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OPERATIONS ORDERS. University of Florida MAJ Bailey & SFC Varela. Learning Objectives. •Apply Army operations, doctrine and methodology in order to produce doctrinally sound plans that are conveyed to subordinates in a clear, concise, logical and understandable sequence.

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University of Florida

MAJ Bailey & SFC Varela


Learning Objectives

•Apply Army operations, doctrine and methodology in order to produce doctrinally sound plans that are conveyed to subordinates in a clear, concise, logical and understandable sequence.

•Prepare a Platoon / Squad operations order.



  • •FM 7-8 Chapter 2
  • •FM 7-10 Chapter 2 & G
  • •FM 71-1 Chapter 2
  • •FM 34-130 Chapter 2
  • •FM 3-0
  • SH 21-76


  • An operation order (OPORD) is a directive issued by the leader to his subordinate leaders in order to effect the coordinated execution of a specific operation.
  • A five-paragraph format is used to organize the briefing, to ensure completeness, and to help subordinate leaders understand and follow the order.
  • Use a terrain model or sketch along with a map to explain the order. When possible, such as in the defense, give the order while observing the objective.
  • The leader briefs his OPORD orally from notes that follow the five-paragraph format.

Operations Order (Cont.)

  • Relays necessary info to subordinates to carry out an operation
  • Common 5 paragraph format
  • Common tactical language -FM 101-5-1
  • Oral and / or written

FM 7-10, p. G2


Fragmentary Order

  • “No plan survives first contact with the enemy” -VON MOLTKE
  • Provides timely changes to existing orders
  • Only what is changed is normally sent
  • Follows the five paragraph OPORD format
  • Used to issue supplemental instructions or changes to a current OPORD while the operation is in progress

FM 7-10, pg G-4


Supplements to OPORDs

  • Should amplify or clarify the OPORD
  • Overlays -- Friendly and Enemy
    • Fire Support, R&S, OP’s, Movement
    • Intel, Event
  • Concept Sketch
  • Terrain Model
  • Execution Matrix
  • Fire Support Matrix
  • Annexes, etc.

FM 7-10, pg G4


OPERATION ORDER ____#______ (code name)

Plans and orders normally contain a code name and are numbered consecutively within a calendar year.

References: The heading of the plan or order includes a list of maps, charts, datum, or other related documents the unit will need to understand the plan or order. The user does not need to reference the SOP, but may refer to it in the body of the plan or order. The user references a map using the map series number (and country or geographic area, if required), sheet number and name, edition, and scale, if required. Datum is the mathematical model of the earth used to calculate the coordinate on any map. Different nations use different datum for printing coordinates on their maps. The datum is usually referenced in the marginal information of each map.


Time Zone Used Throughout the Order: The time zone used throughout the order (including annexes and appendixes) is the time zone applicable to the operation. Operations across several time zones use ZULU time.

Task Organization: Describe the allocation of forces to support the commander's concept. Task organization may be shown in one of two places: preceding paragraph one, or in an annex, if the task organization is long and complicated.


1. Weather and Light Data and General Forecast:

High Moonrise Sunrise

Low Moonset Sunset

Wind Speed Moonphase BMNT

Wind Direction % Illumination EENT

2. Terrain: OCOKA or (OACOK)

  Observations and fields of fire

Cover and concealment


Key terrain

Avenues of approach

NOTE: Describe the effects on enemy and friendly forces for lines (1) and (2).


Paragraph 1a. Enemy Situation (cont.)

(2) Recent Activities: Detail what the enemy has been doing lately and/or any perceived “trends” in the enemy’s actions. For example: “the enemy has been conducting squad sized ambushes at night, along this particular road.” Do not limit yourself to activities/trends inside your AO,example, if the enemy uses chemical wpn’s in another theater of operations, this may signify that release authority has been given to all local Cmdr’s

(3) Capabilities: Examine and describe all of the systems, assets and units that the enemy could possibly employ within your units’ battlespace. Include significant capabilities even if they are only possible but not most likely. A technique is to analyze the enemy by battlefield operating system (BOS). This ensures that no significant part of the enemy’s arsenal is overlooked. Includes significant weapons/systems capabilities pertinent to the situation (i.e. size/location/use of reserve forces, amphibious capabilities, stand off, maximum effective ranges, etc.).


