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Marine Corps Operations Order (Op Order) Simplified

July 18, 2017

I frequently tell Marine Officer Candidates that if they had to choose one thing to learn prior to reporting to Marine OCS it would be the Operations Order (Op Order). The use of this mission planning tool is required in at least 2 graded events, if not more depending on your training cycle (PLC/OCC/NROTC). Likewise, it is somewhat lengthy and requires practice to not only memorize the headings and sub-headings but also recite it properly in front of your peers. Therefore, you will find below (and here) one of the best organizational outlines of this operations order. This format or “Op Order Skeleton” has been used many of the top ranked Marine OCS candidates that have stepped foot onto Brown Field.

 

At first, the skeleton might look quite confusing, however, no need to worry, I will cover in depth each section below and provide a complete sample order briefing at the bottom of the page. Further, I recommend that you take the following steps to understand this format:

  • Memorize the skeleton “ORIENTATION” section by writing it out repeatedly

  • Memorize the subsequent skeleton sections, one at a time, by writing them out repeatedly

  • Fill in the blanks for the “ORIENTATION” section and recite it until you’re comfortable speaking it

  • Fill in the blanks for the subsequent sections and recite them, one at a time, until you’re comfortable speaking each section

  • Recite the entire order, with all the blanks filled in, until your comfortable speaking the entire thing

  • Recite the entire order in front of a friend

Optional: Have friends brief you full length platoon level orders, filling in the entire order with the relevant information, and then recite the order back to them as if you were a squad leader.

 

 

 

Accountability and Orientation:

 

Accountability: Fill in the number of personnel for Fire Teams 1-3

 

Present Location: Indicate your current grid coordinate on the map

 

Direction of Attack: Indicate the cardinal direction your squad is heading (North, South, East, West)

 

Objective Location: Indicate the grid coordinate of your mission objective

 

At this point, ask if anyone has questions. If there are no questions, state, “Please hold all questions until the end.”

 

                     Example Briefing:

 “Orientation---we are currently located at grid coordinate 1234 5678, our direction of attack is to the North and our objective location is at grid coordinate 8765 4321. Are there any questions at this time? No---very well. Please hold all questions until the end.”

 

Situation

 

Enemy Forces

            Time: Indicate the time which the enemy combatants were observed

 

            Size: Indicate the approximate numerical strength of the enemy force

 

            Unit: Indicate the type (ethnic or affiliation) of the enemy combatants

 

            Activity: Indicate the actions the enemy force was observed doing

 

            Location: Indicate the approximate area where the enemy force was observed

 

            Equipment: Indicate the type of gear and weapons the enemy force possesses

 

DRAW-D: Indicate what actions you expect the enemy force to take upon contact (Defend, Reinforce, Attack, Withdraw, Delay)

 

Friendly Forces

            Higher Unit: State the overall mission for the whole unit (platoon) not just your squad

 

Adjacent Units: Indicate the locations and missions of the other squads in the operating area

 

Supporting Units: None

 

ATT/DET (attachments/detachments): None

 

                        Example Briefing:

“Situation----Enemy Forces----At 1600 hours, a fire team size element of insurgent ISIS forces was spotted conducting harassing attacks on a friendly convoy to the east at grid coordinate 1234 5678 armed with AK-47s and RPGS. Upon contact, I expect the enemy to attack and then withdraw with overwhelming firepower.---Friendly Forces---Higher---1st Platoon will clear all enemy forces in the area of convoy harassment in order to reopen supply lines and prevent friendly casualties.---Adjacent Units---2nd Squad is located at the Assembly Area and will serve as a QRF (quick reaction force), 3rd Squad is located to the North conducting a security patrol.---Supporting Units---None---Attachments & Detachments---None.”

 

Mission

 

ME/SE: Indicate if your squad is the main effort or supporting effort in the operation

 

When: Indicate the time which your unit will begin the operation

 

Who: Indicate the unit that will be conducting the operation (aka your squad)

 

What: Indicate the task that your unit has been given from the tasking statement, given to you by higher, contained in the Execution paragraph of higher’s order (aka what the platoon commander briefed for your squad)

 

Where: Indicate the location you will be leading your unit to conduct the operation

 

Why: Indicate the reason your unit will be conducting the operation

 

                        Example Briefing:

“Mission---On order, 1st squad will conduct offensive operations to the North in the vicinity of grid coordinate 1234 5678 in order to eliminate insurgent forces.”

 

Execution

 

Commander’s Intent: None

 

Concept of Operations: State the heading “Concept of Operations”

 

Scheme of Maneuver: State the heading “Scheme of Manuever” and below points in an anonymous, sequential, and thorough manner. DO NOT give specific tasks to the fire teams here.

