Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), by Pudge

What are standard (or standing) operating procedures (SOPs), and why should you have them? According to the U.S. Army, a SOP is “a clearly written set of instructions for methods detailing procedures for carrying out a routine or recurring task or study.” Now what does this really mean and how can I actually apply this to both my daily life and also high stress situations?

First, a quick background so that you can understand why this topic is so important to me. I’m an active duty Army Special Forces officer (O-3) with extensive experience around the world. I make my living using and creating Standard Operating Procedures for every situation you can think of within my team as well as with indigenous persons from other countries. I use these SOPs to enhance my lethality, effectiveness, survivability, and capability. They are what help separate my team from other units and allow us to operate at a much higher level. Okay, let’s get down to it.

What is an SOP, really? It can be as simple as: Each person will carry x-number of magazines on them for their rifle and handgun, or as complicated as exactly what you will need to do during a night time linkup with another friendly element. Why do we have them? We have them to eliminate extra steps or remove overthinking from the equation. We have them to make sure everyone follows the same standard for loadout on a patrol around the area. We have them so that no matter who is on guard shift, when a potential threat comes stumbling up to the gate at zero dark thirty, we all know exactly how to respond, even while still half asleep. They are used for all of these situations and many more.

At work, my team has a SOP booklet that is handed out whenever we receive a new teammate. Their job for that first week is to study this book. Now this alone isn’t going to get them up to speed with the rest of the team but it will make the learning curve not quite as steep. Additionally, whenever we go out for training, we review the SOPs for topics that we are going to cover. We do this so that everyone is on the same page and that everyone knows exactly what needs to be done and in what order so that we can work as efficiently as possible.

An example SOP may be flat range preparation. This part of our SOP booklet is a checklist showing exactly what needs to be contained in the team’s Range Box. It is presented as a checklist and reads:

1) Training plan

2) Medical Plan

3) Risk assessment

4) Range Radio

5) Staple gun

6) Extra staples

7) Armorer’s kit

8) Extra foam ear plugs

9) Gun oil and rags

10) Targets

11) Spare batteries (AA, AAA, CR123, 2032)

12) Cleaning rod

13) Water

14) shade (tent)

15) Tables

16) Whiteboard

17) Markers

18) Tape (100mph, electrical, masking)

19) Timer

20) Chem lights (red, green, blue, IR).

Every time we go to the flat range someone checks the range box, even if we went and conducted live fire at the same range the day before. By going through it every time we never have to worry about missing an item, causing someone to have to go all the way back to the team room, wasting precious training time.

The very next page discusses what you need to be wearing/have on you for a flat range. Our book also has diagrams and pictures to assist in showing certain standards. Like I stated, they can be as simple as daily uniform wear to as complex as the conduct of Close Quarters Battle (CQB) within a city. We have these SOPs so that in extreme stress, I know exactly where the person in front, behind, and to the side of me are going to go and they all know where I am going. This helps create predictability. Predictability amongst the team, especially while firing live rounds near one another, is paramount in making sure we are as safe as possible. The last thing you want to do is injure a teammate because you didn’t know they were going to step in front of you or they went off by themselves because you didn’t maintain your two-man rule.

Everyone knowing exactly what to do increases efficiency. However, just because something is written down as your SOP does not mean you cannot change it. In fact, every time we conduct our training we review, reassess, and update SOPs as necessary. An example of this is how my team entered a room during CQB. We had done it a certain way for at least 5-6 years. Then, after attending some advanced schooling where I received extensive training in the most up to date conduct of clearing houses, we made some slight changes. Ultimately, after the changes, we managed to get the second man inside the room in about .5-.75 seconds after the first man versus the 1-1.5 seconds it was taking us prior. This may not seem like a lot, but alone in a room full of bad guys shooting at you, 1 second is forever.

Another example of us tweaking established SOPs was after getting a chance to real world test QuikClot gauze versus regular Kerlix, a standard gauze bandage carried by US Soldiers. We found that one to two small strips of QuikClot gauze would stop the bleeding that was otherwise taking us four to five Kerlix bandages. That is why I carry two packages of QuikClot gauze in my med kit on my plate carrier for work and also why I keep some on me or in all my vehicles every day.

