Military Decision Making Process





1. Briefly answer the discussion topic in MS Word Document, 3-4 pages (not to include title, abstract and reference page) in APA Format.


2.Utilize Active Voice. Consider your purpose and audience. Make sure to adhere to American Psychological Association (APA) 6th Edition Guidelines.  (Does not have to be in MS Word document format)


3. Include an introduction, body, conclusion, title, abstract, and reference page.






1. What is the Military Decision Making Process?

2. In your own words briefly describe what occurs during each step.

Step 1 – Receipt of mission.

Step 2 – Mission analysis.

Step 3 – Course of action development.

Step 4 – Course of action analysis.

Step 5 – Course of action comparison.

Step 6 – Course of action approval.

Step 7 – Orders production, dissemination, and transition.

3. Why do you need to know the MDMP?

4. How much time is given for the execution and planning during the MDMP process? Why?

5. What is war-gaming and why do we war-game our COAs?


Read the passage below. Use the additional recourses to complete this discussion module.

Military Decision Making Process (MDMP) History

As the Schlieffen plan was being developed and the world drew closer to World War I, the US Army lacked published staff doctrine. The 1910 publication, Regulations for Field Maneuvers, did not include a description of staff processes; a 1914 field service regulation (FSR) mentioned the need for a commander and staff estimating process but did not describe one. Following World War I, the 1924 version of the FSR included doctrinal formatted orders with required annexes, maps and tables. Still, the FSR stated only that leaders should first make an estimate of the situation, culminating in a decision upon a definite plan of action. No procedural steps were provided to explain this process. In 1932 the Staff Officer Field Manual compiled principles, information and data to be used as a guide for the operation of staffs of all units and territorial commands, in peace and war, rather than a set of rules and regulations to be rigidly and blindly followed. The manual provided a comprehensive command and staff doctrine on which modern procedures are based. Orders formats were more detailed than in the 1924 FSR, and explanations of staff functions and the commander’s estimate were more complete.

DISTRIBUTION RESTRICTION: Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited. HEADQUARTERS, DEPARTMENT OF THE ARMY

MAY 2012







This publication is available at Army Knowledge Online (

















*ADP 5-0 (FM 5-0)

Army Doctrine Publication Headquarters Department of the Army No. 5-0 (FM 5-0)

Washington, DC, 17 May 2012

The Operations Process

Contents Page

PREFACE ……………………………………………………………………………………….. ii Definition and Purpose ………………………………………………………………… 1 Principles of the Operations Process …………………………………………….. 2 Activities of the Operations Process………………………………………………. 6 Conclusion ………………………………………………………………………………. 16

GLOSSARY ………………………………………………………………………. Glossary-1

REFERENCES ……………………………………………………………….. References-1

Figures Figure 1. The operations process underlying logic ………………………………………..iv

Figure 2. The operations process ………………………………………………………………. 1

Table Table 1. Preparation activities …………………………………………………………………. 11

DISTRIBUTION RESTRICTION. Approved for public release; distribution is unlimited.

*This publication supersedes FM 5-0, dated 26 March 2010.























Preface Army Doctrine Publication (ADP) 5-0, The Operations Process, constitutes the Army’s view on planning, preparing, executing, and assessing operations. (See figure 1 on page iv.) It accounts for the complex, ever-changing, and uncertain nature of operations and recognizes that a military operation is foremost a human undertaking. As such, this publication emphasizes the philosophy of mission command to include the central role of commanders (supported by their staffs) in driving the operations process.

To comprehend the doctrine contained in ADP 5-0, readers must first understand the foundations of unified land operations described in ADP 3-0, Unified Land Operations. Readers must also fully understand the principles of mission command described in ADP 6-0, Mission Command. For a detailed explanation of the operations process, readers should refer to Army Doctrine Reference Publication (ADRP) 5-0, The Operations Process.

The principal audience for ADP 5-0 includes Army commanders, leaders, and unit staffs (officers, noncommissioned officers, and Soldiers). Commanders and staffs of Army headquarters serving as a joint task force or multinational headquarters should also refer to applicable joint or multinational doctrine concerning the range of military operations as well as joint or multinational forces. Trainers and educators throughout the Army will also use this manual.

