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Sergeant’s Time Training.Com. The Military Decision Making Process. (MDMP). Decisions are the means by which the commander translates his vision of the end state into action. Decision-making is both science and art.

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purpose of the mdmp
Decisions are the means by which the commander translates his vision of the end state into action.

Decision-making is both science and art.

The Military Decision-Making Process is a tool that assists the commander and staff in developing estimates and a plan.

Purpose of the MDMP
mdmp defined
An adaptation of the Army’s analytical approach to problem solving.

A doctrinal approach to decision making that helps the commander and his staff examine a battlefield situation and reach logical decisions.

MDMP is a detailed, deliberate, sequential and time-consuming process used when adequate planning time and sufficient staff support are available to thoroughly examine numerous friendly and enemy courses of action.

MDMP is the foundation on which planning in a time-constrained environment is based

Receipt of Mission

(Initial Assessment)

Mission Analysis

COA Development

COA Analysis


COA Comparison

COA Approval

Orders Production

MDMP Defined

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-1













  • Initial Assessment
  • Cdr’s Guidance

1. Analyze Relative Combat Power.

2. Generate Options.

3. Array Initial Forces.

4. Develop the Scheme of Maneuver.

5. Assign Headquarters.

6. Prepare COA Statements and Sketches

1. Analyze the higher headquarters' order.

2. Conduct initial IPB.

3. Determine specified, implied & essential tasks.

4. Review available assets.

5. Determine constraints.

6. Identify critical facts and assumptions.

7. Conduct risk assessment.

8. Determine initial CCIR.

9. Determine initial recon annex.

10. Plan for available time.

11. Write the restated mission.

12. Conduct a mission analysis briefing.

13. Approve the restated mission.

14. Develop the initial commander’s intent.

15. Issue the commander’s guidance.

16. Issue a warning order.

17. Review facts & assumptions.

1. Define the battlefield environment

2. Describe the battlefield’s effects

3. Evaluate the threat

4. Determine threat COAs

1. Gather the tools.

2. List all friendly forces.

3. List assumptions.

4. List known critical events and decision points.

5. Determine evaluation criteria.

6. Select the war-game technique.

7. Select a method to record and assess the results.

8. War game the battle and assess the results.

  • MCOO
  • Situation Template
  • Event Template
  • PIR
  • FFIR
  • EEFI

MDMP Steps

  • R&S Matrix
  • R&S Plan

Sub Steps


role of the commander
The commander is in charge of the military decision-making process and decides what procedures to use in each situation.

The commander’s personal role is central: his participation in the process provides focus and guidance to the staff.

There are decisions that are the commander’s alone.

The less time available, the less experienced the staff, the less accessible the staff, generally the greater the commander involvement.

The Bn XO manages, coordinates, and disciplines the staff’s work and provides quality control

Role of the Commander

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-1



  • Issue Cdr’s Initial Guidance
  • Approve Restated Mission
  • State Commander’s Intent
  • Approve Initial CCIR




  • Approve COA
  • Specify Type of Order
  • Specify Type of Rehearsal
  • Approve Order



Commander’s Actions in MDMP

  • Reinforces initial guidance to subordinate commanders
  • Receives feedback on Warno 1


  • Reinforces guidance
  • Receives feedback on Warno 2


Commander’s Estimate





  • Discusses approved COA w/ subordinate commanders
  • Receives initial backbrief / feedback on Warno 3


receipt of the mission mdmp step 1
MDMP begins with the receipt or anticipation of a new mission.

Purpose of this step it to plan the preparation.

Steps in receipt of mission are as follows . .

Operations Section issues a warning order to the staff to alert them of the pending planning process.

Staff prepares for mission analysis by gathering the tools.

Commander and staff conduct a quick initial assessment.

Commander issues his initial guidance.

Headquarters issues a warning order to subordinate and supporting units.

Receipt of the MissionMDMP Step # 1

FM 101-5, MAY 97, pp. 5-3 to 5-5

prepare for mission analysis
Gather the tools . . .

Higher headquarters’ order.

Maps of the area of operations.

Own and higher headquarters’ SOPs.

Appropriate Field Manuals.

Existing staff estimates.

Prepare for Mission Analysis

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-3

conduct an initial assessment
Determine the time available from mission receipt to mission execution.

Determine the time needed to plan, prepare for, and execute the mission for own and subordinate units.

Determine the intelligence preparation of the battlefield.

Additional factors to consider . . .

Ambient light requirements for planning, rehearsals, and movement.

The staff’s experience, cohesiveness, and level of rest or stress.

The critical product of this assessment is an initial allocation of available time.

Conduct an Initial Assessment

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-4

issue commander s initial guidance
How to abbreviate the MDMP, if required.

Initial time allocation.

Liaison officers to dispatch.

Initial reconnaissance to begin.

Authorized movement.

Additional tasks the commander wants the staff to do.

Issue Commander’s Initial Guidance

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-5

issue a warning order
Issued to subordinate and supporting units.

Uses the five-paragraph format.

Includes as a minimum . . .

