Infantry Drills

Section I – Planning Considerations

Previous: Appendix A: Planning

A-1. Planning is the process by which the small-unit leader translates his visualization into a specific COA for preparation and execution, focusing on the expected results. Planning to determine the relationship among METT-TC begins with the analysis and assessment of the conditions in the operational environment, with particular emphasis on the enemy. It involves understanding and framing the problem and envisioning the set of conditions representing the desired end state. Based on the higher commander’s guidance, the platoon leader’s planning includes formulating one or more suitable COA to accomplish the mission. Planning continues as necessary during preparation and execution. The platoon leader relies on intuitive decisionmaking and direct contact with subordinate leaders to integrate activities when circumstances are not suited for TLP.

A-2. Preparation consists of activities performed by units to improve their ability to execute an operation. Preparation includes, but is not limited to, plan refinement; rehearsals; information collection; coordination; inspections; and movement.

A-3. Execution is putting a plan into action by applying combat power to accomplish the mission and using situational understanding to assess progress and make execution and adjustment decision.

A-4. Assessment refers to the continuous monitoring and evaluation of the current situation, particularly the enemy, and progress of an operation. Assessment precedes and guides every operations process activity and concludes each operation or phase of an operation. It involves a comparison of forecasted outcomes to actual events. Assessment entails three tasks:

  • Continuously assessing the enemy’s reactions and vulnerabilities.
  • Continuously monitoring the situation and progress of the operation towards the leader’s desired end state.
  • Evaluating the operation against measures of effectiveness and measures of performance.

A-5. Leaders use TLP when working alone or with a small group to solve tactical problems. For example, a platoon leader may use the platoon sergeant, squad leaders, and the forward observer to assist during TLP. The type, amount, and timeliness of information passed from higher to lower directly impact the lower unit leader’s TLP. (Refer to FM 6-0 for more information.)

A-6. Parallel planning occurs when two or more echelons plan the same operation at about the same time. Parallel planning is easiest when the higher unit continuously shares information on future operations with subordinate units. Rather than waiting until company commander finishes planning, the platoon leader starts to develop his unit’s missions as information is received, and fleshes out his missions as more information becomes available.

A-7. The platoon leader starts by identifying his unit’s missions, stating his intent, and ensuring his intent reflects the operational concepts of his higher and second higher command. He chooses the tasks most likely to be assigned to his unit, and develops mission statements based on the information received. At all levels, developing and describing the vision of leaders requires time, explanation, and ongoing clarification. All leaders understand that their next higher commander’s concept of the operation continues to mature, and continue parallel planning as it does so, up until execution. Figure A-1 illustrates the parallel sequences of the MDMP of a battalion, TLP of a company with the TLP of its platoons.

Figure A-1. Parallel planning

A-8. Normally, the first three steps (receive the mission, issue a WARNORD, and make a tentative plan) of TLP occur in order. However, the sequence of subsequent steps is based on the situation. The tasks involved in some steps example, initiate movement and conduct reconnaissance may occur several times. The last step, supervise and refine, occurs throughout.

A-9. A tension exists between executing current operations and planning for future operations. The small unit leader must balance both. If engaged in a current operation, there is less time for TLP. If in a lull, transition, or an AA, leaders have more time to use TLP thoroughly. In some situations, time constraints or other factors may prevent leaders from performing each step of TLP as thoroughly as they would like. For example during the step, make a tentative plan; small-unit leaders often develop only one acceptable COA vice multiple COA. If time permits, leaders may develop, compare, and analyze several COA before arriving at a decision on which one to execute.

A-10. The platoon leader begins TLP when he receives the initial WARNORD or receives a new mission. As each subsequent order arrives, he modifies his assessments, updates tentative plans, and continues to supervise and assess preparations. In some situations the platoon leader may not receive or issue the full sequence of WARNORDs; security considerations or tempo may make it impractical. Leaders carefully consider decisions to eliminate WARNORDs. Subordinates always need to have enough information to plan and prepare for their mission. In other cases, TLP are started before receiving a WARNORD based on existing plans and orders (contingency plans or be-prepared missions) and on subordinate leader’s understanding of the situation.

A-11. Parallel planning hinges on distributing information as it is received or developed. Subordinate leaders cannot complete their plans until they receive their unit mission. If each successive WARNORD contains enough information, the higher command’s final order will confirm what subordinate leaders have already analyzed and put into their tentative plans. In other cases, the higher command’s order may change or modify the subordinates’ tasks enough additional planning and reconnaissance are required.

Next: Section II – Steps of Troop Leading Procedures

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