Looking for the answer on 7 Q's
should it be given in the same way as the old estimate of on the sketch map. Seems to be some debate.
Any info please.


Book Reviewer
Sketch Maps are always a winner.

Picture paints....et al.

However, there is no definitive answer as it is just a means to get you to a point to form a plan.

It is like judging art....subjective at best.
Mysteron, good answer.

Evilone, rotten question. :wink:

If I might reveal a bit of insider knowledge, Evilone's question stems from a recent JOTES exam where many of the DS were of the old and bold variety, and consequently less familiar with the 7Qs Combat Estimate than perhaps was desirable for such an important event. (Scurilous accusations on ARRSE, whatever next :lol:)

A sketch map in this case actually turned out to be a loser as the (hypothetical - haha) DS wanted evidence that the factors had been considered in 3 column format against each possible COA. Now as someone who started life with the Appreciation, I think it wonderful that our young subbies are getting a history lesson, but am as puzzled as Evilone as to how to incorporate that into the latest generation 7Qs Combat Estimate.

If any of the DS are on-line and willing to reveal themselves it would be useful to know the answer to this as he and at least a dozen others now have to resit later this year. It would be ironic if they failed the next one as a result of doing 3 COAs instead of the 7Qs best plan right now which I, for one, would like to see from them.
Evilone - ask and it shall be revealed. Although I am not one of those supermen DS on JOTAC (I actually know what I'm talking about), I have been heavily involved in the ongoing development of the 7Qs and will be pleased to assist. Feel free to PM me if you have any detailed questions.

In response to your question here, I would have to say that your 'mentors' have it slightly arrse-about-face. The '3 column format' still has a place in formal planning (i.e. the Tactical Estimate) but the whole point of the 7Qs is that is is much quicker and allows intuitive decision making to adopt a more central role. So what? Well, in simple speak, this means that there isn't a requirement for lengthy (and hideously hidebound) process - the Commander or planner can simply make an intuitive linkage and voila! the decision is made and the COA selected (or whatever).

Hope this helps!!


Book Reviewer
The last two posts have raised an onteresting question:

If we are all agreed that the 7Qs are merely (con a phrase) "a handrail" to get to a point where COAs are formed and, please correct me if I am wrong, the idea about the 7Qs is to quickly get there by intuitive thinking (supported by experience and sound military judgement). How the hell do you assess someone going through the process?

I would argue that any 7Qs that are conducted below BG level are meant to intuitive and therefore impossible to test.

At BG Level or higher, then a Q1 brief and Q2-4 plan, Q5-7 decision sp can all be judged as they are presented to the Comd to aid shaping his decision.

Therefore, the concept of testing YOs in the 7Qs could be arguably nugatory.

On the other hand (Devil's advocate) how can you tell if a YO is making progress by not testing them?

Answers on a postcard? .......


Being only mildly facetious now, but it does seem to me that you can boil the 7 questions down to two: 1. What do we want to do? and 2. Why do we want to do it?

This cleverly distills mission analysis and estimate down to their essence, whilst still allowing intuitive thought processes. :D


Book Reviewer

You are actually quite right. But the problem lies with the fact that some of us aren't too clever. We mortals require stuff like the 7Qs to see us right.

But still the Question remains: how do we assess YOs in 7Qs.
I've got 'em on PowerPoint if you want to PM me. Along with what it all means.




Book Reviewer
MD, Not quite sure what you mean, I am quite confident about my knowledge of the 7Qs, but if it is an intutive process at low levels then surely it is impossible to test.
I also decided that they are a useful tool for every level of commander, in varying degrees.


Book Reviewer
Eh? Can you link your point to something please. I am not that clever, obviously.
Mysteron, MD and anyone else:

Lots of good thinking here. I am minded that this is what JOTAC should be doing with regard to 7Qs i.e. initiating a discussion about prescriptive vs directive command styles; differing forms of estimate and so forth. Once again, ARRSE leads the way. :D

To the case in hand - how do you assess a largely intuitive decision making process? Well, as has been admirably pointed out by CP, shurely all we need to know is 'what' and 'how' (without being overly restrictive of course). If we accept this, we can see that the next logical step in assessing the student is to determine degree of success, and what level is acceptable (i.e. a 'pass') and what isn't (a 'fail'). Exact definitions of each would, I suggest, actually be more wide ranging (and ultimately pointless) than the discusion at hand!

MD makes the point that he has found the 7Qs to be of varying utility for Commanders at all levels. This is a truism - the real issue is which estimate a Commander should/would/could use at each level of command, and why? What is the single most important factor in estimate selection? In my humble view it is 'time' - both sorts of estimate have their value - the trick lies in knowing 'which' to use 'when'. I suggest that the student body on JOTAC are unlikely to be involved in deliberate planning, with the added benefit of large amounts of time in hand, at any stage in their immediate futures.

