Army Training Planning Process

Listed below I am sharing the five step Army Training Planning Process used by Commanders at all levels in the Army.

1)      METL – The Army Training Planning Process begins with the unit METL.  All units that are company sized and higher have a unit METL, which is the Mission Essential Task List (the critical skills a unit must perform to accomplish its wartime mission).  Typically the METL has 4-6 tasks.  Normally, a list of tasks can be found in the ARTEP.  The Commander picks the tasks he or she deems are the most critical.

2)      Commander’s Assessment – The Commander assesses the unit METL immediately after all unit training.  The commander “grades” the unit on a T, P, U scale.  T stands for trained, P stands for proficient and U stands for Untrained.  Only a higher headquarters can give the unit a T rating for METL Tasks.  The Unit Commander normally uses the P and U grades.  To make an assessment, the Commander makes a personal assessment and also gets input from his subordinate leaders.

3)      Commander’s Guidance – After the Commander has updated the Unit METL, he or she creates their Commander’s Guidance.  This establishes his/her priorities for the year and specifies which training tasks will be worked on in the upcoming year.

4)      Training Plan – Once the Commander’s Guidance is finished (and gets approved by Higher HQs), the Commander creates a Training Plan for the unit.  This is simply the “action plan” the unit will follow in order to reach the Commander’s Goals for the year.  These are the specific training events and tasks the units will focus on.  This Training Plan gets finalized and updated on the Yearly Training Calendar and Training Schedule.

5)      Execute Training – The final step in the process is to execute the training.  Once the training has been planned and resourced, the unit will execute the training.

This cycle simply repeats itself each year.  It is an ongoing process.  You can learn more about these steps in FM 25-101.

Do you have any information you can add to the Army Training Process? Do you have any questions? You can post your comments or questions in the area below; thank you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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9 thoughts on “Army Training Planning Process”

  1. If you’ll forgive my tongue-in-cheek comment (a by-product of ten years in the training establishment of a sister service), I’m curious whether if there is a person ‘checking the checkers,’ so to speak. In the modern US military and it’s zero-fault culture, there seems to be an incentive for a subordinate commander to either inflate the training/readiness rating of their unit to either make their commander look good, or to at least not make their unit look bad.
    And, how often does a new CO’s own personal conviction/bugaboo flavor the trainnig focus (which we’ve seen here as the ‘flavor-of-the-tour’)? Yes, I understand there are mission-essential tasks, but there always seems to be a knee-jerk focus on soft skills which have little to do with the mission of “droppinig warheads on foreheads.” or “breaking things and making people unhappy.”

    1. This does happen from time to time, Michael. Grading your own unit is somewhat subjective. 10 different commanders would all have 10 different grades for the same unit, so which one is right? I agree that no commander wants to make his own unit look bad by giving it a poor rating. But hopefully the commander can look past that and give it the most accurate rating. Personally, I’d rather have a good unit with a low rating than a marginal unit with an over inflated rating. And your comment about the CO’s conviction flavoring the training focus is true. Ultimately, all commanders choose which training their unit will do each year based off his higher HQ’s training guidance and what he/she wants done for the unit. Someone has to make that decision.

      1. I had just chatted with one of my colleagues about thi topic – his previous job was OCONUS in the Army training world. Nice to know I wasn’t too far off the mark.

  2. Neil ODonnell

    Given the critical importance of Army missions to national security, the requirement for a higher headquarters to provide a “T” rating is understandable. I also can see where input from subordinate leaders would make the Commander’s assessment a better gauge for prioritizing future training tasks.

    As for the METL tasks, I would imagine many outside the armed services would not understand the level of time involved in the initial planning stages and the efforts to secure necessary resources to make certain tasks are properly performed. Those managing supply inventories and purchasing efforts are certainly vital to a mission’s success, though many people likely overlook the service members completing such roles.

    1. Very few National Guard and Army Reserve units ever have a “T” rating in any of their METL tasks. If they do, it might be in just one or two of their tasks, but definitely not all of them.

      And your point about managing supplies and purchasing efforts is spot on. The Army is a team effort. We need every Soldier, every section and every unit to do their part if we want to accomplish the mission.

  3. Another great tool for Leadership to utilize is the 8 Step Training Model. This approach also includes the points discussed in this article but goes into a little more depth to ensure that every aspect of the training, the trainers and resourcing is review and covered. Oftentimes, I feel like as leader’s we take for granted that the training will just execute itself, but I feel like it is extremely important to explain your training intent to the trainers and other leaders in the format of the 8 Step Training Model as well.

    1. Good point, Justin. The 8 Step Training Model is a great resource for any military leader. Like you said, it is very important to explain your intent to your subordinates. Even if a Soldier doesn’t know what the game plan is, if they have the Commander’s Intent, they should be able to make things happen.

  4. The Mission Essential Task List is very comprehensive. This article really helps break down the process, when it comes to training. It’s very interested to see how many people are involved in the planning portion of military related tasks. It seems like higher ranking officers always have more say! This is appropriate, however, considering their time and dedication.

    1. The Army Training Planning Process is pretty straight forward. Once you have a little experience doing it, it gets much easier, just like anything else in the Army.

      The Army Training Process involves many different people from many different echelons. You are right that the high ranking officers normally have the most say. While their input is important, no one knows the strengths and capabilities of a unit better than it’s command team. Ultimately, those three individuals (Commander, XO and senior NCO) should have the final word.

      Thanks for your comment.

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