The Operation Order (OPORD)

The following information was obtained from the 2012 Officer Candidates School Student Outline.

TERMINAL LEARNING OBJECTIVES

1. Given an operations order or a mission and considering the situation, unit capabilities, and time available, issue a five paragraph order to communicate a basic, realistic, and tactically sound plan. (OCS-PAT-1002)+

ENABLING LEARNING OBJECTIVES

1. Without the aid of references, identify elements contained within the Orientation paragraph of a five paragraph order without omission. (OCS-PAT- 1002a)
2. Without the aid of references, identify elements contained within the Situation paragraph of a five paragraph order without omission. (OCS-PAT-1002b)
3. Without the aid of references, identify elements contained within the Mission paragraph of a five paragraph order without omission. (OCS-PAT-1002c)
4. Without the aid of references, identify elements contained within the Execution paragraph of a five paragraph order without omission. (OCS-PAT-1002d)
5. Without the aid of references, identify elements contained within the Administration and Logistics paragraph of a five paragraph order without omission. (OCS-PAT-1002e)
6. Without the aid of references, identify elements contained within the Command and Signal paragraph of a five paragraph order without omission. (OCS-PAT-1002 f)
7. Without the aid of references, utilize techniques of issuing an order to deliver a five-paragraph order to subordinates. (OCS-PAT-1002g)

1. THE COMBAT ORDERS PROCESS

a. Six Steps Of Troop Leading Procedures (BAMCIS).

(1) B – Begin Planning. To plan the use of our time, we use reverse planning. Start with the last action for which time is given, i.e. time of attack, and work backward. A warning order, which we will discuss later, will often be issued at the start of our planning process. This allows unit members to prepare for the upcoming operation. We use METT-T to do an estimate of the situation and come up with a course of action. We receive this information from highers order and by studying our map.

(a) Mission: What is your mission from higher, who. what, when, where, and why.

(b) Enemy: Use the information from Enemy Forces under Situation to analyze your opponent.

(c) Terrain and Weather: May be given in Orientation; if not, what is it like outside now, over the last 24-36 hours. How will the weather effect us and the enemy. The acronym KOCOA helps to identify aspects of terrain and weather that could offer advantages or disadvantages to either friendly or enemy forces. KOCOA stands for Key Terrain, Observation and fields of fire, Cover and concealment, Obstacles, and Avenues of approach.

(d) Troops and fire support available: Drawn from highers order and outlines what your troop strength will be, to include fire support assets available to you.

(e) Time: How much time do you have available for planning, execution?

(2) A – Arrange for Reconnaissance and Coordination. Before the unit leader can complete his/her plan, assumptions about the enemy must be confirmed. A leader’s reconnaissance is arranged to confirm the unit leader’s estimate of the situation. At OCS, this step will not be conducted.

(3) M – Make Reconnaissance. This is the actual conduct, or execution, of the unit leader’s reconnaissance of the enemy. At OCS, this step will not be conducted.

(4) C – Complete Plan. After the unit leader’s estimate of the situation on the enemy has been either confirmed or denied based off the actual reconnaissance made, the unit leader completes his/her plan. At OCS, the unit leader will conduct a map or terrain model study and will complete his/her plan using an operation order format skeleton.
It is the unit leaders responsibility to complete the plan in a timely fashion.

(5) I – Issue Order. This will be the final order issued for the mission. The operation order (or “op order” for short) can be written, but is issued orally.

(6) S – Supervise. Supervision is continuous and occurs throughout the entire combat orders process for a mission. The unit leader for that mission is ultimately responsible and accountable for mission accomplishment. “Inspect what you expect. ”

2. THE OPERATION ORDER FORMAT

a. Though there arc many different types of orders (Attack, Patrol, etc.). All orders should have this same basic format. They all follow the 5 paragraph order format. The difference will usually be a greater level of detail in different areas of the order.

b. The order consists of an orientation and five paragraphs. The five paragraphs are: Situation, Mission.
Execution, Administration and Logistics, and Command and Signal. Again, this format is commonly referred to and remembered by the acronym SMEAC.

c. Outlined below is the format used for the combat orders process. At the company level and below, orders are most commonly issued orally with the aid of a terrain model.

