Military tactical planning has been used formally for a long time by fighting and maneuver elements. This article is a combined overview of the ground combat units’ frameworks. In part 1, We began using the BAMSIS acronym as a framework and are in the “B”, which stands for “Begin Planning”. Using the METT-TC acronym, we have gone through the M for Mission, the E for Enemy, and the first T for Terrain and Weather. Now, we will continue on with this military tactical planning framework.
Troops and Fire Support- Second “T” in METT-TC
Part D is Troops and fire support, and they are the second “T” of the situation estimation analysis key words acronym “METT-TC”. Will we be operating in the smallest tactical unit of a cell or knot or perhaps up to the largest likely encountered formation of a platoon or company? More often we will probably operate as a fire team or rifle squad, but which one for this mission? What fire support is available to us, if any? Do we have a scout-sniper cell as our bounding overwatch? Do we have any crew served weapons? If so, are they direct or indirect fire types?
Are we a knot of Professionally Instructed Gunmen (PIGs), riflemen, on a reconnaissance patrol or a fire team of Hunters Of Gunmen (HOGs), snipers, laying in ambush? Are we a rifle squad sized element on a combat patrol? Are we a platoon sized element, which can use a squad as our base of fire and the other squads as maneuver elements? Do we have any anti-vehicle or anti-air capability? Are we seeing a direct attack such as a frontal assault or perhaps a flanking maneuver? What appears to be the enemy’s apparent objective through their Point Of Main Effort (POME)?
Time- Third “T” in METT-TC
Situation estimation analysis Part E is the Time available, the third “T” in the key words acronym “METT-TC”. Are there any time constraints? What speed(s) should we be moving at on the objective: Stealth mode? Warrant service speed? Hostage rescue? Are we moving to the objective tactically or administratively? Is this an emergency, which we must get to the object while double timing? Do we have to obtain then report observed intelligence by a certain time for our leadership in the rear and/or any allied groups we may be working with?
Civil Affairs Concerns- C in METT-TC
Civil affairs concerns are addressed in Part F of the situation estimation analysis with the letter “C” in the key words acronym “METT-TC”. Is there any civilian assistance available to us? Are there any media outlets publishing propaganda or disinformation for or against us? Is there any connectivity to the Internet, which would allow social media efforts for or against us? Can anyone in the AO provide safe house lodging? Is local law enforcement operating? If so, can they assist us in any way? Even better: are they willing to assist us? Is there any local militia, allied resistance partisans, or others (i.e. veteran’s organizations) sympathetic to our plight who may be able to help in a pinch?
Arrange For Reconnaissance and Coordination- A in BAMCIS
The largest portion, Step I, is complete at this point although your plans should be continually refined. We now proceed back to the troop leading steps at Step II with the letter “A” in the key words acronym “BAMCIS”, which stands for Arrange for reconnaissance and coordination.
Will we conduct a leader’s reconnaissance whereby leaders of fire teams or squads or platoons actually go out into the bush and check out what they will be dealing with? If aviation assets are available, do select leaders make an aerial recon? Will a scout-sniper cell be pushed out front of the main element as our eyes and ears? What is needed to deliver your operators to the AO? Are they to hump in? Are they to get in by vehicle? Are they fast roping or parachuting in? Going back old school, are they bicycling in or taking horseback in? Will a raft or boat be needed to infiltrate them? Whatever the mode of transportation, coordination must be planned so supporting elements can prepare accordingly.
Make Reconnaissance and Coordinate- M in BAMCIS
Step III of the six troop leading steps is to Make reconnaissance and coordinate. It is the letter “M” of the key words acronym “BAMCIS”.
Where the Rubber Meets the Road
Here is where the rubber meets the road initially. Unless using Unmanned Aerial Devices (UAD) for your recon, we will be putting operators of some sort outside the wire and into harm’s way. We should have contingency plans to come to their aid and extricate them if the SHTF. Mr. Murphy always has his interdiction into even the best laid plans.
Raw Data– Keep It Simple and Straightforward
When this element makes the actual recon, we are looking for their raw data. They are not sent forward to analyze our plans this far. They are sent out to detect, observe, and report what is going on in the prescribed AO. For example, they shouldn’t report back our proposed ambush site should be moved due to lack of cover and concealment. They should report back areas lacking vegetation and are open to observation. It is not the best example but hopefully you get the idea. Don’t let them get caught in the minutia of the planning while in the field. Get eyes on, and report back. They should “Keep It Simple and Straightforward” (KISS).
