1. MISSION - Mission is the task, together with the purpose, that clearly indicates the action to be taken and the reason therefore (FM 1-02). At the brigade, battalion, and company level, the COIN force conducts tactical operations, across seven COIN lines of effort. These incorporate the five stability tasks—establish civil security, establish civil control, support Host Nation (HN) security forces, support to governance, restore essential services, support to economic development, and conduct information engagement. Lethal efforts may include patrols, raids, and cordon and searches. Nonlethal efforts may include attending council meetings, engaging tribal leaders, or repairing damaged infrastructure.
2. ENEMY - COIN operations, by nature, involve a confusing enemy situation, since the enemy generally lacks a traditional task organization (FM 34-130). Moreover, the enemy (insurgents) can have a varying level of training, capability, commitment, involvement, and experience. In addition to analyzing the insurgent’s disposition, composition, strengths, and weaknesses, counterinsurgents must identify and understand the five elements of the insurgency—leaders, guerrillas, auxiliary, underground, and mass base. Furthermore, it is important to understand the eight dynamics of the insurgency—its leadership, ideology, objectives, environment and geography, external support, internal support, phasing and timing, organizational and operational patterns. Finally, it is critical to identify which of the six strategies—urban, military focused, protracted popular war, conspiratorial, identity, and composite and coalition—the insurgent is employing.
3. TERRAIN AND WEATHER - Terrain includes natural features, such as rivers and mountains, and man-made features, such as cities, airfields, and bridges. Weather describes the conditions of temperature, wind velocity, precipitation, and visibility at a specific place and time. When evaluating the effects of terrain and weather on COIN operations, the commander should consider the effects of seasons of the year (to include planting and harvesting periods); phases of the moon; and coastal tides. In particular, he concentrates on--
• The effects of the weather—which mainly includes his Soldiers, equipment, and visibility, but also includes other factors such as mobility.
• The suitability of terrain and road nets for tactical and logistical operations. He focuses on the effects of the terrain on Soldiers, equipment, visibility, and mobility. Units and staffs study the terrain in relation to the factors of "OAKOC:"
• Observation and fields of fire.
• Avenues of approach.
• Key and decisive terrain.
• Cover and concealment.
4. TROOPS AND SUPPORT AVAILABLE - Successful counterinsurgency operations depend upon the commander using his available assets to maximize force strengths and minimize vulnerabilities. To do this, the commander realistically appraises the capabilities and limitations of his assets, as well as joint, interagency, international, and multinational elements, to organize and employ them on suitable missions. In the COIN environment, the tactical unit must identify, account for, and leverage all HN security forces—police, army and paramilitary—to secure and control the population and disrupt the insurgency.
5. TIME AVAILABLE - For tactical operations, time available for planning and execution varies. Major operations need prolonged periods of time for detailed planning. Stability operations that address political, economic, and social issues usually take a considerable length of time to complete. As such, after the initial period of planning, the time available for modified or future planning is often quite long. When planning short-term actions such as offensive operations against fleeting insurgent targets, planning time is usually short, and information is scarce. Commanders at all levels can use the time available to them more efficiently by planning contingency missions. One method to reduce planning time is to codify routine tasks common to similar missions in SOP. When the need to execute a contingency mission arises, the basic plan can be reviewed and planning expedited by making minor adjustment as required.
6. CIVIL CONSIDERATIONS - In COIN operations, the population is vital—since whoever the population supports has the advantage. Consequently, civil considerations are normally the most important mission variable for COIN. This variable comprises the influence of manmade infrastructure on the conduct of military operations.