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Troop Leading Procedures

Troop leading is the procedure leaders use to prepare their units to accomplish a tactical mission. It begins when the leader is alerted for a mission. It starts again when he receives a change or a new mission. The troop-leading procedure comprises the steps listed below. Steps 3 through 8 may not follow a rigid sequence. Many of them may be accomplished concurrently. In combat, rarely will leaders have enough time to go through each step in detail. Leaders must use the procedure as outlined, if only in abbreviated form, to ensure that nothing is left out of planning and preparation and that their soldiers understand the mission and prepare adequately. They continuously update their estimates throughout the preparation phase and adjust their plans as appropriate.

Troop Leading Steps
Step 1. Receive the Mission.
Step 2. Issue a Warning Order.
Step 3. Make a tentative Plan.
Step 4. Initiate Movement.
Step 5. Reconnoiter.
Step 6. Complete the Plan.
Step 7. Issue the Order.
Step 8. Supervise.


Step 1. Receive the Mission. The mission must contain the 5xWs - Who, What, Where, When, and Why. The What is the single tactical task (i.e. destroy, sieze, or block) and the Why is the purpose - the reason for the operation. The leader may receive the mission in a written or oral warning order, an operation order, a fragmentary order or in digital format. Upon receiving the mission he immediately begins to analyze it using the factors of METT-T:

  1. The leader should us no more than one third of the available time for his own planning and for issuing his operation order. The remaining two thirds is for subordinates to plan and prepare for the operation. Leaders should also consider other factors such as available daylight and travel time to and from orders and rehearsals.
  2. In scheduling preparation activities, the leader should work backwards from the LD or defend time. This is reverse or backwards planning. He must allow enough time for the completion of each task.


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Step 2. Issue a Warning Order. The leader provides initial instruction in a warning order. The warning order contains enough information to begin preparation as soon as possible. At a minimum it should contain an updated situation, a current Mission Statement, time and place of the OPORD, the earliest time of move, and a time hack. Unit SOPs should prescribe who will attend all warning orders and the actions they must take upon receipt: for example, drawing ammunitions, rations and water, checking communications equipment, times for earliest movement and time for order. The warning order has no specific format. One technique is to use the five paragraph operation order format. The leader issues the warning order with all the information he has available at the time. He provides updates as often as necessary. If available, the following information may be included in a warning order. The leader never waits for information to fill out a warning order.


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Step 3. Make a Tentative Plan. The leader develops an estimate of the situation to use as the basis for his tentative plan. The estimate is the military decision making process. It consists of five steps:
1. mission analysis
2. situation analysis and course of action development
3. analysis of each course of action
4. comparison of each course of action
5. decision
The decision represents the tentative plan. The leader updates the estimate continuously and refines his plan accordingly. He uses this plan as the start point for coordination, reconnaissance task organization (if required), and movement instructions. He works through this problem solving sequence in as much detail as time available allows. As the basis of his estimate, the leader considers the factors of METT-T. Key to the plans success is a clearly defined purpose tied to one tactical task.

  1. Mission. The leader considers his mission as given to him by his commander. He analyzes it in light of the commander's intent two levels higher, and he derives the essential tasks his unit must perform in order to accomplish the mission.
  2. Enemy. The leader considers the type, size, organization, tactics, and equipment of the enemy he expects to encounter. He identifies the enemy's strength and weaknesses.
  3. Terrain. The leader considers the effects of terrain and weather on enemy and friendly forces using the guidelines below (OCOKA):