Paragraph 1. SITUATION

a.Enemy forces. Failing all else, this paragraph must answer three essential questions: “What does he look like?,” (enemy order of battle), “What can he do to me ?,“ (capabilities and courses of action), and “ What can I do to him ?” (enemy weaknesses).

(1) Composition, Disposition, and Strength (Enemy Order of Battle)

(a) Composition: What organic, supporting, and reinforcing assets are available to the enemy? Describe his composition in terms of 1) the enemy’s doctrinal organization for combat (how units are manned and equipped doctrinally), 2) his task organization (attachments/ reinforcements/combat support assets he has for this particular fight) and, 3) his weaponry (major systems he can employ). A helpful technique is to structure this paragraph in terms of the enemy’s echelonment (i.e. enemy recon elements, advance guard, then advance guard main body, etc)


Paragraph 1a. SITUATION(cont.)

(b) Disposition: What you currently know about how the enemy is arrayed on the ground and what it says about his general intent, timings and capabilities. State in the greatest detail known to you and down to a level important to your subordinates (at least one level down; two down, if practical). Any confirmed intelligence is disposition and not most probable COA or capabilities.

(c) Strength: How will the numbers of vehicles, troops, and systems stated above be impacted by battle loss or enemy adjustment to the situation at the time you will fight him? State this in meaningful terms (E.g.: numbers, not percentages and squads vs. individual soldiers).


Paragraph 1a. Enemy Situation(cont)

(4) Most Probable Course of Action: Includes those actions that the enemy will likely take in sequence-to include key reactions to friendly actions. The commander should strive to paint a visual picture of the enemy’s fight to his subordinates. Consider using the technique of stating the perceived/deduced task and purpose of each major enemy element. Discussion may include but is not limited to the following: enemy reconnaissance, use of air assault, airborne, NBC by type and location, enemy formations, objectives, likely changes to formations, reactions, counteractions, reinforcement of success, dismount, use of indirect fires, supporting attacks, and reserves.

(5) Most Dangerous Course of Action: Actions that the enemy can reasonably take (but may not be as likely) that will have the most negative impact on your operation. This enemy course of action would cause you to depart significantly from your COA. Normally requires a contingency plan to counter.


Paragraph 1b Friendly Situation

b. Friendly forces

  (1) Higher unit. Verbatim statement of the commander’s mission, intent and concept of operations one and two levels up. Should be two levels up (if or when available).

(2) Left unit. Mission essential task and purpose of the unit to the immediate left and any other unit to the left during the operation whose task and purpose will have a direct planned impact on your operation.

(3) Right unit. Same as for (2) above for unit(s) to the right.

(4) Forward unit. Same as above for unit(s) to your front.

(5) Unit in Reserve/to the rear. Same as above for unit(s) in reserve and (or) to your rear.


Paragraph 1b Friendly Situation (cont)

(6) Units in Support/Reinforcing. List the CS units, which are in support or are reinforcing the higher headquarters. This can be listed like task organization and is found primarily in the higher unit’s task organization under the higher headquarters control. This para is a means of accounting for the many units on the battlefield, which may impact on you, or your subordinates may see that are not otherwise addressed in the order.  

c.Attachments and detachments. Do not repeat information available in task organization. May state, “see Task Organization”. State effective time of task organization if different from effective time of the operations order.


