Special Ops Paintball: Practical Leadership Applications: Troop Leading Procedures - Special Ops Paintball

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Practical Leadership Applications: Troop Leading Procedures Lessons from the Army Rate Topic: -----

#1 User is offline   Saifoda2 

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Posted 16 December 2008 - 11:39 AM

Well you guys have had some time to read and reflect on the Be Know Do thread, so now we'll jump into the next one. One of the most important things you can learn to do as a leader is to get your Troop Leading Procedures down. Troop Leading Procedures essentially means the method in which you prepare for a mission.

As Sun Tzu said, "That which is true for the small is also true for the big." He was speaking about the idea of how small unit and large unit tactics are more or less the same, but this phrase also applies to TLP's, both as a factor of time and of the size of the unit. What I mean by size, is, you can follow the same outline of the TLP in a team as small as 3 players and a team as large as the Armies at OK DDay. What I mean by time, is, you can follow the same outline of the TLP (for the most part) in as little as 1 hour or as much as a year in advance or more. It all depends on your mission.

The Troop Leading Procedures are divided into 8 steps, and they are as follows:









For some of this you may be saying "Why do I need to reconnoiter?" or "What is necessary movement?" All of this I will explain below and again, if you have any questions, please post them here and we'll discuss them.

Step 1: Receive the Mission

You may receive the mission in a Warning Order (WARNO) Operations Order (OPORD) or a Fragmentary Order (FRAGO). I will briefly describe these three, though going into detail will be for another Practical Leadership Application thread.

Warning Order: A Warning Order, or WARNO, is more or less when your Commander gives you a heads-up about a mission coming up and as much detail as he or she can give before giving the official Operations Order. The Warning Order has no specific format, but it should answer as best as possible the 5 W's and 1 H (Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How).

Operations Order: An Operations Order, or OPORD, has a very specific format and is designed to give all the pertinent information to your players in an organized and easy to use format. The OPORD has 5 "Paragraphs," though in certain cases they may be larger than a paragraph. For example, the OPORD that was given for the Iraq invasion in 2003 was about the size of a small novel. Again, this is for another thread, so if you have questions about the OPORD, just save it for later.

Fragmentary Order: A Fragmentary Order, or FRAGO, is an addition to an OPORD or WARNO. For example, if you receive a WARNO and all that it has is the What Where and Why, you may receive a FRAGO that includes the Who, When, and How. Also, if you received an OPORD and began to carry out the mission, you may receive a FRAGO during the mission that will change something in the order. Fragmentary, from the word Fragment, isn't derived from a grenade, but rather means a piece of something pertaining to the original.

Okay, back on task. You receive your mission as a WARNO, OPORD, or FRAGO, and as soon as you do you must begin to analyze it using METT-TC. METT-TC stands for...

Troops available
and Civilian considerations.

There are hardly ever "civilians" on a paintball field, but occasionally you may have to deal with hostages as part of a scenario.

Mission: What is the mission objective? This is your primary factor to consider when creating your plan. If your mission is "take the base" then everything else revolves around that. If your mission is "patrol the wood line" then everything else revolves around that. The mission is always first takes on a new meaning for leaders.

Enemy: We try to avoid using words like "Enemy" and "Kill" and "Gun," so if you will excuse the expression.... This section is pretty simple: How many are there, what is/are their skill level(s), what is their composition (do they have pumps, semi's or electros, do they have rockets, mortars, grenades, tanks, etc... and how many), their location(s), their activity (what will they be doing) and their probable course of action on contact (will they fight back, disperse, retreat, etc....)

Terrain: There can be a lot of issues with terrain. This includes weather forecast, position of the sun during the operation, illumination from the moon (if it is a night mission), wind speed, wind direction. All of this you can find out. Of course, use your common sense. If you have 1 hour to complete your TLP, is it really necessary to find out the speed of the wind? No, you would probably serve your team better by focusing your efforts on other activities of the TLP.

Troops available: Pretty simple. Same concept as the Enemy section -- how many, composition, skill level, etc.... Most of this you should know right away.

Time: Missions are given in one of 2 formats, in a "complete at such and such a time," or a "complete no later than (NLT)" format. Essentially the differences here will be that the smaller the unit, the more frequently the former will be used and NLT will be used more often with larger units. The time of the mission is very important because this will tell you "Do I have 1 hour or 5?" "Do I have 1 week or a year?" This usually depends on the operation. For Oklahoma D-Day, you will more than likely receive an OPORD from your higher Commanders (or perhaps you are the highest commander and will give it yourself) at least a year out, if you want to be well prepared. Nobody is going to call you and say "yeah, you've got 5 hours to prepare for Oklahoma D-Day -- we're leaving tomorrow morning."

