Infantry Drills

A-106: Identify Tentative Decisive Points

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A-106. Identifying a tentative decisive point and verifying it during COA development is the most important aspect of the TLP. Visualizing a valid decisive point is how the leader determines how to achieve success and accomplish his purpose. The leader develops his entire COA from the decisive point. Without determining a valid decisive point, the leader cannot begin to develop a valid or tactically sound COA. The leader, based on his initial analysis of METT-TC, his situational awareness, his vision, and insight into how such factors can affect the unit’s mission, should visualize where, when, and how his unit’s ability to generate combat power (firepower, protection, maneuver, leadership, and information) can overwhelm the enemy’s abilities to generate combat power. The decisive point might orient on terrain, enemy, time, or a combination of these. The decisive point might be where or how, or from where, the unit will combine the effects of combat power against the enemy. The decisive point might be the event or action (with respect to terrain, enemy, or time, and generation of combat power) will ultimately and irreversibly lead to the unit achieving its purpose.

A-107. The decisive point does not simply restate the unit’s essential task or purpose; it defines how, where, or when the unit will accomplish its purpose. The unit’s decisive operation always focuses at the decisive point, and always accomplishes the unit’s purpose. Designating a decisive point is critical to the leader’s vision of how he will use combat power to achieve the purpose, how he will task-organize his unit and how his shaping operations will support the decisive operation, and how the decisive operation will accomplish the unit’s purpose. This tentative decisive point forms the basis of his planning and COA development; it also forms the basis of communicating the COA to his subordinates. The leader should clearly explain what the decisive point is to his subordinate leaders and why it is decisive; this objective, in conjunction with his commander’s intent, facilitates subordinate initiative. A valid decisive point enables the leader to clearly and logically link how the application of combat power elements with respect to terrain, enemy, and time allows the unit to accomplish its purpose. If the leader determines his tentative decisive point is not valid during COA development or analysis, then he must determine another decisive point and restart COA development.

Next: A-108: Course of Action Development

Go Back To: U.S. Army FM 3-21.8: The Infantry Rifle Platoon and Squad