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Fox D

Combat Estimate/7 Questions

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This is a repost of Herbiies post in the A2 forums.


I'm reposting this for justice and to try and help those who are leading (This is aimed at platoon level but is applicable to every level)


Original post here





I got rather bored, so wrote this little guide to help budding Platoon Commanders not mess up too badly (no apologies for the wall of text as pictures suck):

A Brief Introduction to the Combat Estimate.
The Combat Estimate is a system used by the British Military to formulate plans. It helps to ensure that no factor or task is overlooked by accident.
In real life the Combat Estimate takes an hour or so to do in full for a basic platoon attack. However, in reality you also have to consider things like liasing with other units, battle prep and the like. Luckily, in ArmA, we don't have to consider these options (and the level of detail required at UO is no where near real life levels). Therefore, this will be a very stripped down version of the Combat Estimate, and those familiar with it already will notice that a lot has been lost in order to simplify and maintain only those elements that are relevant to ArmA.
The core of the Combat Estimate are the 7 Questions.
These are:
1) What is the Situation and how does it effect me?
2) What have I been told to do and why?
3) What effects do I need to achieve?
4) Where and how can I best achieve each Action and Effect?
5) What resources do I need to accomplish each Action and Effect?
6) When and where do actions take place in relation to one another?
7) What control measures do I need to impose?
When all of these questions have been answered, you will have a workable plan. However, there is a set way of answering these questions.
Questions 1-3 are there to figure out exactly what you need to do - you will see in a moment that this is not just your given mission!
Questions 4-6 then develop several courses of action (at least 2) that could work.
Question 7 then develops your chosen course of action (COA).
So, onto how we actually use these questions.
To answer Questions 1 and 2 we use what is known as the three column format. These three columns are Factor - Deduction - Task. The Factor would be what you analysing, the deduction would be what this means to you, and the task would be what you have to do about it all, either a Task for you to complete (such as assault), an Effect to have on the enemy (such as destroy or blind), or a Constraint you must adhere to (for example a boundry or avoiding areas). In reality you can also have Requests for Information, however in ArmA there's usually no one to request from. The spaces between columns could be replaced with the words "So What?" For example:
The enemy have AK47s - So What? - The enemy have a range of 300m and a good rate of fire - So what? - Constraint: I must avoid open areas within 300m of the enemy position.
There is a river between me and the enemy - So what? - I can only cross the river at either the Bridge or the Ford - So what? - Task: SECURE ford. Task: SECURE bridge.
In reality, this would be split into 3 areas, Physical Terrain, Human terrain and Threat Analysis. However, for this guide we will ignore Human Terrain, because civilians rarely have any impact other than constraining rules of engagement.
So, for Physical Terrain, we must examine how the ground can be used by ourselves and the enemy. We must consider:-
Obstacles - What obstacles could hinder our movement or the enemy's movement?
Cover - Where does the enemy have cover from? Where could the enemy move into cover? Where does the enemy have the least cover? What level of cover does the enemy have?
Observation - Where can the enemy see? Are there any areas the enemy cannot observe? Are there any areas I cannot observe?
Key Terrain (KT) - What ground is KT (i.e. would offer a great advantage if secured) for the enemy? What ground is KT for me? Is there any Vital Ground (ground I MUST secure in order to complete the objective?)
Approaches - Where can enemy reinforcements approach from? Where can I approach the enemy?
Boundries - Where are the enemy's likely boundries? Do any of my boundries affect the operation?
Obviously, answering all of these questions would take forever, but make sure you've at least though about each of these areas, even if you haven't drawn any deductions from them.
So an example for this section could be:
There is a river between me and the enemy - I can only cross the river at either the Bridge or the Ford - Task: SECURE ford. Effect: SECURE bridge.
The enemy has cover to the front and right - The enemy is vulnerable to the left and rear - Task: SECURE ground to the Left. Effect: SECURE ground to the rear.
The enemy can observe open areas to his front - If I go into these areas I will be spotted and could be IDF'd or fired upon. - Constraint: AVOID open areas to the enemy's front.
There is a hill to the front of the enemy position. - This hill is Key Terrain as if I hold it I will be able to observe the enemy and use the dead ground behind the hill - Effect: SECURE hill.