Paragraph 2. MISSION

This is a clear, concise statement of the mission essential task(s) to be accomplished by the unit and the purpose to be achieved. The mission statement will state WHO, WHAT (the task), WHEN (the critical time), WHERE (usually a grid coordinate), and WHY (the purpose the unit must achieve). Some examples of restated missions follow:


Paragraph 2. MISSION (examples)

Offensive - C Company (who) assaults at, 190400 (L) OCT 03 (when), to seize OBJECTIVE HOGAN (what – task), ND52504205 (Craig Hill) (where), in order to establish a foothold for the battalion main effort on OBJ BOB (why – purpose).

Defensive - Team A (who) defends from Battle Position 1 (BP1) (where) NLT 200400 (L) OCT 03 (when) to destroy a motorized rifle battalion in EA HAMMER (what – task) in order to prevent the envelopment of Team B, the Task Force (TF) main effort, from the north (why – purpose).


Paragraph 3. EXECUTION

Intent: Intent is the “bridge” between the unit’s purpose and the specific course of action (concept), which the commander has selected. Specifically, the intent statement consists of purpose, key tasks stated in relation to terrain, enemy and desired endstate for the operation, and is generally written in three to five sentences max. A commander may elect to include a broader operational purpose, if he feels it will assist his subordinates in understanding the unit’s mission. The intent statement is mandatory for all OPORDs.


Paragraph 3.

EXECUTION (Intent cont.)

Key tasks are tasks that must be performed by the force, or conditions that must be met in order for the unit to achieve the stated purpose. Key tasks are not tied to a specific course of action; rather they identify the things that are fundamental to the unit’s success. Key tasks keep subordinates focused on the unit’s purpose when significant opportunities present themselves, or when a selected course of action is no longer applicable.


Paragraph 3.

EXECUTION (Intent cont.)

  • Examples of key tasks include: terrain that must be controlled, effects on the enemy, and operational tempo.
  • The desired endstate is a statement of the commander’s vision of how the unit will look with respect to the enemy and terrain at the end of the mission. This statement is written in general terms – i.e. it is not course of action specific.
  • The intent statement does not: restate the unit’s purpose, describe the method(s) the unit will employ to be successful nor does it address “acceptable risks.”

Intent (examples)


- Control Craig Hill (OBJ HOGAN).

- Destroy enemy platoon at the point of penetration.

- Facilitate passage of follow-on forces.

- The battalion main effort passed through to OBJ BOB, and the company postured to defeat counter attack forces from the south.


- Control the high-speed avenues of approach through sector

- Stop the lead enemy MRB in EA HAMMER.

- Retain the highground Vic BP1

- Enemy forces stopped in EA HAMMER and the Team prepared to conduct offensive operations.


Paragraph 3a

a.Concept of the operation.

Annex C (Operation Overlay), or Appendix (Concept Sketch) to Annex. C.

Explains in general terms how the unit as a whole will accomplish the mission. The concept should describe the employment of maneuver elements.

The concept statement includes the following:

- The form of maneuver or defensive technique

- The decisive point/effects to be achieved at the decisive point

- Task and Purpose for each player

- A description of how the force as a whole will accomplish the mission.

(This is written in the form of specific purposes and tasks for each maneuver element. Start with the main effort, and then each supporting effort, including security forces and reserves. Do not designate specific units.)


Paragraph 3a

Concept of the Operation (cont)

- A brief description of the plan/concept of fire support.

- Brief descriptions of the integration of any other combat support systems that the commander considers appropriate to clarify the concept and ensure unity of effort. These can include reconnaissance and security elements, intelligence assets, engineering assets and/or air defense.

-Articulate the concept-specific end-state for the operation. (Your positioning relative to the terrain and enemy as it relates to your purpose).

NOTE: A concept sketch, including the actions of subordinate elements at the decisive point is an excellent way of helping subordinates visualize your concept. This can be included in the OPORD as an Appendix to Annex C (Operation Overlay).