The Operation Order (repeated from Op Orders Part 1)

ORIENTATION. Prior to issuing an order, the unit leader orients his subordinate leaders to the planned area of operation using a terrain model, map, or when possible, the area of operation. The purpose of the orientation is to simply orient subordinates prior to issuing the order. Keep the orientation simple and brief. The orientation should include:

Present location (eight digit grid)
Direction of attack (Cardinal Direction, ex. Northeast, Southwest)
Location of the objective (eight digit grid)

1. SITUATION. The situation paragraph contains information on the overall status and disposition of both friendly and enemy forces. The information provided is that deemed essential to the subordinate leader’s understanding of the current situation. The situation paragraph contains three subparagraphs: Enemy Forces, Friendly Forces, Attachments and Detachments.

a. Enemy Forces. Information about the enemy contained in this subparagraph should be the culmination of intelligence provided by higher headquarters and information gathered which pertain to the accomplishment of the mission. The Enemy Forces situation can be issued using the acronyms SALUTE and DRAW-D.

(1) SALUTE. This information is obtained directly from your higher commander’s order. This provides information on such things as known and suspected enemy locations, current/recent activities, what type of unit the friendly force is facing. SALUTE represents: Size of the enemy force, their Activity, last known Location (given with 6-digit grid coordinate), Unit type/designation, Time the enemy was last observed, and Equipment they possess.

(2) DRAW-D. This information should highlight what course of action the enemy will most likely execute upon contact. DRAW-D represents: Defend, Reinforce, Attack, Withdraw, and Delay. There is no requirement to mention every course of action the enemy might possibly take, only the one that is most likely.

Example Enemy Forces Situation: (Briefed in TSUALE format to follow storyline) “About one hour ago, 3 enemy soldiers wer spotted preparing an observation post near the objective. The are amred with semi-automatic weapons and have communications gear. They are expected to withdraw upon contact

b. Friendly Forces. Information contained in this subparagraph is obtained directly from your higher commander’s order. It contains the missions and locations of higher, adjaccnt, and supporting units. Information should be limited to that which subordinate leaders need to know to accomplish their assigned mission. The Friendly Forces situation can be issued using the acronym HAS, which represents:

(1) Higher Unit for Higher Headquarters/HQ). The mission of the next higher unit (for a squad leader’s order, the platoon’s mission).

(2) Adjacent Units. The mission and location of units to your left, right, front and rear having effect on your mission. Listed are the unit’s missions and general locations.

(3) Supporting Units. Nonorganic units providing combat support or combat service support are addressed here. If there are no supporting units, simply state “none.1′

(3) Attachments & Detachments. Non-organic units attached (+) and or organic units detached (-) from the unit. The unit and effective time of attachment/detachment is given. If there are no attachments or detachments, simply state “none.”

2. MISSION. The mission statement is a clear and concise statement (one simple sentence) of what the unit is assigned to accomplish. It expresses the unit’s primary task and purpose represented by the “five Ws” — When (time), Who (unit), What (task), Where (grid), and Why (purpose) for the mission assigned. The task describes the action to be taken while the purpose describes the desired result of the action. Of the two, the purpose (Why) is predominant. The purpose of the mission statement is always represented by the words: in order to (and can be abbreviated by IOT). While the situation may change, making the task obsolete, the purpose is more permanent and continues to guide actions. The Main Effort is the commander’s “bid for success” and is the one subordinate unit (e.g. fire team) assigned the most important task to be accomplished by the higher unit (e.g. squad). The commander ensures the success of the main effort by providing it with a preponderance of support (i.e. “weighting the main effort”) and designating corresponding “Supporting Effort” tasks to the remaining units. Only one (1) unit is designated as the Main Effort and must be identified in it’s mission statement.

