Policy: Lesson Plans and Lesson Planning - Administration - United Task Force (UNITAF) Arma 3

P15-202 Policy: Lesson Plans and Lesson Planning

UNITAF / Arma 3 / Administration Procedures

Version 2 / 30min read / Updated Mon 08 May 2023 / 887 views / of verified

What is a Lesson Plan?

A lesson plan is "the instructor's road map of what trainees need to learn and how it will be done effectively during an FTX". In order to be able to effectively construct a lesson plan, we will need to define the intended outcomes of the FTX, any prerequisite learning, and the the best way to organize and deliver instruction.


Why is it needed?

The purpose of Field Training Exercises are to practice unit policy and procedure, in order to then utilise the skills learned in Operations. It therefore follows that any FTX which is not based in policy or procedure is not truly an FTX. As a result, one of the core facets of developing FTXs is to ensure that a lesson plan, detailing what SOP is going to be taught and how, is provided to ensure that the FTX is in compliance with this.

Planning lessons prior to an FTX means that instructors will have a clear view of the intended outcomes, the step by step plan on how learners will most effectively work towards those objectives, and the measures of success that will determine whether those outcomes have been met, as opposed to figuring things out as they go. All lessons require initiative and improvisiation at some points, but a clear lesson plan ensures that future lessons are aligned so that all trainees will recieve the same content, and that there is a standard which can be improved upon with testing and feedback. Without a lesson plan, instructors can often miss key details, and be left scrambling while wondering what to do next with an FTX full of trainees waiting on their next thoughts.

Additionally, ensuring that there is a strong lesson plan attached to an FTX, ensures confidence from a UNITAF perspective that those who have attended specific FTXs, then have the skills to be utilised in operations; a key component of the slot allocation policy.


What makes a good lesson?

  • Having Necessary Materials
  • Objectives
  • Background Knowledge
  • Complete Learning Cycles


Necessary Materials

Every lesson should ensure that the requried materials to deliver the lesson have been accounted for and created beforehand. Whether this is determining the required equipment variants, finding the appropriate location to practice a maneovre, or creating a slide deck that renforces the content for the theory being delivered.



Every lesson should be designed with goals in mind. Lesson objectives are a clear, brief goal that the lesson is designed to achive. Lessons should have no more than 3 distinct but inherently linked objectives.


  • To understand the 3 types of fire and be able to demonstrate their use
  • To be able to demonstrate effective use of an underslung grenade launcher
  • To be able to state the effective ranges of the range of MMGs and HMGs used in the lesson

The examples listed are linked to the same outcome: effective use of UGLs and MGs, but are distinct subtopics, and if completed will all contribute to a greater understanding of the overarching objective.

Having objectives provided as signposts to the trainees aids both their organization and understanding of the new skills and knowledge, and therefore increases retention in the target areas.


Background Knowledge

Every good lesson will ensure that any required knowledge has been achieved prior to beginning the lesson, otherwise trainees may not have the foundations on which the content of the lesson can be built. It is critical to establish relevant fundamentals before addressing further concepts.


Complete Learning Cycles

Careful attention should be paid to the organization of all instruction to ensure it fosters effective learning. Modern education theory agrees that we do not learn effectively from "absorbing" information, rather we form an understanding from physically enacting new skills/concepts, guided learning, and thoughtful repetition.


Policy vs Guidance


It is worth mentioning here the relationship between policy and lesson planning. Policy is the basis of all of the practice on which lesson plans are built. The difficulty is determining exactly how detailed policy should be. Not enough and we cannot enforce against bad practices. Too much and we would not be able to accurately enforce the policy, since we would not be able to expect players to read it all and conduct it. Additionally however, we also need to find a balance between writing policy into LPs, incurring rework upon policy changes, and not being specific enough in LPs, leading to individual varibaility in the delivery of content and therefore increasing skill varibaility between players.

The key principle here is this: Policy explains what we expect, lesson plans should cover how to achieve this expectation. There is therefore sometimes a need to reference SOP within lesson plans but really the content of the lesson plan should reinforce the SOP already written, not add more policy. In this case a good rule of thumb is that all section-level content in a lesson plan must be rooted in SOP. Examples include:

  • Directly referencing key aspects of an SOP
  • Dictating presentation order of SOP content
  • Explaining SOP in greater detail, within its approved scope
  • Explaining subservient details of a SOP, i.e. keybinds, interfaces, etc.

