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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)



The tactical planning process focuses on accomplishing the mission within the commander's intent. Chemical planners at all levels integrate their plans into other battlefield operating systems to maximize force effectiveness. This appendix discusses the chemical staff's actions in the planning process. For more detailed information on the planning process, see FM 101-5.

Tactical planning is a continuous process. Commanders and staffs continuously assess new information for its impact on current and future operations. While planning is continuous and cannot be totally isolated from current actions, it is a sequential process that begins with the receipt of the higher headquarters' order.

Chemical officers at all levels must understand the planning process and their role in it. Staffs at all levels use the military decision making process (MDMP) (Figure D-1) to prepare operational plans or orders. The MDMP has ten major steps: receipt of the mission, information exchange, mission analysis, staff estimates, commander's decision, preparation of plans/orders, approval of plans/orders, issuance of plans/orders, supervision, and mission execution.


Planning begins with receipt of the order from the higher headquarters. The battle staff assembles and gathers the critical information needed by the commander to begin the planning process.


During this phase of the MDMP, the commander and the staff exchange information concerning the unit's current status. This information may include the NBC threat, status of supporting chemical units, areas of contamination, contaminated units, current decontamination operations, and the current MOPP level. The information provided should require immediate attention or have a lasting affect on the next mission, for example, the next mission is a hasty attack (line of departure (LD) within 12 hours), the TF's only tank company is contaminated and the supporting decon platoon has not yet linked up. This requires immediate attention and will affect the development of the scheme of maneuver.

The chemical officer must be ready to present this information to the commander--

  • Current NBC threat (to include probability of attack).

  • Current MOPP level.

  • Current status of supporting chemical units.

    • Location.

    • Current capability.

    • Anticipated capability.

  • Status of any contaminated units or ongoing decontamination operations


During mission analysis, the higher headquarter's order is analyzed to determine what must be accomplished. The chemical officer is primarily concerned with identifying all specified, implied, and essential/critical tasks concerning NBC defense. Restraints and constraints are also identified. The identification of implied tasks includes an analysis of the enemy's NBC capability and employment doctrine. If the enemy uses persistent agents to block avenues of approach or to shape the battlefield, some implied tasks during an offensive mission might be to--

  • Identify contaminated areas in zone.

  • Mark contaminated areas.

  • Cross contaminated areas.

  • Conduct operational decontamination.

  • Coordinate for thorough decontamination.

  • Evacuate contaminated casualties.

  • Recover contaminated vehicles/equipment.

  • Move contaminated vehicles/personnel to a decon site.

  • Establish appropriate MOPP level.

  • Employ smoke.

  • Assist in patient decon planning.

  • Assist in mortuary affairs decon planning.

When tasks are identified, the cprocesshemical officer works with the G3/S3 to incorporate any essential/critical tasks into the unit's restated mission, if necessary. The G2/S2 presents the initial threat analysis to the commander as part of the mission analysis. A general NBC threat assessment should have been developed between the G2/S2 and the chemical officer prior to presentation of the initial threat analysis to the commander. The commander will then issue his planning guidance, usually by battlefield operating system and battlefield framework (deep, close, and rear), and his intent for the operation. The planning guidance may be general or specific in nature. The chemical officer uses the restated mission as the basis for his estimate.


The staff estimate is a four part process: situation analysis, course of action analysis, course of action comparison, and the recommendation to the commander. The level of detail is dependent on the amount of planning time available. However, the steps that the chemical officer goes through to develop his estimate are the same despite the time available. Coordination with other staff sections (fire support, operations, intelligence, air defense, engineers, and combat service support) is critical. Written estimates are rare! y found below corps or division level. However, the chemical staff officer should follow the format at Figure D-2 to ensure all considerations are examined.


During situation analysis, the chemical staff officer first examines those aspects of the weather, terrain, enemy, and friendly forces that are significant from the standpoint of NBC defense. The analysis is an interactive process for the entire staff, so the chemical officer cannot wait upon other members to complete their portions of the analysis before beginning to develop his own. The situation analysis drives the later development of the plan.

The area of operations is examined to determine the effects of weather and terrain on chemical and smoke employment. The chemical officer, with the G2/S2 determine the enemy's capability to use NBC weapons, smoke and flame. The chemical officer assesses what effect these could have on friendly forces. The friendly situation is examined to determine what chemical corps assets are available to support the mission and the NBC defense training status. Possible courses of action for chemical unit support are developed. Each course of action is analyzed to determine its advantages and disadvantages in relation to the situation and the possible NBC threat. They are compared and the most advantageous one is recommended to the commander or G3/S3.

The chemical officer continues his situation analysis by reviewing the friendly situation including forces and resources available for the mission (including those available at the higher headquarters). The chemical officer assesses the availability of personnel and logistics to support chemical operations, identifying any significant limitations. The chemical officer works with the G1/Sl and G4/S4 when determining the personnel and logistic requirements. The current status of contaminated units, their current operations, and when decontamination will be completed are also determined.

The chemical officer finishes the estimate of the situation with an analysis of the availability of chemical units to conduct decontamination, NBC reconnaissance, and smoke operations. He uses the status of units, their current operations, and completion times for ongoing activities.

The chemical officer provides the G3/S3 the significant assumptions made that could have a major impact upon the whole plan. This ensures that all staff members base their estimates on the same parameters.