Some interesting metrics: 4 Armd Bde submitted a hand-written formal estimate in 3 column format to the PM before Op GRANBY. This was because the Bde was sitting around in the desert for months beforehand. On Op TELIC, most deliberate planning cycles (after D Day) were rapid, intuitive and free-flowing affairs. What are we training our young leaders for? War, or Staff College? :D
What are we training our young leaders for? War, or Staff College?

What a daft question. Staff College, obviously, so they can then fill the offices at JDCC in due course and perpetuate the doctrinal bullsh1t.
Okay...here it is......as I said, if you think about it, the 7Q's can be used by any level of commander (even us non-rupert types) however the depth of thinking will increase with level of responsibility. However, it is fair to say that if you trust your subordinates, then you will leave the detail to them.....

Qualities of a Commander
Professional Knowledge

The Combat Estimate (7 Questions)
The need for effective command led to the idea of decentralised command in 1987. Although previously used by Wellington and Slim and pushed for by necessity.
This has lead to the newest change in training doctrine the 7 Questions which follow a logical progression to allow commanders to develop a plan and a set of orders in limited time periods.
In the process of the 7 questions the mission aim is first identified and then the plan is formed to obtain the required result.
The questions begin with a time analysis, following the 1/3- 2/3 rule, as a good commander will give their men enough time to prepare for any upcoming mission.

The 7 Questions
Q1- What is the enemy doing and why?
Q2- What have I been told to do and why?
Q3- What effects do I want to have on the enemy and what direction must I give to develop this plan?
Q4- Where can I best accomplish each action/effect?
Q5- What resources do I need to accomplish each action/effect?
Q6- When and where do the actions take place in relation to each other?
Q7- What control measures do I need to impose?

Quick Battle Orders
Are a very quick set of orders formulated by a Commander using his initiative and knowledge of the situation. It requires the Commander to have knowledge of their battle space.
Come into use when contact with an enemy force is made to aid command and control usually during an unexpected change of battle situation.
If needed, warning order can be given but radio signals/or impromptu Orders-group usually sufficient.
The commander will give a general outline, e.g. one section will suppress the enemy, two section will left flank etc. They will then trust in their NCOs to carry out these orders by ‘letting them off the leash’.

Formal (Tactical) Estimate
Generally used in larger formations e.g. Regiment or Brigade.
Unlike the combat estimate all courses of action will be explored.
The Commander retains in control, beginning the process and ending it but staff officers will have the main input to the stages in between.

Formal (Tactical) Estimate
There are Four Stages to the Formal Estimate:-
1- Mission Analysis
2- Evaluation of Factors
3- Considerations of Courses of Action
4- Commander’s Decision
Just had another think about this - the 'cut out and keep' 7 Questions DS Bluffer...

*****Cut here*************************************************

The 7 Questions/Combat Estimate was introduced in 2001 to simplify and speed up the planning process at BG level (although it can be used at any level, situation dependent). The Combat Estimate is now included in the revised AFM Vol 1 Part 8 ‘Command and Staff Procedures’ (a copy of which can be obtained at absolutely no cost from me).

The failure of many BG HQs to plan successfully using the estimate was a consistent theme in ‘Observations From Training’ (OFT) during the late 1990s. Thus, the Estimate was revised to make it more intuitive and easy to use. This revised process, originally known as the 7 Questions, is now referred to as the 'Combat Estimate'.

The Combat Estimate focuses all the work strands carried out during planning and aims to ensure that all such work has a purpose and leads to a timely, enemy focussed and effects based plan. It is a thought process, not a rigid series of drills and can as equally be adapted to peace support operations (PSO) as to warfighting.

All the key stages of planning (IPB, CCIR, STAP, Fire Planning and formation of the DSO and DSM) are inter-related and should be done as part of a whole and not in isolation.

To exercise command, the Comd must make timely decisions and take the appropriate action. He should continually strive to decide and act faster than the enemy. The planning process must support this.
It is more important to have a 70% worked up plan in time than a 100% plan too late.

The plan must be flexible enough to remain relevant when the enemy does something unexpected, which he will.

Time for proper battle procedure especially at the lower level of command is frequently overlooked during planning at BG HQ.

If the situation permits, more time should be afforded to subordinate commanders to allow for the detail of battle procedure, especially if sub units are widely dispersed or need to rehearse. Conversely more time can be taken by the staff if the units )and/or sub-units) are concentrated for example in a hide or leaguer, and where information and orders can be passed more swiftly.

The less time there is, the more the commander will have to be involved in the planning process. He will become more directive in his guidance and will make greater use of his intuition (relevant experience + knowledge).

The more time he has, the greater the opportunity for the staff to use analysis and input their skills during the process. As a result there is likely to be more use of staff tools to develop the plan.

Key is the generation of tempo through planning. The Comd and his staff must properly analyse the situation, recognize it’s decisive elements, and come up with a simple and workable solution in a timely manner. Analysis is just that - not mechanical 'by rote' regurgitation by columnar formats.

The 7 questions represent the fundamental issues that need to be addressed in order to produce a plan. If each question is addressed fully, planning is likely to be more thorough.

