Version 1 / 11min read / Updated Fri 06 May 2022 / 1228 views / of verified
Guidelines for issuing verbal orders
Issuing orders verbally - also known as a 'verbal briefing' - requires that the speaker be familiar with a few basic premises.
When issuing verbal orders, a leader must...
- Announce himself and get the attention of his junior leaders before beginning his orders.
- Use clear and unambiguous language.
- Be concise. When employing clear and precise tactical language, a lot can be said with a few standard words.
- Set clear, quantifiable goals that junior leaders understand and can work towards.
- Convey his "Commander's Intent". "Commander's Intent" is simply what you intend for your unit (Company, Platoon, Squad, etc) to do in the scope of the mission.
- Ensure that his orders were understood.
- Allow time and opportunity for questions.
- Ask questions if necessary.
- Solicit the input of the leaders of subordinate elements and special types of units (ie: air crews, recon elements), as desired.
Note that once in-mission, it is often helpful for a leader to find the person he is giving orders to, have them come to his position, and then explain his orders while showing the subordinate the terrain involved. This helps to let the subordinate see the terrain from his leader's point of view, so that he can better achieve the intent of the order. For instance - if the Mission Commander wants to have a unit advance along an aspect of the terrain that is not obvious from a map, but is obvious from where he is standing, this method works very well.
Issuing the Orders - The Command Brief
Once the mission briefing has been received, METT-TC factors have been considered, and a plan has been drafted up, it's time for the orders to be issued to the next junior level of command. Depending on the player count and force structure, this may start at the Battalion Commander, trickle down to the Company Commander, then the Platoon Commanders, then their Squad Leaders, and finally the Fireteam Leaders.
To begin, an accountability check is done to ensure that all leaders are present at whatever location has been chosen for the command briefing - typically the starting location of the highest commanding element in the mission. For the sake of this, we'll assume it's a Company-level mission.
CoyCo: "Do I have my element commanders here?"
Tango Co: "Tango company here."
(Air elements - Ugly, Pavement, Big Bird, and Hawg - check in as well)
CoyCo: "Ok, we're all set. Orders follow."
The next thing a leader must do is provide orientation. This is done to get everyone 'synced up' as to where they are and what they'll be doing. This can be as simple as giving a brief description of where the unit starts off, and what direction the objectives are.
"As you can see on the map, we're assembled at the southern Celle airfield. Recon Company has been cut off in the north and requires assistance. While we know roughly where they start, we can expect them to be mobile and evading enemy forces shortly after the mission begins."
After orientation, the key parts of the mission briefing are reiterated verbally. This simply consists of the CoyCo rephrasing the operations order into his own words.
"Our main objective is to form an armored column, head north, and rendezvous with Recon Company in order to extract them safely to friendly lines. Our secondary objective is to destroy any enemy units attempting to push South into our territory."
After reiterating the mission briefing, the Company Commander will detail his "Commander's Intent". This helps to frame the upcoming detailed orders.
"My intent is to utilize our close air support assets in three ways: One, to locate the recon company, support it, and guide our armor column to it. Two, to provide route reconnaissance and security for the armor column during its movement. Three, to provide forward reconnaissance and advance warning of any enemy air or ground threats attempting to move into the area of operations. Tango Company will conduct a road movement north towards the last known position of recon company, locate them, support them, and secure the area so that they can be airlifted out by Big Bird. From there, we will adopt as necessary to defend against the enemy attacks, using our mobility to redeploy throughout the area of operations in response to enemy movements.
After the commander's intent has been given detailed orders are passed. Each platoon receives it's assignment and any special guidance required. This is the CoyCo's own SMEAC operations order, delivered verbally.
"Tango company, your objective is to move as rapidly as possible to Recon Company's location in order to support them and facilitate their extraction. Ensure that your elements are exercising strong visual identification before engaging targets - we don't want to shoot up our own guys.
Hawg, you will be supporting Tango Company as it moves north. Tango will have a Forward Air Controller (FAC) that will direct you on targets as needed.
Pavement, you will be blocking enemy air assets to the north, as well as providing recon in that area. Tango or Recon FACs may retask you, but remember that your main role is to defend us against enemy air attack.
Ugly 1 and 2, your initial goal will be to locate Recon Company and convey their location to Tango Company. From there, you will provide support and recon, utilizing your low-level flight to complement the higher-altitude operations of Hawg and Pavement. You will also be tasked with clearing out and providing security for the Big Bird element's landing zones.
Big Bird 1 and 2, you will set yourselves up safely out of harm's way and await Recon Company's calls for extraction. After Ugly or Tango have secured an LZ, you will pick up Recon Company and transport them wherever they need to go.
