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Posted on Aug 17, 2011 in Tactics101, War College

Tactics 101 063 – The Concept of Operations

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

All right – Get to work! Remember to be:

  • Concise—be brief and be brilliant
  • Precise—leave nothing to doubt
  • Clear—follow a logical flow

After you are complete, you can finish the rest of this article. We will provide some examples of concepts that may be written for the scenario. As we have stated in several of our earlier articles; there is no such thing as an exact school solution. A school solution can only stifle creativity. However, as we all know some solutions may be just so poorly crafted or thought out that they offer no chance for success.

After Action Reviews. When evaluating unit performance in an after action review (AAR), we often refer to the GBU’s—the good, the bad, and the ugly. Of course, we hit the GBU’s in reverse order so we can end on a high note. The GBU methodology is a good way to illustrate the good by highlighting the bad. It’s also a good way to contrast the mediocre against the exceptional.


What follows is a GBU methodology on potential concepts of operation for the scenario that you just worked.

First Shot (Ugly). Our brigade will attack the night before the division. We will destroy the enemy in Red Pass and Granite Pass so the rest of the division can follow through the hole we will create. We’ll kickoff around midnight with the light infantry. They will take out the enemy holding Red Pass. Our mechanized battalion goes next. They will pin down the enemy in Granite Pass. Our other mechanized battalion will take the southern end of Granite Pass and the tanks will take the northern end. We’ll hold the pass until the division passes through.


  • Is it clear why we are doing this?
  • What is the form of maneuver?
  • What’s the end state?
  • What is our contribution to overall success?

This is the minimalist approach and may be appropriate for highly skilled units that are very familiar with one another. The problem here is that there are usually attachments that aren’t familiar with the overall organization and will not know how to ‘read between the lines’. Additionally, there is not much use of doctrinal language in the concept. As always, the use of doctrinal language is highly beneficial in creating understanding between writer and receiver. This concept generates more questions than it answers.

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