That said, we should refrain from repeating SOP verbatim when writing lesson plans, rather dictate order of SOP subtopics and any needed delivery-centric information. If there are key SOP points that need to be made, simply bullet point them, so the instructor can make the point using SOP to elaborate further.


When can we make statements that are not based in SOP?

Within an SOP rooted section, additional Tips & Tricks may be permitted, that assist in the adherence to said SOP. Tips & Tricks therefore include supportive details such as:

  • Additional context for an SOP that helps better establish a framework
    • SOP: A normal heart rate is between 46 and 119 BPM
    • Tip: The ACE medical default heart rate is 80BPM
  • Suggestions in support of SOP detail and scope on how concepts may be utilized most effectively
    • SOP: Snipers target important people first, like leaders, other snipers and machinegunners etc.
    • Tip: Let context help you pick priority targets: An AT rifleman with rocket up may be the most important target if there are friendly vehicles nearby.
  • Expert-level insight into understanding SOP and executing or developing skills SOP sanctioned skills
    • Tip: The tone of your voice can help you communicate intent with greater brevity
    • Tip: The tracking feature on the NLAW is more challenging to utilize on vehicles moving quickly
    • Tip: You might find setting up a sensitivity curve on your HOTAS can help with fine maneuvers


What shouldn't we do?

Therefore, as per the above, there are several things we shouldn't do, in order to make it very clear what is policy, and what is simply a tip or guidance on meeting this policy:

  1. Copy/pasting lots of SOP into LP's.
    • If we copy/paste SOP into LP's we run the risk of spouting a lot of information, in a way that is not engaging or likely to embed. One line or so should be ok, but ensure that the LP reads in a way where the key information can be delivered quickly and concisely, in order to retain attention spans
  2. Implying anything under tips & tricks is enforced by unit policy
    • If it isn't written in SOP and is guidance on execution, we should be using a variation of the phrase "one tip would be to..." or similar. It is important that we do not take one instructors opinion or method, and train this out as fact.
      • Example: "What does it mean by a rapid rate of fire when suppressing?".
      • "Great question. -Suppressive fire is typically done at a very rapid rate to begin with, which achieves fire superiority-(SOP). Since we still want to maintain ammunition coonservation I would suggest thinking how many individuals in your team will be shooting towards the target. In a team of four for example shooting roughly, one round each per second, though not rapid to the individual, would result in four rounds hitting the target per second for a period of time, which is more than enough to suppress them".
  3. Not suggesting any tips or tricks that are thought of or used, for addition to unit policy
    • If we want to write a tip or trick into a Lesson Plan, it is always worth the consideration as to whether that tip or trick should simply be made SOP. A quick ATER or discussion to J6, is worthwhile to reduce the amount of guidance, and increase the amount of Best Practice Standards. J6 will determine whether the tip is something we would want to see in the unit, and whether the standard is something that we want to be able to enforce.
    • In the example above J6 may very well wish to add a line to the supression policy recommending that we train and enforce a set rate of fire for ammo conservation. Or they may determine that this is unnecessary to standardise in SOP and that the recommendation given is enough.

Therefore: all Tips & Tricks must be reviewed by J6 first to see if it is relevent to update SOP with this detail. If not, it must then be approved by J7 Staff and a content matter expert prior to lesson plan approval.


Example section of a poor and good Lesson Plan

Using medical triage

Poor example

Chapter Section Step by Step Knowledge, Best Practices, Tips & Tricks
Triage Triage Categories
  • Explain CAT-1 Immediate
  • Explain CAT-2 Delayed
  • Etc...