Commanders, staffs, and subordinates ensure their decisions and actions comply with applicable U.S., international, and, in some cases, host nation laws and regulations. Commanders at all levels ensure their Soldiers operate in accordance with the law of war and the rules of engagement. (See Field Manual [FM] 27-10.)

ADP 5-0 uses joint terms where applicable. Selected joint and Army terms and definitions appear in both the glossary and the text. Terms for which ADP 5-0 is the proponent publication (the authority) are marked with an asterisk (*) in the glossary. Definitions for which ADP 5-0 is the proponent publication are boldfaced in the text. These terms and their definitions will be in the next revision of FM 1-02. For other definitions shown in the text, the term is italicized and the number of the proponent publication follows the definition.

ADP 5-0 applies to the Active Army, Army National Guard/Army National Guard of the United States, and United States Army Reserve unless otherwise stated.

The proponent of ADP 5-0 is the United States Army Combined Arms Center. The preparing agency is the Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate, United States Army Combined Arms Center. Send comments and recommendations on a DA Form 2028 (Recommended Changes to Publications and Blank Forms) to Commander, U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, ATTN: ATZL-MCK-D (ADP 5-0), 300 McPherson Avenue, Fort Leavenworth, KS 66027-2337; by e-mail to; or submit an electronic DA Form 2028.

ADP 5-0 17 May 2012 ii




17 May 2012 ADP 5-0 iii


Cover photo courtesy of the U.S. Army at




iv ADP 5-0 17 May 2012

Figure 1. The operations process underlying logic


















This publication defines and describes the operations process. It provides principles commanders and staffs consider to effectively plan, prepare, execute, and continuously assess operations.

DEFINITION AND PURPOSE 1. The Army’s framework for exercising mission command is the operations process— the major mission command activities performed during operations: planning, preparing, executing, and continuously assessing the operation. Commanders, supported by their staffs, use the operations process to drive the conceptual and detailed planning necessary to understand, visualize, and describe their operational environment; make and articulate decisions; and direct, lead, and assess military operations.

Figure 2. The operations process

2. The activities of the operations process are not discrete; they overlap and recur as circumstances demand. Planning starts an iteration of the operations process. Upon completion of the initial order, planning continues as leaders revise the plan based on changing circumstances. Preparing begins during planning and continues through execution. Execution puts a plan into action by applying combat power to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative to gain a position of relative advantage. Assessing is continuous and influences the other three activities.

3. Both the commander and staff have important roles within the operations process. The commander’s role is to drive the operations process as depicted in figure 2. The

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staff’s role is to assist commanders with understanding situations, making and implementing decisions, controlling operations, and assessing progress. In addition, the staff assists subordinate units (commanders and staffs), and keeps units and organizations outside the headquarters informed throughout the operations process. (ATTP 5-0.1 discusses the duties and responsibilities of the staff in detail.)

PRINCIPLES OF THE OPERATIONS PROCESS 4. The philosophy of mission command guides commanders, staffs, and subordinates as they plan, prepare, execute, and assess operations. Mission command requires an environment of mutual trust and shared understanding among commanders, staffs, and subordinates. It requires a command climate in which commanders encourage subordinates to accept prudent risk and exercise disciplined initiative to seize opportunities and counter threats within the commander’s intent. Through mission orders, commanders focus their instructions on the purpose of the operation rather than on the details of how to perform assigned tasks. Doing this minimizes detailed control and allows subordinates the greatest possible freedom of action. Finally, when delegating authority to subordinates, commanders set the necessary conditions for success by allocating appropriate resources to subordinates based on assigned tasks.

5. Commanders and staffs use the operations process to integrate numerous tasks that are executed throughout the headquarters and with subordinate units. Commanders must organize and train their staffs and subordinates as an integrated team to simultaneously plan, prepare, execute, and assess operations. In addition to the principles of mission command discussed in ADP 6-0, commanders and staffs consider the following principles for the effective use of the operations process:  Commanders drive the operations process.  Build and maintain situational understanding.  Apply critical and creative thinking.  Encourage collaboration and dialogue.


