The Thorough Planning and Orders Process- Part 2, By J.E.D.

2. Arrange for Reconnaissance: The best way to describe this portion is with a story. Let’s say you’re looking to buy a new house with some property. This new place is going to be your retreat, so you really want to make sure it’s going to be the right place for you and your family. You found a place you really like by looking on the internet, but it’s on the other end of the state from you. So, the first thing you do is find the address to the property. Then you’ll probably MapQuest or Google map it, and get directions and time to it. Next, the real estate agent or homeowner is contacted, and a time and date is set for a meeting. You make sure your spouse/significant other and other possible family members or friends involved can meet on that same date and time. You have now just arranged for reconnaissance. It is that simple.

3. Make Reconnaissance: Now it’s time to go look at that awesome house you want. Everyone piles into the minivan, but before you get on the highway you need to stop at the gas station and fill up. While there you get some drinks and snacks and double check your map/directions to the place. Once in the closest town to your new retreat, you start to pay attention to things like the people, what stores are there, condition of the roads, et cetera. You arrive at the house and take a look around. You inspect everything to the best of your ability. On your way back home, you and everyone else will be discussing what you saw and observed. Now plans might change, due to you actually having boots on ground and seeing things for yourself, along with input from your trusted friends and family. The whole goal here is to see things for yourself and not rely on maps, pictures, and hearsay alone. Anytime you can physically be in a location and observe it for yourself, the better the information will be.

You are going to either confirm or reject your previous ideas and information after actually having eyes on what you needed to see. Remember the acronyms METT-T, SALUTE, DRAW-D, EMPCOA, and KOCOA-W; that’s the information you need to answer or confirm. Although those are just the basics, the more information the better.

4. Complete the Plan: It’s time to make a final decision on how you will accomplish your mission. You have already thought of a few ways of going about it. One of the ways that you thought was the best idea, you now realize is impractical, after completing your reconnaissance. After rejecting the first idea, you choose the second best idea you had and carry on with that. Using all the information you had, you filled in the blanks. Then, after completing a reconnaissance, you confirmed that info and answered all the questions you may have had. So now, we have to put it all together into something that is easy for everyone to understand. In comes the operation order.

5. Issue the Order: An operation order can be half a page to a few hundred pages long, depending on the size and complexity of the mission. There is a lot of information being given out to your team, and it must be clear, concise, and easy to understand. Notice I repeated myself there. The whole purpose of an operation order is to provide specific instructions and give direction to your team. It should also convert your plan into action. Although the operation order is written on paper initially and can be read by your team and understood, it was designed to be explained orally using a terrain model or map. Below is an outline of the operation order; following the outline will be a complete breakdown of what it means and how to use it. An easy way to remember what goes into an operation order is use the acronym OSMEAC.

  • Orientation.
    • Terrain Model or Map.
    • Weather.
  • Situation.
    • Enemy Situation.
      • SALUTE.
      • DRAW-D.
      • EMPCOA.
    • Friendly Situation.
      • Higher Units.
      • Adjacent Units.
      • Supporting Units.
    • Attachments and Detachments.
  • Mission.
    • Who.
    • What.
    • When.
    • Where.
    • Why.
  • Execution.
    • Commander’s Intent.
    • Concept of Operations.
    • Tasks.
    • Coordinating Instructions.
  • Administration and Logistics.
    • Beans.
    • Bullets.
    • Band-Aids.
    • Bad guys.
    • Batteries.
  • Command and Signal.
    • Command.
    • Signal.

Let’s start breaking this thing down.