Good example

Chapter Section Step by Step Knowledge, Best Practices, Tips & Tricks
Triage Triage Categories

Explain CAT-1 Immediate

  • Casualty is always unconscious and actively bleeding

(note that this is an instruction and that the core information can be found in SOP. We should refrain from just reading SOP, but any key points that need to be made can be added for instructor reference as per the bullet above. note that this is not the only marker, but a key one)



Explain CAT-2 Delayed

  • Casualty is always unconscious and not actively bleeding


Explain CAT-3 Minimal

  • Casualty is never unconscious


Explain CAT-4 Deceased

You will see the player model ragdoll

(note that this is a helpful example or tip, in this case giveing the instructor a helpful example that cements the "how to apply the SOP" element of the section)


Key rules in using policy to create Lesson Plans


  1. Lesson Plans should always be based around the training of SOPs. If the Lesson Plan you are creating has no basis in SOP, SOP should be constructed first.
  2. Each section of the lesson plan should be built around practicing a specific section/paragraph/line of SOP
  3. The Step by Step should be written to give the instructor a clear list of points to cover. These should ideally be based in SOP, or at the minimum, be the recognised best practice on how to achieve the purpose of the SOP. Example: Step by Step should detail what to explain regarding parachutes, but since SOP does not explicitly say how to maneuvre the chute, and this information is key to achieving the outcome required, a step detailing how to maneuvre the chute using WASD and scroll wheel, is advised in this situation. Personal opinions are not.
  4. Tips and Tricks should be approved best practices or guidance that add a recommended level of detail, but are otherwise not enforcable against specific unit policy. Such as key binds, rough guidelines to help understand SOP.


The Learning Cycle

  • Activation of Background Knowledge 
  • Introduction of New Information
    • Demonstration
  • Isolated Practice
    • Correct and Repeat
  • Demonstration of Learning (Assessment)


Activation Background Knowledge

Prior to introducing any new information, instructors should set a clear view in trainees minds as to what existing knowledge will be built upon, and what new skills will be developed in the lesson. Providing an overview of the learning that will take place helps trainees organize the progression of topics, and enhances effectiveness of a lesson.


Introduction of New Information

The initial introduction of new information should contain only the basic necessities to perform a singluar skill or address a singular concept, and not yet be complicated with further details. This stage of learning can effectively be organized with a Whole - Parts - Whole approach in which a whollistic picture of the skill/concept is provided, followed by specific details, and concluding with a new look of how those details relate to the initial whollistic picture, typically in the form of a demonstration. The Parts or Specific Details component is most effectively addressed by exploration and direct instruction.

  • Exploration

Exploration provides the trainees with a task or structure in which to engage with, and discover the content themselves. This method, though less direct, engages cognition much more thoroughly both keeping trainees engaged and active, ultimately embedding that knowledge much more firmly to memory.

  • Direct Instruction

Direct instruction ensures that the core content and theory has been delivered by directly stating required knowledge and new information to the trainees. This method lends itslef well to highly detailed concepts, however suffers from challenges with engaging trainees and cognition. As such, periods of direct instruction should be kept as brief as possible.

Note: It is critical that the presentation of new information is kept in close proximity to students' practice of the skills/concepts as presented information has not yet been committed to long term memory.



After the opening overview and specific details have been presented, the final Whole section helps to solidify the information with a visual demonstration of the skill/concept. This could be the instructor demonstrating the content live, or it could be using the trainees to physcially do the procedure step by step. This helps ground the theory they have just learned in a physcial example.

e.g. The instructor, having explained what "suppressive fire" is, then demonstrates it in front of the trainees.

or The instructor, having explained a wedge formation, then selects trainees to come to the front and places them in position to physically demonstrate what it is.


Isolated Practice

All learning cycles should contain a dedicated portion of time for trainees to physically enact and repeat the content of the lesson in order to ensure development of skills, and the movement of information from short term memory to long term habit. Practice should at first be simple and thoughtfully repetetive to ensure development of fundamentals,. As dictated by the competency demonstrated, the practice should incrementally increase in difficulty to challenge trainees and put newly formed habits to the test.


Correct and Repeat

The most effective time to ensure a skill/concept is being formed properly is during a trainees initial practice. Instructor feedback (and serveral attempts to apply that feedback) will not only ensure that all details explored in the Introduction of New Information are both present and accurate while the forming skill, but also help accelerate learning as practice is guided towards areas to improve. Feedback towards, and proficiency of base-most concepts is first necessary before more advanced concepts can be effectively learned or addressed.

