If you’ve ever worked on a Battalion level staff (or higher echelon) there’s a good chance you participated in the Military Decision Making Process. And if you haven’t served at the Battalion level or higher, you should educate yourself so you can be prepared. In the paragraphs below, I will give you an overview of the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) so you know the basics.
Things You Should Know About MDMP
- Used by Battalion level staffs and higher; smaller sized units use the Troop Leading Procedures
- It is a single, established and analytical process
- It is a tool that assists the commander and staff in developing a plan
- It is used in tactical and garrison environments
- The MDMP helps the commander and his staff examine a battlefield situation and reach logical decisions
- The process helps them apply thoroughness, clarity, sound judgment, logic, and professional knowledge to reach a decision
- It is a continuous process throughout the duration of the operation (before, during and after)
- It is command driven, involves all staff sections and is normally led by the Plans Officer, Chief of Staff, XO or S3
Advantages of MDMP
• It analyzes and compares multiple friendly and enemy COAs in an attempt to identify the best possible friendly COA.
• It produces the greatest integration, coordination, and synchronization for an operation and minimizes the risk of overlooking a critical aspect of the operation.
• It results in a detailed operation order or operation plan.
Disadvantages of MDMP
- MDMP is a time-consuming process
- It’s much EASIER for large, complex staffs to do MDMP than small Battalion level staffs because they have more MANPOWER and personnel
The basic steps in the MDMP are:
- Receipt of Mission
- Mission Analysis
- Course of action (COA) Development
- COA Analysis (aka Wargaming)
- COA Comparison
- COA Approval
- Orders Production
How Does it Work?
Depending upon the size of the unit, most units have a Plans Team in the G3 section. The Plans Team normally has a representative from each Staff Section (G1, G2, G3, etc) that work with the Plans Officer and S3. In smaller units, such as Battalions, the XO and S3 work with the other staff sections to complete the process (S1, S2, S4, etc.).
Normally, when a unit receives an order from higher headquarters the S3 or XO bring the staff together to inform them of the order. At this point, everyone analyzes their respective section of the Operations Order to conduct mission analysis. They analyze what must get done; they brainstorm potential courses of action and create a WARNORD. They also get guidance from the Commander and then analyze potential courses of action. Once they finalize a course of action, and get it approved by the Commander, they prepare an OPORD. That is the entire MDMP Process summarized in a nutshell.
I was fortunate to serve as a G4 Plans Officer for about 9 months. I was in this position while preparing for a deployment. I must tell you that this was the most “painful” job I ever had in the Army. The job is difficult, stressful, demanding and sometimes frustrating, especially if your only experience is leading small units and not spending all your time finger pecking in Power Point and MS Word.
However, I’ve come to realize that Plans Officers and Staff Officers play critical roles in developing a solid, thorough plan that must be executed by their subordinate units. For that reason, I think it is a critically important job that should be reserved for the best of the best.
In summary, the MDMP helps commanders and staffs evaluate problems in an analytical manner, which allows them to make logical decisions on the battlefield. It helps them think through the problems and develop a solid plan to get the job done. Although it can be long and cumbersome, it is a very important job.
On a side note, if you have experience with MDMP, I would love to hear from you. Please tell us about your experience, such as what you learned, whether or not you enjoyed it, what job you had, and any advice you would share with our other readers.
If you have any questions about the MDMP that I may be able to answer, you can ask them here too. Thank you for visiting.