B-10. Relevant information is all information of importance to the commander and staff in the exercise of command and control (FM 3-0). In the context of information management, the six factors of METT-TC—mission, enemy, terrain and weather, troops and support available, time available, and civil considerations—make up the major subject categories into which relevant information is grouped for military operations. The commander and staff consider RI for each category in all military operations. The relative impact of each category may vary, but the commander and C2 system consider them all.
B-11. The mission is the task, together with the purpose, that clearly indicates the action to be taken and the reason therefore (JP 1-02). It is always the first factor commanders consider during decisionmaking. (See FM 5-0.) A thorough understanding of the mission focuses decisionmaking throughout the operations process. Commanders analyze their missions and decisions in terms of the higher commander’s intent, mission, and concept of operations. As commanders allocate tasks and resources to subordinates, they ensure their decisions support the decisive operation and the higher commander’s intent. Commanders and staffs view all the other factors of METT-TC in terms of their impact on mission accomplishment.
B-12. The mission statement defines the who, what, when, where, and why of the operation. A thorough understanding of why the unit is conducting an operation provides the focus for planning. Commanders analyze a mission in terms of the intent of the two higher commanders and their concepts of operations. They also consider the missions of adjacent units to understand their contributions in relation to their own units.
B-13. When assigning missions, commanders ensure all their subordinates’ missions support the decisive operation and the higher commander’s intent. Under mission command, missions to subordinate commanders allow the greatest possible freedom of action. They are constrained only by those control measures that ensure necessary coordination. Ideally, commanders assign each subordinate a mission and an area of operations (AO) without further restrictions. However, some operations (such as a combined arms breaching operation) require greater control and coordination than others (such as an exploitation).
B-14. When analyzing a mission, commanders consider possible subsequent missions, focusing their planning resources on the most probable. They plan to exploit success and aggressively look for opportunities, keeping within the higher commander’s intent.
B-15. The second factor to consider is the enemy—dispositions (including organization, strength, location, and tactical mobility), doctrine, equipment, capabilities, vulnerabilities, and probable courses of action (COAs). (See FM 34-130.)
B-16. The enemy, terrain and weather, and civil consideration contributions to the COP come from many sources, including intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) assets and combat information. Of all RI, intelligence (RI on the enemy and environment) is inherently the most uncertain; therefore the G-2 (S-2) carefully manages collection. To visualize enemy forces, commanders need detailed intelligence, such as, speed of advance, tempo, and strengths and weaknesses. Technology must display RI about enemy forces and significant aspects of the environment within the same digital frame of reference as friendly force information.
B-17. Once a commander initiates an operation, the enemy attempts to determine the friendly concept of operations and defeat it. Enemies react to every friendly move. When the enemy has the initiative, all friendly reactions to enemy actions result in an enemy counteraction. Consequently, commanders never assume their operations will unfold as planned. Enemies always have opportunities to unhinge them. Commanders look for enemy weaknesses and strengths in order to deny options to enemy commanders and keep them reacting to friendly maneuvers. Commanders analyze their forces for weaknesses and vulnerabilities that enemies might exploit, and act to counter them.
TERRAIN AND WEATHER
B-18. Terrain and weather are natural conditions. Commanders have only a limited ability to influence them, although terrain includes manmade structures, such as roads and cities. Human modification of terrain can change the shape of the land or its trafficability. It can also change local weather effects by modifying local wind or water pathways. Commanders consider manmade features and their effects on natural terrain features and climate when they analyze terrain. Commanders also consider the effects of manmade and natural terrain in conjunction with the weather on friendly and enemy operations. The second step of intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB) helps commanders with this complex task. (See FM 34-130.) Terrain and weather are relatively neutral; they favor neither side unless one is better prepared to operate in the environment or is more familiar with it (for example, fighting on friendly territory). Commanders analyze terrain and weather for favorable and unfavorable conditions. Enemy commanders do the same.
B-19. The terrain has a direct impact on selecting objectives; location, movement, and control of forces; effectiveness of weapons and other systems; and protective measures. Effective use of terrain diminishes the effects of enemy fires, increases the effects of friendly fires, and facilitates surprise. The effects of terrain on operations vary, depending on whether a force is defending or attacking. For example, cross-compartmented terrain favors the defender and hinders the attacker.