Type of operation (such as offensive or defensive).

General location of the operation.

Initial time line.

Movement or reconnaissance to initiate.

Issue a Warning Order

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-5

warning order 1 technique
Area of operation.

General enemy situation.*

General friendly situation.*

Attachments or detachments.

Type and Time of operation.

Tentative preparation timeline.

Security, movement, and or reconnaissance instructions.

Other pertinent information.

* With sketches if possible.

Warning Order # 1 Technique
communicating orders
All orders (warning, operation, fragmentary) should be in the five paragraph format.

The content (quantity & format) of the order should drive the means of communication.

However, available means of communication, time, and duplication capabilities may drive the content (quantity & format) of the order.

Means of communication include . . .

Radio / telephone (vocal)

Digital message (hard-copy)

Messenger (hard-copy)

Facsimile (hard-copy)

Briefing (vocal)

Combinations of the above

Communicating Orders
mission analysis mdmp step 2
Allows the commander to begin his battlefield visualization.

The result is to define the tactical problem and beginning the process of determining feasible solutions.

The commander conducts his own mission analysis so that he has a frame of reference.

Anticipation and prior preparation are keys to a timely mission analysis.

Mission AnalysisMDMP Step #2

FM 101-5, MAY 97, pp. 5-4 to 5-5

mission analysis steps
1. Analyze the higher headquarters' order.

2. Conduct initial IPB.

3. Determine specified, implied & essential tasks.

4. Review available assets.

5. Determine constraints.

6. Identify critical facts and assumptions.

7. Conduct risk assessment.

8. Determine initial CCIR.

9. Determine initial recon annex.

10. Plan for available time.

11. Write the restated mission.

12. Conduct a mission analysis briefing.

13. Approve the restated mission.

14. Develop the initial commander’s intent.

15. Issue the commander’s guidance.

16. Issue a warning order.

17. Review facts & assumptions.

Mission Analysis Steps

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-10

mission analysis products
Modified Combined Obstacle Overlay (MCOO).

Situation Templates (SITTEMP).

Initial Event Template.

Specified, Implied, and Essential Tasks List.

Forces Available.


Facts and Assumptions.

Risk Assessment.

Initial Commander’s Critical Information Requirements (CCIR).

Initial Reconnaissance and Surveillance Plan (R&S).

Detailed Timeline.

Restated Mission.

Commander’s Intent.

Commander’s Guidance.

Warning Order (WARNO #2).

Mission Analysis Products

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-10

mission analysis worksheet


Higher Concept

Initial IPB (capabilities, HVTs)


Forces Available (assigned, attached, supporting)


Critical facts and assumptions

Risk (tactical and accident hazards)

Recommended Initial CCIR

Reconnaissance Annex Issues

Critical Times

Issues & Recommendations

Mission Analysis Worksheet
  • Coordinating and special staff officers prepare mission analysis products within their area of expertise.
  • In addition to required sketches, charts, templates, or overlays, each staff officer prepares a mission analysis worksheet focusing on his area of expertise.
  • The mission analysis worksheet can be on, or transferred to, a chart or transparency to facilitate the mission analysis briefing.
analyze the higher hq s order mission analysis step 1
Thoroughly analyze the higher headquarters' order to establish horizontal and vertical nesting, not just for maneuver, but also for all combat support and combat service support.

Misinterpretation results in wasted time; seek clarification immediately.

Commander and staff must ensure they completely understand . .

Higher and two-higher headquarters’ . . .

Commander’s intent.


Concept of operation, including deception plan.

Time line for mission execution.

Missions of adjacent units.

Assigned area of operations.

Analyze the Higher HQ’s OrderMission Analysis Step # 1

FM 101-5, MAY 97, pp. 5-5 to 5-6

conduct initial ipb mission analysis step 2
IPB is the systematic, continuous process of analyzing the threat and the effects of the environment of the unit.

Provides the basis for intelligence collection and synchronization to support COA development and analysis.

Describes the environment your unit is operating in & determines the threat’s likely COA.

Helps the commander selectively apply and maximize his combat power at critical points in time and space.

IPB steps

Define the battlefield environment

Describe the battlefield’s effects

Evaluate the threat

Determine threat COAs

Conduct Initial IPBMission Analysis Step # 2

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-6 & FM 34-130, JUL 94, p. 1-1

define the battlefield environment ipb step 1
Identifying for further analysis specific features of the environment or activities within it, and the physical space where they exist.

Define the battlefield environment

Identify significant characteristics of the environment

Identify the limits of the command’s AO and battle space

Establish the limits of the AI

Evaluate existing data bases and identify intelligence gaps

Collect the material and intelligence required to conduct the remainder of IPB

Define the Battlefield EnvironmentIPB Step # 1

FM 34-130, JUL 94, p. 1-1 & 2-1

describe the battlefield s effects ipb step 2
The determination of how the battlefield environment affects both threat and friendly operations.

Describes how the terrain, weather, and other battlefield aspects affect friendly and enemy fires and movement.