Once the team votes and agrees on a standard, we then validate it. After it has been thoroughly tested and validated it becomes the team SOP on a subject. We then immediately add it to the book or replace the old standard with our new one. We are always reviewing, reassessing, and updating SOPs based on new equipment, new techniques, or new knowledge. You must be willing to adapt and change. Just because you have done something one way for five years does not mean that it is the best way. On the other hand, the way you have been doing something may in fact be the best way. Try new techniques whenever you can but don’t change your SOP unless the new way is better.

Something to think about with these SOPs, if forming a group with little to no experience in a subject, you may want to have something simple to start with as your SOP and then adjust once you can all reach that standard. You cannot be an expert in everything but having knowledge and practicing many different things can at least get you to a satisfactory level of proficiency.

There are times however when they can be over the top and not practical. One such example would be exact setup of your go to war kit (minus a couple items). I used to always complain when I was in the Infantry about how I was told exactly how my body armor needed to be set up. There was MOLLE webbing for a reason. If you didn’t want me to modify my stuff with what works for me then why not just have pre-sewn on pouches? Rule of thumb is- if it doesn’t work for the majority or doesn’t enhance your group then it probably shouldn’t be a standard.

Some things regarding kit setup don’t necessarily need to be SOP but there are exceptions. Medical gear is one of them to me. Our SOP is for everyone’s Individual First Aid Kit (IFAK) to be located on our left side in the same place and everyone will have two tourniquets: one on the back of their belt and one on the front of their body armor. We do this so that if someone is injured, anyone can run up and immediately know where their medical supplies are so they can begin working on that person. (As a side note, you always want to use their supplies on them first because you never know when you may need to use your own supplies on yourself.)

SOPs in Daily Life

I’m sure some of you are asking how can I use this in daily life, not just out on the range or conducting operations. Think about all the things that you already do daily. You know exactly how to start the coffee maker, how you arrange your books so that you can find a certain one when needed, you put your tools on the shelf a specific way. I know I hate when someone borrows my tools or books and puts them back incorrectly or can’t work the coffee maker in the morning when I need to wake up.

Now imagine getting together with your family and/or group who don’t do the same things as you every day. SOPs can mitigate some of that frustration that may build. If you are stocking food for your group, do you put cans in the same direction so you can read what is in the can or do you have the labels facing every which way? I’m sure it would drive your logistician crazy to have to rotate every other can during inventories just to see what someone put on the shelves last week. Your SOP book may contain many, many things. Ours has daily schedules so that anyone can go in and see what meetings we have and when. Additionally, when deployed we put our guard rotations in it and everyone knows where to look.

I think I’ve covered your ability to use SOPs to your advantage so I want to hit on a few more items or setup of your SOP book. The very first page of our SOP book is our mission statement and vision. I want everyone to know up front what we stand for and want to accomplish. Next is the table of contents. This is followed by our manning roster and dated blocks that everyone must initial by the listed date signifying they’ve reviewed the book as scheduled. This holds members of the team accountable for actually knowing the information contained within. After that, all our SOPs are ordered as stated in the table of contents.

We have a physical copy of our SOPs as well as each individual has a digital copy. Anyone is allowed to update or add additions after a validation of the changes is conducted and a review by the leadership. Just make sure everyone knows when the book is updated or have a single person be the editor. Any updates should not be a surprise. This will ensure everyone gets the most up to date information even if they missed the last training event. Our SOP book is a living, breathing, ever changing document that makes our team who we are.

