Instructor Notes Lesson Script


a. Lesson Tie-in: To this point you have conducted mission analysis, developed courses of action, and have prepared the intelligence estimate based on the courses of action. The next step is to recommend a particular course of action to the commander via the decision brief.

b. Objective: Prepare and demonstrate a decision brief given instruction, the intelligence estimate, other staff estimates, references and briefing aids; each small group will demonstrate a decision brief and each student must achieve 75% on an objective written examination with references.

SLIDE 1A - OBJECTIVE c. Purpose: Commanders make decisions! Staff officers help commanders make and communicate those decisions and ensure the execution of these decisions. To make competent recommendations, staff officers must have a superior understanding of the decision-making process.

d. Procedure: For the next hour, you will learn how to compare courses of action and how to organize and prepare a decision brief. What you are taught in this block of instruction, and what you have learned during "Course of Action Development," will assist you in the process of recommending a course of action to the commander.

e. Safety Considerations: There are no safety considerations for this block of instruction.

a. General: Briefings are a means of presenting information to commanders, staffs or other designated audiences. The techniques employed are determined by the purpose of the briefing, the desired response and the role of the briefer. A commander or staff officer, regardless of type or level of unit, must effectively communicate orally. The speaker must give the presentation the same attention he would give to precision, clarity and thoroughness in written communications.

b. The purpose of the briefing and the desired response determines the briefing technique. Basically, there are four standard briefing types:
SLIDE 3 - INFORMATION 1) Information Briefing: informs the
BRIEFING listener and deals primarily with facts. An Intelligence estimate is a form of an information briefing.

SLIDE 4 - MISSION 2) Mission Briefing: gives pecific
BRIEFING instructions, amplifies the mission or elaborates on an order. A five paragraph OPORD given verbally is a mission brief.

SLIDE 5 - STAFF 3) Staff Briefing: informs the BRIEFING commander of the current situation; generates a coordinated or unified effort. A briefing that involves a concurrence of more than one person or agency, a recommended change to the MIOBC course flow that affects more than one department is an example of a staff briefing.

SLIDE 6 - DECISION 4) Decision Briefing: essentially BRIEFING a staff study in oral form, the purpose of which is to obtain a decision. A course of action briefing given to your commander is a decision brief. For the purpose of obtaining a decision from the commander, we will focus on the decision brief.

c. The decision brief is the presentation of a staff officer's recommended solution resulting from analysis or study of a problem or problem area. Decision briefings vary as to formality and detail, depending on the level of command and the decision maker's knowledge of the subject area (the problem or problem area). In situations where the person receiving the briefing has prior knowledge of the problem and some information relating to it, the briefing normally will be limited to a statement of the problem, some essential background information and a recommended solution.

SLIDE 7 - DECISION However, the briefer must be prepared to BRIEFING (CONT) present his assumptions, facts, alternative solutions, reason(s) for choosing the recommended solution and the coordination involved. If the person who is being briefed is unfamiliar with the problem and/or the facts surrounding it, then a more detailed briefing will be necessary. In this case, the briefing should include any assumptions used in analyzing the problem, facts bearing on the problem, a discussion of the alternatives, conclusions and any coordination involved.

NOTE: Not only state he At the outset of the briefing, the
is seeking a decision, briefer must state that he is seeking a decision. A procedure that helps to focus attention to the topic at hand is to post an agenda of the brief and give the bottom line up front.
also state what the
recommended course of
action is
first. Always tell the commander what your
recommended course of action is. At
the conclusion of the briefing, if the
briefer does not receive a decision,
he asks for it. The briefer should be
certain that he understands the decision
thoroughly. If he is uncertain, he asks
for clarification. In this regard, a
precisely worded recommendation that may
be used as a decision statement, once
approved by the commander, assists in
eliminating possible ambiguities and


Preparation for the decision brief is, perhaps, more important than the actual brief itself. Thorough initial preparation is important. The speaker must use his time well and, whether the briefing is simple or complex, use the following guidelines to analyze the situation:

NOTE:In our case, we a. Know the audience.
will be briefing the
brigade commander. 1) Who is receiving the brief? What is his official position?