6. Commanders are the most important participants in the operations process. While staffs perform essential functions that amplify the effectiveness of operations, commanders drive the operations process through understanding, visualizing, describing, directing, leading, and assessing operations.


7. To understand something is to grasp its nature and significance. Understanding includes establishing context—the set of circumstances that surround a particular event or situation. Throughout the operations process, commanders develop and improve their understanding of their operational environment and the problem. An operational environment is a composite of the conditions, circumstances, and influences that affect the employment of capabilities and bear on the decisions of the commander (JP 3-0). Both conceptual and detailed planning assist commanders in developing their initial

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The Operations Process

understanding of the operational environment and the problem. Based on personal observations and inputs from others (to include running estimates), commanders improve their understanding and modify their visualization throughout the conduct of operations.


8. As commanders begin to understand their operational environment and the problem, they start visualizing a desired end state and potential solutions to solve the problem. Collectively, this is known as commander’s visualization—the mental process of developing situational understanding, determining a desired end state, and envisioning an operational approach by which the force will achieve that end state. Commander’s visualization begins in planning and continues throughout the operations process until the force accomplishes the mission. During planning, commander’s visualization provides the basis for developing plans and orders. During execution, it helps commanders determine if, when, and what to decide, as they adapt to changing conditions.


9. After commanders visualize an operation, they describe it to their staffs and subordinates to facilitate shared understanding and purpose. During planning, commanders ensure subordinates understand their visualization well enough to begin course of action development. During execution, commanders describe modifications to their visualization resulting in fragmentary orders that adjust the original order. Commanders describe their visualization in doctrinal terms, refining and clarifying it as circumstances require. Commanders express their visualization in terms of—  Commander’s intent.  Planning guidance, including an operational approach.  Commander’s critical information requirements.  Essential elements of friendly information.

10. The commander’s intent is a clear and concise expression of the purpose of the operation and the desired military end state that supports mission command, provides focus to the staff, and helps subordinate and supporting commanders act to achieve the commander’s desired results without further orders, even when the operation does not unfold as planned (JP 3-0). During planning, the initial commander’s intent drives course of action development. In execution, the commander’s intent guides disciplined initiative as subordinates make decisions when facing unforeseen opportunities or countering threats.

11. In addition to issuing their commander’s intent, commanders provide planning guidance that conveys the essence of their visualization. Effective planning guidance broadly describes when, where, and how the commander intends to employ combat power to accomplish the mission within the higher commander’s intent. Planning guidance includes an operational approach—a description of the broad actions the force must take to transform current conditions into those desired at end state (JP 5-0). The

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operational approach forms the basis of the unit’s concept of operations and serves as the link between conceptual and detailed planning.

12. Commanders also describe gaps in their visualization by stating their commander’s critical information requirements (CCIRs). Commanders use CCIRs to focus information collection on the relevant information they need to make critical decisions throughout the conduct of operations. The two components of CCIRs are friendly force information requirements and priority intelligence requirements.

13. In addition to information commanders need, commanders also describe the information they want protected as essential elements of friendly information (EEFIs). EEFIs establish an element of information to protect rather than one to collect. EEFIs identify those elements of friendly force information that, if compromised, would jeopardize mission success.


14. Commanders direct all aspects of operations by establishing their commander’s intent, setting achievable objectives, and issuing clear tasks to subordinate units. Throughout the operations process, commanders direct forces by—  Preparing and approving plans and orders.  Establishing command and support relationships.  Assigning and adjusting tasks, control measures, and task organization.  Positioning units to maximize combat power.  Positioning key leaders at critical places and times to ensure supervision.  Allocating resources to exploit opportunities and counter threats.  Committing the reserve as required.


15. Through leadership, commanders provide purpose, direction, and motivation to subordinate commanders, their staff, and Soldiers. In many instances, a commander’s physical presence is necessary to lead effectively. Where the commander locates within the area of operations is an important leadership consideration. Commanders balance their time between leading the staff through the operations process and providing purpose, direction, and motivation to subordinate commanders and Soldiers away from the command post.