If there are any questions, ask them. If not, go ahead and brief your elements. Report in when you're ready to roll."
Issuing the Orders - Platoon Brief
Recon Company Commander:
"Recon, we're in a bad situation. The enemy has disabled our vehicles, rendering us foot-mobile. We have support coming from the Celle airbase in the south, but it will take some time to get to us. Enemy forces are likely to be attacking us before they arrive.
Alpha squad, I want you dug in protecting our northern side. Bravo and Charlie will provide flank security, while my headquarters element will be observing south for any signs of our friendly reinforcements.
It is possible that we will need to withdraw further south in response to enemy attacks. If so, Alpha squad will provide heavy fires while Bravo and Charlie withdraw to the next suitable position of cover via bounding overwatch. Once Bravo and Charlie are set, Alpha will fall back to them.
In the event that we see friendly aircraft, our signal method will be to deploy colored smoke on our location. We can expect to be extracted by the Big Bird element once friendlies have located us and secured a landing zone - while you should try to mount your squads into the same aircraft when possible, speed is of the essence - I would rather us be on the ground as short as possible, so if need be, just pull whoever is nearby into your aircraft and we'll leave once we know all of Recon is mounted up.
Remember that the enemy could be attacking from any direction. We are operating under universal ROE - don't be hasty to engage, identify your targets, and coordinate your fires. "
As the orders are completed, the PltCo opens the floor to questions about the plan.
"Are there any questions?"
"If an enemy vehicle is disabled but still has an operation turret, are we able to use it to defend ourselves?"
"(Alpha SL playername) brings up a good point. Due to the abundance of friendly support aircraft, we will not be using enemy vehicles in anything other than a last-ditch capacity. If an enemy vehicle is occupied by friendlies, immediately inform me so that I can pass the information up to our close air support and armored elements. Remember, usage of enemy vehicles involves high risks of friendly fire - and with our close air support and tank units, the risk is far greater than normal. Try to avoid this at all costs."
Are there any further questions?
If not, brief your squads and let me know when you're ready to move out."
Issuing the Orders - The Squad Brief
Once all questions have been asked and answered, the PltCo will send the squad leaders and element leaders back to their squad/element channels so that they can brief their subordinates.
Alpha Squad Leader:
"Alpha, listen up. I have my fireteam leaders listed as (team leader 1 name) and (team leader 2 name). Is that correct?"
Alpha Squad Leader:
"Our orders are as follows. We will be the primary defensive element, oriented north of our starting location. I need everyone with anti-tank to be prepared to use it, and well-dispersed into as good of cover and concealment as you can find. Bravo will be on our left flank, Charlie on our right. Our intent is to hold our position from expected enemy attacks from the north, buying time for friendly air or armor to find us.
In the event that we cannot hold this position, Bravo and Charlie will withdraw south while we provide covering fire. After they are set, we will withdraw to their location and assume a northern defense again.
Remember that enemy can be approaching from all directions. Keep at least one person in each fireteam watching our flanks and rear. We are operating under Universal ROE - particularly when dealing with enemy vehicles, let them get close enough to where you won't miss with your AT - we don't have much of it.
Avoid occupying enemy vehicles except in the most dire of circumstances, and if you do, immediately inform me so that I can pass this up to higher headquarters. Friendly fire from the air and armor is a major consideration for why we should avoid occupying anything other than friendly vehicles.
When Big Bird arrives to extract us, we'll mount in the closest aircraft. I am more concerned with us all getting mounted than I am in us all being in the same aircraft.
Are there any questions?"
Alpha 1 Fireteam Leader:
"How long are we expecting it to take for friendlies to find us?"
"That's hard to say. We should expect to see friendly aircraft well in advance of any friendly ground forces. Our main problem will be signaling the aircraft to show them our location - colored smoke will be employed by the platoon headquarters element to try to facilitate that.
Any further questions?
Stand by for mission start."
Alpha SL, on command net:
"Command, this is Alpha. We're good to go."
Recon CO, on command net:
"Roger that, stand by."
- Read the operation order before the briefing begins.
- Write down anything important that you may need to remember later.
- Think of what issues might arise with the orders being given. Is there anything that you can think of that needs mentioning or clarification?
- Listen to what the other elements are being told to do and ensure you are familiar with the full plan.
- Assume nothing. Ask questions if you are unclear on anything. It is the responsibility of all players to ask questions that help them to fully grasp what their orders are.
- Read back what you understand your orders to be. A 'read back' is a technique by which a subordinate repeats the plan as he understands it to his leader.
- Avoid distractions. Being distracted during a verbal briefing is a sure-fire way to misunderstand something or miss out on key information.
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)
(P17-84) Mission planning: Process