There is a ditch on the left of the enemy position. - This ditch can be used to approach the enemy position. - Effect: SECURE ditch.
There is an inter-platoon boundry on the right. - If I cross this boundry I may interfere with 5 Platoon's assault. - Constraint: Do not cross boundry.
Obviously you don't have to write this all down, but make sure you do jot down the third column as it can become important later.
As this is a British method, you may now have a tea break. Don't worry, not all of the questions will take this long! Questions 1 & 2 are by far the longest.
Onto threat anaylsis! This part analyses the enemy itself. Make sure you consider:
Enemy strengths and weaknesses - What do you need to avoid? Where are the enemy weak?
Weapons and equipment - Do the enemy have machine guns? Do they have Anti Tank capabilities? Do they have any vehicles? Do they have any fire support?
Arcs - Where are the enemy expecting an attack from? Where are they likely to be watching?
Types of position - Are the enemy dug into trenches? Are they in a town? In the open?
Intent - What do they enemy intend to do? Delay your forces or defeat your forces? If so, how could this affect your mission?
For example:
The enemy have a concrete bunker on the right - If I attack this bunker head on I will take heavy casualties. - Constraint: Avoid enemy bunker. Effect: DESTROY enemy bunker. Effect: SUPPRESS enemy bunker.
The enemy have AK47s - The enemy have a range of 300m and a good rate of fire - Constraint: I must avoid open areas within 300m of the enemy position.
The enemy arcs are likely to be to the front - If I attack from the front I will take heavy casualties - Constraint: Do not attack from the front. Effect: BLIND enemy.
The enemy are in trenches. - The enemy will be able to survive a large amount of fire and must be assaulted - Effect: DESTROY enemy.
The enemy intend to hold and then withdraw - If the enemy withdraws I will be unable to kill him. - Effect: FIX enemy.
Then move onto the enemy's Most Likely and Most Dangerous courses of actions, that is, what you expect the enemy to do, and what the enemy could do that would be most damaging to you. Then, put these into the three column format:
The enemy's MLCOA is to engage and then withdraw. - If the enemy withdraws I will be unable to kill him. - Effect: FIX enemy.
The enemy's MDCOA is to bring in reinforcements from the North. - If the enemy reinforces I will take heavy casualties. - Effect: BLOCK routes to the North. Effect: ISOLATE enemy.
Thus concludes Question 1. Hopefully you can already see how you area starting to get an idea of what you're going to have to do. This should take no more than 3 or 4 minutes. Remember, you don't have to write everything down and you don't have to have a task for each bit. For example, if the enemy's intention is to hold to the last man, then you don't need to do anything else as you intend to destroy him.
Have another cuppa.
This section, you'll be glad to know, is a lot smaller in ArmA as generally we play isolated platoon missions in which the actions of neighbouring forces and our own higher's intent does not effect the mission. Therefore, if you are in a company command remember to consider your 2UP's intent, and your 1UPs Scheme of Manouvre in case it effects you.
In all missions, be sure to make sure that your 1UPs intent and mission do not impact upon your own mission. Remember to consider your own mission, for example:
I have been told to clear the town - There are enemies in the town - Effect: FIND enemy. Effect: DESTROY enemy.
An example of how your 1UPs Scheme of Manouevre can effect you:
We are deploying in 4x Hueys - I must organise how our unit is to deploy - Task: Liase with the pilots.
At platoon level, this is fairly simple.
Once past this, you must consider Specified and Implied tasks. Specified tasks are tasks that are given to you in your orders. Implied tasks are tasks that have come out in your analysis. Don't worry about repeating yourself, it will help you later on if the same stuff occurs when it comes to prioritising! Example:
Specified task: Clear the town - There are enemies in the town - Effect: FIND en. Effect: DESTROY en.
Implied task: Liase with air transport - We must organise how our unit is to be deployed. - Task: Liase with Air commander.
After this, simply consider any constraints you've been given, such as boundries or Limits of Exploitation:
There is an inter-platoon boundry on the right. - If I cross this boundry I may interfere with 5 Platoon's assault. - Constraint: Do not cross boundry.
And that's it for question 2. In ArmA, this should be very quick, no more than 2 minutes. You can't have another cuppa yet as it hasn't been that long since you last had one, and too much tea is bad for the stomach.
For this, simply look back at your Questions 1 and 2 and write a list of what effects you want to achieve (to save time you could jsut put astrixes next to all of them). Using my examples, this would be:
Secure Bridge.
Secure Ford.
Secure ground on left.
Secure ground on right.
Secure hill.
Secure ditch.
Destroy bunker.
Suppress bunker.