Describe the battlefield’s effects [MCOO]

Analyze the battlefield environment.

terrain analysis (OAKOC)

weather analysis

analysis of other characteristics of the battlefield (e.g. population status)

Describe the battlefield’s effects on threat and friendly capabilities and broad COAs

Describe the Battlefield’s EffectsIPB Step # 2

FM 34-130, JUL 94, p. 1-2 & 2-1

evaluate the threat ipb step 3
The determination of threat force capabilities and the doctrinal principle, tactics, techniques, and procedure threat forces prefer to use.

Evaluate the Threat [Doctrinal Templates].

Update or create threat models.

convert threat doctrine or pattern of operation to graphics (doctrinal template).

describe threat tactics and options.

identify high value targets (HVTs).

Identify threat capabilities.

Evaluate the ThreatIPB Step # 3

FM 34-130, JUL 94, p. 1-2 & 2-1

high value target high payoff target
High-value target (HVT) - assets the the threat commander requires for the successful completion of a specific COA.

High-payoff target (HPT) - target whose loss to the threat will contribute to the success of the friendly COA.

High-Value Target / High-Payoff Target

FM 34-130, JUL 94, p. Glossary-7

determine threat coas ipb step 4
Identification and development of likely threat COAs that will influence accomplishment of the friendly mission.

Identification of those areas and activities that, when observed, will discern which COA the threat commander has chosen.

Determine Threat COAs [Situation Templates & Event Template].

Identify the threat’s likely objectives and desired end state.

Identify the full set of COAs available to the threat.

Evaluate and prioritize each COA.

Develop each COA in the amount of detail time allows.

Identify initial collection requirements.

Determine Threat COAsIPB Step # 4

FM 34-130, JUL 94, p. 2-39 & 2-40

situation templates
Depiction of assumed threat dispositions, based on threat doctrine and the effects of the battlefield.

Normally, the situation template depict threat units two levels of command below the friendly force as well as the expected location of high value targets.

Situation templates use time phase lines (TPLs) to indicate movement of forces and the expected flow of the operation.

Prepare as many graphics as necessary to depict the COA in enough detail to support staff war gaming and collection planning.

Tailor the situation templates to your needs by focusing on the factors that are important to the commander or mission area.

A situation might focus only on the threat’s reconnaissance assets, depicting details such as location and movement routes of these assets, their likely employment area, and their likely NAIs.

Situation Templates

FM 34-130, JUL 94, p. 2-45 & G-10

time phase lines
Graphic means of comparing the enemy’s mobility capability along multiple avenues of approach / mobility corridors.

Based on doctrinal rates of movement and battlefield environment.

Initial TPL indicated as “H” at enemy FLOT.

Assist in tracking actual and potential enemy movement.

Time - Phase Lines

FM 34-130, JUL 94, p. 2-45 & G-10

event template
A guide for collection and R&S planning.

Depicts where to collect the information that will indicate which COA the threat has adopted.

Differences between the NAIs, indicators, and TPLs associated with each COA form the basis of the event template.

Named area of interest (NAI) - the specific point, route, or area where key events are expected to occur; where information that will satisfy a specific information requirement can be collected; usually selected to capture indications of threat COAs but also may be related to conditions of the battlefield.

Indicator - positive or negative evidence of threat activity; activities which reveal the selected COA.

The initial event template focuses on identifying which of the predicted COAs the threat has adopted.

Event Template

FM 34-130, JUL 94, p. 2-50, G-7 & G-8

event matrix
Its primary use is in planning intelligence collection.

Supports the event template by providing details on the type of activity expected in each NAI, the times the NAI is expected to be active, and its relationship to other events on the battlefield.

Provides a description of the indicators and activity expected to occur in each NAI.

Cross-references each NAI and indicator with the times they are expected to occur and the COAs they will confirm or deny.

There is no prescribed format.

Event Matrix

FM 34-130, JUL 94, p. 2-51 & G-7

products of ipb
Products of IPB





Define the Battlefield Environment

Describe the Battlefield’s Effects



Evaluate the Threat



Determine Threat Courses of Action



briefing the initial ipb technique
Define the battlefield environment. (Initial operations graphics.)

Identify significant characteristics of the environment.

Identify the area of operations and battle space.

Define the limits of the area of interest.

Describe the battlefield’s effects. (MCOO & blowups, as appropriate.)

Describe the battlefield's effect on threat and friendly capabilities and broad courses of action (terrain, weather, other).

Evaluate the threat. (Charts & sketches, as appropriate.)

Describe the threat model (doctrinal templates, tactics, HVTs).

Describe capabilities (composition, disposition, strength; capabilities and vulnerabilities; recent activities).

Determine threat courses of action. (SITTEMPs & Event Template.)

Identify likely objectives and desired end state.

Describe likely threat courses of action.

Identify initial collection requirements (NAIs).

Briefing the Initial IPBTechnique

Technique based on

FM 34-130, JUL 94

pp. 2-1 to 2-2

determine specified implied and essential tasks mission analysis step 3
Specified tasks - those specifically assigned to a unit by its higher headquarters.