Example Mission Statement “On order, 1st Squad will destroy the enemy observation post located near the objective in order to prevent the enemy from interfering with the platoon assault on the objective. We are a supporting effort ”.

3. EXECUTION. The execution paragraph contains the “how to” information needed to conduct the operation. This paragraph consists of four subparagraphs: Commander’s Intent, Concept of the Operation, Tasks, and Coordinating Instructions. The information in this paragraph is generated by the unit leader issuing the order. Subordinate unit leaders must generate their own Execution Paragraph outlining their plan to accomplish their mission.

a. Commander’s Intent. This is the part of the order that ties the mission statement and the concept of the operation together (your mission with your plan to accomplish it). At OCS, you will simply state “none.”

b. Concept of the Operation. The concept of operation includes two subparagraphs: Scheme of Maneuver (SOM) and Fire Support Plan (FSP).

(1) Scheme of Maneuver. This is the “‘big” picture on how all subordinate units will conduct the plan. It should be described in general, or “anonymous”, terms without identifying specific units (i.e. the “main effort” or “one” fireteam will do…vs. “1st” fireteam will do… – This is important to keep everyone’s attention to the entire plan. If subordinate unit tasks have not been identified, then none of the fireteams will know who is doing which specific part of the entire plan and will be forced to listen on what the whole squad is doing). Brief the scheme of maneuver in logical sequence; begin at your current location and brief your unit’s actions through completion of your mission. For an offensive operation the scheme of maneuver includes: form of maneuver, initial formation, attack formation, assault formation and the basic plan for consolidation and reorganization.

(2) Fire Support Plan. Describes how fire support will be used to complement the scheme of maneuver. The Fire support plan ties in directly with the scheme of maneuver. If there is no fire support available, simply state “none.”

Note: At OCS, the form of maneuver will always be frontal attack or single envelopment. The initial formation should be squad column, fire team wedge. The attack formation should be squad wedge, fire team wedge. The assault formation should be squad on line, fire team skirmishers right or left. After consolidating 10-20 meters past the objective, form a hasty ISO and prepare for enemy counterattack. When determined that there is no chance of enemy counterattack, consolidate into a 360 around the objective, assign overlapping sectors of fire, gather ACE Reports from fire team leaders and report to higher. Fire Support Plan will always be “none ” while at OCS since no assets are available.

c. Tasks. The specific missions to be accomplished by each subordinate element of the unit will be listed in a separate numbered subparagraph. Task statements are your subordinate unit’s mission statements, and as such, should be written in the same manner as any mission statement. Just as your mission statement from higher, your subordinate task statements should answer the “5 Ws” for the missions you assign. When a subordinate unit is designated the main effort, it must be stated in the unit’s tasking statement. Then a subordinate unit’s “specific” part of the scheme of maneuver is rebriefed in logical sequence. (This is important so the subordinate again hears the plan, but this time it is their ‘‘specific” part they have and how they tie into the entire squad.)

Example task statement “2nd fire team, you are the main effort. On order, attack to destroy the enemy observation post near the objective in order to prevent the enemy from interferring with the platoon assault on the objective ”

d. Coordinating Instructions. Coordinating instructions are those specific instruction that tie the plan together. Inclucded are details of coordination and control applicable to two or more units in the command. Items commonly addressed in coordinating instructions include:

(1) Time of Attack. The designated time to cross the line of departure

(2) Base Unit. This term and the Main Effort can be synonymous.

(3) Order of Movement. Include formations through each control measure and each fireteam’s location in them.

(a) Assembly Area to Attack Position: (Example: Squad column, fire team wedge, order from front to back is 1st fireteam, 2nd fireteam, then 3rd fireteam.)

(b) Attack Position to Assault Position: (Example: Squad wedge, fire team wedge, order from left to right is 1st fireteam, 2nd fireteam, then 3rd fireteam.)