Blind enemy.
Destroy enemy.
Fix enemy.
Fix enemy.
Block routes to North.
Isolate enemy.
Destroy enemy.
Find enemy.
Desroy enemy.
Obviously, you are not going to be able to achieve all of these effects! Most will depend on your course of action, however, make a seperate list of those you must achieve no matter what your course of action. For this, that would be:
Destroy enemy.
Fix enemy.
Find enemy.
Destroy bunker.
Isolate enemy.
Block routes to the north.
From this we can draw our Intent and Main Effort, our intent being what we are going to achieve and our main effort which is the most important (usually whichever comes up the most in the top list!). For this example, our intent would be to find, fix, isolate and destroy the enemy by conducting a platoon attack. Our main effort would be to destroy the enemy.
That's question 3 done! It should take no longer than a minute, as you're just repeating yourself. No tea yet, you can have another after Question 4.
After Question 3 we then need to develop at least 2 Courses of Action - so we know that we aren't just doing the first thing that popped into our heads!
We go through Questions 4, 5 and 6 with each of the courses of action.
This is building the meat of the plan. In reality you'd draw a sketch map of the area, but in ArmA you could either just remember your COAs or draw them roughly on the map in markers. Draw or think of exactly where each effect needs to take place. If in this course of action you're going across the ford then up the ditch you need to put a SECURE marker on both the ditch and the ford, with a DESTROY marker on the enemy along with FIX and FIND if you need to, with ISOLATE and BLOCK to the North. It will help to do each COA in a different colour. Whether you go through all 3 questions with each COA before you move onto the next or if you do one question at a time is up to you. To save embarrassment and confused people, do this in Direct Chat so it only appears on your screen (if that works).
Alright, now you can have a cuppa.
The most important note for this question is WHAT. Not who! Siply write next to your list of effects (or write a new list in priority order) where that effect is taking place and what combat power is needed to achieve that effect. Do not consider how many squads etc. you have. You are not going to be achieving all of these effects in one go and so do not need to worry (yet) about who is going to do what.
You could do Questions 4 and 5 together, when you mark down your effects write with them what combat power is required.
See how much quicker it's going? Questions 4 and 5 should take roughly 1 - 2 minutes, especially if you combine them.
Timeline. Timelines are wonderful ways of gettin your thoughts down on paper. Along the top mark down when you want H Hour to be (H Hour is when you start engaging) This doesn't have to be an actual time, it could just be Start + 15 (giving you 15 minutes to move into position). Then, along the left, write down all your units. Then write down what each one will be doing in your COA. Will it be assaulting? Securing a ditch? Providing fire support or being held in reserve?
It also helps to include the enemy in this. What do you expect the enemy to do in reaction to your actions?
Then, you must choose which Course of Action is best. Consider security, concentration of firepower, ease of command and control, simplicity etc.
This should take no longer than 3 minutes.
Essential, refine your plan. Do you have to take into account safety ranges? Do you want report lines? Do you have any boundries? Do you want to set Limit of Exploitation lines for each section? What will be the signal to switch fire? Where will the FUP be?
This section relies most heavily on prior knowledge, and would take a lot to go into detail here. However, make sure you've got these basic areas covered and no one's going to end up shooting each other and you should be fine. This should take another 1 or 2 minutes.
Have another cup of tea as it's time to jot down some notes for a briefing (or just wing it, this is where briefing templates really help). With the timings I've used this should take between 11 and 14 minutes, a fairly lengthy time to plan but still just about acceptable, and with practise this will go down.
Viola, the Combat Estimate, with a whole bunch of cut corners, butcherisations and even blatant ignoring bits.


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not that this is really something you can really get done and do a brief in the 15 minutes but TLDR: 


My reference card.




Yeah that's why I cut it down quite significantly, as lots of stuff that happen IRL don't happen in ArmA (ignorance is bliss, especially when it comes to your 2UP's intent).


I think if you're slick you can probably get this done in 6 -7 Minutes, if you skim over timings & control measures. If I were to do this personally I would just write done my tasks/effects/constraints for Qs 1 & 2, and combine questions 4 and 5, only marking out 2 COAs.


Cheers for the re-post Fox, might do some pretty pictures to go with it if I get bored again!

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