Concept Statement

(example 1 - Offense)

We will accomplish this by conducting an envelopment of enemy forces on OBJ HOGAN. Decisive to this operation is the seizure of OBJ HOGAN-1 (Craig Hill), which will force the enemy armored vehicles to reposition. One platoon, the main effort, seizes OBJ HOGAN-1 in order to establish a foothold for the battalion main effort on OBJ BOB. One platoon, supporting effort 1 (SE1), breaches enemy protective obstacles on OBJ HOGAN in order to facilitate the assault of the company main effort. One Platoon establishes ambush positions to block enemy forces in order to isolate the objective during the main effort’s assault.


Concept Statement

(example 1- Offense)

Fires will be used to suppress enemy armored vehicles and obscure the point of breach. The engineering effort will be focused on providing mobility support for the company main effort. One squad will be used as a company reconnaissance element and will conduct an area recon of OBJ HOGAN in order to determine the point of breach. Endstate of this operation I expect to have destroyed or forced the withdrawal of enemy forces on OBJ HOGAN, SBF positions occupied on the North side of the Objective and the battalion main effort passed through zone.


Concept Statement

(example 2 - Defense)

We will accomplish this by defending from platoon battle positions. The decisive point is the northern half of EA HAMMER where we will destroy the forward security element (FSE) of the lead battalion. An armor platoon, the team main effort, destroys enemy tanks in EA HAMMER in order to prevent the envelopment of Team B, the TF main effort, from the north. One Mech. PLT (SE1) destroys enemy BMPs in EA Hammer south in order to prevent the enemy from placing effective direct fires on the main effort platoon.


Concept Statement

(example 2 - Defense)

Another Mech. PLT, SE2, blocks enemy dismounted forces in order to prevent the envelopment of the main effort platoon from the north. Another tank platoon is designated the Team reserve with priority of planning to attacking by fire to destroy enemy second echelon MRCs from ABF 1 and then ABF2. Fires will be used to suppress enemy AT systems, and to force the enemy to button-up. Our engineering effort will focus on the preparation of survivability positions and the emplacement of disrupting obstacles in EA HAMMER. Endstate: enemy lead battalion destroyed in EA HAMMER, the Team retains control of PLT BPs, and is prepared to conduct a counter attack to the west.


Paragraph 3a(1) (cont)

(1) Maneuver:The maneuver paragraph addresses, in detail, the mechanics of the operations. Specifically address all subordinate units (SQD’s) and attachments by name, giving each its mission in the form of a taskand purpose. The main effort must be designated and all other subordinates’ missions must relate to the main effort. Actions on the objective will comprise the majority of this paragraph and therefore could address the plan for actions on the objective, engagement / disengagement criteria, an alternate plan in the event of compromise or unplanned movement of enemy forces, and a withdrawal plan.

a. Addresses all major subordinate maneuver units by name.

b. Includes the mission essential task and purpose (mission statement) for each maneuver unit to achieve.

c. Designates the main effort.

d. Is consistent with the maneuver graphics. Refers to location and actions of units using the maneuver graphics.


Paragraph 3a(1) (cont)

The Maneuver Sub-Paragraph (cont):

The maneuver sub-paragraph may be expanded to provide a clear, concise narrative of the scheme of maneuver from the beginning to the successful end of the operation. Possible techniques: for offensive operations you could use the sequence of the attack or focus on the critical events of the operation; for defensive operations you could use the framework of the defense or critical events of the operation. However, the maneuver paragraph should not become a “travelogue” or attempt to capture an entire five-paragraph order in a single paragraph. Many details of execution are best included later in the order, (particularly for grids and detailed graphic control measure references). A properly briefed or written maneuver paragraph can be backbriefed immediately and accurately on a map or terrain model without the need for subordinates to take notes or read it more than once all the way through.


