Combat Estimate

O

one_flew_over

Guest
#1
A little serious I know, but I'm trying to find out a bit about the combat estimate. I'm familiar enough (far too much for my own preference) with the process but I'm wondering who, if anybody, uses it below BG level? If not does anyone have a process they use instead.

Obviously for TEWTs etc we all get on with the estimate but in reality what is used?

Thoughts, comments and accusations of spotterhood please!
 
#2
The all new combat estimate is the 7 Questions format. It can be found on all up to date tams. I have used it a number of times and found it much easier than previous.
 
#3
You'll get about all the help that's readily available by looking at the last two copies of Army Training and Doctrine News (the most recent one specifically addresses the point you've made) and the Army's Tactical Doctrine notes.

The TD notes are on the Electronic Battle Box (anyone seen the Jan 04 one yet?), and ATDN should be easy to find in your training wing, if not sub-unit location.
 
O

one_flew_over

Guest
#4
SR, GB,

Thanks for the pointer - got a copy of ADTN - just what I was after.

Cheers
ofo
 
#5
They just keep reinventing the "Appreciation"

It's just the most thorough aid to planning there is, and can be applied at all levels. Can you ever run out of "so what?" questions? 8O
 
#6
RCSignals said:
They just keep reinventing the "Appreciation"

It's just the most thorough aid to planning there is, and can be applied at all levels. Can you ever run out of "so what?" questions? 8O
Hah.... I have to teach the damn thing occasionally :evil: . I end up explaining "yes, it's good for staff work given lots of time; no, you wouldn't do it this way in a real infantry platoon, it's just a good teaching tool to get you used to all the implications of two-up-and-bags-of-smoke".

Appreciations - wonderful for staff officers, wonderful as a teaching tool, see several hundred articles by Jim Storr and others about why they're b***dy awful for low-level stuff.

On that note, has anybody got an actual reference for that statistic that goes something along the lines of:

"In WWII, a battalion given two hours for its battle procedure (Initial Wng O to H-Hour) had a 50% chance of success; given four hours, it had nearly 100%".

Great quote, just wondering what the source material was, or whether it was another urban legend much beloved of DS types.
 
#7
Gravelbelly

I agree, on the formal Estimate/appreciation. In the field though, once you've learned it, the principles can still be applied, and done quickly in the head.


I don't have a source for that quote, but there is an anecodote I've heard a number of times, about an Officer attending a Staff course after WW2.

They were studying a particular successful battle, and asked to do an Appreciation and write orders for it. This one particualr Officer scibbled something down, than sat back, just waiting.
When they were all done, the Cadre had the students recite their results. On his turn that one Officer who finished so soon stood up, said "Two up and a hot meal" then sat down
The Cadre was not impressed, and went into a long lecrure about it.
The Officer's response was "Well, it worked for me when I gave my orders at that battle".
Turned out he was OIC for the action they were studying. So the story goes.
 
#8
I also have the dubious honour of teaching the 7Q's and can't help but feel that there there is a distinct lack of back up material to assist. Basically there is the aide memoire in AATAMs and that is about it.

Seems to me (personal opinion) that unlike the previous CE - the 7Q's forces you into deciding a plan much earlier - ie under old system you had Courses of Action (many) until the end of the process where you made the commanders decision, under the 7Q's however you are forced to decide your COA by Question 4 "Where can I best accomplish each action/effect?".

Unfortunately, there is no reference to check this with, and hence I have this horrible fear I may be teaching it wrong as it goes completely against the ethos of the previous CE. Any thoughts?
 
#9
Although I am no expert, i have just done my jotes exam (and passed) using the new 7qs. Instead of the old 3 column format, i was advised by a DS at a pre exam TEWT to make a 2 column format. one column for the Qs and One column for the orders that fall out of the 7q's. So instead of working all the way through the CE, making a plan, and then thinking "bloody hell, how am i going to write orders for Plan A", your orders should easily flow out of the 7q's as you write them.

In my limited experience, the initial 7q's estimate took longer than the CE, but had a much better and useable output. When finished, its just a matter of going back over the orders and filling in the blanks that are left.

If anyone wants a copy of my 2 column format, pm me with your email addy.
 