Example SOP List

Here is an example SOP book content for a team:

  • Mission statement/vision
  • Table of contents
  • Roster
  • Duties and responsibilities for each person/position
  • Meeting format/conduct meeting layout
  • Uniform/clothing standard
  • Reporting format (SALT and SALUTE)
  • Planning products
  • Planning step by step guide
  • Warning Operations Order (WARNO) format
  • Operations Order (OPORD) format
  • Flat range
  • Patrolling (foot, vehicle, boat, etc…)
  • Link-up procedures
  • React to contact
  • Raid
  • Ambush
  • CQB-defensive layout
  • Defensive posture
  • Setup of LP/OPs
  • Radio callsigns
  • Radio etiquette/reporting
  • Antenna construction
  • Duty log
  • Inventory schedule
  • Proper marking of equipment/supplies
  • Etc…

I know that this is only scratching the surface of Standard Operating Procedures but hopefully it has helped get the mind working. If you don’t have an SOP book, then I suggest you start one. Don’t worry if it isn’t done in the first weekend get-together. It took 10 of us around 6 months working on it after every training session to get it where it is today and even still, we continually are adding to and updating it.

Now go start a discussion with your family/group/team and test some things out and then get them written down. You’ll be happy later when you start having more time during each gathering because of the efficiencies you’ve created. Go be the best you can be.

Editor’s Closing Note: I’ve seen the author’s Officer Record Brief (ORB.)  He is the genuine article.




56 Comments

  1. Yup back as a c.o. I was fortunate enough to get to spend time organizing the training materials for the i.s.t. (in service training) we had manuals for everything from cell extractions and individual officer roles to defensive and offensive driving tactics for the transport officers.

    Being organized and practiced is the difference between good and bad.

    I love these old articles made new again.

  2. Good stuff to live by, thank you. Retired military, though not as well trained as you, I also have some basic SOPs for some situations. The group I am with is extremely diverse and all ages. The K.I.S.S. (Keep It Simple Stupid) is the best way to go. Any acronym is spelled out and explained at the very beginning of each SOP, and I try to keep those to a minimum. Thank you for the knowledge gained and thank you for all that you do in real life.

    1. Acronyms will trip anyone up. The best plan is usually the easiest. You can remember it and it can be adjusted easily. And remember that there are many branches within the military for a reason. No one can do it alone.

  3. This was good stuff!
    At the end of your article you say it took 10 people 6 months (and I might add, there will undoubtedly be changes made as needed…) I think that was very productive and time well spent.
    The military has highly paid (and sometimes overpaid) professionals at the Pentagon and at every Headquarters (Ft. Benning, Ft. Bragg, Ft. Rucker, Ft. Sam Houston, Camp Pendleton, Camp Lejeune, etc.) doing this same thing every day.

    After 24 years in the Army, I’m still learning…
    Thanks for the information

    1. I agree whole-heartedly that this was time well spent and ultimately has made us not just more productive but more lethal with a better chance of survival. SOPs should start at the lowest level because we are the ones that they can mean life or death for. That is why I believe this information was important to get out.

      Thank you for reiterating the fact that no matter how much experience you have there is always more to learn.

  4. For ten years I wrote SOP’s for a major police agency. Frustrating. Every new political appointment had a different idea as to how things should read or work. Changes were constant. The procedure (reviews, meetings, etc..) to obtain final approvals went on forever. And the actual writing was endless in the 1970’s B.C. (before computers).

    I remember completing an elaborate SOP for a detail oriented supervisor. Before it was officially issued the supervisor was replaced. The new guy comes in and says the SOP is too complicated. Rewrite in a “cookbook” version. And the guy after him complained that it wasn’t thorough enough. Rewrite.

    I’m not sure what the point of my writing is except to say it seems no one is ever satisfied with an SOP. Everyone seems to have a different idea of what it should entail.

    My final thought was someone should write an SOP explaining how to write an SOP.

    1. TominAlaska raises an important point related to public policy…

      From the post: ” Every new political appointment had a different idea as to how things should read or work.”

      Public policy is governed by politicians whose ideas vary with party, and across time. Making matters more complicated, difficult and even dangerous, the current environment is riddled with radicalism. Reasoned, critical thinking is essential, but is no longer enough a part of important decision making processes and policy development.

    2. Tom, I had to chuckle. First over our name and then from the flashbacks. I did the same thing, but for a smaller (30 officers) agency. Fortunately, I was only tasked with just a few areas of responsibility.
      Also fortunately my dad taught me exactly what your final sentence stated. I would rewrite a 20 page SOP and make it 2 pages. At first, supervisors questioned how, why, etc. but our then new Chief loved it. And he was a detail oriented guy.