Technique #1 (offense):

1) Maneuver. 1st platoon, the company main effort, seizes OBJ HOGAN-1 in order to establish a foothold for the battalion main effort on OBJ BOB. 2nd platoon, supporting effort 1 (SE1), breaches enemy protective obstacles on OBJ HOGAN in order to facilitate the assault of the company main effort. 3rd platoon establishes ambush positions to block enemy forces in order to isolate the objective during the main effort’s assault

NOTE: The example above describes only the mission essential tasks and purposes of the major subordinate maneuver elements and identifies the main effort.


Technique #2 (offense):

1) A Company moves from AA Dog to the Attack position along RTE Mouse, moves through the Attack Position along Axis Stealth to an ORP Southeast of OBJ HOGAN. We will conduct a leaders recon, assess the Intel gained, and disseminate necessary information in the ORP. 3rd Plt moves out first and establishes ambush points 1,2 and 3 to block enemy forces in order to isolate the objective during the main effort’s assault. Preparatory indirect fires will be called to suppress enemy forces on OBJ HOGAN while the Company(-) moves along DOA Betty to the assault position. Prep fires will shift to the western part of the OBJ to suppress enemy forces preventing them from bringing direct fires against the Main Attack as it enters the OBJ.


Technique #2 - Offense


2nd Plt (+) then assaults to breach enemy protective obstacles on OBJ HOGAN in order to facilitate the assault of the company main effort. 2nd Plt will then establish internal isolation of the OBJ by occupying SBF 3 oriented on enemy forces on the South side of the OBJ. Indirect fires will shift off of the OBJ and 1st Plt (ME) will pass through 2nd Platoon, move north along DOA Lucy, and seize OBJ HOGAN-1 in order to establish a foothold for the BN main effort on OBJ BOB. 3rd Plt will clear only to the degree necessary to ensure force protection, leaving isolated enemy positions to 1Plt, C Co.

NOTE: The example above reflects the significant maneuver elements and includes the critical indirect fire events which directly facilitate/allow maneuver actions (i.e. the indirect fire events which provide the fire portion of fire and maneuver).


Paragraph 3a(2)

(2). Fires. Annex D (Fire Support) Use Essential Fire Support Tasks

Clarify scheme of fires to support the overall concept. This paragraph should state which maneuver unit is the main effort and has priority of fires, to include stating purpose of, priorities for, allocation of, and restrictions for fire support. A target list worksheet and overlay are referenced here, if applicable. Specific targets are discussed and pointed out on the terrain model.

    (a) Task: Describes targeting objectives. What does the commander want to accomplish with his fires? This includes all fire support systems: artillery, mortars, close air support, and naval gunfire. What is the Task (destroy, delay, disrupt, limit)? 

(b) Purpose: Describes why the task will contribute to maneuver.

  (c) Method: Describes how the task will be accomplished (priority, allocation, & restrictions)

  (d) Effects: Used to quantify successful accomplishment of the task.


Paragraph 3b

b. Tasks to maneuver units. Clearly state the missions or tasks for each maneuver unit that reports directly to the headquarters issuing the order. List units in the same sequence as in the task organization, including reserves. Use a separate subparagraph for each maneuver unit. Only state tasks that are necessary for comprehension, clarity, and emphasis. Place tactical tasks that affect two or more units in subparagraph 3d. Platoon leaders task their subordinate squads. Those squads may be tasked to provide any of the following special teams: reconnaissance and security, assault, support, aid and litter, EPW and search, clearing, and demolitions. Detailed instructions may also be given to platoon sergeant, RTO’s, compassman, and paceman.


Paragraph 3c

c. Tasks to combat support units. Use these subparagraphs only as necessary. List CS units in subparagraphs in the same order as they appear in the task organization. Use CS subparagraphs to list only those specific tasks that CS units must accomplish and that are not specified or implied elsewhere. Include organization for combat, if not clear from task organization.