#10
Flatout - I think you have missed the point. In the old system we had the Quick (!!!) Estimate, which you would recognise. And at BG level and above we had the Formal Estimate which was the same thing with knobs on - a real 8-10 page pain in the arrse.

The Combat Estimate is designed to be used at section and platoon level effectively and quickly. I take it from your desire to have more COA that combat for you is a TEWT or PENIS (practical exercise not involving soldiers). The last thing a section commander needs under fire is more options.

The Combat Estimate also comes with extra considerations allowing the same format to be used by Sub-Unit and BG commanders.

The Combat Estimate is the best thing to come out of Doctirne and development for years.

"There are no new ideas - merely recycled old ones"
 
#11
No JSPrest I do not think I have missed the point. Nor do I appreciate your disparaging comments.

I wholeheartedly agree with the sentiment of the article in the current ATDN and for years have been bemoaning the fact that as a teaching vehicle the TEWT and "Quick Attack" are incompatable with the CE. That said however, it is the vehicle that we have to use if preparing pers for JOTES and RMAS and therefore we toe the line and obey.

What I was pointing out/seeking confirmation of was my interpretation of said vehicle. We all know in a real contact you don't have time to fanny about and that EN IPB will have constrained your options to practically nothing, but that doesn't help when trying to teach methodology.

So the question remains, does the 7Q CE force us do make a decision much earlier in the process than the old CE?

On another note entirely - perhaps already been argued elsewhere - is there really a necessity for a CE at all at sub-unit level? My personal experience is that below BG level, constraints restrict you so much that you have no real options - your mission is clear and your battlespace is too small.
 
#12
flatout said:
N

On another note entirely - perhaps already been argued elsewhere - is there really a necessity for a CE at all at sub-unit level? My personal experience is that below BG level, constraints restrict you so much that you have no real options - your mission is clear and your battlespace is too small.
Heresy, have that man burned at the stake!!!

msr
P.S I think that you are right on the money here....
 
#13
flatout said:
Seems to me (personal opinion) that unlike the previous CE - the 7Q's forces you into deciding a plan much earlier... Any thoughts?
They're trying to address two things; one is that experience and intuition will probably generate a quick and pretty good solution (but not one that can't be improved); and that a reasonable plan, executed right now is better than a perfect plan in half an hour.

Given that you probably make a reasonable guess in the first ten seconds of looking at the problem, you're exploring that best guess, as fast as possible. It's the fastest way to a plan, any plan, with a mix of intuition and reason.

If you have time, you then go back and work through the alternatives.....

At least you're using the available time to analyse your plan, not justify why you didn't come up with another plan. The alternative is a system where either:
- you don't know that one course of action is going to be ruled out instantly in a factor late on in the estimate* (security, or maybe a logistics point), but you've already spent time exploring all the alternatives for all of the courses open up to that point.
- you do know that one course of action is going to be ruled out instantly in a factor late on in the estimate*; but you feel honour-bound to explore all the alternatives up to that point, all the way through ground, etc, etc, even though it will be wasting time.

* - or score merely "quite badly", as opposed to "so mind-blowingly and depressingly badly that I binned it earlier", against a function in combat during the "consideration of courses of action :)
 
#14
I learned the 7Q's at the Land Wrafare Centre in Warminster. They have a few of the experts there so anyone teaching it should contact for better teaching material.
 
#15
Gravelbelly said:
RCSignals said:
TOn that note, has anybody got an actual reference for that statistic that goes something along the lines of:

"In WWII, a battalion given two hours for its battle procedure (Initial Wng O to H-Hour) had a 50% chance of success; given four hours, it had nearly 100%".

Great quote, just wondering what the source material was, or whether it was another urban legend much beloved of DS types.
I believe I saw an article dealing with this in ADTN Number 12 dated November 1999. It was an article by Major JP Storr and was titled "Death by battle proceedure"
Number 13 also carried a raft of replies dealing with the speed of battle proceedure and the use of the estimate etc.
 
#16
Gravelbelly said:
one is that experience and intuition will probably generate a quick and pretty good solution (but not one that can't be improved); and that a reasonable plan, executed right now is better than a perfect plan in half an hour.
You are quite correct GB - development on what are being termed 'Critical Success Factors (CSFs) is being carried out in Warminster as we speak. CSFs are the name given to a 'palette of outcomes' based on a variety of experiences, both good and bad. The idea is that a Commander will be enabled to make very quick decisions using his past experiences (CSFs), intuition (also drawing from his education to refine deductive reasoning) and plain old leadership.

