February 3, 2017 at 9:55 am #40706MaxKeymaster
The intent of this post is to give guidance on the Combat Estimate. The Combat Estimate is included in ‘Contact!’ and is a version of the MDMP (Military Decision Making Process). However, unlike the clunky MDMP, which is very much a process aimed at military staff members, the Combat Estimate (CE) is designed to be completed by an individual commander. It will also be included, along with tactical check notes, in the MVT Tactical handbook, which is currently under construction.
The CE is used during the training of infantry leaders. It is designed as a tool that can either be sat down and completed formally, but also as tool that will train your thinking, or the logical planning and decision making process. So for example, as a young cadet at Sandhurst, you will find yourself initially conducting various ‘TEWT” exercises (Tactical Exercise Without Troops) where you will be taken out to a training area, given a scenario on real ground, and asked to conduct a CE. This could be defensive or offensive in nature. You will be expected to explain your working in your CE and give your preferred ‘COA’ (Course of Action). This will then lead to the writing of sets of operational orders for the operation, formats for which are also laid out in ‘Contact!’
Later, you will conduct field training exercise with blank fire, where as the nominated platoon leader, you will be expected to conduct a ‘Quick Estimate’ under a simulated combat situation, and then write a set of ‘QBOs’ (Quick Battle Orders). You will then lead your simulated attack.
So the CE is a tool that helps to develop your critical thinking as an infantry commander. It can be done in slow time, or formally if you are planning an operation for a secured area. It can be done fast, the result of a trained and logical mind. It can form a 9’running estimate’ where factors are changing. I have written before about decision making and the fact that you will never have perfect knowledge. You will have the information available to you, and you may draw conclusions that you will need to take action to gather more information (i.e. implied task – recce). But a military operation is not a Mission Impossible movie and you will have to make decisions based on imperfect, and changing, information. Thus, you must logically apply the knowledge you have, or think you have, to making a decision. The CE is ultimately a tool that is designed to help you make best decisions, without missing out critical factors. It is not designed to enslave you, but to be that useful tool that you will use as you see fit, and as time allows. The important point is that it will train a logical infanteer’s mind.
Don’t be ‘that guy’ that dismisses the CE. I have been that guy. As an already trained infantryman going through Officer Training, I was given an attack TEWT. I looked left, I looked right, I assessed the terrain and the nominated enemy position. I made my decision and told the Directing Staff I did not need to do an estimate. Oh fucking no hot shit! Oh did I pay for that! It wasn’t the point. Yes, as an infantryman I could make fast assessments of terrain and enemy and come to decisions. But I needed to train the CE. Do not be dismissive, because you may need this tool one day. Maybe when you are planning an operation or a home defense plan. The same is true with you guys who are not bothering to take Joe’s information and conduct Intelligence Assessments. Those assessments feed into your CE. YOU need to do the work, no one is going to feed it to you. You need to do it because you are the one in your situation.
Let’s take a look at the various sections of the CE.
I have provided you a format for a CE that includes a number of notes for factors that you may consider. You do not need to consider them if they are not relevant. Use what is relevant to you, and indeed if there are relevant factors that are not listed, include them.
One thing you must also not do, is ‘Situate your Estimate.’ This refers to deciding on what you are going to do before you do the CE, or add other possible COAs in a non-serious manner, with no intention of really war gaming them. This makes the CE pointless, because you already decided. That will always be the case in a time sensitive situation, but when you have time to plan, do a proper CE.
STAGE 1 – MISSION ANALYSIS
This is an interesting section, because you are not in a military environment. Or you may be, if you created an organization. However, it is most likely that you will not be given a mission by a higher formation, but that you will find a mission necessary, or you will come up with one yourself. Mission Analysis is designed to analyze that mission before you even go into the factors and the planning. It is designed to create understanding of what you need to do, and what you need to do to achieve it it. It will lead to the issuing of the initial warning order, which is vital, and will begin concurrent activity. This will be familiar to Combat Patrol graduates, and even more so to future Combat Leader Course graduates.
In terms of the Troop Leading Procedures, which can be summarized here, this is how it all fits in:
Step 1. Receive the Mission – this is where your Stage 1 Mission Analysis happens.
Step 2. Issue a warning order – the result of your Mission Analysis.
Step 3. Make a tentative plan – initial conduct of the CE.
Step 4. Start necessary movement – if this falls out as a task from the CE.
Step 5. Reconnoiter – if this falls out as a task from the CE.
Step 6. Complete the plan – decide on a Course of Action. Write the Operations Order.
Step 7. Issue the complete order – ‘Orders Group” Briefing to troops.
Step 8. Supervise – Rehearsals / Inspections.
- Intent: Because we operate with Mission Command, we must understand INTENT. This is so that if the situation changes, we can adapt to it without waiting for new orders or clarification. We know the INTENT of what we are doing. If you are conducting joint operations with another group, this is relevant and will inform your place in the plan.
- TASKS: This includes those tasks that are specified in the mission that you just received i.e. I just received a mission to ‘SEIZE objective A, and DEFEND for 48 Hours, in order to disrupt enemy river crossing operations.’ My specified task here is to seize the objective and to hold it for 48 hours. I got that in the mission I received (or gave myself). Out of that will also fall a number of implied tasks i.e. plan, rehearse, move to objective, conduct attack, occupy, prisoner handling, casualties, ammo, food, water etc. Some of these will be ‘SOP’ (Standard operating procedures, in effect assumptions, or things that will happen automatically). But they will not happen unless you issue the warning order that lets your second in command /admin / communication / Intel etc people know that a mission is coming up and they have to do all those things that you assume will happen – they need the heads up to begin concurrent activity to support the operation.