Civilian considerations: This will be dealt with on a case by case basis. More or less, this will again tell you the same thing as the Enemy or Troops available section, but in regards to any "non-combatants" on the field and what your disposition is to them. If they are hostages but your mission is NOT to rescue them, but be a distraction for another element to do so then that is a very important detail that should be in this analysis section.

1/3 2/3s Rule:
Now, a quick note before we go any further into the Troop Leading Procedures: As a general rule of thumb, follow the one-third two-thirds rule. This means you should take no more than 1/3 of the alloted time for your planning and give the other 2/3s to your subordinates. So, if you've got 6 hours before a mission, you should spend no more than 2 hours to conduct the first 7 steps of the TLP.

Step 2: Issue a Warning Order

In order to allow your players to better prepare themselves for the mission coming up, you shouldn't spring it on them 5 minutes before hand. As soon as you receive the mission and begin to analyze it, get all of your players together (or the ones immediately below you, if the former would be too many) and give them a WARNO. Just the basics, and only what you know for sure or have been told.

Do not tell them "we're going to insert here on the sidelines and do this that and the other" if you do not know yet for sure. If that becomes a part of your tentative plan, then put that out in a FRAGO. But do not get your guys all riled up and preparing for something when they're going to be doing something completely different -- trust me, it sucks when you've moved all your equipment around and done rehearsals and everything for about 10 hours without sleep or breaks only to find out that the mission has changed and you more or less have to put everything back where it was and start over again.

Basically, if your CO tells you "hey, you've got a mission in 1 hour to take this base and I want you to take all the guys in your squad and round up 10 walkons to go with you" then a smart course of action would be to notify everybody in your squad and get them working on getting their gear ready and finding some walkon players to go on the mission too. Pretty basic, and that is how most of this will go, but the TLPs are designed to encompass any and all scenarios and will serve the same purpose for a 3 man speedball tourney as they will for the Supreme Allied Commander of the Normandy Invasion Force for Oklahoma D-Day.

Okay, enough crap, if you can't really think of what you would need to tell them, then just tell them this:

1: The mission or nature of the operation

2: Who will be participating

3: Time of the operation

4: Time and place for when you will give the completed OPORD.

Step 3: Make a Tentative Plan

Develop an estimate of the situation to use as the basis for your tentative plan. This is called the decision making process. I'm sure you've all heard that term since about the 3rd grade, but there is a set way to do this. The decision making process consists of 5 steps:

1: Detailed mission analysis

2: Situation analysis and course of action development

3: Analysis of each course of action

4: Comparison of each course of action

5: Decision

This can be simple or complex, how you go about it will depend on your alloted time (remembering the one-third two-thirds rule) and the factors of METT-TC.

Once you have reached step 5 (Decision) that will be your tentative plan. Remember that this is a tentative plan, meaning it can and WILL change. Use this tentative plan to coordinate steps 4 and 5 of the TLP. Speaking of step 4...

Step 4: Start the Necessary Movement

This would be a very good time to have subordinate leaders. Starting the necessary movement will occur while the complete order is still being created. This involves things like preparing gear, airing up, getting paint, etc.... This step can start even before step 3 of the TLP, and it should.

Not much more to say on this, but it is a very important step.

Step 5: Reconnoiter

If METT-TC dictates/allows that a reconnaissance be conducted, then a recon should be conducted. Ideally, this would be conducted by you, but if you cannot afford it (monetarily or otherwise) and somebody else has already conducted a recon which you can use the information from, then you should do that.

The "take the hill" type of mission would most likely not afford a recon element at this point, though during the mission a forward recon can be conducted as well (if you setup an ORP and all that -- again, another PLA for the future). However, if your team decides they want to go to D-Day in 2011, perhaps going to D-Day yourself the year before would be possible and prove useful as well.

A reconnaissance mission during the TLP should be used to verify the terrain analysis, use of routes, and timing during the mission and should be used to adjust your tentative plan.

Step 6: Complete the Plan

Complete your plan based on the recon (if applicable) and any changes to the situation and FRAGO's given from higher. Review the mission as it was given from higher to ensure that your plan meets the requirements and is within the Commander's Intent.