B-20. An appreciation of terrain—the ability to analyze its impact on operations—is one of a commander’s most important skills. Whenever possible, commanders perform a personal reconnaissance of the terrain where they plan to operate. IPB is critical to analyzing and understanding the effect of terrain on friendly and enemy COAs. Complete information on terrain is more than data on features, slope and elevation, soil conditions, and vegetation; it also includes their impact on vehicle and human movement rates, maintenance, tempo, trafficability, and maneuverability by various types of forces. Engineer topographic teams produce terrain analysis products to help commanders visualize the effect of terrain on operations. These teams regularly update terrain information to reflect the effects of combat, as well as of nature. Terrain also includes environmental considerations, that is, the spectrum of environmental media, resources, or programs that affect and are affected by operations.
Terrain is normally analyzed using the five military aspects of terrain, expressed in the memory aid, OAKOC:
Observation and fields of fire.
Avenues of approach.
Key and decisive terrain.
Cover and concealment.
Commanders consider all five aspects when analyzing terrain. They focus on the ones most relevant to the situation.
B-21. Observation and Fields of Fire. Observation is the condition of weather and terrain that permits a force to see the friendly, enemy, and neutral personnel and systems, and key aspects of the environment. Commanders evaluate their observation capabilities for electronic and optical line-of-sight surveillance systems, as well as for unaided visual observation. The highest terrain normally provides the best observation. For this reason, elevated terrain often draws enemy attention. A field of fire is the area that a weapon or group of weapons may cover effectively from a given position (JP 1-02). A unit’s field of fire is directly related to its ability to observe.
B-22. The commander’s analysis of observation and fields of fire considers many factors, including the location and effect of dead space. Dead space is an area within the maximum range of a weapon, radar, or observer, which cannot be covered by fire or observation from a particular position because of intervening obstacles, the nature of the ground, or the characteristics of the trajectory, or the limitations of the pointing capabilities of the weapon (JP 1-02). Commanders identify potential enemy and friendly engagement areas through observation and fields of fire.
B-23. Avenues of Approach. An avenue of approach is an air or ground route of an attacking force of a given size leading to its objective or to key terrain in its path (JP 1-02). An avenue of approach is categorized by the size and type of force that can use it, for example, a dismounted infantry company, an armored division, or an attack-helicopter company. A good avenue of approach allows ease of movement and good cover, concealment, observation, and fields of fire. It avoids obstacles and contributes to protection of the force by providing adequate maneuver space. Avenues of approach normally incorporate key terrain or deny its use to the enemy.
B-24. Corridors (ridge and valley systems) can either form natural avenues of approach (if they run toward an objective), or obstacles to movement (if they run perpendicular to the direction of movement, forming cross compartments). Troops using valleys as avenues of approach must control the adjacent ridges to protect their movement. Close or broken terrain, heavy woods, built-up areas, and abrupt changes in elevation hinder heavy forces but provide cover and concealment for light forces. Although open, rolling terrain provides little concealment and cover to light forces, it is suited for rapid advances by heavy formations.
B-25. Key Terrain and Decisive Terrain. Key terrain is any locality or area, the seizure or retention of which affords a marked advantage to either combatant (JP 1-02). Two factors can make terrain key: how the friendly commander wants to use it, and whether the enemy can use it to defeat a friendly COA. Different COAs may have different key terrain associated with them. The same terrain feature may not be key for all COAs. Terrain adjacent to the AO may be key if its control is necessary to accomplish the mission.
B-26. Decisive terrain is key terrain whose seizure and retention is mandatory for successful mission accomplishment (FM 3-90). Decisive terrain is relatively rare; it is not necessarily present in every situation. Unlike key terrain, decisive terrain is not associated with any COA. By definition, the force cannot accomplish its mission without seizing and retaining decisive terrain. When commanders identify decisive terrain, they specify actions related to it as one or more key tasks in the commander’s intent.