      Thank you Pudge for a great article and reminder to plan!
      I love learning from this site every day.

      1. Tom,

        I have enjoyed reading all your comments. The virus crisis means more internet time in the COVID BRIG: Bored/Retired/Irritated/Gaining weight.

        I’ll look forward to your future posts. With glee.

    3. I would say the biggest difference between what you did and what I’m talking about here is that these SOPs are for you and your group. It is much easier when you make your own rules and a lot harder when someone is dictating what they want. Politics at all levels can be quite frustrating.

  5. I have to agree with TominAlaska. I worked for a major US corporation which was full of ex military administrators. Procedures were constantly being rewritten, discarded, or found lacking in workable solutions. Incredible amounts of time and manpower were wasted on meeting after meeting with decisions being avoided due to lack of first hand experience. A good example was 12 professionals working on a 150 page manual for 6 weeks only it to have the entire well thought out manual thrown out by the senior administrators. No further work was done in regards to a policy and procedures manual and there was consequently a lot of flapping and flailing that ensued. Lesson learned, “Listen to your Sargeantes”

    1. From Joe’s post: “Incredible amounts of time and manpower were wasted on meeting after meeting with decisions being avoided due to lack of first hand experience.”

      Another excellent point to be made about “who” is making decisions, whether or not the decision makers are qualified to be in those positions of decision making authority, and how we define “qualified”.

      1. I’m sure almost anyone who has worked for another person has felt this to a degree. And to that I will add to what Joe stated, “Listen to your Sergeants” and say that keep pushing from your perspective. If you are the end user then you should have input. Quality leadership will know that. And if they aren’t quality, then sometimes you have to be the squeaky wheel until they listen.

  6. A more mundane example is having an SOP written for your generator or wood stove, so someone other than yourself knows how to operate it, where the fuel is, where the spare parts are, where the breaker box is, how to switch over the power so you don’t energize lines and kill the linemen, etc.

    One time a buddy of mine called in the night because he had to rush his wife to the hospital at the beginning of a snowstorm, and needed me to watch their children and tend the woodstove. It wasn’t a big deal, but point being people other than yourself need to know how to operate your house.

  7. Thank you, Pudge! An excellent article reinforcing the value and importance of having SOPs, updating and revising those as needed, and active and ongoing training.

    From your article: “We have these SOPs so that in extreme stress, I know exactly where the person in front, behind, and to the side of me are going to go and they all know where I am going. This helps create predictability.”

    The importance of this point cannot be overstated. Never underestimate the ways in which uncertainty and the confusion that results can lead to disaster in situations involving extreme stress.

    Further… Extreme stress can give rise to strange (and otherwise inexplicable) behaviors among people. With this in mind, it’s important to understand that the word “unpredictable” may not mean “mildly unpredictable”. Instead, it may mean “wildly unpredictable”.

    In fact, and in addition to the ways in which people respond to extreme stress… The situations involving extreme stress are often themselves, by their very nature and definition, “wildly unpredictable”. Taking steps to minimize the variables, and to make conditions more manageable (understanding that this is a relative statement), can be literally life-saving.

    Remain steady. Be safe. Stay well everyone!

    1. Knowing what someone else is going to do can mean the difference between success and failure and as you stated, “life-saving.” Not just for that person but for you as well. Predictability is crucial when in close proximity to other friendlies while opposing forces are also within that close proximity as well. This predictability is what separates my team’s abilities from others.

  8. Great article Pudge.

    As Pudge pointed out, IMO the most important aspect of SOP’s is that in emergency, high-stress situations, you don’t have to think, you just go into autodrive mode. I would recommend that every reader start out by writing an SOP for their home and calling it their Fire Plan. In the 10 years I have lived in my present location, there have been 50+ houses burn to the ground because nobody has a fire plan other than:

    1. Call 911
    2. Stand in the yard and wait for someone to show up and take care of me

    That’s NOT a fire plan unless your plan is to watch most of your belongings go up in smoke. If you live in a rural area, it only takes 15 minutes for the fire to get to the point of no return, and it takes a minimum of 16 minutes for the volunteer fire department to show up.