Commander's Intent is pretty simple -- what is the intent of the mission? If your CO just tells you "take the hill" then you don't know much more than that. What you should get from him/her is "take the hill because it is a key piece of terrain overlooking the flank of our main effort to defend the General's CP." With that, your mission is "take the hill" and the intent is to ensure that the flank is secured and protected from any attack by your opponents on the General's CP. Remember though, the intent is "protect the general's CP," but that is not the mission.

If the CP is attacked, remember that your mission is to take the hill -- not guard the CP, so before you do anything in the realm of counter-attacking the CP or reinforcing the protection force that is already there, use your communication channels and your chain of command to find out if this is a wise course of action. There is a lot to think about as a leader, and you will also want to remember other factors in this as well. If the General's CP is attacked and you receive no communication, then taking some initiative and sending a recon element to the CP to assess the situation would satisfy both the mission objective and Commander's Intent. If your Commander does enough planning and is a good leader, he will tell you what to do in this contingency, therefore leaving no question in your mind. And if he doesn't, then ask what course of action you should take if that contingency occurs.

The basic rule of combat is that a plan never survives first contact. This is why Commander's Intent is extremely important.

Step 7: Issue the Complete Order

Issue the final order in the OPORD format. You will want to issue the order orally (rather than just handing everybody the order on a piece of paper and saying "go do that"). It will aid in your subordinates' understanding of the concept of the mission. If it is possible, do so within sight of the objective, if it is not possible, then use appropriate sand tables to ensure your subordinates have a clear visual understanding of the objective, the mission, and the plan and contingencies.

Make sure that your subordinates understand the following:

1: Commander's Intent

2: Concept of the operation

3: Assigned tasks

Ask questions of your subordinates to ensure that they understand these three things and be sure to allow time for them to ask you questions.

Step 8: Supervise

You must supervise the rest of the unit's preparation for the mission by conducting practices/training if necessary/time allows, and inspections of equipment.

Inspections: Squad Leaders should conduct initial inspections shortly after receipt of the WARNO (step 2) to ensure that their players have the necessary equipment, and if they don't they need to take steps to get that equipment. Briefly, you would want to ensure they have at least the following: Marker, hopper, extra batteries mask, pods, vest/pod pack, paint, air/co2, water, squeegee/barrel snake, barrel bag, appropriate tools, and mission essential equipment. All markers and hoppers should have full, fresh batteries, and key leaders should have radios and maps. And always remember -- every good player should carry a pen and pad of paper with them.

Training/practices: Again, this is a time alloted thing. If you've got 2 months to prepare for a big scenario, you should use that time to practice! Conduct as many practices for as long as you think is necessary and feasible. Use practices and training for the following purposes as preparation for a mission:

Practice essential tasks. If the mission is "take the hill" then you might want to do some cardio workouts to prepare for playing on the hill, you might also want to practice assaulting up and down a hill.

Reveal weaknesses or problems in the plan. Let's face it -- at some point you're going to make a mistake. If you plan to take the hill by walking up the main path in a single file and you find that you get gunned down very quickly, you might want to put out a FRAGO on the order of movement up the hill -- maybe change it to a wedge formation, or take the hill from two sides, or whatever the case may be. All METT-TC dependent. Very important acronym.

Coordinate the actions of subordinate elements. Let's say you go for a 'prep the hill with mortar fire and then assault from the west and north slopes simultaneously' approach. That will probably yield pretty good results if you achieve surprise and maintain initiative, but it will take a lot of coordination and practicing that coordination will pay off when it comes time to do the mission.

Improve players' understanding of the concept of the operation. Basically, if somebody doesn't quite understand how assaulting the hill from 2 angles at once (envelopment) will be better than attacking one side with the entire force, then this will show them that it would be a better course of action. Consequently, if that ISN'T the better course of action, see "reveal weaknesses or problems in the plan."

And that, my friends, is the Troop Leading Procedures. Let's put it into a couple practice examples, as these threads ARE titled "Practical Leadership Applications"


You are a squad leader in charge of 8 other players in your team, which you have divided into 2 fireteams under the supervision of fireteam leaders. You're at a big scenario game and the night before the game begins you receive a mission from your team Commander in the form of a WARNO. You've got 9 hours before the mission is set to begin, so that gives you 3 hours to prepare for it.

After you get the WARNO you begin to analyze it using METT-TC and you have completed step 1. It's dinner time, so rather than call your entire squad over and interrupt everybody's meal, you call your 2 team leader's over and issue a WARNO to them, telling them to start getting their team's ready by prepping gear, filling up on paint, air, and water, for them to meet you back here in 30 minutes, and for the entire squad to meet at the back of your car in 2 and a half hours to receive the final order.