B-27. Obstacles. An obstacle is any obstruction designed or employed to disrupt, fix, turn, or block the movement of an opposing force, and to impose additional losses in personnel, time, and equipment on the opposing force. Obstacles can be natural, manmade, or a combination of both (JP 1-02). Obstacles fall into two categories: existing and reinforcing. The types of existing obstacles are natural, manmade, and military. The types of reinforcing obstacles are tactical and protective. A reinforcing obstacle’s effectiveness varies with the type of force negotiating it, the fires covering it, the nature of the obstacle, and the weather. (See FM 5-102.)
B-28. Cover and Concealment. Cover is protection from the effects of fires. Concealment is protection from observation and surveillance (JP 1-02). Terrain that offers cover and concealment limits fields of fire. Commanders consider cover and concealment to identify potential friendly and enemy locations. They look for possible assembly areas, routes, axes of movement, assault positions, ambushes, and battle positions. They consider both friendly and enemy perspectives.
B-29. Weather and climate have direct and indirect effects on tactical operations. Climate is a longer-term but more predictable phenomenon than weather. Planners consider climate with longer-range plans, while most tactical planning considers weather. Effective commanders use weather and climate to their advantage.
B-30. For planning purposes, weather is a shorter-term, but less predictable, phenomenon than climate. Weather affects the condition and capabilities of soldiers and weapon systems, including, trafficability, visibility, obstacle emplacement times, and munitions performance. Weather effects are classified as direct and indirect:
Direct effects are those that immediately affect the operations of friendly and enemy forces. They do not favor one side or the other. Their relative impact on each force is a function only of that force’s preparation.
Indirect effects are those on other elements of the environment—terrain and human, military and nonmilitary—that either hamper or help military operations of one or both forces.
B-31. Weather can create opportunities as well as difficulties for each side. For example, bad weather can favor the attacker by concealing a moving force while making construction of fighting positions more difficult for the defender. Simultaneously, bad weather can help the defender by making offensive movement more difficult. Stable weather conditions favor the use of chemical and biological agents. Cold weather slows both soldiers and machines; however, it freezes water and allows movement across normally wet areas that are otherwise difficult to pass.
TROOPS AND SUPPORT AVAILABLE
B-32. The fourth factor of METT-TC is the number, type, capabilities, and condition of available friendly troops and support. These include supplies and support available from joint, multinational, and interagency forces. They also include support from Department of Defense and Department of the Army civilians, and contractors employed by military organizations, such as, the Defense Logistics Agency and the Army Materiel Command.
B-33. Commanders should know the disposition and situation of their forces without having to visit each unit on the ground. They generally maintain information of friendly forces two levels down. They maintain understanding of subordinates’ readiness, including, maintenance, training, strengths and weaknesses, commanders, and logistic status. Thus, commanders visit units to confirm reports or obtain better understanding of the operation’s decisive points or factors. These visits also provide insights into the intangibles that data and reports cannot capture.
B-34. Commanders consider available troops and support when analyzing whether they have enough resources to accomplish a mission. If commanders determine that they do not, they request more from the higher commander. Increasing assets in one area may compensate for a shortage of assets in another. Under mission command, commanders ensure they provide subordinates with the right mix of troops and support to accomplish the missions they assign. Commanders consider tangible and intangible factors when assigning missions. Differences in mobility, protection, firepower, equipment, morale, experience, leadership, and training make some units more suitable for certain missions than others. The personalities of subordinate commanders are also important: A bold commander may be a good choice for a pursuit mission. A methodical commander may be a better choice for a deliberate breaching operation.
B-35. Effective commanders and staffs know how much time and space their units need to plan, prepare, and execute operations. This includes the time required to assemble, deploy, move, and converge units to mass the effects of combat power effectively. They also consider time with respect to the enemy: time available is always related to the enemy’s ability to plan, prepare, and execute operations, and react effectively to friendly actions. Time available varies with unit size and mission. It also depends on how much time is usable; for example, for some activities, hours of darkness are useable time, while for others they are not.