It remains a grim statement of fact that we, as an Army, plan very well, but we do not possess the doctrine to support that expertise. As a consequence, there are a great many individuals out there in the job who believe they know everything there is to know about planning and reasoning. It follows therefore, that we possess virtually nothing on the 'enactment' phase (ie post consultation and plan development). This is also being addressed.

I particularly like GB's statment regarding time available vs the perfect plan. It remains a statement of the blindingly obvious that it is far better to have an 80% solution on time as opposed to a 100% solution too late. However, in pursuit of the 'perfect plan', certain individuals (across all capbadges and ranks) allow themselves to become 'slaves to process'. The MDMP is a tool to refine and enhance the normal thinking processes of a human being, and nothing more. As with all tools, it is better suited to some tasks than others. If the time and situation permit, conduct a full estimate. If these variables are vastly reduced, go with what your intuition, make a decison and ensure that you pay close attention during the execution phase!! :D
 
#17
I still find the 7Q a bit vague where as the CE gets the full answers, I know we will eventually move over to the 7Q I just hope that the CE will still be taught so as to get the under pinning knowledge and skills set honed and thought process lodged in the nut
 
#18
One of the problems is that we're trying to use a single system both to teach learners, and to use as a realistic tactical problem-solving tool. I'm commenting on the "teaching" side below, compared with earlier posts on the "using" side (which I'm much less qualified to comment on).

easesprings said:
I still find the 7Q a bit vague where as the CE gets the full answers, I know we will eventually move over to the 7Q I just hope that the CE will still be taught so as to get the under pinning knowledge and skills set honed and thought process lodged in the nut
Talking to some who started the old way and then did the 7Q's at the Factory, they found the 7Q's a much easier and more intuitive way of learning things.

I always thought that one of the major problems was that you were trying to teach two new things at once; an understanding of tactics, at the same time as a new way of analysing a problem. A student only has to to have problems with one of the two, for the teaching process to break.

With (usually) limited time to teach the syllabus, the temptation is to use "infantry in the attack" as the vehicle for all of the estimate training; the non-infantry estimate examples I've seen were really "use an estimate to solve a simple logistic problem" (you have X people to get to destination Y in time Z) giving fairly black-and-white answers.

I'd say that a more careful choice of scenarios helps, so that the teaching TEWTs each exercise a different part of the problem analysis rather than exercise a different way of attacking something; and a greater amount of non-tactical problems in the lead up to TEWTs.

My opinion (for what it's worth) is that we should teach sub-unit tactics using 7Qs, through the YOs' course, until the student have a decent understanding of the problem. That way, we also don't give the false impression that "a full-on estimate delivering all the answers" is how you would generate the plan for a quick attack.........

Towards the end (once the problems and value judgements are understood a bit better), we can bring in the full estimate, and the students should be able to "so what" with confidence......
 
#19
Did the BG Planners Course down in Warminster a while ago and followed it up with a couple of CASTs as Ops Offr. I think that our HQ generally found the 7Qs a real improvement on the CE, once it had been taught correctly, in getting quick decisions made on how to influence the battle more quickly.

I don't agree that it removes the COA phase. If there's time, you get a chance to discuss different courses of action for each 'effect' in priority order, if there is a choice at all, rather than coming up with 1 good course of action and 3 other barking/irrelevant options that you've only come up with to satisfy the procedure. Especially when said constraints have, for good reason, severely restricted your options.

Have used the procedure on Ops a couple of times too. I really think it works. Definately focuses you on the enemy, rather than doing what might be more convenient.

Needs a good 'Fat Controller' to keep things on track though.[/quote]
 
#20
Fully agree with Easesprings. There is a generation now TEACHING that know the estimate and want a quicker way to do it - 7Qs appears the solution.

There is another generation now LEARNING and they are being expected to know all the gaps that the 7Qs leave out.

In my view, we need to teach both - one as a method to learn all the factors and issues involved and one to make a decision quickly.

Saving time in training will not save time in battle.
 

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