The Five Types of Army Orders: OPORD, Service Support Order, Movement Order, Warning Order and Fragmentary Order

Today, I want to provide you a brief overview about the five types of Army orders.  An order is simply a form of communication between a superior and subordinate.  It can be written, given orally, or with some type of signal.  An order typically provides the “details” of what the superior wants the subordinate(s) to do, along with some type of plan.  An order describes the situation, mission, execution, service and support and command/signal.

In the Army, there are five types of orders.  They include the Operations Order (OPORD), Service Support Order, Movement Order, Warning Order (WARNO) and Fragmentary Order (FRAGO).  In the paragraphs below I will cover each order type in more detail, so you have a basic understanding about what they are used for.

# 1 OPORD

OPORDs are published for a specific mission, typically some type of operational mission.  They are in a five paragraph format, to include the task organization, situation, mission, execution, service and support and command/signal.  An OPORD always specify a date and time for execution.  They are typically written, but can also be done verbally or even handwritten.  The more complex the mission, the more complex the OPORD.  Most OPORDs are published by the commander, but created by the S3 section.

# 2 Service Support Order

This type of order directs the service support of operations including administrative movements.  In most cases, this will be an annex within an OPORD, but it can be a standalone document.  The service support order covers the logistics plan for the unit.

# 3 Movement Order

Whenever a unit conducts a movement, there will be a movement order.  This could be a convoy in combat, an administrative movement, or any other type of movement of personnel or equipment.  This can be an annex in an OPORD or a standalone document.  Typically, the S4 or Logistics Officers prepares this document for the commander.

# 4 Warning Order

A Warning Order gives leaders notice that an OPORD will be issued in the near future.  It’s really a “warning” so they can start doing their initial planning.  A Warning Order is in a similar format to an OPORD.  They are never a complete plan.  Instead, the information on hand is shared at the earliest convenience, while higher headquarters finalizes their plan and finishes the OPORD.  A Warning Order does NOT authorize execution of the mission.  It is typically for subordinates‘ planning purposes only.

# 5 Fragmentary Order

Often referred to as a FRAGO, a Fragmentary Order is an abbreviated form of an OPORD.  Rather than recreate a new OPORD every time their is a mission to complete, units can simply publish a FRAGO to publish any changes to the original OPORD.

Final Thoughts

As a leader, regardless of your rank, you will give orders to your subordinates.  Depending upon the complexity of the mission, the skillset of your subordinates, your mission, and the type of unit you serve in, you could use any type of order mentioned above.  It’s in your best interest to learn how each order works and also know how to write one effectively.

What are your thoughts?  Which type of order do you deal with the most?  Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.

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9 thoughts on “The Five Types of Army Orders: OPORD, Service Support Order, Movement Order, Warning Order and Fragmentary Order”

  1. As a staff officer I’ve always seen OPORDs generated at the battalion level, but now as a company commander I’m curious to what changes in format for a company level OPORD. Any thoughts?

  2. This is a very interesting subject. As a soldier, I truly was not aware of the different types of orders, I just followed the ones my superior gave me.

    I noticed you mentioned orders can be given orally, handwritten, or typed out. Personally, I believe that every order should be written in one form or another. Orally can cause confusion, and it could come down to he/she said versus he/she heard. With it written out, there can be no B.S. Yes, I know there are those moments that something cannot be written, but I believe every attempt to do so should be taken.

    Just my opinion…any thoughts?

  3. Thanks for bringing up a good topic. I’ve always been curious of Oplans. What is the difference in format between an OPORD and OPLAN?
    By the way, I believe new Army regs states FRAGOs are now to be called FRAGORDs.

    1. From what I understand, the OPLAN always comes after an OPORD has been issued in an military exercise. The OPLAN itself will be drawn up in higher detail of the original OPORD. The OPLAN is essentially a complete plan of action, whereas the OPORD is just the generalities. It seems to me from my research that OPLANS are primarily just issued for war, where OPORDS can be for a wide variety of operations.

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