16. Commanders continuously assess the situation to better understand current conditions and determine how the operation is progressing. Continuous assessment helps commanders anticipate and adapt the force to changing circumstances. Commanders incorporate the assessments of the staff, subordinate commanders, and unified action partners into their personal assessment of the situation. Based on their assessment, commanders modify plans and orders to adapt the force to changing circumstances.

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17. Success in operations demands timely and effective decisions based on applying judgment to available information and knowledge. As such, commanders and staffs seek to build and maintain situational understanding throughout the operations process. Situational understanding is the product of applying analysis and judgment to relevant information to determine the relationships among the operational and mission variables to facilitate decisionmaking. Building and maintaining situational understanding is essential for establishing the situation’s context, developing effective plans, assessing operations, and making quality decisions throughout the operations process. Commanders continually strive to maintain their situational understanding and work through periods of reduced understanding as the situation evolves.

18. Commanders and staffs use the operational and mission variables to help build their situational understanding. They analyze and describe an operational environment in terms of eight interrelated operational variables: political, military, economic, social, information, infrastructure, physical environment, and time (PMESII-PT). Upon receipt of a mission, commanders filter information categorized by the operational variables into relevant information with respect to the mission. They use the mission variables, in combination with the operational variables, to refine their understanding of the situation and to visualize, describe, and direct operations. The mission variables are mission, enemy, terrain and weather, troops and support available, time available, and civil considerations (METT-TC).


19. Commanders and staffs apply critical and creative thinking throughout the operations process to assist them with understanding situations, making decisions, and directing action. Critical thinking is purposeful and reflective judgment about what to believe or what to do in response to observations, experience, verbal or written expressions, or arguments. Creative thinking involves creating something new or original. Creative thinking leads to new insights, novel approaches, fresh perspectives, and new ways of understanding and conceiving things.

20. Critical and creative thinking are indispensible to the operations process. For both commanders and staff, these two skills begin with a rigorous analysis of friendly and enemy forces, as they relate to one another in time and space. This analysis includes weapons system ranges, mobility options afforded by terrain and weather, operational reach, communications system range, sustainment, and other considerations of the operational and mission variables. Disciplined and focused analysis of the operational and mission variables, coupled with critical and creative thinking about the challenges and opportunities resulting from that analysis, is essential to developing a full appreciation of the range of alternatives available to accomplish assigned missions.


21. Throughout the operations process, commanders encourage continuous collaboration and dialogue among commanders, staffs, and unified action partners to create shared

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understanding and facilitate unity of effort. Collaboration is two or more people or organizations working together toward common goals by sharing knowledge and building consensus. Dialogue is a way to collaborate by involving the candid exchange of ideas or opinions among participants that encourages frank discussions in areas of disagreement.

22. Commanders, staffs, and unified action partners collaborate and dialogue actively, sharing and questioning information, perceptions, and ideas to better understand situations and make decisions. Collaboration and dialogue assist in developing shared understanding and purpose, building teams, and making rapid adjustments during execution.

ACTIVITIES OF THE OPERATIONS PROCESS 23. The operations process consists of the major mission command activities: planning, preparing, executing, and assessing.


24. Planning is the art and science of understanding a situation, envisioning a desired future, and laying out effective ways of bringing that future about. Army leaders plan to create a common vision among subordinate commanders, staffs, and unified action partners for the successful execution of operations. Planning results in a plan or order that communicates this vision and directs actions to synchronize forces in time, space, and purpose for achieving objectives and accomplishing missions.

Integrated Planning

25. Planning consists of two separate, but closely related, components: a conceptual component and a detailed component. Conceptual planning involves understanding the operational environment and the problem, determining the operation’s end state, and visualizing an operational approach. Conceptual planning generally corresponds to operational art and is the focus of the commander with staff support. Detailed planning translates the broad operational approach into a complete and practical plan. Generally, detailed planning is associated with the science of operations including the synchronization of the forces in time, space, and purpose. Detailed planning works out the scheduling, coordination, or technical problems involved with moving, sustaining, and synchronizing the actions of force as a whole toward a common goal. Effective planning requires the integration of both the conceptual and detailed components of planning.