  • Orientation: Prior to issuing the order, you want to orient your team to your area of operations (AO). We are not going to discuss the details of the order here. We just want to make sure everyone knows where north is, and any key land features.
    • Terrain Model or Map: When possible, always use a terrain model instead of a map. I am not going to explain what a terrain model is in this article, as it could be an article by itself. Perform an online search for “military terrain model”. I have seen quite a few good examples online. When building terrain models, it helps to have a “terrain model kit”. A usual kit consists of an ammo can as a container, different colored yarn for the grid system, roads, rivers, and routes, green army ***AMAZON?men for friendly and enemy positions, small toy cars, green foyarn for the grid system, roads, rivers, routes, green army men for friendly and enemy positions, small toy cars, green foam floral blocks for buildings, 3×5 index cards to marks grid lines and individual units, and a black marker. By building a large terrain model, you should be able to walk around inside of it. It will be more efficient and much easier to guide your team through the plan, instead of standing on the sidelines and droning on about your strategy. With a large terrain model, your team will be able to see each key land feature and understand the plan in detail. Large terrain models provide much more detail of land features than maps do, and will help those who do not know how to read a topographic map. Another option is to use a sand table. Imagine a foosball table with no handles and it filled with sand. It is the same concept as a terrain model but can be used indoors or undercover, where bare earth is not available. When you are done briefing your operations order, make sure to remove all traces of your terrain model or sand table. Remove any non-organic material, then smooth it over so no one can tell what was there. If using a map, make sure to use good quality topographic maps that are overlaid in military grid reference system grids (MGRS). MGRS maps are much easier to use than traditional latitude and longitude maps. It takes less time to plot points, measure distance, gain your bearing, and is easier to learn. There are online map-making businesses that can print out a MGRS topographic map of the area you want. Although having MGRS topographic maps are nice to work with, don’t underestimate the use of Google Earth, County appraiser’s maps, street maps, and old fashioned hand drawn maps. Avoid making permanent marks on your map that show locations and other sensitive information.
    • Weather: Remember the five military aspects of weather? They’re temperature and humidity, precipitation, wind, clouds, and visibility. All of those aspects are going into the brief; let them know what the weather is and is supposed to be like during the operation. Also, add in sunrise and sunset, so they know what they will be doing in daylight and dark. Weather is particularly important to certain groups of people, like snipers and pilots.
  • Situation: The situation paragraph contains information on the overall status and disposition of both friendly and enemy forces.
    • Enemy Situation: We are going to use the information gathered in the “Enemy” portion of METT-T to paint a picture of the enemy we are up against. You need to brief your team on the following.
      • SALUTE: Again we are talking about the enemy’s size, activity, location, unit, time, and equipment. Use it to focus your thinking on identifying and locating enemy weaknesses.
      • DRAW-D: Defend, reinforce, attack, withdraw, and delay. What do you believe the enemy is going to do?
      • EMPCOA: Enemy’s most probable course of action. Here you will put it all together into a brief statement and explain what the enemy’s most probable course of action will be.
    • Friendly Situation: This subparagraph contains mission information of the next higher unit, adjacent units, and supporting units. The information can be remembered with the acronym HAS-A.
      • Higher Units: Here you will brief your next higher unit’s mission and location. Higher units are those that your unit falls under its command.
      • Adjacent Units: You want to give brief mission statements and locations of adjacent units who will be operating in your vicinity.
      • Supporting Units: If you have any non-organic units that will be supporting the mission in any capacity, explain their missions and locations.
      • Attachments and Detachments: If you are losing part of your unit (a detachment) or gaining part of another non-organic unit (an attachment), explain that here. Be sure to include the effective time of attachment or detachment. If possible, ensure any attached personnel are present during the operation order brief.
  • Mission: Provides a clear and concise statement of what the unit must accomplish. Think about covering “who, what, when, where, and why”. The “how” will come in the next paragraph.
  • Execution: As promised, this is where the “how” comes in. In this paragraph, you will explain how you want the mission accomplished and how all the moving parts will work. This paragraph is made up of four subparagraphs– Commander’s Intent, Concept of Operations, Tasks, and Coordinating Instructions.
    • Commander’s Intent: This is your mission statement and concept of operations together. If all goes to hell and some moving parts fail, the rest can go on and accomplish the mission with just an understanding of your intent.
    • Concept of Operations: This is made up of two subparagraphs that include the Scheme of Maneuver and Fire Support Plan.
      • Scheme of Maneuver: This is your overall plan from start to finish, and it is also the first of two times you will brief the plan. Under scheme of maneuver, you will brief your plan to everyone “anonymously”. Do not name an individual or unit specifically during this brief. For example, instead of saying, “Team 2 you will support team 1”, you say “The support team will be supporting the assault team during this phase”. The tendency is for people to pay attention to only their portion of the plan and not listen to other portions, which are just as important. Make sure to brief in logical order, starting at the beginning and working your way to the end of the mission.
      • Fire Support Plan: Here, you will describe how fire support will supplement the units involved in the mission. If you do not have fire support, then do not worry about this portion. Fire support could include artillery, mortars, medium, and heavy machine guns, or air strikes.
    • Tasks: Now you can explain each specific task to be accomplished by specific individuals or units. When composing this portion of the order, be sure to list each unit’s task in a separate numbered subparagraph. Remember, task statements are your subordinate’s mission statement, so you need to include who, what, when, where, and why in each. Go through and explain the entire mission again, stating who is doing what, when, where, and how they should be doing it.
    • Coordinating Instructions: Specific instructions and tasks that pertain to two or more units in the command. Some items commonly addressed here are order of movement, planned formations, phase lines, check points, route to objective, security, main effort, and time of attack.
  • Administration and Logistics: This paragraph contains information and instructions pertaining to the “5 B’s”– Beans, Bullets, Band-Aids, Bad guys, and Batteries. We generally break this down into two subparagraphs.
    • Administration:
      • Medical evacuation plan.
      • Location of medics and aid stations.
      • Prisoner of war handling procedures and evacuation plan.
        • 5 S’s and a T (acronym for handling prisoners)
          • Search (The prisoner for weapons and intelligence).
          • Silence (Do not let them communicate, until interviewed).
          • Segregate (Leaders from subordinates).
          • Safeguard (Their safety is your responsibility now).
          • Speed (Out of areas of danger).
          • Tag (Notate prisoner and gear, for investigation purposes).
    • Logistics:
      • Initial issue and resupply plan (water, food, ammo)
      • Power supplies (batteries and other power issues)
      • Transportation
  • Command and Signal: This paragraph contains information and instructions relating to command and communication functions. It has two subparagraphs.
    • Command: Identifies the chain of command, key leaders, and where they will be located before, during, and after the operation.
    • Signal: Gives signal instructions for the operation, such as radio frequencies, call signs, pyrotechnics, emergency signals, radio procedures, brevity codes, challenge, and passwords. Also consider restrictions on the use of communications.

