Army Troop Leading ProceduresBy
In the Army, small unit leaders (Officers and NCOs) utilize the Troop Leading Procedures to conduct mission analysis and plan for upcoming missions. The Troop Leading Procedures are a systematic approach to plan, resource and execute any mission. In essence, the Troop Leading Procedures consist of eight simple steps leaders should follow when planning missions.
Although the Troop Leading Procedures consist of eight steps, they don’t need to be followed in exact order. Leaders can “move freely” between steps as they create their plan. Therefore, it’s best to think of the Troop Leading Procedures as a guidepost to follow when planning for a future mission.
Listed below are the eight steps involved in the Troop Leading Procedures:
STEP 1: Receive the Mission: All mission planning begins when a leader receives a mission brief from his higher headquarters. Examples of a mission could include: (1) clean the latrine, (2) conduct a raid, or (3) defend your area of operations. Leaders can receive the mission brief via a written or verbal OPORD.
STEP 2: Issue a Warning Order: Upon receipt of a mission, all leaders should immediately issue a WARNORD to their direct reports. For example, if a Company Commander receives a mission brief, he would immediately issue an OPORD to his First Sergeant, Company XO and Platoon Leaders. He would share any pertinent information with his direct reports to give them a “heads up” about the mission. Even though the Company Commander won’t have a final plan yet, he should still share the information he does have. This gives his subordinate leaders time to prepare.
STEP 3: Make a Tentative Plan: Once you’ve informed your direct reports via a WARNORD, your next step is to make a tentative plan. To do so, you should review your higher Commander’s Intent to figure out what the primary objective is. Next, you should draft up two to three potential Courses of Action (COAs). Once you have two to three COAs, you should compare them and choose the best one. Once you choose the best COA, you should develop a concept of operations. In other words, how will you execute the plan?
STEP 4: Start Necessary Movement: Depending upon your mission, you might need to reposition your forces. Or, you might need to relocate your logistics. Everything depends upon your mission, the location, and the available time.
STEP 5: Conduct Recon: In most cases, it behooves you to conduct a leader’s recon. This gives you an “eye on the objective.” For instance, if you are going to conduct an ambush, you should conduct a recon to that site so you can familiarize yourself with the terrain. If you do not have time to conduct a recon, you should at least refer to a map or terrain model. Or, you could send one of your subordinates.
STEP 6: Complete the Plan: Once you’ve completed the steps above, the next step involved in the Troop Leading Procedures is to complete the plan. At this point, you should draft your plan on paper into a finished OPORD. It can be typed or handwritten. The most important thing is to provide as much “details” and “guidance” as you can in the OPORD. This will help your subordinates create their plans.
STEP 7: Issue the Complete Order: Once you finish the plan and draft an OPORD, you must issue the complete OPORD. In most cases, you should have an OPORD brief where you can verbally brief the mission to your direct reports. At the brief, you should provide a written OPORD to each direct report with any annexes, maps or additional information you might have. Once you finish the brief, make sure you answer your subordinate’s questions. When possible, you should have a terrain model, too. This way, you can “walk through” and “rehearse” your mission.
STEP 8: Supervise: The final element of the Troop Leading Procedures is to supervise the mission. Remember, Officers plan, NCOs supervise and Soldiers execute the mission. If you planned well, your subordinate leaders will execute the mission with their Soldiers. You will provide supervision and guidance during the mission, but you won’t be the one to actually execute the mission.
As a company-level leader, your objective is to create the best plan possible, in the shortest amount of time. Try to follow the 1/3 – 2/3 rule. If you have 72-hours before the mission starts, you should spend no more than 24 hours planning. That way, you give your subordinates the maximum amount of time possible to draft their own plans and prepare for the mission.
In conclusion, the Troop Leading Procedures are a very effective way for small unit leaders to plan for upcoming missions. The secret to success is to create a “good plan” in the shortest amount of time possible. Don’t worry about creating a “perfect plan,” because there is no such thing. It’s better to create a “good plan” today than a “perfect plan” in a couple days from now.