1. Mission - Analyze the assigned mission to develop a clear and concise statement for the operation. The mission statement is a simple narrative that explains the "task" to be accomplished, and the "purpose" for doing the task. The mission statement should be a standalone narrative that is capable of expressing key mission elements on its own merit with only the assistance of a map. To assist with mission statement development the military's "5Ws" technique provides the Who, the What, the When, the Where and the Why answers essential for all operations. A basic mission statement should be no more than one sentence long and should be clear enough that all members of the group can easily understand the 5Ws and their relationship to each other. Keep the mission statement simple so all members of the group are able to memorize the narrative.
2. Enemy - Conduct a threat analysis to identify enemy strengths that should be mitigated and weaknesses that can be used to the group's advantage. Once an enemy weakness is found leaders concentrate their resources and combat power to exploit the weakness to ensure mission success. To effectively plan a mission leaders must understand "How the Threat Will Fight" and the position they are fighting to retain. To answer how the threat will fight, leaders must know how the threat is organized and equipped. If the threat force uses standardized weapon systems, tactical equipment, and common uniforms it is likely the threat uses traditional military planning and tactics. If the threat displays a lack of uniformity, a lack of discipline and a lack of leadership the threat is at a disadvantage when compared to a well led and trained group. To assist in the threat analysis leaders make every effort to gain insight into the following six areas: threat composition, threat disposition, threat strength, threat capabilities, threat current activities and threat most likely course of action. To account for threat information not available, leaders must develop
assumptions about the enemy based on past experiences and enemy observations.
3. Terrain and Weather - Conduct a terrain analysis using all available assets to gain insight in to how terrain impacts both friendly and enemy operations by conducting a map reconnaissance and if time permits conducting a visual reconnaissance of the area. Conduct terrain analysis in an ordered approach outlined by the acronym OAKOC consisting of a thorough review of the following elements: Obstacles, Avenues of Approach, Key Terrain, Observation and Fields of Fire, Cover and Concealment. OAKOC is designed to keep your thoughts organized by looking at terrain in an ordered fashion that takes in to consideration each element and its impact on each of the following elements. Information gained from the OAKOC terrain analysis provides critical feedback on the impacts terrain has on operations that act as the framework for the development of both friendly and enemy courses of action. Use weather forecasts to identify potential impacts to the operation resulting from inclement weather. A streambed or wetland may not be passable during a having rain. Also adjust water and equipment load based on temperatures.
4. Troops and Support Available - Analyze troops/individuals and assets available to better understand the true "Combat Potential" of the organization. Leaders must develop a realistic estimate of the group's combat potential and not over calculate the organization's capabilities. The first step in analyzing combat potential is a simple count of individuals available for a mission. The second step of the assessment is to realistically evaluate the status of each
individual based on their training, morale, experience and the strengths and weaknesses of each individual. The final step is to know the status of equipment and supplies to include: weapon systems, ammunition, communication assets, fuel, food, water and other mission critical assets.
5. Time Available - Develop mission timeline to allow for mission planning, preparations, rehearsals and mission execution. Implement abbreviate tasks when time constraints are present. Publish a tentative timeline as soon as possible so subordinates can initiate movement and prepare for the operation.
6. Civil Considerations - Review all civil considerations that may affect planning. If civilians are living near the threat objective special care should be taken not to fire carelessly in the direction of non combatants. Employment of weapon systems, their direction and their range need to be considered if other groups are in the area. Other civil considerations also include encounters with refugees moving in the area of operation and assistance for non combatant casualties. During a military operation civil considerations also covers information on rules of engagement