The military decision-making process (MDMP) is an iterative planning methodology that integrates the activities of the commander, staff, subordinate headquarters, and other partners to understand the situation and mission, develop and compare courses of action (COA), decide on a COA that best accomplishes the mission, and produce an operation plan or order for execution. (MDMP Handbook, p. ) According to the MDMP Handbook, “The MDMP facilitates collaborative and parallel planning as the higher headquarters solicits input and continuously shares information concerning future operations with subordinate and adjacent units, supporting and supported units, and other military and civilian partners through planning meetings, warning orders (WARNOs), and other means (p. 7). ”
Commanders use one-third of the time available before the execution for their planning and allocate the remaining twothirds of the time available before execution to their subordinates for planning and preparation (ADP 5-0, 2012, p. 6). The MDMP can be used in a variety of instances while either in garrison or field environments. Using the MDMP allows the army and us as leaders to plan using a strategical-analyzing approach. It can be used from the smallest to the largest capacity in an ever-changing military. The MDMP includes seven steps that must be planned and executed sufficiently and accurately. The first step of the MDMP is receipt of mission which is imperative because it is when the commander’s intent is issued. During the first step a warning order (WARNO) is issued from the S3 to the staff and subordinate units.
The first step is to inform all individuals in an organization of forthcoming planning conditions. The first step contains 6 key tasks such as alert the staff, gather the tools, update running estimates, conduct initial assessment, issue the commander’s initial guidance, and issue the WARNO. The next step, and most important step, of the MDMP is mission analysis. Mission analysis is used to establish a clearer knowledge of the position and the conflict. Mission analysis is also used to pinpoint the goals of the command, time and location, and reason of the operation.
Course of action is used as a general possibility to solving of a confirmed issue. Course of action development is the third step in the MDMP. There are 8 tasks inside of the this step such as: assess relative combat power, generate options, array forces, develop a broad concept, assign headquarters, prepare COA statements and sketches, conduct COA briefing, and select or modify COAs for continued analysis. The COA helps provide possibilities for post-analysis that meet the intent of the commander. This step is critical to the success of wargaming.
The fourth step is course of action analysis, which allows commanders to determine problems and outcomes of suggested actions for a particular COA. Course of action analysis, otherwise known as war-gaming, focuses on the vision of the operation in reference to strengths and weaknesses of the force. It also focuses heavily on civilians and the capabilities of the enemy, possible media attacks, and modifications to the COAs. Commanders use the war game to observe actions, reaction, and counteractions of all parties involved.
There a three war-gaming methods such as: belt, box, and avenue-indepth. The most commonly preferred war-gaming method by commanders is the belt method. According to FM 6-0, Commander and Staff Organization and Operations (2011), “The belt method works best when conducting offensive and defensive tasks on terrain dived into well-defined crosscompartments, during phased operations or when the enemy is deployed in clearly defined belts or echelons” (p. 18). In theory, war-gaming provides the commander and staff an overall picture of the entire operation in a specific location that can be roken down into phases. COA comparison is the fifth step of MDMP that allows staff to assist the commander in facilitating the best decision. A tool that is continuously used in the COA comparison step is the decision matrix.
Commanders use the decision matrix to analyze information collected during mission analysis. Conduct advantages and disadvantages; compare COAs, conduct a COA decision briefing are the 3 tasks that make up COA comparison. The next step of the MDMP process is COA approval. After using the decision matrix. ommanders choose the most mission-appropriate COA. The commander has the authority to select, reject, modify, or establish a new COA. If the commander chooses to make changes to a COA or uses a different one, then the staff wargames the COA and provides the commander with appropriate findings. The commander issues the final planning guidance after selecting a COA which prompts staff to issue a third WARNO throughout the organization. The last step of the MDMP is orders production. In this step, staff will turn a CAO into a concept of operations.
All supporting documents, including overlays and plans, are provided to subordinate commanders through a brief if mission dictates. As one can see, the MDMP is very important for the development planning of operations. Commanders must be able to depend on staff members in the MDMP process in order to be successful. Every step and task of the MDMP has its necessity to the commander and to the organization. We must accurately execute when wargaming to give the commander and staff a realistic picture of the organization’s strengths and weaknesses, whether in garrison or in a tactical environment.
As military members, we heavily rely on information provided from the MDMP to operate in all parts of the world. As leaders, we must ensure that each subordinate is educated on current process of the MDMP and how it affects everyday operations. All personnel of an organization must keep the integrity of commander’s intent and revisit it continuously for the accomplishment of the overall mission. The MDMP is an overall military concept that will continue to be the way to make intelligent, effective, and superlative decisions.