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Saturday, August 21, 2010

Urban Survival Planning - Operational Planning: Developing the CONOPS received a comment on the post that was answering a question on the Case of the Coming Collapse...."Anonymous said... Hey Urban Man - really like that stuff on military planning. Can you do some more survival collapse oriented planning?"

UrbanMan’s reply: Operational planning skills are a necessity. Some people are natural planners and organizers. Others have to have a process and that is where keywords, checklists, and formats come in handy. In a simplified manner, if someone remembers to address the 5 W’s (Who, What, Where, When and Why) as well as apply PACE (Primary, Alternate, Contingency and Emergency) then they are more often going to be successful in developing their plan.

To makes things very simple the Military Operational planning process can be thought of as a Conceptual Phase and a Detailed Planning Phase. This post is on the Conceptual Phase of Planning.

Conceptual planning is developing the Concept of Operations, also called the CONOPS. This is a general concept covering key elements of a plan, but not the detailed elements of a plan. There are some essential elements of a CONOPS, they are:

Mission. What are you going to be accomplishing (considering the 5 W’s).

Task Organization. Who is participating on the operation and how the unit is organized to complete the mission.

Chain of Command. Who is in charge, second, third, etc. You need a chain of command and it needs to be enforced. A mission conducted with individuals and not a team will fail.

General Concept of Execution.
This is a general concept of how the operation will unfold. No need to determine exact times here, exact routes, etc....this is a general concept at this time. This covers from launch from the Survival Base Camp through the mission and return.

Essential Tasks. What tasks are critical to the success of the mission? WHat are trying to accomplish with the operation?

Critical Equipment (logistics). What items are critical to the mission, both team and individual gear. Sometimes this is referred to Equipment Common to All, and, Special Equipment plus who is going to carry the special equipment.

Communications. How and when communications will be conducted.

Timeline. The general planned timeline.

Imagine a Urban Survival Group occupying a house in a mostly abandoned neighborhood. Sporadic gunfire, not every day, but often enough to make the Group concerned. Abandoned vehicles in the neighborhood have been drained for fuel and stored in the Groups extra fuel cans and several of the groups vehicles are packed for a Emergency Bug Out. The Group decides that a security patrol around the neighborhood, maybe up to a mile perimeter should be conducted.

The operation is planned and briefed. The briefing of the mission serves to wargame the operation, and refine or modify elements of the mission that problems are identified with. It is essential that either a sand table (terrain model, a chart or a map is used to briefed the conduct of the operation so everyone gets a visualization on the concept.

Lets say the Survival Group consists of 5 men and 3 women. Jim (mission planner and team leader), Bob, John, Larry, Steve, Laura, Teresa and Sally.

A decent operational concept (or CONOPS) brief will go like this:

Jim: "This is the concept for tomorrow’s security patrol which will be a daytime patrol returning tomorrow night and is intended to recon the general area surrounding our neighborhood not to exceed one mile, to get an idea of any security risks like criminal gangs that have either moved in or are operating in the immediate area, and, possibly locate and contact other survival groups. We should be prepared to render aid if I can do it and not compromise our security or safety."

Jim: "The patrol will consist of myself as Team Leader, Larry and Teresa."

Larry: "Hey Jim, that leaves the only people with medical training, Steve and Sally, back here. I suggest taking a medic so if case if you encounter anyone who needs treatment you will have that capability."

Jim: "Good idea Larry. Okay, Sally replaces Teresa on this mission. I’m in charge, Larry is second in command. We depart here tomorrow morning and move NORTH up Cedar Street then EAST on Oak Street, then parallel the State highway SOUTH to the powerline, then parallel the powerlines WEST to Jackson Blvd. We’ll then follow Jackson Blvd NORTH to Peterson Street, then EAST on Oak Street and come back into our base, no earlier than mid afternoon and no later than sunset. Total distance is 8 miles and at no time should we be more than 1 mile away from the base."

Laura "Jim,...maybe you should be prepared to parallel Jackson Blvd rather than walk on it as that is the direction of most the gunfire we have been hearing and from our SOUTH facing Observation Post on the second floor, I have been seeing head lights of vehicles occasionally on that Blvd."

Jim "Roger that Laura,..okay we may parallel Jackson Blvd, but we will need to observe it for awhile to get an idea of what traffic may be using it and if there any people living along it."

Jim "Our essential tasks as I see it is to conduct a foot patrol, maintaining movement interval and noise discipline; determine extent of remaining population; determine presence of criminal or threat elements if any; and, catalog any material, equipment or supplies that may be of use to us."

Steve "Hey Jim, I would suggest taking some basic tools in case you locate something we can use that requires using tools to breakdown,..."

Jim "Good idea Steve......Okay the equipment list. Each of us on patrol will carry rifle and handgun, at least 60 rounds for the rifles and three re-loads for the handgun; Basic Bug Out Bag to include individual medical kit, three days worth of meals in case we have to hole up someplace; Motorola Radio; and, six quarts of water. For Special Equipment: I'll carry a pair of the larger binoculars, Steve carry a smaller pair. I'll carry the small tool kit with screwdrivers, large and small crescent wrenches; Sally carry's the larger patrol first aid kit - probably need to add some extra bandages, small one time use anti-biotic tubes and aspirin."

Jim "Our communications plan will be to attempt radio communications via the Motorola's every hour on the hour. Bob - you are in charge of the base camp while I am gone. Please ensure someone is monitoring the base station radio at all times. We may be pushing the range of our radios given the buildings that may inhibit line of sight. If we can't make communications for three hours then we will get some high ground, such as on a roof and attempt communications with a better line of sight."

John "Jim, what if you can't make communications at all? Will you abort the patrol and make your way back to base?"

Jim "Good point John,...Unless I think the threat is sufficient to abort, I'll take the risk of not having communications to finish the patrol. However, I will ensure that we make it back to base before last light. In the absence of radio communications, we'll ensure we approach the base in the standard method, using one person and three one-second blinks using a red lens flashlight every thirty seconds."

Jim "Any questions? No? Good. Okay we'll all meet here again at 1800 hours, except Bob and Laura who are on LP/OP duty, for the Patrol Order. We'll use another hour after that to ensure the patrol remembers the arm and hands signals, then pack equipment and get some rack time by 2200 hours. Plan on wake up at the normal time 0430 hours, except for the two coming off LP/OP duty. The Patrol will depart at 0730 hours tomorrow morning."

What occurred in the dialogue above was a Jim developing a Concept of Operations, briefing it to his Survival Group, and getting feedback to modify or refine the concept. Read it again and see if Jim covered all essential elements of a CONOPS including: Mission, Task Organization, Chain of Command, Concept of Execution, Essential Tasks, Critical Equipment, Communications and Timeline.

Jim will now develop a Patrol Order (this is the detailed plan) then brief it the night before the Patrol begins. I'll cover what they may sound like in a different post.

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