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Posted on Mar 24, 2007 in Front Page Features, Tactics101

Tactics 101: 014. Decision-Making and the Power of CCIR

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

There are two categories of information that we need: Image Building and Execution. It is the category of execution information we will focus on. It is this category that enables us to make key decisions on the battlefield. This execution information can be classified as Commanders Critical Information Requirements (CCIR).


Commanders Critical Information Requirements (CCIR)

"I was woken up soon after dawn the next morning by an officer with the morning situation report. I was extremely angry and told him no one was ever to come near me with situation reports; I did not want to be bothered with details of patrol actions and things of that sort. He apologized profusely and said that Auchinleck always woken early and given dawn reports. I said I was not Auchinleck and that if anything was wrong the Chief of Staff would tell me; if nothing was wrong I didn’t want to be told. The offending officer was very upset; so we had an early morning cup of tea together and a good talk, and he went away comforted. The Chief of Staff issued new orders about situation reports and I was never bothered again." Montgomery.


Knowing when to decide is a critical component of the art of command. In order to decide, a commander must have a system to allow him to track potential decisions, recognize that the time is right, and realize that it is relevant to overall success? One of the most powerful tools to create this system is for the commander to determine his Commanders Critical Information Requirements (CCIR).

What is CCIR, or more properly, what should it be? CCIR is a decision enhancing tool that assists the commander in defining the conditions that precipitate the need to make a decision. It helps to identify what events trigger a decision. It helps anticipate when and where those conditions might occur. It structures the collection and reporting effort to insure that the decision making events are tracked and passed on. Simply put, it facilitates the decision making process. .

CCIR is not supposed to be an exhaustive laundry list of questions designed to eliminate all uncertainty from the battlefield. It is not a tool to quantify all decisions and boil them down to a rote checklist or menu. If the CCIR list is too long, it becomes more noise to be sorted out or, more than likely, to be overlooked and ignored. It will be seen for what it is, a cover for incomplete analysis and a catch all for incomplete work.

CCIR should be developed, refined, and adjusted, by the commander with input from the staff. It should be limited and focused. It should be collectable. Why pin a key decision to an event that you cannot collect? Why worry about forces that cannot influence your mission? CCIR should not be composed of routine questions for known events that we expect or know will occur. This data is not irrelevant; however it falls under the category of information requirements (IR) or image building information. It is not execution information that leads to effective decision making. Therefore, CCIR equals execution information. That is why it falls under the purview of the commander, the premier unit decision maker.


CCIR consists of three components; Primary Intelligence Requirements (PIR), Friendly Forces Information Requirements (FFIR), and Essential Elements of Friendly Information (EEFI) (* Recent Army doctrine removed EEFI from CCIR. We believe it is still an integral component. Let’s look at each component.

PIR — Primary Intelligence Requirements

"Commanders must focus intelligence. They must decide what they need to know for the operation to succeed. This includes establishing clear priorities for intelligence and targets. My goal was to limit my questions to six." GEN(R) Frederick M. Franks Jr.

PIR are those intelligence requirements for which a commander has an anticipated and stated priority in his planning and decision making. In other words, it is what the commander needs to know about the enemy in order to make a critical decision. In our experience, this is the most abused element of CCIR. Commonly, it consists of a huge list of questions that encompass all aspects of the enemy plan; will they defend here or there, where will their obstacles be, when – where – and why will they employ chemicals, where is the reserve, where is the AT battery, and on and on. Invariably, it becomes a hodge-podge of information that does little to assist a commander.

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