2) Why is he receiving the briefing? What are his personal likes and/or dislikes concerning the briefing topic?

3) How much knowledge of the subject does he(or the audience) have?

b. Determine the briefing's purpose.

1) What will the audience do with the information?

The briefer must understand the purpose of the briefing. The purpose determines the nature of the briefing and the desired result.

c. Know how much time is available. The time allocated for a briefing often dictates the style, facilities and the preparatory effort needed. Stick with the time allocated!

d. Survey the facilities.

1) Where will the briefing take place?

2) What briefing aids are available/necessary?

The availability of physical facilities, visual aids, and draftsmen are considerations. Know how large the briefing area is and where the electrical outlets are located. Remember that visual aids should match the facility, i.e. if the briefing is in a field environment, the best visual aids would most likely be butcher paper charts.

e. Perform all necessary preparation.

The briefer may prepare a detailed presentation plan and coordinates with his assistants, if used. The preparatory effort is carefully scheduled. Each briefer should formulate a "briefing outline." The briefer makes an initial estimate of the deadlines for each task. He schedules facilities for practice and requests critiques.

a. Rehearse before a knowledgeable person who can critique the briefing. If using assistants, always rehearse with your assistants before the actual briefing.

b. If possible, rehearse in the same facility where the briefing will be given. Have all of your visual aids ready during rehearsals.

a. The speaker's appearance and the environment can strongly influence the briefing. A successful briefing depends on how it is presented. A confident, relaxed, forceful delivery, clearly enunciated and obviously based on a full knowledge of the subject, helps convince the audience.

b. The briefer maintains a relaxed, but Military bearing. Appearance sets the stage for credibility; it is the basis of the audience's first impression. He uses natural gestures and movements, but avoids distracting mannerisms. The briefer's delivery is characterized by conciseness, objectivity, and accuracy.

c. The speaker must also control the environment. He must know the mechanics of the room - how to control the lights, the volume and any visual aids. The room must be clean and orderly.

d. Interruptions and questions may occur at any point. If and when these interruptions occur, the briefer answers each question before proceeding or indicates that the questions will be answered later in the briefing. At the same time, he does not permit questions to distract him from his planned briefing. If the question will be answered later in the briefing, the briefer should make specific reference to the earlier question when he introduces the material. The briefer must be prepared to support any part of his briefing. The briefer anticipates possible questions and is prepared to answer them.


a. An assistant can take notes on all pertinent questions or comments. If the speaker does not know the answer to a question, he must say so and then provide the required information as soon as possible (normally within 24 hours). However, if he waits too long to follow up, the value of the information may be lost and his credibility will suffer.

b. When a decision is involved and there is doubt as to the intent of the decision maker, a draft memorandum is submitted to him for approval before it is prepared in final form. The memo is distributed to staff sections or agencies that must take action on the decision. At the operational and tactical level in obtaining a decision on a course of action, it is not necessary to prepare a memo. However, the briefer must insure all appropriate personnel are informed of the decision so plans and orders may be developed.


The staff study format provides a logical sequence for presenting a detailed decision briefing. The following organization is a little more specific and geared towards obtaining a decision.


a. Greeting: Introduce yourself to the decision maker and announce that a decision will be sought at the end of the briefing.

NOTE:Problem must be b. Problem: Concisely state (in posted question form) for decision maker to focus the problem as a task.

c. Recommendation: State the specific recommended action to solve the problem.

d. Agenda: Outline the major parts of the briefing in the order you intend to follow.


a. Background and coordination: Brief the decision maker on any background information, if necessary. Summarize any coordination made with interested parties.

NOTE: The S2 will brief b. Facts: List all pertinent facts the MCOO at this time relevant to terrain analysis using the the situation. Common facts we would discuss include terrain and our courses of action. Additionally, any known and confirmed facts about the enemy and the status of our own forces.

c. Assumptions: List all assumptions relevant to the problem. These usually pertain to what our covering force will do to the enemy, battle handover, and anticipated enemy courses of action.