Your team leaders go on their way to get their team's ready, you've just completed steps 2 and 4. You take about 30 minutes to work on a plan for completing the mission, using the decision making process, and after those 30 minutes your 2 team leaders return to you. You've just completed step 3.

Now you and both team your team leaders head out to the mission area (assuming the field is open at night for walking -- if not then you'll just have to wait till morning before the game starts) and conduct a reconnaissance of the area. Step 5 is done. With the recon complete, you adjust your tentative plan. You've still got 1.5 hours before everybody is to meet at your car, so you take another 20 minutes or so to complete the plan while your team leaders return to their teams to conduct inspections.

After you've completed the final plan, you head over to do a final inspection of all the equipment and take a list of equipment that your squad still needs and go up your chain of command with that, or just get in the car, head in to town, and get those spare batteries that some noob forgot to bring. You've completed steps 6 and 8.

With any spare time, you do whatever you feel is necessary -- relaxing is always an option -- until everybody is to meet for the complete order. Everybody meets at your car, you issue the complete order (in OPORD format), ensure that everybody understands the mission and their tasks, then tell everybody to get ready for sack time -- set a first call in the morning for when everybody needs to be up (if your commander hasn't set one already) and then go to sleep. You've just completed step 7, which in this case was the final step until the next morning when you will conduct one last inspection just before the mission starts to ensure everybody actually HAS ON THEM their necessary equipment. You would think that if the inspection was conducted the night before that it would be okay, but stranger things have happened during the course of 6 hours of sleep.


You are the Commander of a team of 35, organized into 3 squads of 11 with 2 assistant Commander's. It's December 2008. You decide that for 2010 the team will attend Oklahoma D-Day. 1/3 2/3 rule still applies. This gives you about 6 months to prepare the complete plan. Now, I'm not going to go into tremendous detail, because that would take far too long.

So, you've already completed step 1 (since you give the orders anyway), so now you issue the WARNO to your squad leaders. OKDDAY, whole team of course, early June 2010, will have final plan completed by July 2009. Using METT-TC and the decision making process, come up with a plan for attending D-Day. Step 2 is done. Now, you've got a lot to consider for making your tentative plan.

This is much more logistical than tactical or strategic. What side will you play for? Are you attending any of the preliminary courses or just D-Day? Are you flying or driving? Camping or hotel? The list goes on. A lot of this is going to be money and time issues as well. You will definitely need to address those and that will be part of what you do when you consider how to get everybody out there and what not. Pre-registering by a certain date will save money on that, getting plane tickets and renting a hotel room and car in advance will also save money, etc.... These are the little extra things you gotta think about when planning. Part of the final plan in this case will be how much everything will cost. These are all different courses of action as part of the decision making process. Coming to a decision will more than likely take quite some time and more than a little effort.

Before you get TOO wrapped up in making the plan, get your squads started on practicing for D-Day. This will mean PT during practices to condition your bodies for the high heat and physical stress. Practicing tactical movements and understanding the concept of true scenario events and the specific missions of D-Day, if you have enough intel on that and on what side and unit you will be playing. Once you've got your squad leaders started on those practices, you've started step 8 and 4. Next is reconnoiter.

Get your plan as finalized as possible, then use the reconnoitering to help flush out the details. Pick a recon team. Yourself, one of the assistant commanders and one of the squad leaders or something like that. Not too many, but you don't want to go by yourself in case you overlook something. Head out to D-Day, check out the field for yourself, the units, what the game is really like, what the prices are really like, if there are any deals you couldn't find or overlooked while looking at everything on the internet, etc.... This will help give you the data you need to get a final price together and finish the plan for the next month, July, the month you are issuing the complete order, and then do that. Now step 5 is done.

July comes around. Get your whole team together and issue the complete order. Remember to ensure everybody understands the three key things -- CO's intent, concept of the operation, and assigned tasks. This includes financial and time commitment that players will make and all that (included in "assigned tasks"). Step 6 has been accomplished and now step 7 has just been done.

Now the team will have the next year (1/3 2/3 rule has been followed correctly) to prepare for the game. Don't think that just because you've issued the complete order doesn't mean that things will change. You will inevitably be issuing FRAGO's (though you should attempt to limit the amount as much as possible) probably up until you actually leave for Oklahoma. During this time, ensure your team is practicing appropriately and getting all the gear they will need for this. This completes step 8.

Any questions?
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