Planning and Operational Art

26. Operational art is the cognitive approach by commanders and staffs—supported by their skill, knowledge, experience, creativity, and judgment—to develop strategies, campaigns, and operations to organize and employ military forces by integrating ends, ways, and means (JP 3-0). Operational art guides the conceptual and detailed aspects of planning to produce executable plans and orders. Operational art applies to all aspects of

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operations and integrates ends, ways, and means, while accounting for risk and opportunities, across the levels of war.

27. The elements of operational art (see ADRP 3-0) assist commanders and staffs in the application of operational art. These conceptual tools help commanders think through the challenges of understanding their operational environment, defining the problem, developing an operational approach, and articulating their planning guidance that drives more detailed planning.

Army Planning Methodologies

Elements of operational art • End state and conditions • Center of gravity • Decisive points • Lines of operations and lines

of effort

• Operational reach • Basing • Tempo • Phasing and transitions • Culmination • Risk

28. Army leaders employ three methodologies for planning. Commanders and staffs determine the appropriate mix of these methodologies based on the scope of the problem, their familiarity with it, the time available, and the availability of a staff. Methodologies that assist commanders and staffs with planning include—  Army design methodology.  Military decisionmaking process (MDMP).  Troop leading procedures (TLP).

Army Design Methodology

29. The Army design methodology is a methodology for applying critical and creative thinking to understand, visualize, and describe unfamiliar problems and approaches to solving them. Army design methodology is an iterative process of understanding and problem framing that uses elements of operational art to conceive and construct an operational approach to solve identified problems. Commanders and their staffs use Army design methodology to assist them with the conceptual aspects of planning.

30. Army design methodology entails framing the operational environment, framing the problem, and developing an operational approach to solve the problem. Army design methodology results in an improved understanding of the operational environment, a problem statement, an initial commander’s intent, and an operational approach that serves as the link between conceptual and detailed planning. Based on their understanding and learning gained during Army design methodology, commanders issue planning guidance, to include an operational approach, to guide more detailed planning using the MDMP.

31. The understanding developed through Army design methodology continues through preparation and execution in the form of continuous assessment. Assessment, to include

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updated running estimates, helps commanders measure the overall effectiveness of employing forces and capabilities to ensure that the operational approach remains feasible and acceptable within the context of the higher commander’s intent and concept of operations. If the current operational approach fails to meet these criteria, or if aspects of the operational environment or problem change significantly, the commander may decide to reframe. Reframing involves revisiting earlier hypotheses, conclusions, and decisions that underpin the current operational approach. Reframing can lead to a new problem statement and operational approach, resulting in an entirely new plan.

Military Decisionmaking Process

32. The military decisionmaking process is an iterative planning methodology to understand the situation and mission, develop a course of action, and produce an operation plan or order. The MDMP combines the conceptual and detailed aspects of planning and integrates the activities of the commander, staff, subordinate headquarters, and other partners throughout the planning process. The MDMP helps leaders apply thoroughness, clarity, sound judgment, logic, and professional knowledge to understand situations, develop options to solve problems, and reach decisions. The MDMP results in an improved understanding of the situation and a plan or order that guides the force through preparation and execution.

33. The MDMP facilitates collaborative and parallel planning as the higher headquarters solicits input and continually shares information concerning future operations with subordinate and adjacent units, supporting and supported units, and unified action partners through planning meetings, warning orders, and other means. Commanders encourage active collaboration among all organizations affected by the pending operations to build shared understanding, participate in course of action development and decisionmaking, and resolve conflicts before publication of the plan or order.