6. Supervise: A very wise man once told me “Inspect what you expect”. You must supervise your team and ensure they are doing what needs to be done correctly. Do not expect that it will be done your way without your inspection. Supervision is continuous and occurs throughout the preparation phase and during the mission. As a leader, you are responsible and accountable for the mission.

Using BAMCIS and the operation order will make life much easier for you in most of life’s situations. Obviously, these processes were designed and are used for combative purposes, but we can adapt them to our everyday life. Some of you do so already without even realizing it; I know I do. Below is an entire outline of BAMCIS and the operations order in one complete unit that you can use this as a reference to plan and write your own orders.

  • Begin the Planning.
    • Mission.
    • Enemy.
      • SALUTE.
      • DRAW-D.
      • EMPCOA.
    • Terrain and Weather.
      • KOCOA-W.
    • Troops and Support Available.
    • Time.
  • Arrange for Reconnaissance.
  • Make Reconnaissance.
  • Complete the Plan.
  • Issue the Order.
    • Orientation.
      • Terrain Model or Map.
      • Weather.
    • Situation.
      • Enemy Situation (culmination of intelligence gathered).
        • SALUTE.
        • DRAW-D.
        • EMPCOA (action enemy will likely do upon contact).
      • Friendly Situation (limit info to only that needed to know to accomplish mission).
        • Higher Unit (mission of next higher unit).
        • Adjacent Unit (mission and location of units around you).
        • Supporting Unit.
        • Attachments and Detachments.
    • Mission (clear, concise statement of the mission. Expresses primary task and purpose).
      • Who (unit).
      • What (task).
      • When (time).
      • Where (location).
      • Why (purpose).
    • Execution (contains how-to guide on conducting the mission)
      • Commander’s Intent.
      • Concept of Operations.
        • Scheme of Maneuver
        • Fire Support Plan Tasks.
      • Coordinating Instructions.
    • Administration and Logistics.
      • Beans.
      • Bullets.
      • Band-Aids.
      • Bad guys.
        • Search.
        • Silence.
        • Segregate.
        • Safeguard.
        • Speed.
        • Tag.
      • Batteries.
    • Command and Signal.
      • Command.
      • Signal.
  • Supervise.

I hope this becomes a handy tool for everyone and was easy to understand. Mr. Murphy has a way of infiltrating every operation, no matter the size, but with the Operations Order there should be a solid plan in place with everyone on your team all on the same page. Your team will have a greater understanding of the who, what, when, where, why, and how. Then when Mr. Murphy graces you with his appearance, you and your team are able to adapt and complete the mission.

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