Examples tasks:

(a) Positioning, attachment instructions for CS units not attached to a subordinate maneuver unit

(b) Engineers:

-Number of survivability positions by type, system, orientation, level of preparation and/or unit or position

-C2 responsibility of engineer assets, engineer allocation by time and system, link-up and hangover instructions

-Obstacle emplacement priorities


Paragraph 3d

  • Coordinating instructions.
  • List only instructions applicable to two or more units and not routinely covered in unit SOPs. This is always the last subparagraph in paragraph 3. Complex instructions should be referred to in an annex. Subparagraph d(1)-d(5) below are mandatory.
  • (1)Time Schedule (rehearsals, backbriefs, inspections and movement).

Paragraph 3d

Coordinating Instructions (cont)

(2)Commander's critical information requirements (CCIR)

(a)Priority intelligence requirements (PIR) – Intelligence required by the commander needed for planning and decision making.

(b)Essential elements of friendly information (EEFI). – Critical aspects of friendly operations that, if known by the enemy, would compromise, lead to failure, or limit success of the operation.

(c)Friendly force information requirements (FFIR). – Information the commander needs about friendly forces available for the operation. May include personnel status, ammunition status, and leadership capabilities.

(3)Risk reduction control measures. These are measures unique to this operation and not included in unit SOPs and can include mission-oriented protective posture, operational exposure guidance, vehicle recognition signals, and fratricide prevention measures.


Paragraph 3d

Coordinating Instructions (cont)

(4)Rules of engagement (ROE)

(5)Environmental considerations

(6)Force Protection

(7)Movement Plan

Use terrain model and/or sketch. State azimuths, directions, and grid coordinates.

a.Order of Movement, formation, and movement technique

b.Actions at halts (long and short).


d.Departure and Re-entry of friendly lines.

e.Rally points and actions at rally points (plan must include IRP, ORP, and RRP and all other planned rally points to include grid location and terrain reference).

f.Actions at danger areas (general plan for unknown linear, small open areas and large open areas; specific plan for all known danger areas that unit will encounter along the route.


Paragraph 4.


Address service support in the areas shown below as needed to clarify the service support concept. Subparagraphs can include:

a.General: Reference the SOP’s that govern the sustainment operations of the unit. Provide current and proposed company trains locations, casualty, and damaged equipment collection points and routes to and from.

b. Materiel and Services.


a.Class I – Rations Plan (cycle): M-M-A

b.Class V – Ammunition

c.Class VII – Major end items (weapons)

d.Class VIII – Medical

e.Class IX – Repair parts

f.Distribution Methods


Paragraph 4b.


b.Materiel and Services. (cont)

(2) Transportation: Location of main, alternate, and dirty supply routes. Location of supply points. Instructions on use and priorities of routes and transportation assets.

(3) Services. Location of GREGG. Instructions on evacuation of deceased. Any other services (decon, clothing exchange and bath, etc)

  (4) Maintenance: Location of assets. Recovery/repair plan and priorities. DX/CX/PMCS, requisition, BDAR instructions etc.

  (5)Medical Evacuation and Hospitalization. Location of CCP’s, aid stations, medics. Evacuation plan from point of injury to battalion. Marking of casualties. NBC casualties.

d.Personnel. Plan for processing of EPWs. Replacement plan. Personnel reporting requirements.

e.Miscellaneous. Instructions on use and destruction of equipment. Any CSS item not included already.


Paragraph 5

Command & Signal

. This paragraph states where command and control facilities and key leaders are located during the operation.


(1) Location of the higher unit commander and CP.

(2) Location of key personnel and CP during each phase of the operation.

(3) Succession of Command (if different from SOP).

b. Signal.

(1) SOI index in effect.

(2) Methods of communication in priority.

(3) Pyrotechnics and Visual signals, to include arm and hand signals.

(4) Code words, Special Reports.

(5) Challenge and password (used when behind friendly lines).

(6) Number Combination (used when forward of friendly lines).

(7) Running Password.

(8) Recognition signals (near/far and day/night).

c. Special Instructions to RTOs.