Paragraphs 4 and 5 of OPORD are frequently neglected or prepared as an afterthought.

2. Company commander merely distributes battalion-level CSS graphics.

RESULT: Distributing battalion CSS graphics is the only CSS planning the company conducts.


1. Company commander

  • Delegate preparation of paragraph 4 to XO.

  • Commander can focus on maneuver plan.

  • Approve XO's paragraph 4.

2. XO and 1SG

  • Develop paragraph 4.

  • Brief paragraph 4 at OPORD.

  • Rehearse company CSS plan.

(TA. Develop and Complete Plans or Orders)

TREND 46: Rehearsals. The unit conducted only one full-up mounted breaching rehearsal.


1. Other rehearsals limited to backbriefs on a map.

2. Backbriefs are the least effective kind of rehearsal.

Techniques: Full-up rehearsals are desirable, but seldom practical.

1. Consider a reduced-scale rock drill as an acceptable alternative.

2. Practice and use them whenever possible.

3. Make sure the company maintains a "Rock Drill Kit." Stock it with materials for various size sites.

4. Train the headquarters personnel to use the kit to build different size replicas.

5. Assign specific personnel the responsibility for supervising and building such sites during the orders development process.

(TA. Develop and Complete Plans or Orders)

TREND 47: Rehearsals

PROBLEM: Effectiveness of rehearsal was diminished by a lack of clear structure.

Technique: Maintain focus by using a large, visible synch or execution matrix.

(TA. Develop and Complete Plans or Orders)

TREND 48: Orders issued without clear task and purpose.

PROBLEM: Lack of clear task and purpose.

RESULT: Confusion during mission execution.

EXAMPLE: A platoon executing a hasty checkpoint would not allow any civilian traffic to pass. The battalion commander intended to slow down civilian traffic, not stop it. The purpose for the checkpoint never got down to the platoon leader until the battalion commander intervened.

Technique: Practice issuing OPORDS containing task and purpose to platoon leaders at Home Station.

(TA. Develop and Complete Plans or Orders)

TREND 49: Fire Support Rehearsals


1. Rehearsals excluded clearance of fires.

2. Frequently lacked rehearsal of computing firing data by supporting FA unit.

3. Unclear release authority.


1. FS plan should clearly describe release authority.

2. Changes should be issued ASAP in writing.

3. Coordination between FSO and Army attack aviation.

4. Include exchange of frequencies and call signs.

(TA. Develop and Complete Plans or Orders)

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