B-36. Consideration of time available further includes the time subordinate commanders and units require to plan and prepare their own operations. (See FM 5-0.) Parallel planning can help make the most of time available. Commanders can save more time by using standing operating procedures (SOPs), tactics, techniques, and procedures (TTPs), and habitual relationships. SOPs promote understanding and teamwork among commanders, staffs, and subordinates. TTPs include battle drills and tactical actions that lend themselves to standardized execution, such as refuel-on-the-move site operations. Standard supporting plans, such as rear area security plans, are a form of TTP. Commanders use rehearsals to fit TTPs to the situation. Habitual relationships in task organization also save preparation time. Units and soldiers who work together frequently already know each other’s SOPs and how they use TTPs. They can begin working together more quickly than units not habitually associated.
B-37. Civil considerations comprise the influence of manmade infrastructure, civilian institutions, and attitudes and activities of the civilian leaders, populations, and organizations within an area of operations on the conduct of military operations. They are a factor in all types of military operations: offense, defense, stability, and support. If the military’s mission is to support civil authorities, civil considerations define the mission.
B-38. Civil considerations generally focus on the immediate impact of civilians on operations in progress; however, they also include larger, long-term diplomatic, informational, and economic issues at higher levels. At the tactical level, they directly relate to key civilian areas, structures, capabilities, organizations, people, and events within the AO. Discounting these can tax the resources of follow-on elements. The world’s increasing urbanization means that the attitudes and activities of the civilian population in the AO often influence the outcome of military operations. Civil considerations of the environment can either help or hinder friendly or enemy forces; the difference lies in which commander has taken time to learn the situation and its possible effects on the operation. These considerations can influence the choice of a COA and the execution of operations.
B-39. Some effects of civil considerations may impede overall force activities; others affect soldiers directly, preventing them from functioning to their full capability. Anticipation and preparation can often overcome these effects, or even turn them to friendly advantage. This holds particularly true for civil considerations, where careful preparation can turn parts of civil populations into advantages for friendly forces and disadvantages for enemy forces.
B-40. An appreciation of civil considerations—the ability to analyze their impact on operations—enhances several aspects of operations: among them, the selection of objectives; location, movement, and control of forces; use of weapons; and force protection measures. Civil considerations comprise six characteristics, expressed in the memory aid ASCOPE:
B-41. Key civilian areas are localities or aspects of the terrain within an AO that are not normally militarily significant. This characteristic approaches terrain analysis (OAKOC) from a civilian perspective. Commanders analyze key civilian areas in terms of how they affect the missions of their individual forces as well as how military operations affect these areas. Examples of key civilian areas are—
Areas defined by political boundaries, such as, districts within a city or municipalities within a region.
Locations of government centers.
Social, political, religious, or criminal enclaves.
Agricultural and mining regions.
Possible sites for the temporary settlement of dislocated civilians or other civil functions.
Failure to consider key civilian areas can seriously affect the success of any operation.
B-42. Existing structures can play many significant roles. Some—such as, bridges, communications towers, power plants, and dams—are traditional high-payoff targets. Others—such as, churches, mosques, national libraries, and hospitals—are cultural sites that international law or other agreements generally protect. Still others are facilities with practical applications—such as, jails, warehouses, television and radio stations, and print plants—that may be useful for military purposes. Some aspects of the civilian infrastructure, such as the location of toxic industrial materials, may influence operations.
B-43. Analyzing a structure involves determining how its location, functions, and capabilities can support the operation. Commanders also consider the consequences of using it. Using a structure for military purposes often competes with civilian requirements for it. Commanders carefully weigh the expected military benefits against costs to the community that will have to be addressed in the future.
B-44. Commanders and staffs analyze capabilities from different levels. They view capabilities in terms of those required to save, sustain, or enhance life, in that priority. Capabilities can refer to the ability of local authorities—those of the host nation, aggressor nation, or some other body—to provide a populace with key functions or services, such as, public administration, public safety, emergency services, and food. Capabilities include those areas in which the populace may need help after combat operations, such as, public works and utilities, public health, economics, and commerce. Capabilities also refer to resources and services that can be contracted to support the military mission, such as, interpreters, laundry services, construction materials, and equipment. The host nation or other nations might provide these resources and services.
