A military force that is deployed haphazardly, operates blindly, and is given vague orders, will likely fail its mission and suffer extreme casualties. At the same time, a military force that has spent plenty of time gathering information, coming up with an excellent plan, and deploying with very particular orders, has likely lost the initiative and will fail its mission when the plan becomes irrelevant. Conducting a successful operation requires a delicate balance between being unprepared and preparing too rigidly. The Military Decision Making Process at its intersection with Army Design Methodology presents a course of action for the commander and the staff, as well as give the units on the battlefield flexibility and continuous support. Having a grasp on the operational environment is a key aspect of several steps in that process. Knowing how orders are developed and how operations NCOs influence their development can help direct intelligence-gathering efforts and root them within time-tested methods.
Orders issued to the troops are developed through a complex process involving a commander and the staff. That process is separated into seven steps, each with its inputs and outputs; the final output is the operation plan and orders to be passed to subordinates. An operations NCO becomes relevant to the process at mission analysis, its second stage. When a mission is being analyzed, and the initial assumptions and Courses of Action are being developed, seeking information about the operational environment becomes essential. COAs are designed with the knowledge of topography, climate, social and political factors, urban planning, and numerous other data points. The officers’ experience can also be used as valuable input by the staff that develops the plan of operation (Army Publishing Directorate, 2015). The capabilities of officers and their troops greatly inform the course of action.
Military Decision Making Process and intelligence-collecting efforts are directed to some extent by the Army Design Methodology. ADM is a process aimed at approaching an unfamiliar problem creatively to achieve success despite the difficulty (Department of the Army, 2019). It is part of the art of war and is driven by the commander and the staff’s mental capabilities, fortitude, and ingenuity. Framing the operational environment is a crucial part of ADM because as much pertinent information as possible must be known to create a strategy for achieving an objective. NCOs’ efforts and expertise are very valuable at this stage, as solutions require data and expertise. Their duties also include visualizing the procured and analyzed information to provide an easily understandable interpretation of the operational environment. The superior NCO’s role in this process is also that of the liaison between all other officers to coordinate them and the liaison between them and the staff working on the operations plan.
The final COA is the one deemed the most sound under the circumstances and most effective against the projected hostile COA. Plans and orders are based on that COA approved by the commander. However, MDMP does not end after orders have been issued, as the situation is continually monitored, and necessary corrections are made. Sometimes, a completely new plan needs to be developed, and new orders need to be issued after the troops discover new information or the situation drastically changes. ADM is exceptionally relevant in such cases, as time frames are short, and plans need to be holistic and creative. NCOs serve a dual role as they continually reassess and communicate data, and also engage in combat.
The knowledge about the MDMP, ADM, operations environment framing, and the NCO’s role during all of these processes helps me better understand my duties. The necessity of a creative approach to problem-solving and comprehensive data interpretation also guides my education. After all, it is too late to train a sharp mind and communication skills in the middle of a firefight.
Army Publishing Directorate. (2015). ATP 5-0.1. Web.
Department of the Army. (2019). The Operations Process (ADP 5-0). Web.