Completing the Planning Process- C in BAMCIS
When this raw data is relayed or brought back to cantonment, then the leadership is responsible to fuse those details into the plan to make it work properly. This is Step IV of the six troop leading steps. It is letter “C” of the key words acronym “BAMCIS”. In Completing the planning process, no stone should be left unturned.
More Thorough Plan, Less Chance of Failure
The more situations and contingencies addressed, the more thorough the plan and the lesser chance of failure. Remember primary, secondary, and tertiary options, always. Once the plan is completed, get another set of eyes to go through it and troubleshoot.
You may not have the luxury of such process dependent upon the scenario(s). Remember Patton’s quote on planning: “A good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed next week.”
Issue the Operations Order- I in BAMCIS
Step V of the six troop leading steps is to Issue the operations order. It is letter “I” of the key words acronym “BAMCIS”.
Gather the Unit Leaders and Issue Operations Order Using O-SMEAC
Typically, depending upon the size of the operation, we would gather the unit leaders from the smallest maneuver element to the largest portion of this operation. Then, we formally sit them down and issue the operations order in a logical and understandable manner. If the size of the operating unit going out into Indian country is small enough, we’d gather each of them together and issue the operations order so little is lost in transmission. For consistency and to remember to cover all the bases, we utilize the five paragraph operations order using the key words acronym “O-SMEAC”.
Orientation- O in O-SMEAC
Paragraph O (the letter O), not 0 (the number zero), is for Orientation. It sounds silly, differentiating between the letter O and the number 0, but just please bare with us for a few moments. Your commander should brief his subordinate operators with a general overview of what is about to come. The classic “dearly beloved, we are gathered here today …” would not be appropriate as an opener. You could open with a joke to alleviate any tension but be considerate and appropriate to your audience and situation. Then begin succinctly with the facts known as to who, what, when, where, why, and how. If you don’t know something, then state you don’t know; don’t make anything up on the fly. If a mistake gets pointed out, simply make the correction and drive on. Now is not the time to be making excuses.
Situation- S in O-SMEAC
Paragraph 1 is the Situation. It is letter “S” in the key words acronym “O-SMEAC” of the five paragraph order. Anything noteworthy not covered in the orientation should be mentioned here. Additional information garnered surrounding the particulars of this operation should be noted. Some examples would be expected weather, any civil unrest in the area, and any political discord. Also, whatever information obtained related to the objective should be shared to give everyone as well rounded an idea as possible so as to have no surprises.
Mission- M in O-SMEAC
Paragraph 2 is the Mission. It is letter “M” in the key words acronym “O-SMEAC” of the five paragraph order. The Mission of the Marine Corps rifle squad is to locate, close with, and destroy the enemy by fire and maneuver or to repel the enemy’s assault by fire and close combat. Are we to search out the enemy? Are we to close with the enemy? Are we to destroy the enemy? What are our rules of engagement? How are we expected to maneuver? Will it be Indian file through the bush? Fire team rushes? Formations? Will we be assigned defensive fields of fire after exploiting the objective or simply a sector to cover?
We also need to know about both friendly and enemy forces operating in the objective region. Do we have continuous eyes on? If not, how long has this intelligence been sitting? Here is where the status of forces comes into play. We utilize the key words acronym “HAS” for this.
Higher Forces, Both Enemy and Friendly- H in HAS
“H” is for Higher forces, both enemy and friendly. Who/what are they? Are they here to play?
Adjacent Forces- A in HAS
“A” is for Adjacent forces. Who/what are on our flanks? Is there anybody on our sides? Are we venturing at this alone? Is there at least a scout-sniper cell watching our flanks?
Supporting Forces- S in HAS
“S” is for Supporting forces. Can the enemy be reinforced easily? Can they be reinforced at all? Is law enforcement operable at all? Are they party to our cause? Is there a local militia capable of assisting? Does anyone even know we are coming?