There is no substitue for individual instruction from a more experienced teacher, and we must construct our lesson plans to permit an opportunity for this feedback for each trainee. A high instructor:trainee ratio is always preferable, but the most can be made of any number of resources by dividing a large section of trainees into small groups. For example, by dividing 12 trainees into pairs for practice, not only will they have the opportunity to guide each others learning, but instructors can provide feedback for 6 teams of combined effort as opposed to 12 individual entites of separated effort.



Every lesson should ensure that, by the end of the lesson, the objectives have been achieved. In order to do this, the plan should entail a section or several sections in which the trainees can show that they have understood and can demonstrate the skills or knowledge required at will. Whether this is a theoretical quiz, a practical assessment, or observation over a continued practice, the instructors should provide opportunity for the trainees to show that the initial objectives have been achieved.


Different Types of Lessons

The main two types of lessons are Theoretical & Practical. Practical lessons are best suited to objectives focused on the formation of skills and familiarity of processes; as such, they are applicable to the majority of practice areas. Geat mediums for practical-style lessons include objectives such as effective use of specific types of equipment, practicing of techniques such as landing types, and execution of processes such as bounding overwatch.

Theoretical lessons apply to a far narrower cross section of practice areas, and can effectively be held on discord with proper supportive materials. As a product of the different medium for the lesson plan, a common misconception is that theoretical lessons do not require all steps in the learning cycle such as isolated practice, instructor feedback and assessments. In actuality theoretical lessons still require all aforementioned considerations, and rely even more heavily on clear objectives, establishment of prior knowledge, effective practice with feedback, and complete assessments in the same way as practical lessons. Thoughtful planning is required to achieve effective learning cycles in theoretical lessons, and ample use of supportive materials will prove to be of great benefit.


Ideal Lesson Structure


  • Introduction
    • Attendance check and reserve slotting
    • Objectives confirmation
    • Signposting key steps
  • Content
    • Activation Background Knowledge
    • Introduction of New Information
      • Demonstration
    • Isolated Practice
      • Correct and Repeat
    • Demonstration of Learning (Assessment)
  • Repeat Learning Cycle for as many segments as needed
  • Cumulative Assessment



Attendance check and reserve slotting

All trainees should arrive early and be ready to commence the FTX at the scheduled time. Attendance should be compared to the locked ORBAT and taken prior to starting the FTX. If the instructors have already been informed of no-shows, or cannot establish contact with late trainees, they may choose to allocate slots to any reserves who are both ready and present.


Objectives confirmation

The instructor should welcome the trainees, give a brief overview, and provide a description of the overarching goals of the FTX. Be sure to establish the key objectives and the importance of these goals, and inform trainees of the assessments that these objectives will be applied to.


Signposting key steps

The instructor should then explain the logistics of the FTX and how the activities will work towards the presented objectives. Details of duration, location, and content will all help attendees better understand the following events, and will contribute to the efficacy of the lesson.

ex. "We will split into two groups as per the ORBAT. Alpha 1-1 will start at location x and cover "Chapter", while Alpha 1-2 goes to location y and practices "Activity" for 20 mins. Then they will swap over, and following this we will conduct "Practice" at location z as a squad".



Activation of Background Knowledge

Prior to introducing any new information, instructors should inform trainees of the skills that will be built upon, and how the new content to be explored will pull on those abilities.


Introduction of New Information

The Introduction of New Information step should first provide an overview of the skill/concept, constructing a framework for trainees that will be filled out with specific details. Example:


Example: Contact Reports


  • Contact Reports are given for all contact received and all sightings of an enemy: the most frequent report given at a fireteam level.
  • Used to accurately inform your team of threats and orient them towards hostiles as quickly as possible.
  • Enables an expedient response by fireteam leaders, and increases survivability of your team
  • These reports are passed up the Chain of Command by fireteam leaders
  • Contact Reports serve as a primary source of battlefield updates for upper leadership, and aid in effective decision making.


After the whollistic picture is provided, present the fundamental concepts of the current section. Only the basemost concepts necessary to executing the skill should be explained at this point. Throughout this section the instructor should include:

  • Exploration
  • Direct instruction
  • Asking learning questions

Asking learning questions aids trainees in multiple ways. A question that requires one to think critically about discussed information actively engages the trainees in interacting with the information, as opposed to passive listening. A well constructed question will also activate prior knowledge, as new concepts are applied to familiar contexts, and will further engage those with experience in the subject matter. Finally, effective learning questions actively encourage all trainees to listen closely and process information, as they will be acutely aware that they may be also be asked a question, and required to think critically.