    Here’s how to come up with an SOP for fires: Plan ahead. Think about what kinds of fires you are most likely to have (wood stove, cook stove, kerosene lantern, etc) and then how you would respond to each of those. Learn what to do and what not to do about a grease fire, electrical fire, etc. Do some internet research. Learn how to respond to a fire without panicking. Buy some very basic equipment like a fire extinguisher, a good $60, 100-foot rubber garden hose and a $4 brass “sweeper” nozzle (they shoot water 30+ feet). If you’ve got the money, get some real firefighting equipment. Once you get it all figured out, write it down. That’s your SOP, or a Fire Plan if you want to call it that. And then, most importantly, have regular fire drills. In your SOP, each person has their specific job. Here’s my original fire drill:

    Person 1
    1. Go out front door
    2. Turn on the well
    3. Grab the kindling hatchet off the woodpile
    4. Meet at the back door.

    Person 2
    1. Go out the back door, flip on the deck light
    2. Grab the hose from the well house
    3. Uncoil the hose while running towards the orchard
    4. Grab the female end and hook it up in the well house
    5. Grab the nozzle end, meet at back door.

    With practice we got it down to 90 seconds from the time to smoke alarm went off until we were both standing at the back door, ready to slide it open and shoot water inside from the safety of the back deck. Now that I live alone, it’s still under two minutes.

    It’s hard to believe how few people have a home fire plan when their most important resource is their home. In a TEOTWAWKI situation, it’s going to be pretty hard to replace.

    Today would be a good day to start on your first SOP, your home Fire Plan.

    1. I have to add something here, after calling 911, pull the main breaker, doubly so if you are going to spray water!

      Unless you’re spraying non-conductive foam, you risk electrocution.

    2. Another amazing example of every day life SOPs. And you hit the nail on the head that it is not just write it down and call it good but practice it. It is only standard once you can do it without thinking or looking at what you wrote down. Practice is what makes it!

  9. If you can get these done and numbered, take a lesson from some AF units. If the date is the 1st of the month, a briefing will start with #1.Let’s review SOP for Fire in an engine #2 let’s review SOP for landing gear does not retract #3. etc. This way all critical emergencies get covered on average 12x per year if there are daily briefings. This also works for roll call, family dinner (although this will meet with lots of eye-rolling)

    1. I really like the idea of having them numbered and review #x-#x each month or what you deem necessary so that no matter what you’ve essentially reviewed your entire handbook once a year.

  10. Excellent information, thank you.

    Not sure if you guys do this, but if a change is made, don’t just toss the old page(s) – keep them nearby for reference if needed.

    In addition to each member carrying their med kit in the same place, I would highly recommend an individual overall gear check (status of weapons, comms, NVGs, etc.) and make sure everything is as it should be – an early lapse combined with an A$$umption regarding these procedures cost us during a CQB competition.

    When deciding whether to make a change (specifically to CQB techniques), once you think you have something worthwhile, try to pick it apart from an OPFOR perspective, the holes in it may show themselves quite rapidly.

    “1 second is forever.” = 100% true.

    Team chemistry/prediction of movement is EXTREMELY important, and only comes with time and the proper training under stress.

    “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

    1. We do keep old pages as well because inevitably if it was tried before it will be tried again. This is certainly true with CQB tactics and techniques.

      If it is a tactical SOP definitely look at it from an OPFOR perspective. “Red team” it if you will. There is a reason we don’t run into a house looking like the top 3 gun competitors. They just have to be fast. We have to be fast and survive.

      It does take time to build team chemistry/predictability and like they say about planting trees, “the best time to do it was 20 years ago, the next best time is today.”

    1. That was the hardest part for me to convey. How do I describe SOPs while not saying, “this is the way an SOP is done.” It is up to each group to modify them in a way that they benefit.

      1. Well you did a good job. I’ve got a lot of hours working on those myself. Trying to get one done for the group now is actually harder than in the military because everyone has their own weapon systems, vehicles that take different amounts and use different amounts of fuel, alternate housing etc.