The tools and techniques are used selectively to help address the questions depending on the situation and time available. As the 7 questions grew out of the old Estimate, the tools and techniques remain largely the same, although the use of intuition and deduction remain pre-eminent.

The planning starts with focussing on the ground and enemy. The Comd, having conducted mission analysis, then states the effects he wants to have on the enemy. These effects form the focus for the rest of the planning process, so it is vital that sufficient time is allocated to get this stage right.

The use of graphical techniques and schematics is encouraged. They are an efficient way to record deductions from the analysis of the questions and with which to communicate the plan.

Estimate products lead directly to the production of orders, as well as tools to assist the staff in the execution of the plan.

If time is short, selective use of the tools and techniques is acceptable, so long as each of the 7 Questions are addressed, however briefly.

*****Cut here*************************************************

Top notch advice and guidance is always available from any of the CASTs.

you're getting rather detailed for a public forum and quite unnecessarily so.

Evilone to my certain knowledge understands the 7Qs process fully and is (highly) adept in their use. I would hazard a guess that Mysteron also is intimately acquainted with the 7Qs as is Darth_Doctrinus and everyone else who has contributed so far (modesty forbids me making claims on my own behalf of course :lol:).

The question is what does the JOTES Exam require - the 7Qs 70% right now rather than 100% right when it's too late approach or the old style 3 Column multiple COA approach or a combination of the two based on available time?

As regards the question some have raised as to how you test an intuitive process, I am very confident in my own abilities to DS at MTQ2, 3, (or Module 2, 3) and at JOTES level but I expect my examinees to know what is expected of them before they start. Perhaps evilone could advise what level of preparation his course had and whether they had a mock test in the weeks beforehand...
abacus said:
...and whether they had a mock test in the weeks beforehand...
FFS Abacus - mock tests!? Whatever happened to 'cuffing it on the day'?? :D

On a (slightly) more serious note, my humble offering for self-assesment of a plan is:

Goal: To Produce an Adequate and Flexible Plan in a Reasonable Amount of Time.

Meets Comd’s Intent
Provides clear guidance to all sub-units and other parts of the Unit/Fmn
Provides enough detail to allow the effects of the combat power to be synchronised at the critical points

Is sufficiently agile and versatile to respond to an unco-operative enemy and adjust to changes in the situation as they occur.

Provides sufficient time for battle procedure down to the lowest level.

If a student's plan does this, then shurely big ticks and champagne all round is called for - regardless of how they get there?? :D
Darth_Doctrinus said:
FFS Abacus - mock tests!? Whatever happened to 'cuffing it on the day'?? :D
Enough bad examples about without them copying me :wink:

... --- / - .... . / .- -. - .. / .- .-. .-. ... . / -. .- --.. .. ... / .-. ..- -- -... .-.. . -.. / -.-- --- ..- / .- --. .- .. -. 8) sensible move


Book Reviewer
Ultimately, we are skirting the main issue. I propose that it is impossible to accurately test the 7Qs in an exam, the only test environment where you find out whether it works is in reality.

Therefore, are we going to teach false lessons by testing in the 3 column format? Alternatively, should we change the method in which we assess the 7Qs by conducting exercises (infantry type ones on JOTAC on SPTA perhaps?) to test the plan for real? I understand the last statement is a pie in the sky (if we had the money and not PAYD) however, I maintain that the only way to test the 7Qs is in reality be it exercise or operations.

I agree with Darth Doctrinus, if the student gets to the point where they can make a timely and effective plan, then surely, why should we worry how they got there? I believe that is called "mission command" and the "manouverist approach" (I'm sure I read that somewhere....oh thats right, its in our doctrine!)
Thank you all for the sharing of quality info. As mentioned I like to think I at least understand the process of 7Q's, however the clarification of what to put to the DS on an exam I am not. In response to the trg prior to the exam, I was part of Trg run by the testing Bde. The trg was 6 weekends prior to the exam over 6 months. Every subject was covered to difering degrees of detail. The 7Q's was not really covered as it was not their forte. We had a mock tewt weekend prior and I had no issues with the testing process and the DS on the day was quite clear that what I had produced was good enough for the exam. The Sat rpior to the exam we ran through the process of 7Q's and we discussed the merits of the formal and 7Q's. Formal delivery as I understood it was about showing how you get to your end state. I produced overlays to clarify the 3-5 phase after covering msn anyl and 1-2 my time line for 6 and the control etc and final plan in 7. This was all nice fluid and quick but I thought with the correct amount of detail not to over complicate a simple battle. At this point nice and happy and into my orders. All done and again quite happy could of been a bit more Montgomerie with the delivery but all good. To then find out I ahd a good score for the orders phase of over 70 and to of failed the estimate for lack of working. This was discussed as the DS not seeing enough of the the SO WHAT process through the 7Q's to get a warm feeling.

It is easy to deliver what is required if you are given the tools to do this. However the day has passed and I am trying to fine the next exam. I just hope that the day prior we get the chance to ask what and how they wish the estimate to be delivered. As I said it is easy to deliver what the DS want if you need to, as it is easier to do that than to understand the real process of the 7Q's.

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