TROOP-LEADING PROCEDURES (TLP)
SFC Leland E. Asbury
are missions accomplished?
are accomplished through detailed planning, preparation, and aggressive execution.
platoon leader must conduct detailed
and preparation before
mission to achieve any measure of success during mission execution. The Army
leadership knows this. That is why the Army developed an eight-step process
for the platoon leader to follow called troop-leading procedures (TLP). Whether
the situation requires offensive or defensive tactics, course of action development,
or templating enemy actions, TLP can assist any leader in systematically developing
plans to coincide with the next higher commander's intent.
eight steps of TLP are described in various Army Field Manuals (FMs), such
FM 7-7, The
Mechanized Infantry Platoon and Squad
FM 7-7J, The
Mechanized Infantry Platoon and Squad-Bradley
FM 71-3, The
Armored and Mechanized Infantry Brigade
FM 71-123, Tactics
and Techniques for Combined Arms Heavy Forces
addition, each Army career branch has other branch-specific FMs that address
TLP. This vast source of information on TLP should initially ease the research
problem for officers or NCOs when planning any mission. The references also
demonstrate the significance of TLP in mission accomplishment and the importance
placed on them by our Army. Yet with all the available sources and Army emphasis,
steps in the TLP are often overlooked or omitted, with less than desirable
article is a simplified discussion of the eight steps of TLP.
eight steps of TLP are:
A WARNING ORDER
A TENTATIVE PLAN
THE COMPLETE ORDER
TLP step is critical to the overall successful completion of the mission. If
the platoon leader omits any
from the planning process, he greatly increases the odds that a mission will
its full objective or will result in the loss of soldiers and equipment.
staff planning is initiated from higher headquarters down through the chain
of command to the platoon leader, information concerning the operational mission
is gathered and disseminated. Commanders at all levels thoroughly analyze factors
such as IPB and METT-TC (the "C" refers to civilians in some FMs). The initial
operational analysis is also critically important for the engineer company
commander because of the preparation of the engineer battlefield assessment
(EBA) that must be included in the overall plan. If the company commander has
not completed a full plan, he will still issue a warning order to the platoon
The platoon leader begins his troop-leading procedures. In keeping with the
rules of time management, the platoon leader uses 1/3 of his overall time for
planning the operation. b.
The platoon leader's OPORD preparation is essential to the overall mission
accomplishment. It must also be understandable to subordinate personnel. The
backward or reverse planning sequence in planning for the mission is recommended.
Throughout the planning process, the platoon leader has the option of changing
or refining the plan based on the tactical situation, as long as it follows
the commander's intent for conducting the mission.
a warning order.
platoon leader issues a warning order based on information received from the
company commander's warning order or OPORD. a.
The platoon leader can present the order in any format. Refer again to the
referenced FMs for good examples of the five paragraph OPORD. b.
As a minimum, the platoon should use the company or battalion TACSOP. The best
method is a well-developed and rehearsed platoon SOP that covers preparation
for offensive or defensive missions. c.
Whatever the mission, the platoon can begin work on its preparation by assessing
equipment needs through the various military classes (i.e., Class I, III, IV,
or V). d.
Every soldier in the platoon should have a specific task and purpose (identified
in the platoon SOP) once the platoon leader has issued a warning order.
a tentative plan. The
platoon leader considers the following while preparing the tentative plan:
The platoon leader must know what systems are available for his use and how
to employ them. He must fully understand his own equipment and capabilities
as well as those of his enemy. b.
Consider terrain analysis (to include OCOKA), weather, morale, and flexibility
to react to last-minute changes. As the commander updates the platoon leader,
the platoon leader, in turn, continually updates the platoon with FRAGOs. c.
Experience is a valuable asset for mental preparation. Knowing how soldiers
are going to react to situations, based on past experiences, can help any young
officer or NCO develop his plan. d.
During the planning process, the leader should have a strong "vision" of the
enemy and understand the threat with available intelligence. The better the
platoon leader understands the enemy, the greater his opportunity for success.
Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield (IPB)
Engineer Battlefield Assessment (EBA)
Obstacle Intelligence (OBSTINTEL)
HIGHER MISSION AND INTENT (Two levels up)
though it is listed as step four, necessary movement can begin as soon as the
mission is received. a.
If movement is required, the platoon sergeant, with the assistance of squad
leaders, can move the platoon to a new tactical assembly area (TAA). This allows
the platoon leader more time to prepare his order and graphics. b.
At the new TAA, preparations continue with pre-combat checks (PCC). This is
a good opportunity to conduct PCCs on squad equipment by using the platoon
SOP checklists and to certify squad rehearsals. If the platoon sergeant is
unable to conduct squad inspections, the platoon SOP should designate someone
else, such as the senior squad leader, for the task. In the offense, this is
particularly important for mission success. c.