Execution- E in O-SMEAC
Paragraph 3 is Execution. It is letter “E” in the key words acronym “O-SMEAC” of the five paragraph order. What are our lines of departure? What are our enroute rally points? What is our objective rally point? Where are our phase lines? What is our initiation sign? Do we have any signaling available for these tactical benchmarks? Is it a star cluster? Is it colored smoke? Is it a whistle? Are they tracers? What signal are we using to shift the base of fire when the maneuver element reaches its jump off point? What are our challenges and passwords?
Administration and Logistics- A in O-SMEAC
Paragraph 4 is Administration and logistics. It is the letter “A” in the key words acronym “O-SMEAC” of the five paragraph order. I can’t imagine in a grid down situation that much documentation or administering will be going on. However, nonetheless, it may be beneficial to keep some records for historical purposes.
On the logistical side, which never goes away, we are looking at the proverbial four bees (4 B’s) of Bullets, Beans, Bandages, and Bad guys. Who is to supply us with ammunition and pyrotechnics? Where are we getting those supplies? Who is supplying us with water and food? Where are we going to get those supplies? Who is supplying us with basic and advanced life support kits? Where are we to be supplied with those medical kits? How are we to conduct medical evacuations when needed? How do we restrain captured enemies? Do we place a hood over the prisoner’s heads or a blindfold? Do we place ear muffs or insert ear plugs to keep prisoner’s from hearing any discussions? What is the procedure to get them to our rear and who will take custody of them?
Command and Signal- C in O-SMEAC
Paragraph 5 is Command and signal. It is the letter “C” in the key words acronym “O-SMEAC” of the five paragraph order. What is our chain of command and whom are in positions of authority? Do we have allied and/or cooperating forces rank structures? Are they commanding us or are we commanding them? Are we using radio communications? Are hand signals to be used and if so, what are they? Do we use flares for signaling or illumination or both? How about colored smoke canisters? Is gray or black smoke only for masking movements or are they for something else? Are we utilizing fluorescent colored tarps for aerial markers to identify us as friendly forces to allied aviation?
Supervise the Operations- S in BAMCIS
The last of the six troop leading steps is to Supervise the operations order. It is letter “S” of the key words acronym “BAMCIS”. Some say supervise, some manage, it should be to lead!
Leadership is supervision and management when done correctly. You have to supervise the issuing of the operations order by subordinate leaders to their operators. You have to supervise those leaders to ensure proper preparations are being conducted. I.E. immediate action drills, crossing danger area drills, et cetera. Are the supply point locations correct? How about command and signal? Is mission and execution correct? Was a leader’s recon made? Are primary, secondary, and tertiary options available where needed?
The Overall Framework
The six troop leading steps (BAMCIS) are the overall framework in which everything is contained. Situation estimation analysis (METT-TC) is followed by enemy forces reporting (SALUTE), actions against the enemy (DRAW-D), terrain tactical issues (KOCOA), then friendly and enemy troops and fire support projections attempts (POME). The five paragraph operations order (O-SMEAC) is the second part followed by friendly and enemy forces status (HAS), and organizational supply (the 4 B’s). It seems overly burdensome on first use, but it is thorough and easily referenced in checklist format once a little experience is obtained. Once you try it, you’ll wonder what you have been doing for all these years.
- BAMCIS six troop leading steps
- METT-TC situation estimation analysis
- SALUTE enemy forces reporting
- DRAW-D actions against enemy
- KOCOA terrain tactical issues
- POME enemy’s apparent objective
- OSMEAC five paragraph operation order
- HAS levels of friendly and enemy forces status
- 4 B’S supplies and logistics
- Begin planning
- Terrain and weather
- Key terrain
- Observation and fields of fire
- Cover and concealment
- Avenues of approach
- Troops and fire support
- Point Of Main Effort
- Time available
- Civilian assistance available
- Arrange for reconnaissance and coordination
- Make reconnaissance and coordinate
- Complete planning
- Issue operations order
- Administration and logistics
- Bad guys
- Command and signal
Tomorrow, we will continue going through the initial planning process using the METT-TC acronym.
SurvivalBlog Writing Contest
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Round 79 ends on November 30th, so get busy writing and e-mail us your entry. Remember that there is a 1,500-word minimum, and that articles on practical “how to” skills for survival have an advantage in the judging.