SLIDE 14 - FORMAT (CONT) d. Discussion:

NOTE: This is the first 1) Courses of action: List (do in the briefing that the discuss) all analyzed courses of decision maker review the action.
prepared options from 2) Criteria: Brief the decision which he is asked to maker on the criteria selected for
choose. the brief.

a) Screening: Limit the number of COAs to a manageable number.

b) Evaluation: Evaluate each COA against a set standard.
NOTE: The commander may give c) Weighting: Describe the some initial guidance on relative importance of the
what he considers to be evaluation criteria, one against
the most critical the other, and assign weights.
factor(s) in accomplishing
the mission. 3) Analysis of courses of action: Display all evaluation criteria and explain the advantages and disadvantages for each COA (do not compare the COAs with each other, yet).

4) Comparison of courses of action: Display each COA in a decision matrix and explain how each compares to the others.


a. Conclusion: Present a summary statement re-emphasizing what the recommended course of action provides. Answer any questions the decision maker may have.

b. Recommendation: Close with a strong, positive statement for the recommended course of action. Ask the decision maker to approve recommendation.


A decision matrix is one of the best tools for analyzing and comparing courses of action against well- established criteria. The main advantage of the decision matrix is that it helps the decision maker reach a better understanding of the consequences of his decisions. He can more accurately analyze the suitability of each course of action which his staff prepares. The decision matrix consists of the following four elements:

SLIDE 17 - DECISION 1. The objective (the accomplishment of MATRIX FORMAT a specific mission).

2. The states of nature, also known as the uncontrollable variables, which are aspects that the decision maker has little or no influence over (evaluation criteria - weather, terrain, enemy forces).

3. The strategies, also known as the controllable variables, which represent the alternative choices available to the decision maker (different courses of action).

4. The payoffs, or dependent variables, which result from the interaction of the states of nature and the strategies (the weighted number given when comparing the evaluation criteria to the courses of action).


SLIDE 18 - BRIEFING-XO Introduces the staff and orients the commander to the area of operations. Briefly states the recommended course of action from the staff and explains the agenda of the briefing to the commander.

SLIDE 19 - BRIEFING-S3 Identify for the commander the mission and the intent of the commanders two levels up, restate the mission for the commander, and brief the status of his forces.

SLIDE 20 - BRIEFING - S2 Present the commander with an updated intelligence estimate. Include terrain, weather, enemy forces, and enemy situation.

SLIDE 21 - BRIEFING-S3 Outline the friendly courses of action for the commander, identify the strengths and weaknesses of each. Give a complete description of all activities including culmination point, defeat mechanism, objectives, etc.

SLIDE 22 - BRIEFING-STAFF Staff (S3,S2,S1,S4,S5 in order)- Identify facts and assumptions used during the decision making process that impact on the courses of action. Explain the individual staff comparisons of the courses of action using the decision matrix. Give each staff section's recommended course of action based on the individual decision matrices.

SLIDE 23 - BRIEFING-XO Conclude the briefing, restate the staff overall recommendation and ask the commander for a decision.

SLIDE 24 - EXAMPLE #1, In Example #1, Our objective is to 3RD BDE DEFENSE determine which defense is the best based on the criteria we determine. The subjects on the left are the evaluation criteria we will use flexibility, risk, battle command, and surprise. As you can see, it is a tie between COA 1 and COA 2. The commander may ask for an additional recommendation between 1 and 2.

SLIDE 25 - EXAMPLE #2, The staff determined that flexibility 3RD BDE DEFENSE was the most important factor governing their courses of action. Accordingly, we have assigned these evaluation criteria with a higher payoff number. After assigning higher payoffs and determining the totals, we now see that COA 2 would be the recommended course of action.

1. Review of main points: During the past hour, you have learned how to organize and prepare a decision brief for the purpose of obtaining a decision from the commander.

2. Questions or comments?

3. Tie-in: You already know how to develop courses of action, and now you know how to prepare and deliver a decision brief to the commander. You are know prepared for the practical exercise, which consists of preparing and delivering a decision brief to the commander.