Implied tasks - those that must be performed to accomplish a specified task, but which are not stated in the higher headquarters’ order.

Essential task(s) - must be executed to accomplish the mission (task and purpose).

Determine Specified, Implied, and Essential TasksMission Analysis Step # 3

FM 101-5, MAY 97, pp. 5-6 to 5-7

review available assets mission analysis step 4
Examine additions to and deletions from the current task organization, support relationships, and status of all units.

Determine if assets are sufficient to perform all specified and implied tasks.

Identify additional resources needed for mission success.

Review Available AssetsMission Analysis Step # 4

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-7

determine constraints mission analysis step 5
Identify and understand constraints.

Constraints take the form of requirements to do something or a prohibition on action.

Determine ConstraintsMission Analysis Step #5

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-7

identify critical facts and assumptions mission analysis step 6
Facts are statements of known data concerning the situation including enemy and friendly dispositions, available troops, unit strengths, and material readiness.

Assumptions are suppositions about the current or future situation that are assumed to be true in the absence of facts.

They take the place of necessary, but unavailable facts.

An assumption is appropriate if it meets the tests of validity and necessity.

Validity means the assumption is likely to be true.

Necessity is whether or not the assumption is essential for planning.

Identify Critical Facts and AssumptionsMission Analysis Step # 6

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-7

conduct risk assessment mission analysis step 7
When assessing the risk of hazards in operations, the commander and staff must look at two kinds of risk, tactical risk and accident risk.

Tactical risk is risk associated with hazards that exist due to the presence of the enemy on the battlefield.

Accident risk includes all operational risk considerations other than tactical risk, and can include activities associated with hazards concerning friendly personnel, equipment readiness, and environmental conditions.

Risk management steps:

Identify hazards.

Assess hazards.

Develop controls, determine residual risk, and make risk decision.

Implement controls.

Supervise and evaluate.

Conduct Risk AssessmentMission Analysis Step # 7

FM 101-5, MAY 97, pp. J-1 to J-3

risk management worksheet
Identify significant tactical and accident hazards.

Assess hazards in terms of initial probability, effect, and risk level.

Develop controls, determine residual risk, and make risk decision.

Risk Management Worksheet

based on USAIC Reg 385-6, JAN 97, Ap. A

determine initial ccir mission analysis step 8
CCIR identify information needed by the commander to support his battlefield visualization and to make critical decisions.

The commander alone decides what information is critical, based on his experience, the mission, and the higher’s intent.

CCIR directly affect the success or failure of the mission and they are time sensitive in that they drive decisions.

CCIR normally expressed as PIR, FFIR, & EEFI.

Determine Initial CCIRMission Analysis Step #8

FM 101-5, MAY 97, pp. 5-7 to 5-8

elements of ccir
Elements of CCIR
  • Priority intelligence requirement (PIR).
    • Information about the enemy.
    • How I see the enemy.*
  • Friendly force information requirements (FFIR).
    • Information about his or adjacent unit capabilities.
    • How I see myself.*
  • Essential elements of friendly information (EEFI).
    • Information needed to protect friendly forces from the enemy’s information gathering systems.
    • How I prevent the enemy from seeing me.*

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-14 &

* Battle Command Techniques and Procedures,

Battle Command Battle Laboratory

An intelligence requirement associated with a decision that will affect the overall success of the commander’s mission.

PIR are prioritized among themselves and may change in priority over the course of the operation’s conduct.

Can be information about the enemy or terrain.

Effective PIR . . .

Provide intelligence required to support a single decision.

Ask only one question.

Focus on a specific fact, event or activity.

Are time sensitive.


Will the enemy defend on the forward slope of OBJ SAW?

Will the enemy counterattack use AA 2?


FM 34-130, JUL 94, p. G-9

determine initial recon annex mission analysis step 9
Identify gaps in the intelligence available and determine an initial reconnaissance and surveillance plan to acquire information based on available reconnaissance assets.

Update CCIR and taskings to reconnaissance as they collect information and other intelligence sources fill in gaps.

Initial reconnaissance annex should contain, as a minimum:

AO for reconnaissance.

Mission statement.

Task organization.

Reconnaissance objective.

PIR and IR.

LD/LC time.

Initial NAIs.

Routes to AO and passage of lines instructions.

Communications and logistics support.

Fire support measures.

Medical evacuation.

Determine Initial Recon AnnexMission Analysis Step # 9

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-8

r s matrix technique
Expand the Event Matrix into an R&S Matrix by . . .

Prioritizing the NAIs.

Assigning primary and alternate observers to achieve redundant and continuous observation.

Use the matrix as an execution tool by recording observations and remarks as they occur.

R&S Matrix Technique
plan use of available time mission analysis step 10
Refine the initial plan for the use of available time.

Compare the time needed to accomplish essential tasks to the higher headquarters’ time line to ensure mission accomplishment is possible in the allotted time.

Compare the time line to the enemy time line developed during the IPB.

Determine window of opportunity for exploitation or times when the unit will be at risk from enemy activity.

Specify when and where for briefings and rehearsals.