(c) Assault Position to Objective: (Example: Squad on line, fire team skirmishers right, order from left to right is 1st fireteam, 2nd fireteam, then 3rd fireteam.)

(4) Security. When halted provide security. After securing the objective assign sectors of fire via the clock method for both the 180, and the 360 .

(5) Tactical Control Measures. Ensure you list the grid coordinate and the terrain feature for the following:

(a) Assembly Area (AA)

(b) Attack Position (Atk Pos)

(c) Line Departure (LD)

(d) Assault Position (Aslt Pos)

(e) Objective (Obj)

(6) Route to the Objective: direction (azimuth in degrees magnetic), distance, and key terrain feature for each of the three legs (AA to Atk Pos, Atk Pos to Aslt Pos, and Aslt Pos to Obj.)

4. ADMINISTRATION & LOGISTICS. This paragraph contains all the information necessary for subordinate units to coordinate their resupply, recovery of equipment, and evacuation of wounded and prisoners. This paragraph is represented by the “4 Bs” — Beans (chow), Bullets (ammunition), Band-aids (MEDEVAC) & Badguys (EPWs) and is divided into two subparagraphs.

a. Administration.

(1) Medical evacuation plan for wounded, including location of platoon corpsman.

(2) Enemy prisoners of war (EPW) handling procedures and evacuation plan.

b. Logistics.

(1) Initial issue and resupply plan (ammo, chow, water)

(2) Any other logistical concerns to include transportation, etc.

Example Administration and Logistics: “We will conduct self aid, buddy aid, then corpsman aid for alt casualties. Consolidate casualties in the center of our 360 upon consolidation on the objective. EPWs will be guarded and delivered to the platoon sergeant upon completion of the mission. Everyone will carry’ one day supply of chow, two full canteens and a Camelback, and 30 rounds

5. COMMAND & SIGNAL. This paragraph contains instructions and information relating to command and communications (control) functions. It contains two subparagraphs: Signal and Command.

a. Signal. Specifies the signal instructions for the operation.

(1) Prearranged signals.

(2) Passwords and countersigns.

(3) Radio call signs, frequencies, and radio procedures.

(4) Emergency signals.

(5) Pyrotechnics.

(6) Restrictions on the use of communications.

b. Command. Identifies your location, the location of subordinate leaders and other leaders as required.

(1) Location of the key leaders (and the higher commander).

(2) Succession of command (i.e. if the squad leader becomes a casualty, then who will assume command of the squad; normally, 1st fire team leader, or main effort leader, then 2nd fire team leader, 3rd fire team leader, or supporting effort leaders, etc.).

Example Command and Signal: ” We will use hand and arm signals until contact. Upon contact with the enemy we will switch to voice command. The platoon commander will be located with 2nd squad, the platoon sergeant will be located with us. 1 will be with 2nd fire team. Succession of command will be to 2″ fire team leader, then to Is’ fire team leader, then to 3rd fire team leader ”.

*Finally, after the operation order has been issued, two remaining items are addressed:

“Are there any questions?” – this is asked to ensure that there are no misunderstandings.

“The time is now, ______ a time-hack is given to coordinate the same time between all units and ensure that the timeline is adhered to (more importantly to ensure that all units cross the Line Departure when required.)

THE WARNING ORDER

Definition And General Information. Again, as stated in The Operation Order – Part 1, the warning order is simply the “heads up” given to the unit before issuing the operation order. The warning order is an order given early at ail levels which allows every member of the unit maximum amount of time to prepare for the mission. Warning orders contain the situation and mission paragraphs from the original operation order, and any general and specific instructions to be carried out as necessary.

Situation. Same paragraph as in the operation order.

Mission. Same mission statement as in the operation order.

General instructions. General instructions include information that is common to every member of the unit, to include any attachments (uniform, equipment, timeline, etc.).

