The Largest Security-Cleared Career Network for Defense and Intelligence Jobs - JOIN NOW

Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Operational planning focuses on ensuring successful Tactical planning is a continuous process. mission execution. Planners, using the commander's intent, recommend priorities for support, allocation of force structure and other resources.

Strategic and operational estimates determine whether different courses of action can be sustained and the force's ability to regenerate combat potential. Planners also examine measures that can reduce the enemy's operational tempo.

Planners integrate NBC defense, nuclear weapons use, non-lethal, and smoke at theater, strategic and operational level as combat multipliers in support of mission accomplishment. For example, NBC defense unit availability increases the force's ability to sustain operations or to regenerate force capability under NBC conditions. The allocation of critical resources, such as large area smoke generation, supports the commander's intent to influence the battle in a given area which improves our force's combat power at a decisive point.

Tactical planning is a continuous process. Commanders and staffs incessantly assess how new information impacts current and future operations. Although unit planning is a continuous process linking current and future actions, this chapter discusses planning as a sequential process beginning with receipt of a mission order. Nonetheless, planning cannot be considered as a rigid process; each Commander and staff must adapt it to their needs.


A staff supports the commander with the resources needed to command and control his organization in battle. Together, they integrate the unit's capabilities into a single effort to defeat the enemy.

Each maneuver force echelon from corps down to company level has a chemical officer or noncommissioned officer (NCO) to integrate NBC operations (NBC defense, obscurant, and flame operations) into the combined arms fight. In most cases the chemical officer or NCO serves as a special staff officer. He is an integral part of the battle staff and plays a key role in development of tactical and operational plans.

The chemical officer or NCO works with all members of the battle staff. He has an especially close relationship with the G2/S2, G3/S3, FSCOORD, and engineer staff officer to effectively incorporate NBC defense, smoke, flame, and non-lethal use considerations.


NBC planning focuses on the chemical officer in two roles: as a member of a combined arms commander's battle staff and as a commander of a supporting chemical unit. Each role requires development of an estimate. During the combined arms estimate process a chemical staff officer integrates NBC operations into the planning process. During the chemical unit estimate the commander develops his plan to support his assigned mission.

Combined Arms Estimate

The commander's staff develops a plan using the five-part estimate process. The chemical staff participates fully with the rest of the staff in its development. FM 101-5 covers staff functions in detail; the following discussion covers the chemical battle staff's specific role in planning and his interaction with other staff members.


Planning for a particular operation begins with receipt of a warning order, OPORD, or OPLAN from higher headquarters. From it the commander and staff conduct a mission analysis. During this process the chemical staff integrates NBC operations into the OPORD/OPLAN. He conducts a vulnerability analysis and also assesses the force's readiness to operate under NBC conditions. When there is a specific NBC task (such as NBC recon of a main supply route or screening mission), he works with the G3/S3 to integrate it into the overall concept of operation.

The chemical staff assists other members of the staff in conducting a thorough situation analysis. They concentrate on those aspects of the weather, terrain, enemy, and friendly forces that are significant horn the standpoint of NBC defense, smoke, non-lethal, and flame operations.

The chemical staff coordinates with the G2/S2 to template enemy chemical targets in the area of operations. These templated chemical targets can be plotted either on a terrain or situation template. The G2/S2 analyzes weather, terrain, and enemy as part of IPB. The chemical staff uses the G2/S2s climatic data and weather forecast to identify factors critical to NBC use. They analyze terrain based upon how it impacts enemy nuclear or chemical weapons or obscurant use. They identify areas where deficiencies in natural cover and concealment maybe augmented by smoke. They locate water sources for decon sites and the road network requiring NBC recon. The G2/S2 provides the chemical staff with an estimate of the enemy's NBC delivery capability. Using this information the chemical staff conducts a vulnerability analysis. The G2/S2 also provides an estimate of the enemy's obscurant and flame capability. The staff works with the G2/S2 to develop the intelligence collection plan and recommends PIRs to confirm his estimate of the enemy NBC activity at key locations and times.

The chemical staff continues their situation analysis by reviewing the friendly situation including forces and resources available for the mission. The chemical staff also coordinates with the G1/S1 and the G4/S4 to assess whether various courses of action are supportable. When NBC operations will impact civilians, coordination with the G5 is necessary.

The chemical staff concludes its estimate of the situation with an analysis of the chemical units available to conduct decon, NBC recon, or smoke operations. The staff determines the status of units, their current operations, and completion times for ongoing activities.

The chemical staff provides the G3/S3 with a list of assumptions used in making the situation estimate. This action ensures that all staff estimates are based on the same parameters.

The G3/S3 has the lead in developing courses of action. The chemical staff develops a plan to support each course of action. For each one he identifies tasks and general priorities based on the commander's guidance.

Analysis of Courses of Action

The G3/S3 has the lead in the analysis of each course of action. The chemical staff, along with the rest of the battle staff, assists the G3/S3 in wargaming each course of action against the anticipated enemy action or reaction. The chemical staff analyzes each course of action. They determine the NBC resources required for each course of action and recommend the best application of NBC defense, smoke, non-lethal, and flame operations. They identify advantages and disadvantages for each.