Maximize available planning time by sending additional warning orders as detailed planning develops.

Plan Use of Available TimeMission Analysis Step # 10

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-8

write the restated mission mission analysis step 11
Prepare a restated mission for the unit based on the mission analysis.

The restated mission will include on-order missions; be-prepared missions will be in the concept of operation.

Write the Restated MissionMission Analysis Step #11

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-8

conduct a mission analysis brief mission analysis step 12
Mission analysis is critical to ensure thorough understanding of the task and subsequent planning.

Mission analysis briefing is given to both the commander and the staff to ensure that all staff members are starting from a common reference point.

This helps the commander and staff develop a shared vision of the requirements for the upcoming operation.

Mission Analysis Brief Outline

Mission and intent of HQs two levels up.

Mission, intent, concept of operation, and deception plan/objective of the headquarters one level up.

Review initial planning guidance.

Initial IPB products.

Specified, implied, and essential tasks.

Constraints .

Forces available.

Hazards and their risk.

Recommended initial CCIR.

Recommended time line.

Recommended restated mission.

Conduct a Mission Analysis BriefMission Analysis Step # 12

FM 101-5, MAY 97, pp. 5-8 to 5-9

mission analysis brief agenda
XO Introduction.

S3 Mission, intent, concept and deception objective (two levels up).

XO Review the commander’s initial planning guidance.

S2 Initial IPB products.

S3 Maneuver (tasks, constraints, forces available).

FSO Fires.*

ADO Air Defense.*

Engr Engineer.*

Chemo NBC.*

S4/S1 Combat Service Support.*

Sigo Command and Control.*

XO Recommended initial CCIR, time line, and restated mission.

CDR Approve restated mission, develop intent, and issue guidance.

* Each SME briefs, within his area of expertise, higher concept, initial IPB, tasks, constraints, forces (assets) available, hazards, issues & recommendations.

Mission Analysis Brief Agenda

Technique based on FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-9

approve the restated mission mission analysis step 13
Immediately after the mission analysis briefing, the commander approves a restated mission.

Can be the staff’s recommended restated mission, a modified version of the staff’s recommendation, or one that the commander has developed himself.

Once approved, the restated mission becomes the unit’s mission.

Approve the Restated MissionMission Analysis Step # 13

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-8

develop the cdr s initial intent mission analysis step 14
Commanders from company level up prepare an intent statement.

Commander’s intent is a clear concise statement of what the force must do to succeed with respect to the enemy and the terrain and to the desired end state.

Intent provides the link between the mission and the concept of operation by stating key tasks that, along with the mission, are the basis for subordinates to exercise initiative when unanticipated opportunities arise or when the original concept of operation no longer applies.

Develop the Cdr’s Initial IntentMission Analysis Step # 14

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-9

commander s intent
A clear concise statement of what the force must do to succeed with respect to the enemy and the terrain and to the desired end state.

Key tasks are those that must be performed by the force, or conditions that must be met, to achieve the stated purpose of the operation--e.g. tempo, duration, and effect upon the enemy, and terrain that must be controlled.

May explain a broader purpose that looks beyond the why of the immediate operation to the broader operational context of the mission.

Not tied to a specific course of action, but fundamental to force’s success.

Does not include the method by which the force will get from its current state to the end state.

Normally expressed in four or five sentences or bullets.

Commander’s Intent

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-9

issue the commander s guidance mission analysis step 15
If the commander has identified one or more decisive points, or an action he considers decisive, he should convey this to the staff.

As a minimum, the commander’s guidance should also address . . .

Specific enemy and friendly COAs to consider or not to consider, and the priority for addressing them.


Reconnaissance guidance.

Risk guidance.

Deception guidance.

Fire support guidance.

Mobility and countermobility guidance.

Security measures to be implemented.

Additional specific priorities for CS or CSS.

Any other information the commander wants the staff to consider.

Time plan.

Type of order to issue.

Type of rehearsal to conduct.

Issue the Commander’s GuidanceMission Analysis Step # 15

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-10

issue a warning order mission analysis step 16
Immediately after the commander gives his guidance, the staff sends subordinate and supporting units a warning order.

As a minimum, the warning order contains . . .

Restated mission.

Commander’s intent.

Unit’s AO.


Risk guidance.

Reconnaissance to be initiated by subordinate units.

Security measures.

Deception guidance.

Mobility and countermobility guidance.

Specific priorities.

Time plan.

Guidance on rehearsals.

Issue a Warning OrderMission Analysis Step # 16

FM 101-5, MAY 97, pp. 5-10 to 5-11

review facts and assumptions mission analysis step 17
During the rest of the decision-making process, the commander and staff periodically review all available facts and assumptions.

New facts may alter requirements and analysis of the mission.

Assumptions may have become facts or may have become invalid.

Whenever facts or assumptions change, the commander and staff must assess the impact of these changes on the plan and make the necessary adjustments.

Review Facts and AssumptionsMission Analysis Step # 17

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-11

coa development mdmp step 3
Commander’s guidance and intent focus the staff’s creativity to produce a comprehensive, flexible plan within the time constraints.