Other implied tasks will the things that are not taken care of by others upon receipt of the warning order. It may be that you have to get across a river to get to the objective. How? You have to plan for that. You may have to move from your current location to a forward base – which is the ‘start necessary movement’ part from the TLP’s.
Do not make the mistake of doing the whole CE as part of this initial mission analysis. The purpose of ‘tasks, specified and implied’ is to get a good idea of what is being asked of you, and what are likely implied tasks, so that you can issue a warning order to get this moving. You can always adjust that later as you do the CE, and issue further warning orders. Perhaps you later realize that you have to take vehicles on the mission – issue another updated warning order so concurrent activity can take place to get the vehicles prepared for the mission.
The warning order can be verbal or written, and will depend a lot on the complexity and size of your operation.
- CONSTRAINTS: This section lists a number of possible factors that will either restrain you, or give you freedom of action. Time is often a constraint. Maybe rules of engagement. Distances tied in with time. Logistics. Again this is informing you of what is realistic and also informing your warning order – a simple example is how much time you have for your battle procedure (i.e. TLPs – planning (CE), orders and rehearsals). Thus when will I give my orders? In 10 minutes or tomorrow? When do we have to leave to be at the ORP for a dawn raid? etc.
1/3 – 2/3 Rule: This is a time constraint planning rule. It means that if you realize that you only have 9 hours to conduct planning, orders and rehearsals, you will take only 3 hours of that time, to allow your subordinates time to conduct their own TLP process. Some of this can be solved if you are operating in a smaller / flatter organization. For example, if I am a Battalion Commander, I need to allow my Company Commanders time (2/3 of it) after I give them my orders, to conduct this process. If I am a squad leader, we are only going to give one set of orders. However, I still need to allow time for the team leaders and specialist elements (DM’s etc) to get themselves and their teams squared away – part of this is achieved with the warning order, the rest with time after the Orders Group / Rehearsal for those smaller groups to organize.
- CHANGED SITUATION: In a dynamic combat situation things may be in flux. Thus, timely decisions, and you don’t have the ability to freeze time while you work up your perfect MDMP staff planning process! Develop the situation and work with what you have. This section lists a number of types of changes. What impact does that have on my mission? This is also why you need Mission Command with Intent – you can check with your higher formation if you have the time and means, or if not you work off intent and simply feed that back into the continuous Mission Analysis.
ISSUE INITIAL WARNING ORDER
This comes at the conclusion of your initial Mission Analysis. You know what needs to be achieved and the intent. You have a rough idea of implied tasks. You do not know your specific COA yet, because you have not conducted the full CE. But this is enough to issue a warning order, which will kick off concurrent activity. This will allow the logistics / admin side to converge on your Orders Group with everything in place to support the mission. You must include the time and place of the Orders Group in your warning order.
Next: Part 2 – STAGE 2: EVALUATE FACTORS.February 3, 2017 at 10:58 am #40708RobertParticipant
It occurred to me reading this that some of this you cover in the squad attack in Force on Force tactics class and CP. Great stuff.
RMP, TC3, NODF, CRCD 6/14, CP 9/14. NODF, Land Nav, 6/15. Rifleman Challenge 9/15- Vanguard. FOFtactics 3/16, 10/16, 11/16, 6/17,11/17 CTT, 6/15, 11/16, , LRMC-1 9/17 GA Mobile CTT and DA 10/16, GA mobile DCH 3/18, HEAT1 3/18 Alum weekend 8/18, Opfor CLC 10/18, DA 11/18 CQBC 12/18, 5/19February 3, 2017 at 11:46 am #40709Brian from GeorgiaParticipant
Very useful thread!
3-4 Aug 2013 CRCD, 2-6 Aug 2014 CRCD/Patrol, 30 Sep 2016 Run n Gun, 1-2 Oct 2016 FoF, 3-4 March 2018 DCH alumni
Team CoyoteFebruary 3, 2017 at 12:25 pm #40711RRSParticipant
Yes thanks look forward to the handbook
Tactical training for Liberty, Fraternity, ExcellenceFebruary 4, 2017 at 8:23 am #40750Sam BradyParticipant
You can use the combat estimate in all facets of life.
Planning a trip to Disneyland for example!February 4, 2017 at 8:24 pm #40776grammaParticipant
Or moving house or running a business, Sam. I do OK at this for someone without any training. I can always get better at it and look forward to the handbook and using it in courses.
My biggest issue with that process, is that once things begin happening is new – sometimes radically different information that impacts the previous COA and having to make adjustments mid-stream. How do I effectively communicate that information and why the plans must change to meet the new situation “on the ground”?
I don’t exactly handle this well or gracefully. LOL.February 4, 2017 at 8:29 pm #40777MaxKeymaster
Jusy to be clear – the Tactical Handbook will no explain the Combat Estimate. It is a handbook, an aide memoire. It is going to be a shorter handbook. The detail is in Contact and on this forum.
The handbook will give you all the techniques that we train on MVT classes, so more nitty gritty detail than Contact. It will give you orders formats and all that, tactical check lists for different patrols/missions. .But it wil be pretty useless without training. Much like the Ranger Handbook, which is useless without infantry training.February 5, 2017 at 10:00 am #40794grammaParticipant
Understood. Learned that lesson years ago.February 6, 2017 at 9:26 am #40820tangoParticipant
Weak Men can't be virtuous. - JBP
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