Shortfalls in chemical resources become apparent during the wargaming process. The chemical staff adjusts its plan to handle these. For every course of action the NBC defense and smoke plan must meet the commander's requirements. When appropriate, the FSCOORD also develops nuclear fire plans to meet these requirements with input and/or recommendations from the chemical staff.

Comparison of Courses of Action

The chemical staff compares the courses of action and selects the best one from their particular perspective. The staff provides that information to the G3/S3 for incorporation into the decision matrix.


The chemical staff provides assessments and recommendations to the commander during the decision briefing. The type and the amount of detail the chemical staff briefs depend upon the needs and preferences of the individual commander. In general, the briefing covers the following:

  • Concept of chemical support.

  • Chemical unit mission priorities.

  • Critical NBC and smoke events/actions.

  • Task organization and command/support relationships.

  • NBC and smoke overlay (including smoke, NBC recon, and decon use, and concept for use).

  • MOPP levels and where MOPP gear will be stored or carried.

  • Critical tasks for subordinate units.

  • Vulnerability analysis (including probable targets and agents).

Where appropriate the vulnerability analysis will also address the state of training and the ability of the soldier and unit to meet the shock and stress of an NBC attack. In World War I, chemical warfare resulted in many soldiers becoming nonbattle casualties because of battlefield shock and stress.

Other members of the battle staff also brief NBC information provided them by the chemical staff during the estimate process. This information can include, but is not limited to, NBC threat considerations, the commander's PIR, rules of engagement, or smoke in the deception plan.


The chemical estimate follows the general format of other staff estimates (see FM 101-5 and FM 3-101). Because of time constraints in combat, it is seldom written below corps level, but this format should be followed at all echelons. The chemical staff develops an estimate that is as detailed as time permits. At battalion task force level, planning and executing an operation normally occur within a few hours. In contrast, corps-level planning typically occurs three to five days in advance. The estimate format provides the best assurance that the chemical staff has considered all essential information needed for a viable plan.

Chemical Unit Estimate

The chemical unit estimate follows the same format as the one done by the chemical staff on a commander's staff. However, the chemical unit commander and his staff develop a plan to accomplish the mission assigned by the supported force or a higher chemical unit headquarters.

The commander of a chemical unit that supports another force commander coordinates closely with the chemical staff on that force's battle staff. The commander provides input for the development of the chemical estimate at that level and concurrently develops his own estimate for his own unit.


The chemical unit commander determines a restated mission for his unit based upon the assigned specific and implied tasks that his unit must do. All estimates, whether driven by the staff or the commander, are driven by mission.

Situation and Courses of Action

Much of the situation analysis done by the chemical battle staff applies to the supporting chemical unit. The chemical unit commander develops courses of action for those elements of his unit still under his control. These courses of action support the course of action chosen by the force commander. His ope rational plans do not include subordinate units that are supporting other forces. However, he must still plan logistics support for elements placed OPCON to another unit.

Commanders of chemical units operating under the control of a higher chemical unit headquarters, instead of another force headquarters, develop and coordinate their own situation analysis with the controlling unit. They incorporate information from the staff of any appropriate headquarters within their area of operations into their estimate.

Analysis of Courses of Action

The chemical unit commander identifies significant factors, wargames his courses of action, and lists the advantages and disadvantages for each of his courses of action.

Comparison of Courses of Action

The chemical unit commander develops a decision matrix to choose the course of action that best accomplishes his unit's mission.


The chemical unit commander chooses the best course of action that will accomplish the mission.


Once the commander makes his decision on the course of action to follow, the estimate provides most of the information needed to write the OPORD or OPLAN. The order or plan conveys the decision to subordinate elements of the force in a clear and concise manner. The chemical staff assists the rest of the staff to produce the order or plan. His primary concerns are--

  • Task organization. The heading of the order or a separate annex includes the task organization. The chemical staff lists the chemical units under the proper control headquarters and with the correct command or support relationships.

  • Intelligence. The chemical staff coordinates with the G2/S2 to ensure that the PIR address the threat of enemy NBC weapons, smoke, non-lethal, and flame weapons. He also ensures that an adequate assessment is made of the enemy's intent and capability to conduct NBC operations.

  • Chemical concept. Paragraph 3, Execution, has a "Concept" subparagraph that describes the commander's visualization of the operation from start to finish. This usually includes a brief concept for the use of chemical units.

  • Chemical unit subparagraph. Paragraph 3 of the order includes taskings to subordinate units. The chemical unit subparagraph assigns NBC defense and smoke tasks identified throughout the estimate process.

  • Service support. This paragraph includes required materiel services to support the chemical units and their missions. At division level and above it often appears in a separate annex.

  • Coordinating instructions. This paragraph includes needed information, such as MOPP level, and operational exposure guidance.

Join the mailing list