B-45. Organizations are nonmilitary groups or institutions in the AO. They influence and interact with the populace, the force, and each other. They generally have a hierarchical structure, defined goals, established operations, fixed facilities or meeting places, and a means of financial or logistic support. Some organizations may be indigenous to the area. These may include church groups, fraternal organizations, patriotic or service organizations, labor unions, criminal organizations, and community watch groups. Other organizations may come from outside the AO. Examples of these include multinational corporations, United Nations agencies, US governmental agencies, and nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), such as the International Red Cross.
B-46. Operations also often require commanders to coordinate with international organizations and NGOs. Commanders remain familiar with organizations operating in their AOs. RI includes information about their activities, capabilities, and limitations. Situational understanding includes understanding how the activities of different organizations may affect military operations and how military operations may affect these organizations’ activities. From this, commanders can determine how organizations and military forces can work together toward common goals when necessary.
B-47. Corps and divisions routinely interact with other US agencies, host-nation governmental agencies, and NGOs. In some circumstances, brigades and battalions also have to interact with these organizations. These groups may not share the commander’s objectives and point of view.
B-48. In almost every case, military forces have more resources than civilian organizations. However, civilian organizations may possess specialized capabilities that they may be willing to share with military forces. Commanders do not command civilian organizations in their AOs. However some operations require achieving unity of effort between them and the force. These situations require commanders to influence the leaders of these organizations through persuasion. They produce constructive results by the force of argument and the example of their actions. (See FM 22-100.)
B-49. People is a general term used to describe nonmilitary personnel encountered by military forces. The term includes all civilians within an AO as well as those outside the AO whose actions, opinions, or political influence can affect the mission. Individually or collectively, people can affect a military operation positively, negatively, or neutrally. In stability operations and support operations, Army forces work closely with civilians of all types.
B-50. There can be many different kinds of people living and operating in and around an AO. As with organizations, people may be indigenous or introduced from outside the AO. An analysis of people should identify them by their various capabilities, needs, and intentions. It is useful to separate people into distinct categories. When analyzing people, commanders consider historical, cultural, ethnic, political, economic, and humanitarian factors. They also identify the key communicators and the formal and informal processes used to influence people.
B-51. Events are routine, cyclical, planned, or spontaneous activities that significantly affect organizations, people, and military operations. Examples include national and religious holidays, agricultural crop/livestock and market cycles, elections, civil disturbances, and celebrations. Other events are disasters from natural, manmade, or technological sources. These create civil hardship and require emergency responses. Examples of events precipitated by military forces include combat operations, deployments, redeployments, and paydays. Once significant events are determined, it is important to template the events and to analyze them for their political, economic, psychological, environmental, and legal implications.
B-52. Technological innovation, external social influences, and natural and manmade disasters (such as, hurricanes, environmental damage, and war) affect the attitudes and activities of governments and civilian populations. These changes cause stress in the civilian population and its leaders. The civilian population may or may not successfully incorporate these changes within its existing cultural value system. Addressing the problems posed by change requires considerable time and resources. The impatience of key leaders and groups, legal restrictions, and limits on resources can make resolution difficult. However, when their resolution is necessary to accomplish the mission, commanders become concerned with them.
B-53. The existence of an independent press guarantees that US military activities that do not meet America’s military standards for dealing with noncombatants will be reported in US, host-nation, and international public forums. Commanders consider the effects of their decisions and their forces’ actions on public opinion. The activities of a force—or individual members of a force—can have far-reaching effects on the legitimacy of all military operations—offense, defense, stability, or support. Commanders ensure their soldiers understand that a tactically successful operation can also be operationally or strategically counterproductive because of the way in which they execute it or how the people perceive its execution.
B-54. Commanders have legal and moral responsibilities to refugees and noncombatants in their AOs. These responsibilities may include providing humanitarian assistance. A commander’s moral responsibility to protect noncombatants influences planning and preparing for operations. Commanders assess the chance that their actions may result in dislocated civilians and consider their legal obligation to respect and protect them when choosing a COA and executing an operation.
You thought just because you didn’t have armor, air, artillery, a logistics train half a planet long, and the DoD’s credit card, you wouldn’t have to learn how to plan an operation?
More to follow……