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SMESC and phases in SoM

blackberet17

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Hi folks,

New OC at the unit, and he was DS on AOC, plus Staff College. In a recent set of orders for a Sqn shake-out ex, his Scheme of Manoeuver was a single paragraph. Me being an eager Battle Captain, and having to rewrite a portion of the orders because of last minute changes all over the place, I saw this one para and didn't understand. So I went with what I knew, which was to phase the operation, i.e.:

Scheme of Manoeuver: This operation will be conducted in X phases:

Phase 1: Plan and Prep/Deployment
Phase 2: *Insert Main Task*
Phase 3: Consolidation/Redeployment

And then on with Main Effort, End State, etc. I've seen various phase tasks, obviously, such as Phase 2: Conduct of Route/Point Recce Task, and Phase 3: Op Screen, etc.

OC came back with, "No phases!" He stated there is no need to have phases in an operation unless you need to leverage troops to task. I understand what he's saying, but the "no phases" is different from what I was taught and learned from BMOQ to Tp Ldr.

Does anybody have any points of reference on this? I was thinking it was a question of higher level planning, whereby the JTF Comd for example wouldn't indicate phases, but a lower-level commander, such as a Tp Ldr, would. But all the orders I've seen to date, from TBG on down, have contained phases for the operation. I couldn't find anything in LandOps, the GMR, etc.

Thanks!
 

Humphrey Bogart

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You can have as many or as little phases as you want when you write orders.  It's not wrong but kind of weird at the same time.
 

ballz

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A change of phase generally occurs when there is a major change in groupings or tasks. If his orders are for a road move from point A or B and the end state is when the entire grouping is at point B, then perhaps there is no change in groupings or tasks.

However, it would be hard to accomplish moving from one location (infil to an ORV for example), doing something (conduct of a raid for example), and moving to another location (exfil to an ORV for example) without having major changes in tasks / groupings occur, so these types of missions are generally broken down into phases.
 

Infanteer

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blackberet17 said:
OC came back with, "No phases!" He stated there is no need to have phases in an operation unless you need to leverage troops to task. I understand what he's saying, but the "no phases" is different from what I was taught and learned from BMOQ to Tp Ldr.

Does anybody have any points of reference on this? I was thinking it was a question of higher level planning, whereby the JTF Comd for example wouldn't indicate phases, but a lower-level commander, such as a Tp Ldr, would. But all the orders I've seen to date, from TBG on down, have contained phases for the operation. I couldn't find anything in LandOps, the GMR, etc.

From B-GL-331/FP-001 Staff Duties for Land Ops (page 6A-2)

3. EXECUTION. The formatting of this paragraph is decided by the commander to suit his operational requirements. It includes his intent and summarizes the overall course of action (COA) selected. Subsequent sub-paragraphs assign specific tasks to each subordinate HQ and give details of coordination and task organization not already listed in the task organization section. Instructions applicable to two or more elements of the force can be set forth in a final sub-paragraph entitled “Coordinating Instructions”:

a. Concept of Operations. Describe, in brief, how the commander visualizes the execution of the operation from start to completion. The Commander's Intent is a concise expression of the purpose of the operation, which describes the desired end state. It should be understood two echelons down, and helps subordinates focus on what has to be accomplished in order to achieve mission success in the time available and in the absence of additional communications or further instructions. The commander’s intent is mandatory. All commanders from sub-unit level and up personally prepare this statement as part of their mission analysis. There is only one intent statement in an op O. Annexes and supporting material do not contain independent statements of intent. For example, while an Engineer Annex will contain a concept of support, the engineer commander’s intent is stated in his own op O. The Concept of Operations paragraph should describe phases of the operation; schemes of manoeuvre for major subordinate task elements that indicate precisely what the commander expects to be done; general plans for employing supporting fires and weapons; and, if necessary, integration of other major
elements or systems including ISTAR, engineer and air defence. The main effort is always designated and at formation level the concept should address shaping, decisive, sustaining and reserve operations. Any “be prepared” missions for the issuing HQ should be addressed here. The concept of operations paragraph should be based the COA statement developed during the decision making process.


Note the first sentence - the formatting of the execution paragraph (including the sub-paragraph on concept of operations) is up to the Commander.

As mentioned by ballz, the general use of phasing is for when there is a change in groupings or tasks within the operation.
 

Good2Golf

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OPSEC considered, how about you quote the SoM para?

My answer at the moment would be, "it depends."

;)
 

daftandbarmy

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Infanteer said:
Note the first sentence - the formatting of the execution paragraph (including the sub-paragraph on concept of operations) is up to the Commander.

As mentioned by ballz, the general use of phasing is for when there is a change in groupings or tasks within the operation.

I suppose, also, it's important that the troops you are leading understand what the heck you're talking about.

'No phases' may be fine, but the people you're leading need to be in on the secret or you may have a goat rodeo on your hands.
 

TangoTwoBravo

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I apologize for arriving late. While I can conceive of operations that might not have phases, in my experience those would be less frequent than operations with phases.

A good doctrinal reference is "Battle Group in Operations" that was published in 2012. It offers that phasing allows the CO to divide the operation into time or type of activity. It also offers that phasing may be necessary as a result of time and space, changes in the nature of the terrain or a change in task organization. Phasing also allows a CO "to visualize how the operation will unfold."  The publication also states that "if there are more tasks than troops available to do them, the attack is divided into phases."

All this to say the nature of the operation should determine if phases are necessary. Key reasons to phase would be:

  a.  you have more tasks than troops (both assigned and implied)

  b.  there are major differences in types of activities during a operation (ie. an advance with a river crossing operation somewhere along the way)

  c.  there are activities that must be completed in sequence (phases of an attack)

  d.  there are major changes in terrain (an advance that transitions from open and rolling hills to close terrain - probably a change in formation or type of movement)

  e.  there are major regroupings required (I hate regrouping during an operation, but you might need to do it)

Land Operations does offer, however, that "indiscriminate use of phasing can unnecessarily slow operations." The requirement for phasing, therefore, should be determined by the commander during his estimate and not be a reflexive: "this operation will be conducted in three phases because we always have three phases." At the same time, if your operation needs two or more phases then it needs those phases!
 

daftandbarmy

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Tango2Bravo said:
Land Operations does offer, however, that "indiscriminate use of phasing can unnecessarily slow operations." The requirement for phasing, therefore, should be determined by the commander during his estimate and not be a reflexive: "this operation will be conducted in three phases because we always have three phases." At the same time, if your operation needs two or more phases then it needs those phases!

I have to agree with that. Phasing probably becomes less important the further you progress into an operation.
 
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