        1. I appreciate it. It is much harder when you don’t have standardized equipment. I’d be willing to guess that is why in ‘Patriots’ it was mentioned that there was a standard load and then guys could have extra if they wanted. The best you can hope for if your group won’t or doesn’t want to carry the same gear is that there are at least some similarities. Hopefully at least caliber and magazines for weapons and one form of fuel for vehicles.

  11. Excellent article, those who fail to plan should plan to fail. Applying your SOP in real time training is crucial as well, things that sound great or look good on paper sometimes come completely unglued when mixed with sweat and Adrenalin.
    We had a corporate safety director that absolutely loved to write SOPs, the problem was he never changed or updated any he just kept thinking up new tasks and how to make them “accident proof”. Pretty soon we had project directors calling out field supervisors wanting to know why things weren’t getting done. You guessed it, it was taking so long to review and comply with the mountain of SOPs that very little actual work got done. Once the project directors figured out the problem the safety director’s autonomous authority to write procedure ended and it became quite similar to the authors procedure where new SOPs were signed of by field supervisors, crew leaders AND the safety director. Suddenly we were working both more productively and reduced safety accidents, a win win.

    1. One of the first SOPs established needs to be how SOPs are established and your example is exactly why. If used correctly they can be a huge asset to any organization/element.

  12. Pudge,

    So Was just wondering your take on SOPs verses SOGs? I write both and tell my staff if it is an SOP there shall not be any deviation, usually these are safety related like vehicle use SOPs. However much of what I write is Standard Operating Guidelines (SOGs) where I tell them this is the way to do it, however if there is a situation that requires deviation then it is allowed, but you must be able to articulate why the SOG had to be deviated from. Just wondering if you have any thoughts you might want to share? Thanks for the article!

    1. 3AD Scout,

      I’m glad you liked the article. I’ll give you ‘Pudge’s’ thoughts, knowing they are one answer but not the only answer. SOPs, like you stated, should not be deviated from if you can help it. The biggest reason is the predictability that I talked about. This is very true in the tactical realm as well as procedures such as starting and hooking up a generator. Some things just require a specific step by step way of being done. Understanding this, the enemy does have a vote and can force you to change what you are doing. This essentially means that it is not necessarily dictated down to the exacts because environment changes your reactions as well.

      To me, if it does not need to be an SOP (specific) then I’m not going to give my guys a SOG (deviation allowed). I’m just going to give them end-state and any specific guidance if necessary. I like to give my team the flexibility to do tasks as they see fit. (Like I started this response, I have my way but it is not the only way.) I’ve found that just giving what I need versus how to do it, creates ownership of the task by who I tasked it with. By not giving them exactly how they have to do it, they will usually try harder because they want to prove that they can do it as best as possible. The other reason I try to avoid SOGs in the sense you described is due to some people’s personalities. I’m sure you have examples where someone should have deviated, but they were afraid of having to describe why they did. So instead, they just continued following the SOG step by step when they should not have. The only way to fight this is by having trust up, down, and sideways in your group. I hope that answer makes sense. I’d enjoy hearing your thoughts.

      1. Pudge,

        Makes sense, especially from a tactical standpoint. I was going to bring up recognition primed decision making and how SOPs and SOGs fit into making quick decisions. Obviously SOPs are drilled to the point where it because basically muscle memory. While, in my humble opinion, SOGs allow a person or team to use memory markers to quickly ascertain the most appropriate course of action. I work in a field where we have to make quick decision without 80% of the information and I teach my crew to be cognizant of how their minds will direct them to a course of action – sometimes good, sometimes bad but if they are aware of the subconscious influences on their decisions they my assess their decision before implementing. Of course this isn’t a process to use for immediate action like reacting to contact etc. those need to be pure muscle memory.

        1. 3AD Scout,

          This is extremely informative. I would very much agree with your description of SOGs and why they may be more appropriate in certain situations. I think the biggest thing you pointed out is “memory markers” and making sure each person knows to stop at these points knowing they are decision points. Having a team where everyone knows their biases and can step back to make decisions without being influenced by them would be an amazing goal for any group.