Commander’s direct participation helps the staff get quick, accurate answers to questions that occur during the process.

COAs must meet the criteria of . . .

Suitability - accomplishes the mission and complies with the commander’s guidance.

Feasibility - the unit has the capability to accomplish the mission in terms of available time, space, and resources.

Acceptability - advantage gained by executing the COA justifies the cost in resources, especially casualties.

Distinguishability - each COA must differ significantly from others.


COA DevelopmentMDMP Step # 3

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-11

coa development steps
Analyze Relative Combat Power.

Generate Options.

Array Initial Forces.

Develop the Scheme of Maneuver.

Assign Headquarters.

Prepare COA Statements and Sketches.

COA Development Steps

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-11

relative combat power analysis rcpa coa development step 1
Combat power is the effect created by combining the elements of maneuver, firepower, protection, and leadership in combat against the enemy.

Planners compare friendly strengths against enemy weaknesses, and vice versa, for each element of combat power.

From these comparisons, they may deduce particular vulnerabilities for each force that may be exploitable or may need to be protected.

These comparisons may provide planners insights into effective force employment.

Potential decisive points.

Significant factors

Tactics, techniques, & procedures.

Relative Combat Power Analysis (RCPA)COA Development Step # 1

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-12

rcpa technique
Record key strengths and weaknesses for friendly & enemy forces.

Record deductions of the comparison of strength and weakness.

Identify factors significant to the successful accomplishment of the mission.

Record TTPs you may utilize to accomplish the mission.

RCPA Technique
generate options coa development step 2
Determine the decisive point & main effort.

Each COA should be developed starting at a potential decisive point.

Where the unit will mass the effects of overwhelming combat power to achieve a result with respect to terrain, enemy, and time that will accomplish the unit’s purpose.

Determine supporting efforts.

Determine purposes for main & supporting efforts.

Determine essential tasks for main & supporting efforts.

Generate OptionsCOA Development Step # 2

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-12

coa development cont coa development steps 3 4 5
Array Initial Forces.

Determine the ratio of friendly to enemy units required for each task, starting with the main effort and continuing through all supporting efforts.

Develop the Scheme of Maneuver.

Refine the initial array of forces and use graphic control measures to coordinate the operation and to show the relationship of friendly forces to one another, the enemy, and the terrain.

Assign Head Quarters.

Assign headquarters to groupings of forces.

Planners should not exceed the allocated Headquarters' span of control.

COA Development (Cont.)COA Development Steps # 3, 4, & 5

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-13

prepare coa statements sketches coa development step 6
The COA Statement must clearly portray how the unit will accomplish the mission and explain the scheme of maneuver.

The sketch provides a picture of the maneuver aspect of the COA.

Together they cover the task organization, tasks and purposes of subordinate units, and significant risk.

Prepare COA Statements & SketchesCOA Development Step # 6

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-14

coa statement sketch technique
Mission Statement (written)

Intent (written)

COA Generic Task Organization (drawn)

COA Statement (written)

Decisive point/desired result: “Decisive to this operation is . . .”

Description of the type or form of operation, addressing main and supporting efforts: “We will accomplish this by . . .”

Significant events or risk: “Significant to this operation is . . .”

Employment of major maneuver elements, addressing security, main battle, and reserve operations. (Sequential description of tasks and purposes.)

Purpose and priority of available fire support assets.

Engineer priority, and integration of obstacles with maneuver and fires.

Integration of other systems critical to the COA.

COA Statement & Sketch Technique

Prominent Terrain,

Operations Graphics,

& Legend (if required)

coa statement
At 130400 Aug XX, a mechanized division attacks to seize OBJ SLAM to protect the northern flank of the corps main effort. A mechanized brigade attacks in the north, as an economy of force, to fix enemy forces in zone denying them the ability to interfere with the main effort’s attack in the south.A mechanized brigade in the south attacks to penetrate enemy forces vicinity PL AMBER to create sufficient maneuver space to allow the main effort to pass to the east without interference from the defending enemy infantry regiment (-). A tank-heavy brigade, the main effort, passes through the southern mechanized brigade and attacks to seize the terrain vicinity of OBJ SLAM denying the enemy access to the terrain south and west of RIVER TOWN. The division reserve, a tank task force, initially follows the southern mechanized brigade prepared to contain enemy forces capable of threatening the main effort’s passage, then, if not committed west of PL GREEN, follows the main effort prepared to block enemy forces capable of threatening its movement west, ensuring the seizure of OBJ SLAM. The divisional cavalry squadron screens the division’s northern flank to provide early warning of any enemy force capable of threatening the division’s northern mechanized brigade. Division deep operations will: 1. Initially attrit enemy artillery capable of ranging the point of penetration to prevent it from massing fires against the two southern brigades; 2. then interdict the enemy tank battalion (-) south of WEST TOWN to prevent its movement south and west towards the main effort. 3. Interdict the enemy tank regiment (-) north of EAST TOWN to prevent its movement west of the PL BLUE allowing the main effort sufficient time to seize OBJ SLAM. Division fires will: 1. Isolate the point of penetration allowing the southern mechanized brigade to conduct a penetration. 2. Prevent enemy artillery from massing fires against the two southern brigades. 3. Support deep operations to prevent uncommitted enemy forces from interfering with the initial penetration or the seizure of OBJ SLAM. A mechanized infantry team acts as the division TCF with priority of responding to any Level III threat to the division’s Class III supply point vicinity METROCITY to ensure the uninterrupted flow of Class III.COA Statement
coa briefing technique
Update the IPB (situation and event templates). - S2/AS2