Specific instructions. Individuals that get tasked with special organizational duties in the general instructions often have specific tasks that require additional instructions (Navigator, terrain model team, aid and litter team, etc.).

FRAGMENTARY ORDER

Definition And General Information. A Fragmentary or “frag” order is “an abbreviated form of an operation order, usually issued on a day-to-day basis that eliminates the need for restating information contained in a basic operations order. It may be issued in sections ” Frag orders are often necessary due to enemy countermoves. Expect frag orders in most operations. Remember “no plan survives contact with the enemy.” Frag orders typically contain the mission (paragraph II) and execution (paragraph III). They also contain any other parts of the order that have changed since you issued the original order. Frag orders are an important technique to keep orders short. In general, Frag Orders contain changes to the previously given orders and consequently the information communicated does not repeat information that remains the same.

DEVELOPING THE SQUAD LEADER’S ORDER

It is not sufficient for the Squad Leader to simply copy down the Platoon Commander’s order and read this to his fireteam Leaders. The Squad Leader must generate his Operation Order primarily from the information provided by the Platoon Commander’s order. However, there will be some information that the Squad Leader will have to create and incorporate into his order.

Most of the information from the Platoon Commander’s order goes directly into the Squad Leader’s order. While some items transfer directly (i.e. ORIENTATION), other elements need to be modified to make them relevant to a particular squad. For example, the TASK to 1ST squad in the Platoon Commander’s order becomes that squad’s MISSION when the squad leader issues his order.

Below is an example of how information transfers from your higher commanders order into the creation of your operations order. The Platoon Commander’s order is on the left and the order for the 1st Squad Leader is on the right. The arrows indicate the manner in which elements of information generally transfer.

oporder_book_example

13 COMMENTS
  • Brad
    Reply

    Hey I think you forgot to include the example of how information transfers from the platoon commander to the squad leader

  • Joshua
    Reply

    You have “The Warming Order” instead of “The Warning Order” for a header of one of our paragraphs towards the bottom of this page. Semper Fidelis.

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      Fixed.
      Semper Fidelis

  • colbert hypolite
    Reply

    Can I get this on pdf I’d like to share it with my friends we don’t always. Have net service but can save it on our phone thanks

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      Copy and paste the text into Microsoft Word and then save as a pdf.

      1. colbert hypolite
        Reply

        Hey saved it as a pdf been very useful..I would like you to send me some operation orders on the defensive ..house clearance..ambush and drug bust

        1. USMC Officer
          Reply

          Other orders can be found in the TBS section. You will have to work your way through the publications to find the examples you want.

  • Sgt Cobaugh
    Reply

    There’s is no EMPCOA?

  • USMC 0202 (2002-2011)
    Reply

    Thanks for putting this out there. It’s been 5 years since I separated from the Corps and 15 years since OCS. I was amazed at how much of this came back to me as I was reading it, but I would have been hard pressed to get it all out on memory alone. I’m using this as a baseline for planning guidance for law enforcement Bomb Squad and SWAT operators who often don’t have much of a planning methodology. What better format to give them than ol’ SMEAC?!?

    Thanks again for the nostalgia of Quantico summers (and winters)!

    Semper Fidelis

    1. JAMES SINCLAIR
      Reply

      THANKS

  • SSgt C
    Reply

    At the end you stated that “Below is an example of how information transfers from your higher commanders order into the creation of your operations order. The Platoon Commander’s order is on the left and the order for the 1st Squad Leader is on the right. The arrows indicate the manner in which elements of information generally transfer.”

    There is nothing there and is the whole reason I am on your post. I would like to verify what is pulled from highers and transcribed to the create the lowers.

    1. USMC Officer
      Reply

      I added the example from the book for you.

  • Harold French
    Reply

    I am a former Recon Marine, four years, 0311, 0321. I’m 62 now. I have lived my whole adult life by BAMCIS and SMEAC. I went looking for a source to explain this material to an acquaintance. I found this, and it is excellent.

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