Leadership: May 17, 2001


: One secret to the success of the Opposing Force at the National Training Center is their decision-making process. US Army doctrine is to analyze the mission, develop up to four alternative courses of action, analyze and wargame them, then select the best one and write the formal operations order. The Opfor uses a faster system. Once three or four courses of action are picked, the Operations Order is issued listing all of them. Opfor units are expected to prepare to execute any of the options listed in the orders. The final choice of a course of action is made only when contact is made with the enemy. The system has many advantages: 

@ Retaining the choice until the last minute improves the odds that this choice will be the right one. Commanders can assess the battle and commit their forces to the best course of action rather than waiting for the enemy to present the opportunity to execute the course of action selected on the previous day.

@ Keeping the options open forces the intelligence staff to continually update the entire battlefield, and because of this, forces the commanders to give the intelligence staff enough assets to gather this intelligence. Commanders can take advantage of any opportunity as they are not mentally locked into a plan that was not designed for that opportunity.--Stephen V Cole