 

FOM: Indicate if your attack will be conducted as a frontal attack or single envelopment (form of maneuver)

 

AA->AtkPos: Indicate the formation and actions taken from the Assembly Area to the Attack Position

 

AtkPos->LOD: Indicate the formation and actions taken from the Attack Position to the Line of Departure

 

LOD->AsltPos: Indicate the formation and actions taken from the Line of Departure to the Assault Position

 

AsltPos->OBJ: Indicate the formation and actions taken from the Assault Position to the Objective

 

Hasty 180/Consolidated 360: Simply state that your squad will execute a Hasty 180 and Consolidated 360 after the assault on the objective

 

 FSP (fire support plan): None

 

Tasks: State the heading “Tasks” and specifically indicate the actions of each individual fireteam.

 

1stFT: Indicate if this fireteam is the Main Effort or one of the Supporting Efforts and outline the specific mission you wish this team to accomplish

 

IOT: State the reason (aka “why”) this fireteam is performing this task

 

2ndFT: Indicate if this fireteam is the Main Effort or one of the Supporting Efforts and outline the specific mission you wish this team to accomplish

 

IOT: State the reason (aka “why”) this fireteam is performing this task

 

3rdFT: Indicate if this fireteam is the Main Effort or one of the Supporting Efforts and outline the specific mission you wish this team to accomplish

 

IOT: State the reason (aka “why”) this fireteam is performing this task

 

Coordinating Instructions: State the heading “Coordinating Instructions” and indicate below the instructions, which were not noted in the “Tasks” section, but will be common to at least two fireteams in the unit.

 

Time of attack: Indicate the time the unit will step off for the operation

 

Base Unit: Indicate which fireteam the squad will adjust tactical formations relative to

 

Order of March: Indicate the formation and positioning of each fireteam in the squad at each tactical position

 

AA->AtkPos: Dictate the tactical formation and fireteam positions, within the formation, from the Assembly Area to the Attack Position

 

AtkPos->LOD: Dictate the tactical formation and fireteam positions, within the formation, from the Attack Position to the Line of Departure

 

LOD->AsltPos: Dictate the tactical formation and fireteam positions, within the formation, from the Line of Departure to the Assault Position

 

AsltPos->OBJ: Dictate the tactical formation and fireteam positions, within the formation, from the Assault Position to the Objective

 

Route: Indicate the location, direction, distance, and terrain type of each of the specified tactical positions

**NOTE: If you are running short on time, you may skip over the Route TCMs**

 

Security: Establish a standard operating procedure (SOP) for the positions of each fireteam within the Hasty 180 and Consolidated 360 formations

 

Timeline: Indicate the approximate hour for each of the listed events in the timeline sequence primarily for your own planning purposes and fireteam leaders

**NOTE: You can simply relay the timeline to you fireteam leaders following the order or skip this section entirely**

 

                                    Example Briefing:

“Execution---Commander’s Intent: none--- Concept of Operations--Scheme of Maneuver---this operation will be conducting as frontal attack, 1st squad will move from the assembly area to the attack position and the attack position to the line of departure in a squad column/fireteam column. Upon reaching the line of departure 1st squad will transition into a squad wedge/fireteam wedge. At the assault position, 1st squad will switch to squad online skirmishers right and proceed to the objective. After assaulting through the objective, 1st squad will execute a hasty 180 and transition to a consolidated 360 once it has been determined that there is no chance of an enemy counter attack---Fire support plan: none---Tasks---1st fireteam you are the main effort, you will serve as the base unit of all formations and will assault through the center 1/3 of the objective in order to remove insurgents forces from the area , 2nd fireteam you are supporting effort 1, you will collect any EPWs and assault the right side of the objective in order to remove insurgents forces from the area, 3rd fireteam you are supporting effort 2, you will be responsible for aid and litter and assault through the left side of the objective in order to remove insurgents forces from the area---Coordinating Instructions---time of attack will commence at 1600 hours, 1st fireteam you are the base unit, 1st squad will move from the assembly area to the attack position and the attack position to the line of departure in a squad column/fireteam column with 1st fireteam in front followed by 2nd and 3rd. Upon reaching the line of departure 1st squad will transition into a squad wedge/fireteam wedge with 1st fireteam at the center, 2nd fireteam on the left, and 3rd fireteam on the right. At the assault position, 1st squad will switch to squad online skirmishers right with 1st fireteam at the center, 2nd fireteam on the left, and 3rd fireteam on the right---Route---All route details will be provide to squad leaders following this briefing—Security: 1st fireteam will occupy the center 1/3 of the Hasty 180, 2nd fireteam will occupy the left 1/3, and 3rd fireteam will occupy the right 1/3. Likewise, 1st fireteam will occupy 10-2 in the Hasty 180, 2nd fireteam will occupy 6-10, and 3rd fireteam will occupy 2-6.”