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Step 4. Initiate Necessary Movement. The unit may need to begin movement while the leader is still planning or reconnoitering forward. This step could occur at any time during the troop-leading procedure. This implies as little as having the Platoon Sergeant move the platoon to an area where the preparation phase can begin. The time created is used for the completion of the decision making process.
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Step 5. Conduct Reconnaisance. The leader makes a map reconnaissance and if time allows, he makes a personal reconnaissance to verify his terrain analysis, adjust his plan, confirm the usability of routes, and times any critical movements. The leader must consider the risk inherent in conducting reconnaissance forward of friendly lines.
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Step 6. Complete the Plan. This is the heart of the Troop Leading Procedures as it is the plan that drives unit execution. Simple concepts like Task and Purpose, Commander's Intent, and Scheme of Maneuver are combined and delivered to the platoon in an oral presentation backed up with a written product when time permits. The leader completes his plan based on the reconnaissance and any changes in the situation. He should review his mission, as he received it from his commander, to ensure that his plan meets the requirement of the mission and stays within the framework of the commander's intent.
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Step 7. Issue the Complete Order. Key to orders issuance are the following:
1. Participation of the Platoon - the more members the better. 2. Graphics - either posted to a map or a terrain board that allows for a visualization of the terrain, enemy and self. 3. Objective blow up that allows for a detailed discussion of Actions on the Objective. To aid subordinates in understanding the concept of the mission, leaders should issue the order within sight of the objective or on the terrain to be defended. A terrain model or sketch is always helpful. Leaders must ensure that subordinates understand the mission, the commander's intent two levels up, the concept of the operation, and their assigned task and purpose. Leaders may require subordinates to repeat all or part of the order or demonstrate on the model or sketch their understanding of the operation.
Atr the end of the OPORD a rehersal must be conducted. As a minimum a brief-back that covers Task and Purpose, Commander's Intent and Critical Events should be covered. Return to Troop Leading Steps


Step 8. Supervise and Refine. This includes such things as Pre-Combat Inspections (PCI), Pre-Combat Checks, Intel Updates, and Assembly Area Procedures. Any of these can necessitate a modification of the plan. The leader supervises the unit's preparation for combat by conducting rehearsal and inspections.

  1. Rehearsals. If possible, leaders should conduct a rehearsal on terrain that resembles the actual ground and in similar light conditions. The unit may begin rehearsals of SOP items or battle drills before the receipt of the operation order. Once the order has been issued, the unit can rehearse mission-specific tasks. The leader uses rehearsals to:
  2. The type of rehearsals are briefback, reduced force, and full force. There are many different techniques available to accomplish these rehearsals. Some important tasks to rehearse include actions in the assembly area, actions before the LD, actions en route to the objective, actions in the assault positions, actions on the objective, actions during consolidation and reorganization on the objective and actions during the transition to the next mission.
    1. Briefback. Briefbacks identify problems and disconnects in execution but to a lesser degree than hands-on rehearsals. The leader should conduct at least two briefbacks with subordinate leaders. When possible, He should conduct briefbacks collectively at a meting of the orders group. This makes the exchange of information easier, improves coordination among units and speeds the distributions of changes.
    2. The first briefback is done immediately after the operations order has been issued. This brief back is to ensure subordinate leaders understand the mission. The second briefback is done after subordinates have formulated their own concept, but before they have issued their operation order. This briefback is to ensure the subordinate concepts agree before subordinate leaders issue their operation order.

    3. Reduced-force rehearsal (key leader). A reduced force rehearsal is done when time is limited or the tactical situation does not permit everyone to attend. The leaders replicates its actions on mock-ups, sand tables, or smaller pieces of terrain than the actual operations.
    4. Return to Troop Leading Steps

    5. Full-force rehearsal. this type of rehearsal is the most effective, but uses the most time and resources. It involves every soldier who will participate in the operation. If possible it should be conducted under the same conditions (weather, time of day, terrain, and so on) That is expected to be encountered during the actual operations.
    6. Techniques of rehearsal.
  1. Inspections. Leader should conduct initial inspections shortly after receipt of the warning order. The leaders spot-check throughout the unit's preparation for combat.


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References: FM 7-7J (7MAY93), FM 7-8 (22APR92), FM 71-1 (JAN98), FM 7-10 (14DEC90), FM 7-20 (6APR92).


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