The lesson plan should detail specific key statements and information that are required to be presented. Often lesson plans are submitted with bullet points of surface level detail, such as "Talk about MG ranges" or "Describe an ACE report." An effective lesson plan will contain as much detail as can be stated in a brief period, sometimes including exact quotes for critical information. This practice not only helps future instructors deliver the lesson as intended, but ensures that all future trainees will recieve the same quantity and quality of content.


Instead of: Try:


  • Static Line
  • HAHO
  • HALO


Static Line

  • Advise all trainees that Static line jumps use automated deployment of the parachute upon plane exit
  • When called upon by the jumpmaster, select "Attach Static Line" from the scroll wheel dropdown on the airplane
  • When advised to jump, use scroll wheel to select "Jump"
  • When advised to jump, do not press "double V" as this will exit the airplane without deploying static line

High Altitude, High Opening

  • Used when aircraft are incapable of flying over the intended drop zone, potentially due to fuel limitations or AA threat.
  • Before mounting the aircraft, place backpack on chest and put a parachute on back
  • ...


Bulleted information does not have to be, and should not be, repeated verbatim (unless bold and underlined) but will ensure that all future instructors are able to provide the same content. Learning questions can also be included in this format, such as "Does anyone know how NOT to exit the plane?", permitting preplanning of effective learning questions and alleviating the need for instructors to generate them on the spot.



The instructor should then show how the discussed details work together to form a complete product via a demonstration. Be sure to hilight the discussed details as they make their appearance in the wholistic action. Example:


Example: ACE Reports


  • "I have 3 STANAG left", An accurate description of Ammo
  • "I need a stitch, and could use some blood", which covers Casualty
  • "I'm all out of light AT, and I only have 3 bandages left", for all other Equipment


Isolated Practice

After the Introduction of New Information, the instructor should then provide a task for the trainees to complete that engages them with the presented concepts for the topic. The constructed exercise should (to every degree possible) include only the new skills and concepts described in isolation, saving the additional challenge of addidng external skills and knowledge until the assessment. This section should represent the majority of time allocated in the learning process, and is well guided by the 20:80 rule. For every 20 % theory & demonstration, there should be 80% practice, although such guideline may be modified to 40:60 for topics in which the practice is closely related or exact. Every trainee must be provided multiple attempts at the task while being guided by an instructor. Breaking a large group into small teams or pairs greatly contributes to the efficiency of these requirements. Example:


Example: Contact Reports

Isolated Practice:

  • Zeus Setup: Place 15-20 noncombative OPFOR in field at varying distances and directions
  • Organization: Attendees grouped into 6x pairs. 2x groups per instructor.
  • Attendee 1: Give a Contact Report for 1 spotted OPFOR to your partner
  • Attendee 2: Point at the described OPFOR
  • Take Turns



Correct and Repeat

While the practice is ongoing, instructors should provide feedback, correcting any errors and refining displayed techniques. Attention towards the most fundamental concepts first must remain a priority, as these skills are prerequisite to advanced concepts. After providing feedback, trainees must be provided an opportunity to apply the corrections, and ideally several attempts thereafter to form the correction into a habit.


Demonstration of Learning (Assessment)

After the Introduction of New Information has been formed into a skill during Isolated Practice, next is problem solving with those skills, applying them to a new and unfamiliar context. The assessment should now remove the isolation from the subject matter and include other previously formed skills and knowledge, serving as a step towards bridging the newly formed skill towards an authentic context. The difficulty of the assessment for a learning cycle should be between that of the Isolated Practice and the Cumulative Assessment. The assessment should be considered a success if the trainees understand the topic well enough, and have developed skills sufficiently to successfully apply them to the new and unfamiliar context.


Example: Contact Reports


  • Zeus: As trainees patrol, place 1-2 combative OPFOR at a time, with varying equipment, in the hills
  • Organizaiton: Trainees will patrol down a road in a staggered column towards the objective point
  • Trainees: Give contact reports to your team while patroling towards objective, weapons orange.