 

Administration and Logistics

 

Administration

 

CASEVAC (Band Aids): Indicate how casualty evacuation procedures will occur during the operation

 

EPWs (Bad Guys): Indicate how Enemy Prisoners of War will be handled during the operation

 

Logistics

 

Chow/Water (Beans): Indicate how much chow and water each squad member   will have and options for resupply

 

Ammo (Bullets): Indicate how much ammunition each squad member will have and options for resupply

 

                        Example Briefing:

“Admin and Logistics---1st Squad will conduct self-aid, buddy aid, then corpsman aid for all casualties. All EPWs will be given to the platoon sergeant once the operation is complete. Everyone will carry 2 MREs, 2 full canteens, 1 camelback, and two 30 round magazines of ammo.”

 

Command and Signal

 

Signal: Indicate how you will communicate and give tactical orders to your squad when moving throughout the operation

 

Command: Indicate the location of the key platoon leaders

 

Succession: Indicate the appropriate succession of command

 

Any questions?: State the phrase, “Are there any questions at this time?” If there are none, indicate the current time

 

                          Example Briefing:

“Command and Signal---1st Squad will use Hand Arm Voice on Contact (HAVOC) for all communication throughout the operation, the Platoon Commander is located with 2nd Squad, the Platoon Sergeant will be with 1st Squad, and I will be with 2nd fire team. The succession of command is as follows 1st fire team leader, 2nd fire team leader, 3rd fire team leader…Are there any questions at this time?...Very well, the time is now 1500 hours.”

 

COMPLETE ORDER BRIEFING:

 

Orientation---we are currently located at grid coordinate 1234 5678, our direction of attack is to the North and our objective location is at grid coordinate 8765 4321. Are there any questions at this time? No---very well. Please hold all questions until the end.”

 

Situation----Enemy Forces----At 1600 hours, a fire team size element of insurgent ISIS forces was spotted conducting harassing attacks on a friendly convoy to the east at grid coordinate 1234 5678 armed with AK-47s and RPGS. Upon contact, I expect the enemy to attack and then withdraw with overwhelming firepower.---Friendly Forces---Higher---1st Platoon will clear all enemy forces in the area of convoy harassment in order to reopen supply lines and prevent friendly casualties.---Adjacent Units---2nd Squad is located at the Assembly Area and will serve as a QRF (quick reaction force), 3rd Squad is located to the North conducting a security patrol.---Supporting Units---None---Attachments & Detachments---None.”

 

Mission---On order, 1st squad will conduct offensive operations to the North in the vicinity of grid coordinate 1234 5678 in order to eliminate insurgent forces.”

 

Execution---Commander’s Intent: none---Concept of Operations---Scheme of Maneuver---this operation will be conducting as frontal attack, 1st squad will move from the assembly area to the attack position and the attack position to the line of departure in a squad column/fireteam column. Upon reaching the line of departure 1st squad will transition into a squad wedge/fireteam wedge. At the assault position, 1st squad will switch to squad online skirmishers right and proceed to the objective. After assaulting through the objective, 1st squad will execute a hasty 180 and transition to a consolidated 360 once it has been determined that there is no chance of an enemy counter attack---Fire support plan--- none---Tasks---1st fireteam you are the main effort, you will serve as the base unit of all formations and will assault through the center 1/3 of the objective in order to remove insurgents forces from the area , 2nd fireteam you are supporting effort 1, you will collect any EPWs and assault the right side of the objective in order to remove insurgents forces from the area, 3rd fireteam you are supporting effort 2, you will be responsible for aid and litter and assault through the left side of the objective in order to remove insurgents forces from the area---Coordinating Instructions--- time of attack will commence at 1600 hours, 1st fireteam you are the base unit, 1st squad will move from the assembly area to the attack position and the attack position to the line of departure in a squad column/fireteam column with 1st fireteam in front followed by 2nd and 3rd. Upon reaching the line of departure 1st squad will transition into a squad wedge/fireteam wedge with 1st fireteam at the center, 2nd fireteam on the left, and 3rd fireteam on the right. At the assault position, 1st squad will switch to squad online skirmishers right with 1st fireteam at the center, 2nd fireteam on the left, and 3rd fireteam on the right---Route---All route details will be provides to squad leaders following this briefing—Security---1st fireteam will occupy the center 1/3 of the Hasty 180, 2nd fireteam will occupy the left 1/3, and 3rd fireteam will occupy the right 1/3. Likewise, 1st fireteam will occupy 10-2 in the Hasty 180, 2nd fireteam will occupy 6-10, and 3rd fireteam will occupy 2-6.”

 

Admin and Logistics---1st Squad will conduct self-aid, buddy aid, then corpsman aid for all casualties. All EPWs will be given to the platoon sergeant once the operation is complete. Everyone will carry 2 MREs, 2 full canteens, 1 camelback, and two 30 round magazines of ammo.”

 

Command and Signal---1st Squad will use Hand Arm Voice on Contact (HAVOC) for all communication throughout the operation, the Platoon Commander is located with 2nd Squad, the Platoon Sergeant will be with 1st Squad, and I will be with 2nd fire team. The succession of command is as follows 1st fire team leader, 2nd fire team leader, 3rd fire team leader…Are there any questions at this time?...Very well, the time is now 1500 hours. ”

 

 

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