If platoon linkups are time driven, movements and time management become critical.
Failure to plan or allow for ample movement time creates late linkups and results
in late rehearsals, late PCCs, and various other events that will not be accomplished
on time or to standard.
management is mission essential!
five - Reconnoiter (conduct reconnaissance). This
step, although listed fifth, can occur at any time and as often as possible
during TLP. Unfortunately, reconnaissance is often overlooked or omitted. Either
the risk of enemy contact is too great, or establishing additional orders for
reconnaissance parties is too time consuming. Sometimes the coordination is
set, but the information retrieved from the task force scouts is not sufficient
enough to assist the commander or platoon leaders. a.
A leader's reconnaissance must happen! The more of the obstacle the leader
sees firsthand, the greater the success of the mission. b.
From the information gained by the leader's reconnaissance, more accurate terrain
models can be built and greater detail can be given when the platoon leader
is giving the OPORD.
With reconnaissance complete, movement accomplished, and the initial plan established,
the platoon leader should have most of the information that is needed to finish
writing the full OPORD. Any additional information on task organization should
have been finalized before now. b.
Any additional resources needed should be enroute or already on-hand so the
platoon leader, when briefing the OPORD, has positive control of additional
equipment or manpower. c.
Graphics must be finished before the OPORD is briefed to the platoon and quickly
handed down to squad leader level. The CSS graphics must include NBC decontamination
points, an aid station location, and platoon and company casualty collection
movements were conducted late or linkups were late, the mission timeline will
suffer. A platoon leader trying to rush through an OPORD will inadvertently
leave pertinent information out. a.
When complete, distribute the OPORD with graphics to each squad and team leader.
Also include a terrain model or sandtable to enhance visualization of the terrain.
Minimize distractions. Having subordinate leaders in the right mindset to receive
the order is critical to allow them to collect and retain all of the information
presented at the OPORD brief. c.
If possible, present the OPORD with the terrain in the background to enhance
visualization of the mission. d.
After the OPORD has been presented, the platoon leader ensures that the information
has been disseminated to every soldier. Backbriefs to the platoon leader should
reveal any portion or portions of the OPORD that were missed or not fully understood.
Everyone leaving the OPORD should have a clear understanding of the mission.
Contingencies need special consideration. If, during the OPORD brief, a potential
activity is discussed that has no clear plan, subordinates can help develop
a contingency plan, unless the activity is already specified in the platoon
SOP. If a topic discussed during the OPORD brief needs more consideration or
guidance from higher headquarters, do not allow a hasty decision. If at all
possible, allow a follow-up period for clarity on situations and techniques
needed to accomplish the mission.
Rehearse, rehearse, and when finished, rehearse again.
for redundant rehearsals. b.
After each rehearsal, conduct an after-action review (AAR). If conducting platoon
rehearsals with attachments, ensure that the platoon leader/sergeant supervises
the AAR with attachments. When conducting the AAR, get the troops involved.
By this time all soldiers should have a strong understanding of the concept
of the operation. c.
When rehearsing the mission, ensure that the rehearsal lane coincides with
what was briefed during the OPORD brief. Based on the latest intelligence,
the rehearsal lane should match (as much as possible) what will be encountered
during the actual mission. Do not allow for complacency. If there is information
about the terrain and the obstacle that can be placed in the rehearsal lane
to add realism, ensure that obstacle information is built into the lane. A
company-level rehearsal is of limited value if the enemy obstacle does not
resemble what was reconnoitered or templated. d.
If time constraints do not allow for a full rehearsal, backbriefs, at a minimum,
must be conducted. A fair understanding of the mission can be accomplished
with key personnel by walking troops through the mission on the terrain model
and asking questions. The backbrief is never a substitute for a rehearsal,
but is an acceptable recourse when time is limited. e.
final pre-combat inspections (PCIs).
there are any last-minute concerns, they should be satisfied during this time.
steps of the troop-leading procedures require more development than others.
Regardless of the mission, the platoon leader must not, for any reason, omit
any step from the TLP. At the National Training Center, the observer/controllers
(O/Cs) often report that lack of rehearsals, little reconnaissance, incomplete
operation order preparation, late and unsynchronized movements, and inadequate
basic supervisory skills have all contributed to negative and unfortunate results.
Home Station training must emphasize TLP in daily operations. Units that train
the TLP to proficiency at Home Station are more successful in mission execution
at NTC and will be better positioned for success on the real battlefield.
Command Post SOP: Blueprint for Success
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