34. The MDMP consists of a series of steps that have various inputs and outputs. The outputs lead to an increased understanding of the situation facilitating the next step of the MDMP. Commanders and staffs generally perform these steps sequentially; however, they may revisit several steps in an iterative fashion, as they learn more about the situation before producing the plan or order. The steps of the MDMP are—  Step 1 – Receipt of mission.  Step 2 – Mission analysis.  Step 3 – Course of action development.  Step 4 – Course of action analysis.  Step 5 – Course of action comparison.  Step 6 – Course of action approval.  Step 7 – Orders production, dissemination, and transition.

Troop Leading Procedures

35. Troop leading procedures are a dynamic process used by small-unit leaders to analyze a mission, develop a plan, and prepare for an operation. TLP are used by commanders and leaders without a staff. These procedures enable leaders to maximize

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available planning time while developing effective plans and preparing their units for an operation. Like the MDMP, troop leading procedures consist of a series of steps:  Step 1 – Receive the mission.  Step 2 – Issue a warning order.  Step 3 – Make a tentative plan.  Step 4 – Initiate movement.  Step 5 – Conduct reconnaissance.  Step 6 – Complete the plan.  Step 7 – Issue the order.  Step 8 – Supervise and refine the plan.

36. The sequence of the steps of troop leading procedures is not rigid. Leaders modify them as required. Higher headquarters issue frequent warning orders to optimize available time for subordinates to conduct their TLP.

Guides to Effective Planning

37. Planning helps commanders understand and develop solutions to problems, anticipate events, adapt to changing circumstances, task-organize the force, and prioritize efforts. Effective planning requires dedication, study, and practice. Planners must be technically and tactically competent within their areas of expertise and disciplined in the use of doctrinally correct terms and symbols. The following guides aid in effective planning:  Commanders focus planning.  Develop simple, flexible plans through mission orders.  Optimize available planning time.  Continually refine the plan.

Commanders Focus Planning

38. Commanders are the most important participants in effective planning. They focus the planning effort by providing their commander’s intent, issuing planning guidance, and making decisions throughout the planning process. Commanders apply discipline to the planning process to meet the requirements of time, planning horizons, simplicity, level of detail, and desired outcomes. Commanders ensure that all operation plans and orders comply with applicable domestic and international laws. They also confirm that the plan or order is relevant and suitable for subordinates. Generally, the more involved commanders are in planning, the faster staffs can plan. Through personal involvement, commanders ensure the plan reflects their commander’s intent.

Develop Simple, Flexible Plans Through Mission Orders

39. Effective plans and orders are simple and direct. Staffs prepare clear, concise orders that communicate an understanding of the operation through the use of doctrinally correct operational terms and symbols. Doing this minimizes chances of

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misunderstanding. Clarity and brevity are important. Shorter, rather than longer, plans aid in simplicity. Shorter plans are easier to disseminate, read, and remember.

40. Flexible plans help units adapt quickly to changing circumstances. Commanders and planners build opportunities for initiative into plans by anticipating events that allow them to operate inside of the enemy’s decision cycle or to react promptly to deteriorating situations. Identifying decision points and designing branches ahead of time—combined with a clear commander’s intent—help create flexible plans.

41. Commanders stress the importance of using mission orders as a way of building simple, flexible plans. Mission orders are directives that emphasize to subordinates the results to be attained, not how they are to achieve them (ADP 6-0). Mission orders clearly convey the unit’s mission and the commander’s intent. Mission orders focus subordinates on what to do and the purpose of doing it, without prescribing exactly how to do it. Commanders establish control measures to aid cooperation among forces without imposing needless restriction on freedom of action.

Optimize Available Planning Time

42. Time is a critical variable in operations. Therefore, time management is important in planning. Whether done deliberately or rapidly, all planning requires the skillful use of available time to optimize planning and preparation throughout the unit. Taking more time to plan often results in greater synchronization; however, any delay in execution risks yielding the initiative—with more time to prepare and act—to the enemy. When allocating planning time to the staff, commanders must ensure subordinates have enough time to plan and prepare their own actions prior to execution. Commanders follow the “one-third—two-thirds rule” as a guide to allocate time available. They use one-third of the time available before execution for their planning and allocate the remaining two-thirds of the time available before execution to their subordinates for planning and preparation.

Continually Refine the Plan

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