Read the restated mission (posted) . - S3/AS3

Read the commander’s intent (posted). - XO

Review the commander’s guidance. - XO

Explain each COA. - COA Proponent

Generic Task organization for COA (using graphic).

Decisive point/result: “Decisive to this operation is . . .”

Type or form of operation, addressing main and supporting efforts: “We will accomplish this by . . .”

Significant events or risk associated with the operation: “Significant to this operation is . . .”

Employment of major maneuver elements, addressing security, main battle, and reserve operations. (Sequential description of tasks and purposes.)

Purpose and priorities for each available fire support asset.

Engineer priority of effort/support, and integration of engineer assets and obstacles with maneuver and fires.

Any other critical aspect of the operation.

COA Briefing Technique
course of action analysis mdmp step 4
Identifies which COA accomplishes the mission with minimum casualties while positioning the force to retain the initiative for future operations.

Helps the commander . . .

Determine how to maximize combat power against the enemy while protecting the friendly forces and minimizing collateral damage.

Have as near an identical vision of the battle as possible.

Anticipate Battlefield events.

Determine conditions and resources required for success.

Determine when and where to apply the force’s capabilities.

Identify coordination requirements to produce synchronized results.

Determine the most flexible course of action.

Course of Action AnalysisMDMP Step # 4

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-16

war gaming process
COA Analysis is conducted using war gaming.

It focuses attention on each phase of the operation in a logical sequence.

War gaming tests a COA or improves a developed COA.

Takes a COA and begins to develop a detailed plan.

Determines the strengths and weaknesses of each COA.

Follows an action-reaction-counteraction cycle:

Actions - events initiated by the side with the initiative.

Reactions - the other side’s actions in response.

Counteractions - responses to the reactions.

War-Gaming Process

FM 101-5, MAY 97, pp. 5-16 to 5-22

war game rules
Remain objective, not allowing personality or their sensing of “what the commander wants” to influence them.

Accurately record advantages and disadvantages of each COA as they become evident.

Continually assess feasibility, acceptability, and suitability of the COA.

Avoid drawing premature conclusions and gathering facts to support such conclusions.

Avoid comparing one COA with another during the war game.

War-Game Rules

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-16

war gaming steps
Gather the tools.

List all friendly forces.

List assumptions.

List known critical events and decision points.

Determine evaluation criteria.

Select the war-game technique.

Select a method to record and assess the results.

War game the battle and assess the results.

War-Gaming Steps

FM 101-5, MAY 97, 2 FEB 97, p. 5-17

gather the tools war gaming step 1
War-game on maps, sand tables, or other tools that accurately reflect the nature of the terrain.

Tools required include, but are not limited to . . .


Event template.

Recording method.

Completed COAs, to include maneuver and R&S graphics.

Means to post enemy and friendly unit symbols.

Map of AO.

Gather the ToolsWar-Gaming Step # 1

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-17

list all friendly forces war gaming step 2
Consider all available combat, CS and CSS units that can be committed to the battle, paying special attention to support relationships and constrains.

The friendly force list remains constant for all COAs the staff analyzes.

List All Friendly ForcesWar-Gaming Step # 2

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-17

list known critical events and decision points war gaming step 4
Critical events and decision points must be listed for each enemy COA war-gamed against.

Critical events are those that directly influence mission accomplishment. They include . . .

Events that trigger significant actions or decisions.

Complicated actions requiring detailed study .

Essential tasks identified during mission analysis.

Major events from the unit’s current position to the accomplishment of the mission.

Decision points are events or location on the battlefield where tactical decisions are required during mission execution.

The staff must keep the list of critical events and decision points manageable. When time is short, the staff must reduce the list to only essential critical events and decision points.

List Known Critical Events and Decision PointsWar-Gaming Step # 4

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-18

determine evaluation criteria war gaming step 5
Evaluation criteria are those factors the staff uses to measure the relative effectiveness and efficiency of one COA relative to other COAs following the war-game.

Evaluation criteria change from mission to mission.

The criteria should look not only at what will create success, but also at what will cause failure.

Examples of evaluation criteria include . . .

Doctrinal fundamentals for the kind of operations being conducted.

Commander’s guidance and intent.

Determine Evaluation CriteriaWar-Gaming Step # 5

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-17

select the war game method war gaming step 6
There are three recommended techniques.

The belt technique divides the battlefield into belts running the width of the area of operations.

The avenue-in-depth technique focuses on one avenue of approach at a time, beginning with the main effort.