          I’d also like to highlight what you said about how important it is to continue making decisions even “without 80% of the information.” Usually any decision is better than no decision.

  13. Pudge,

    Thank You for your service!!!!This was a very excellent article for us who are long out of the fight. This was really good for me to review and revise. I wonder if I could persuade you to write MUCH More? I understand that your are a busy person, but this was great because we who are long out of the fight are able to share your fresh ideas and improve our Preps. Your lists are particularly helpful, as I cutting and pasting these things.

    1. East Sierra Sage,

      Thank you and I appreciate your kind words and support. I thoroughly enjoyed writing this article. I love being Special Forces because it means I get to train others and share knowledge. This article was my way of trying to reach those who don’t have the same experiences that I do or had them long ago. I’m really hoping to continue writing, so Lord willing, you will hear from me again.

  14. Pudge,

    Thank you. Can you or JWR point us to a source how to make our own SOP? It may be for how to start the tractor after a long pause or how we will operate on the range during live fire.

    Thank you for going and doing.

    1. For something like starting a tractor a step by step checklist would be the way to go. The best way to see this is to look up a portable generator manual. A good one will have a checklist to follow. Then you can take this and modify it based on your procedures for that particular piece of equipment.

      For operating on a range, depending on what you are doing, I’ve found pictures or diagrams to be indispensable. I think the best example of these in a basic form is the Ranger Handbook. Look both of these up and you should have a very good starting point.

      1. Pudge, interesting article.

        You had said, “I make my living using and creating Standard Operating Procedures for every situation you can think of within my team as well as with indigenous persons from other countries.”

        How are you defining indigenous? Thanks.

        1. I used indigenous in terms of people local to an area. In the context above I mean everyone from local Afghan tribesmen to well trained military members of nations with similar capabilities to ours and everything in between.

  15. “Once the team votes and agrees on a standard, we then validate it. After it has been thoroughly tested and validated it becomes the team SOP on a subject”

    In my opinion the above quote is the most crucial part of establishing SOP’s. I’ve been dealing with SOP’s in the manufacturing sector (DOD contracts) for about 15 years and I would be overjoyed to see this article as required reading. Thank you for writing it.

    1. The validation of an SOP is extremely crucial like you noted. Until it is tested and validated it is just another idea. However, once it is validated and established as the SOP it is now important to review and practice it whenever possible.

  16. Oh, my gosh. What a wealth of practical and lifesaving information. My SOP will have your article as required reading. For now, I can’t wait to see the smiles on my adult sons’ faces when I ask them, “Wanna read an article from a Special Forces guy?” While no one in my family is military, we have the greatest respect for our military people. Like others have said above, “Thank you for your service.” In addition, it has been an honor to learn so much from you. Thank you. May the Lord bless you, and keep you, and give you peace.

    1. Krissy,
      Thank you. I’m glad that you are taking this information and spreading it even further. The biggest compliment is being able to spread this knowledge. May the Lord bless you as well.

    1. Within the U.S. Army, when both company grade and field grade officers speak to each other in a casual setting, they often refer to their pay grades, rather than ranks. That is a way of being humble and self-deprecating. This is true both in the Special Forces, and in the Big Army. It is also very common to use pay grades rather than ranks, in any inter-service chats. The word “Captain” has a VERY different meaning, in the Army rather than the Navy! But an O-3 is an O-3, in any military branch, so it is common lingo.

  17. My only concern is that in chaos most SOPs or other plans are invlidated in the first days.

    Toilet paper? I was prepared. Can you name anyone when Covid hit that said to run out and buy it? Not food or water or masks or PPE, but TP?

    The key is to be adaptable and to keep your eyes on the prize, not try to think of every contingency first, except to evaluate if you have what you need to handle it. Swiss army knives are better than hammers.

    1. I would argue that this is the exact reason for SOPs. They help keep the chaos to as minimum as possible when you run into difficult times/situations.

      Adaptability is crucial but it is much easier to deviate from a known versus come up with a plan out of the blue. I was taught military doctrine very in-depth and then had the point driven home that, doctrine is the point from which you deviate. If you don’t know where you are starting then you won’t know where to go.

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