The G3/S3 has the lead in analyzing each course of action and identifying the significant factors used in the process. These are usually critical events or actions, such as a passage of lines or the assault and seizure of an objective. The chemical officer, with the rest of the battle staff, assist the G3 /S3 to wargame each course of action against the anticipated enemy action or reaction. The chemical officer identifies advantages and disadvantages for each course of action from the chemical viewpoint.

Shortfalls in chemical resources become apparent during the wargaming process. The chemical officer adjusts the plan to handle these. For every course of action, the NBC defense and smoke plans must meet the commander's requirements. When a critical maneuver event fails due to the lack of chemical resources, the proposed course of action is not feasible.


The chemical officer compares each course of action and selects the best one from the chemical perspective. That information is provided to the G3/S3 for incorporation into the decision process.


The chemical officer makes his recommendation to the commander during the decision brief. The type and amount of information briefed depends upon the needs and preferences of the individual commander. In general, the briefing should cover--

  • Concept for chemical support.

  • Chemical mission priorities.

  • Critical NBC and smoke events/actions.

  • Task organization and command/support relationships.

  • NBC defense and smoke overlay (including smoke, NBC reconnaissance, and decontamination employment and concept of use).

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

  • Critical tasks for subordinate units.

  • Vulnerability assessment (including probable targets and agents).

  • Levels of risk taken.

Other members of the battle staff brief information provided to them by the chemical officer during the interactive estimate process. This is particularly true of the intelligence portion of the decision briefing and the comparison of courses of action. This information can include, but is not limited to, NBC threat considerations, commander's PIR, or smoke in the deception plan.


The IPB process is explained in greater detail in Appendix E. This section discusses the role of the IPB in the planning process.

The intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) normally takes place during the estimate phase. The G2/S2 takes the lead in the IPB, but the entire staff is involved. While the IPB is a five- part process (battlefield area evaluation, terrain analysis, weather analysis, threat evaluation, and threat integration), most of the analysis is conducted prior to the mission or concurrently. The IPB drives the entire planning process. The chemical staff officer provides information and technical advice to the G2/S2 throughout the IPB process. Much of the analysis of the friendly and enemy situation is accomplished within the IPB process.

Weather and terrain information is critical. The chemical officer evaluates the climatic data and the weather forecast to identify factors critical to NBC weapons and smoke employment. Terrain is analyzed for observation, cover and concealment, obstacles, key terrain, and avenues of approach (OCOKA). The impact of terrain on NBC weapons and smoke employment is identified. Areas with deficiencies in natural cover and concealment are identified for possible smoke operations. Water sources for decontamination operations are identified.

During the threat evaluation phase, the chemical officer provides the G2/S2 an analysis of the enemy's capability to influence the battle using NBC weapons and smoke. After the capabilities of the enemy are determined, the chemical officer must predict how the enemy will likely employ NBC weapons to influence his operation. At the brigade and task force levels the G2/S2 normally develops a situational template for each enemy course of action depicting how the enemy may be arrayed. Once the G2/S2 produces the enemy situational template, the chemical officer provides the G2/S2 an analysis of the enemy's probable employment of NBC weapons and smoke. The chemical officer identifies the probable location/targets for persistent chemical agents and adds them to the template. Trigger points for the execution of nonpersistent strikes are also determined and depicted on the situational or event templates.

After the enemy's most likely course of action is determined, the chemical officer works with the G2/S2 to develop the intelligence collection plan (to confirm the estimate of the enemy's NBC activities at key times and locations). The chemical officer works with the G2/S2 and fire support coordinator (FSCOORD) to identify areas of potential enemy vulnerability and high-value targets (HVTs) for attack with nuclear weapons.


The commander decides on a course of action and will provide detailed planning guidance to the staff. Detailed warning orders are issued to subordinate chemical units, allowing them to begin preliminary planning. At this point, the chemical officer must have a clear picture of the NBC threat, how chemical units will be employed, and the overall NBC defense plan. If not, seek additional guidance.


Once the commander has issued his guidance, the staff begins to prepare the plan. Staff coordination is essential during this phase of the planning process. The chemical officer must coordinate with the G3/S3, fire support officer, and the subordinate chemical unit commander. The combat service support (CSS) considerations of the NBC defense and smoke employment plans are coordinated with the G4/S4. An example of an NBC defense plan is located in FM 101-5. Once the plan is completed, the commander will review & approve or disapprove it.


The chemical officer briefs the NBC and smoke plans during the orders briefing. A simple briefing format is used by each staff officer to rapidly provide all necessary information. Subordinate or supporting chemical unit commanders attend the orders briefing to understand the mission, the entire plan, and how the chemical unit fits into the overall operation.


Planning is a continuous operation. Plans and orders must be adapted or modified based on new information received, rehearsals conducted, and guidance/missions received from higher headquarters. The subordinate or supporting chemical unit commander must provide his plan to the chemical staff officer for review to ensure it meets the commander's intent.

Subordinate units must backbrief their plans/orders to their higher headquarters. This allows the higher commander to ensure that his subordinates have developed their plans/orders in accordance with their concept for the operation. There are two types of backbriefs--full and abbreviated. When time is not critical, use the full backbrief format (Figure D-3) and, if time is limited, use the abbreviated backbrief format (Figure D-4). Chemical units will backbrief their higher or supported units, and chemical staffs will backbrief their higher chemical staffs. Conducting backbriefs promotes the synchronization and integration of plan/orders.

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