The box technique is a detailed analysis of a critical area.

Each one considers the area of interest and all enemy forces affecting the outcome of the operations.

The techniques can be used separately or in combination.

Select the War-Game MethodWar-Gaming Step # 6

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-17

select a method to record and display results war gaming step 7
Recording the war game’s results gives the staff a record from which to . . .

Build task organizations.

Synchronize activities.

Develop decision support templates.

Confirm and refine event templates.

Prepare plans or orders.

Identify strengths and weaknesses.

Two methods are use to portray the action:

Synchronization matrix.

Sketch note.

Select a Method to Record and Display ResultsWar-Gaming Step # 7

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-17

synchronization matrix method
Synchronization matrix method allows the staff to synchronize the COA across time and space in relation to the enemy COA.

An advantage of this method is that it can be readily translated into a graphic decision-making product.

The matrix is developed around selected functional areas or major subordinate commands of the unit.

Other operations, functions, and units that are to be integrated can be incorporated into the matrix.

Passage of time may result in changes to the initial conditions with respect to the enemy, status of friendly forces, and even weather.

Synchronization Matrix Method

FM 101-5-1, MAY 97, pp 5-19 thru 5-21

sketch note method
Sketch note method uses brief notes concerning critical locations or tasks.

Notes reference specific locations on the map or relate to general considerations covering broad areas.

Staff members use sequence numbers to reference the notes to the corresponding location on the map or overlay.

They use the war-game work sheet to identify all pertinent data for a critical event.

Sketch Note Method

FM 101-5-1, MAY 97, p 5-22

war game the battle and assess the results war gaming step 8
During war-gaming, the commander and staff . .

Analyze each selected event by identifying the tasks the force must accomplish one echelon down, using assets two echelons down.

Try to foresee the dynamics of a battle’s action, reaction, and counteraction.

Identify the COA’s strengths and weaknesses.

Look at many areas in detail.

Conduct risk management ( to include the threat from WMD).

Identifies and synchronizes CS and CSS assets required to support the scheme of maneuver.

Evaluate the need for branches to the plan.

The commander can modify the COA based on METT-T.

War-Game the Battle and Assess the ResultsWar-Gaming Step # 8

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-17

war game brief optional
Higher headquarters, mission, intent, concept, and deception plan.

Updated IPB (terrain, weather, enemy).

Enemy COAs war-gamed.

Friendly COAs war-gamed.


War-gaming technique used.

For each COA war-gamed . . .

Critical events that were war-gamed.

Possible enemy actions and reactions.

Modifications to the COA.

Strengths and weaknesses.

Results of the war game.

War-Game Brief (Optional)

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-24

coa comparison mdmp step 5
The COA comparison starts with the commander analyzing and evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of each COA from his perspective.

The Commander compares feasible courses of action to identify the one COA that has the highest probability of success against the most likely enemy COA and the most dangerous enemy COA.

Pose the minimum risk to soldiers, equipment, and mission accomplishment.

Best position the force for future operations.

Provide the best flexibility to meet “unknowns” during execution.

Provide maximum latitude for initiative by subordinates.

COA ComparisonMDMP Step # 5

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-24

decision matrix
Evaluation criteria should be those identified during course of action analysis.

Weighting - based on relative importance.

Comparison methods- high/low, +/-, numerical value.

Decision Matrix



FM 101-5, MAY 97, pp. 5-25 to 5-26

commander s decision briefing
After completing its analysis and comparison, the staff identifies its preferred COA and makes a recommendation.

The decision-briefing format includes:

Intent of higher commanders one and two levels up.

Updated IPB.

Restated mission.

Status of own forces.

Own COAs, including:

Assumptions used in planning.

Results of staff estimates.

Advantages and disadvantages (including risk) with decision matrix showing COA comparison.

Recommended COA.

Commander’s Decision Briefing

FM 101-5, MAY 97, pp. 5-24 to 5-25

coa approval mdmp step 6
The commander decides on the COA he believes to be the most advantageous.

Once the commander has selected a COA:

- He may refine his intent statement.

- He issues any additional guidance on priorities for CS/CSS.

- Issues guidance on orders preparation, rehearsals, and preparation for mission execution.

The commander issues a warning order with essential information so that subordinates can refine their plans.

COA ApprovalMDMP Step # 6

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-26

warning order 3
The Warning Order follows the five-paragraph field order format and may include the following information:

Required maps.

The enemy situation and significant intelligence events.

The higher headquarters’ mission.

Mission or tasks of the issuing headquarters.

Orders for preliminary action, including reconnaissance and surveillance.

Coordinating instructions .

Service support instructions, any special equipment necessary, regrouping or transport, or preliminary movement of units.

Warning Order 3

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-26

orders production mdmp step 7
Based on the commander’s decision and final guidance, the staff refines the COA and completes the plan and prepares to issue the order.

Finally, the commander reviews and approves orders before the staff reproduces and briefs.

Orders ProductionMDMP Step # 7

FM 101-5, MAY 97, p. 5-26