Marine Corps Operations Order (Op Order) Simplified

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 t