Lesson 1/Learning Event 1
Oral planning guidance on specific tactics, key factors from the analysis of assigned or
assumed missions, courses of action, forecasts, or procedures directed by the commander.
Policy statements by the commander.
Directives and orders from higher headquarters, including the mission, means available,
limiting considerations, and special instructions.
Standing Operating Procedures (SOP).
Preparing planning studies is the sixth step in the planning sequence. Planning studies (or operational
studies) determine the key factors in an undertaking and explore these factors in detail. Types of
planning studies most frequently used in this step are estimates and staff studies. These estimates and
studies are started as a result of general planning and are carried forward continuously. They can be
adapted quickly to specific situations. These planning studies are essential in determining the initial
feasibility of various courses of action.
Selecting courses of action is the seventh step in the planning sequence. This is done by preparing an
outline plan for each course of action that is retained. The outline plan is a preliminary plan that outlines
the salient features or principles of a course of action before the initiation of detailed planning.
Commanders or staffs frequently use the outline plan to test the feasibility of an operation; to provide
information to higher headquarters; to seek approval and allocation of means, when necessary; to obtain
opinions and recommendations of subordinate commanders; to assist a commander in arriving at a
decision; and to initiate and facilitate planning at lower levels. The word "outline" is used to indicate
the degree of completeness rather than the level of command to which it applies. Although higher levels
generally prepare outline plans, they may be useful to any commander. These outline plans are based on
previously completed planning studies. Because preparation for all reasonable contingencies is the aim
of the planning sequence, consideration of courses of action involves more than simply eliminating all
but one course of action. Several courses of action may be retained to give reasonable assurance that the
command is prepared for all likely contingencies. Additional courses of action also may be retained to
use as alternate plans. These are normally attached as annexes to the basic plan.
Preparing complete plans is the eighth step in the planning sequence. A complete plan is prepared for
each course of action that is retained. The outline plan provides a framework within which all details
necessary to build a complete plan may be added. These details come from original estimates, studies,
and analyses of the problem, or from new studies developed as the planning progresses.