The Military => The Military: General Discussion Area => Topic started by: Rattler on 21 November 2011, 14:21:14

Title: 5 Paragraph Field Order: Better Format Possible?
Post by: Rattler on 21 November 2011, 14:21:14

While a bit outdated (it is from 1988) the author Major Matthew L. Smith studies the layout and positive as well as adversary aspects of the traditional 5-paragraph-field-order and tries to answer the title question. Doing so, he takes the reader on a historical journey that describes how different orders formats evolved over 20th century warfare according to their goals, lots of stuff new for me there (and interesting!) and also compares them comprehensively to other nations/pacts order formats (Israel, W. Germany and Soviet Union).

The study concludes that a better format than the (then) current US format is not in use and that a better format can be synthesized from the strengths of all the formats studied. This synthesized format is developed and presented in Section 4 of the study. Also, the study finds that the entire order process needs to be sped up and that a mission-type order format for use by high speed armor and cavalry units needs to be developed

The whole study makes a lot of sense, as he defines sound criteria for orders format development: The format would have to be successfully battle tested, hold all Critical Information Content, Brevity (elimination of redundancy or unnecessary information) and Sequencing of Information (Is the bottom line up front?) was focused on also.

Very interesting read for any enthusiast with also a major impact on civil life thinking through of projects communications.


The research question asked if the current US five paragraph operation order format was the best format to use
when transmitting information and tasks to battalions or smaller combat units.

After researching the historical foundation of the US order format and after examining the current US battalion operation order format and order formats from several other nations it was determined that the current US format was not the best format to use. A synthesized
format was developed incorporating the studied formats' strengths and eliminating the studied formats' weaknesses and the synthesized format was determined to be the best format for use when transmitting small unit information and tasks.

This study is important because a better order format has been synthesized and is available for use by US ground forces. The synthesized format incorporates battle tested strengths and eliminates deficiencies. If the synthesized format was adopted and established as doctrine it could improve the fighting effectiveness of small tactical units through its prioritized sequencing of informtion, its inclusion of terrain information, and its time-phasing of maneuver and task accomplishments.

Due to the need to transmit long detailed orders, this study recommends that further research be conducted with the aim of speeding up the entire order process through the use of standard order format forms, small unit playbooks or drills, or technological aids (computers, reproduction machines and televisions). A standard order format form that provides a "fill in the blank" order production capability could significantly cut down on the time required to produce an order. Small unit playbooks or drills could reduce or even eliminate the need for commanders to issue or produce lengthy explanations concerning how he wants his subordinate units to maneuver or to react given a combat situation. The use of technological aids to reduce or eliminate the need to manually write, draw and reproduce orders and graphics would greatly
reduce the time required to produced an order, thus significantly speeding up the entire order process.

In addition, this study supports the need to develop a mission-type order format for use by high speed armor and cavalry units conducting pursuit or reconnaissance missions. That order would be an abbreviated version of the recommended format. It would look like this:

I dont know whether those recommendations ever made it to the field (AFAIK the 5-paragraph order - though slightly modified with slightly different focus since 1988 - is still more or less in use both in the US as well as in NATO), here the synthesized format the author recommends, employing aspects like time phasing and information sequence from other formats and combining it with the battle tested usual routine:

1. Friendly forces

(a) Intent or aim of the Higher Commander.

(b) Unit's mission.

(c)Adjacent forces missions.

(d) Additional forces missions:

     1) Engineers.
     2) Artillery.
     3) Direct support.
     4) General support.

2. Terrain

(a) General description

(b) Axes

(c) Main obstacles

(d) Trafficability/deployment areas

(e) Key terrain and vital terrain

(f) Summary of effects of terrain on friendly plan

3. Enemy

(a) Intentions

(b) Deployment and strength

(c) Most probable course of action

4. Execution

(a) Concept of operation.

     - Commander's intentions (expands on the when, what, and why of the mission statement to explain the "big picture" or master plan).

     -  Maneuver (describes and time-phases the movement or placement of all major subordinate maneuver elements. Discusses and time-phases the battle from start to finish, and describes HOW and HOW LONG the operation will progress and take to accomplish.)

     - Fires (integrates tasks for fires with the scheme of maneuver)

     - Obstacles, mines, and fortifications.

     - Intelligence and electronics warfare (Commander's intelligence collection priorities and electronic
warfare priorities)

     - Other support activities. Concept of enemy air defense, air defense fires, and rear area combat operations.

(b) Subordinate unit subparagraphs (the specific tasks to be accomplished by each subordinate element)

     - Fire support (discussion of air support, chemical operations, field artillery, naval gunfire, and nuclear fires)

     - Air defense, aviation, engineer, and military intelligence.

     - Reserve.

(c) Coordinating instructions (details of coordination and control applicable to two or more elements)

5. Service support (contains combat service support instructions and information relating to the operation. The administrative/logistics order format is recommended.

(a) Material and services

(b) Medical evacuation and hospitalization.

(c) Personnel.

(d) Civil-military cooperation.

(e) Prisoner-of -war procedures.

6. Command and signal.

(a) Command (includes the initial location of the commander; includes the command post location and the CP axis of displacement)

(b) Signal (lists the SOI' index in effect for the operation as well as any changes; list alternate or emergency signals and signal restrictions.

Get or read the full study here (


Title: Re: 5 Paragraph Field Order: Better Format Possible?
Post by: stoffel on 21 November 2011, 20:07:59
We use this in the Dutch army for a long time now.
Basically its 7 steps in stead of 5.
The abbreviations form the word Veitono.

Title: Re: 5 Paragraph Field Order: Better Format Possible?
Post by: Rattler on 21 November 2011, 20:18:11

Are you not following STANAG 2014-16 and 2041 like Germany and the other NATO members (STANAG: NATO Standardization Agreement for procedures and systems and equipment components. STANAG 2014 = Operations Plans, Warning Orders, and Administrative/Logistics Orders, STANAG 2041 = Operations Orders, Tables and Graphics for Road Movement)? Those, like in the US, still start with Situation and Mission, and have commanders intent only as a sub-paragraph in Execution, and not as the top priority and first information.

That seems most strange for the normally so NATO orientated Dutch...

Can you post a few examples of BN orders here?


Title: Re: 5 Paragraph Field Order: Better Format Possible?
Post by: S-1 on 13 October 2014, 12:16:19
For the standard batallion and higher echelons, yes.
But down to group level we use the Veitono and other standards. For example , an order for a guard detachment.
Its 7 letters stand for an item which is important in the making of an order, making it easy to work with and its also impossible to forget anything.
This is what it means:

V= Vijand or enemy.  Who, what, where?
EI= Eigen troepen/ own forces
T=Terrein/ terrain/  whats the weather like, what are the possibilities, whats causing problems?
O= Opstelling /position
N = Neveneenheden/ neighboring units
O = Opstelling commander/ position Commander.

Usable in almost every situation.