Should the worked content be mostly prior knowledge by this point in the trainees progression, or should the nature of the isolated concept be exceedingly simple to pair with authentic contexts and numerous additional skills, the Demonstration of Learning may be deffered to intentional inclusion in the Cumulative Assessment, but never omitted altogether.


Repeat Learning Cycle for as many segments as needed

The Learning Cycle or Content segment should be repeated for each new concept the FTX covers. We do not learn effectively from introducing all concepts up front and exploring them all simultaneously, rather the most effective method taking one concept at a time from a simplistic overview to a detailed finish is most effective, and our lesson plans should reflect that. To facilitate this, each Learning Cycle or Content segment should be as efficient as possible, ranging from 10 minutes to 20 minutes as a timeframe that will fit most topics.


Cumulative Assessment

The Cumulative Assessment is the measure of if the initial Objectives have been achieved after all Learning Cycle or Content segments have been completed. The Cumulative Assessment intentionally includes every presented topic in the lesson in as authentic a scenario as possible. A typical vehicle for the task is a live-fire exercise, or a scripted and pre-planned operation style exercise. Such an event requires just as much structure and planning as the Content step, and should include details of timeframe, location, setup, tasks, instructor roles, and how trainees have an opportunity to apply each presented topic during the course of the assessment.

Should the lesson plan include sufficient time management, an even more effective method of cumulative assessment is not one, but multiple events, each with progressive difficulty, in which trainees apply their newly formed skills. Such a process may take the form of multiple live-fires as described above, now with new and unfamiliar contexts for each, each new assessment presenting a new depth and difficulty of the subject matter.


Lesson Plan Approval Process

Approval to Draft

Before any lesson plans will be considered, the need for an FTX must first be established. Any requests to begin the Lesson Plan Approval Process must first be submitted to the J7 Training team. Please include information of:

  • A statement of why the proposed lesson plan is needed
  • The scope of the proposed lesson plan and its relationship to the progression of existing lessons
  • The objectives of the proposed lesson, the content it will cover and relevant SOP's

All requests will be reviewed by a dedicated panel of J7 Training and SOP Seniors. Approvals will be permitted to begin drafting the proposed lesson plan, denials will be provided with reasoning and resubmissions may be permitted.


Probationary Approval

For probationary approval of a proposed lesson plan, submit a complete and/or revised lesson plan draft to the J7 Training and SOP team. Requests for probationary approval will be reviewed with considerations of:

  • Adherence to the proposed scope of the lesson plan
  • Adherence to the P15-202 Lesson Planning SOP
  • Organization, quality of content, and completeness of the lesson plan
  • Likelihood for success and repeatability of the lesson plan

All requests for probationary approval will be reviewed by J6&7 Training and SOP Staff. Approved lesson plans will be permitted to schedule a probationary FTX and will be supervised by one or more members of J7. Denials will be provided with reasonings and resubmissions will be permitted.


Final Approval

Final approval of a proposed lesson plan will be contingent upon the inclusion of any revisions required by the supervisionary member(s) of the J7 Training team. If required, the revised lesson plan will be reviewed with considerations of:

  • Adherence to the proposed scope of the lesson plan
  • Adherence to the P15-202 Lesson Planning SOP
  • Organization, quality of content, and completeness of the lesson plan
  • Likelihood for success and repeatability of the lesson plan

All requests for final approval will be reviewed by J7. Approved lesson plans will be finalized and FTX's on the subject matter permitted. Lesson plans requiring substantial revisions may require an additional probationary FTX. Denials for final approval will be provided with reasonings and resubmissions will be permitted.

This SOP has been contributed to by 2 editors:
Major James
First Lieutenant WhiteWolf
Staff Sergeant mbaker5114

UNITAF Standard Operating procedures (SOP)
are adapted primarly from US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC). Our written and audio procedures are a combination of the following primary source materials, as well as our own learnings, modifications and adaptations:
- US Army Techniques Publication, Infantry Platoon and Squad (ATP 3-21.8)
- Soldier’s Manual of Common Tasks Warrior Leader Skills Level 2, 3, and 4 (STP 21-24-SMCT)
- The Warrior Ethos and Soldier Combat Skills (FM 3-21.75 / FM 21-75)
- Leadership Development (FM 6-22)
- Dyslexi's Tactics, Techniques, & Procedures for Arma 3 (TTP3)

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