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Posted on Jul 14, 2008 in Tactics101, War College

Tactics 101:028 – Commander’s Guidance

By Rick Baillergeon and John Sutherland

Below you will find a couple of products that are useful in both formulating guidance during visualization and mission analysis and as a guide for a commander to use to provide his guidance.

 Click here for Commander Guidance Worksheet.

 Click here for Commander Guidance Worksheet forms.

There is no school solution to providing commander’s guidance. After all, it is a personal thing! With that said, we thought we would try to give you an example of what a commander’s guidance may look (or sound) like if you have not seen (or heard) one. Is it totally doctrinally correct – NO. But it does give you a sense of what a commander should provide. Here goes:



  1. We are an economy of force operation for the 4th Division. Our ability to accomplish our task and purpose without significant assistance from the Division is critical in setting the conditions for future operations.
  2. We may not be the optimal force to accomplish this task and purpose, but we are all the 4th Division has at this time.
  3. Remember this is not the entire war for us. We must be able to set our conditions for future offensive operations.
  4. Diminishing the limiting effects that METT-TC can place on our mission is our key to success.
  5. We must build flexibility in our plan because the conditions will surely change.

Our purpose is to enable the rapid movement of the Division’s main body from the tactical assembly area through the restrictive terrain of Brown City allowing a quick build up of combat power south of the Yellow Plain. Decisive to this operation is denying the enemy the ability to impede the passage of lines between our forces and the 4th Division. Key effects (Tasks) to this operation are:

-Early route recon of route X-Ray with redundant resources to find LURA forces and obstacles in order to ensure flexibility in plan and movement order.

-Early recon of the area around the passage point with redundant assets to find LURA forces, obstacles and the intentions of the civilian populace to expedite the passage of lines.

-Establish close coordination with Kolastan forces in Brown City to gather intel and determine best route around the city to facilitate maneuver of the Division.

-Secure portions of the route X-RAY that are both critical to the movement of the Division and most vulnerable to interdiction or obstruction to ensure freedom of maneuver.

-Place LURA direct action cells on the defense by targeting potential mortar sites, SA-14 sites, and IED factory locations so they can not impede our freedom of maneuver.

-Legitimize US role by continuous coordination with Kolastan authority as a partner to deter Chipstan threat.

– Leverage Kolastan authority and NGOs to prevent local commercial operations and displaced refugee traffic from interfering with the movement of the 4th Division.

– Position logistical assets along route X-RAY and near Brown City to facilitate our maneuver and prepare our transition to offensive operations in Area of Operations 5.

At end state, LURA was unable to impede the maneuver of the Division through Brown City, the Brigade is prepared to hand off security to Kolastan authority in our area of operations and we are prepared to transition to offensive operations in Area of Operations 5 as part of the division maneuver plan.

The problem: How to separate LURA from the populace in order to effectively target them and prevent interference of the division movement with less than 48 hours to shape before movement.

General thoughts for Planning Guidance:


We need eyes early to the southwest of Brown City to set the conditions for a smooth passage of lines. I am concerned about the forces in the mountains and the ability of civilians to impede our maneuver

Determine the status of the Route/Bridges/ general trafficability. Figure out the status of Brown City infrastructure. What is within our means of repair, what do we need from higher?

Determine the status / capability (early) of the Kolastan police and military in Brown City. Find out what is their read of the threat.

Determine likely choke points LURA will target along the route and prevent LURA uses of those areas.

Find the Mortars (if possible), ADA systems for destruction.

Finding any massed LURA elements will be difficult. The key is early recon before our main body departs.

We must analyze the ‘what ifs’ with the potential of a conventional attack from the south. With assistance from higher, we need to determine the link between conventional and unconventional forces. Is there a link or to they operate independently?

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