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The Troop Leading Procedure

The Troop Leading Procedure, or TLP, is a planning model which allows for leaders to manage the planning cycle of a mission or activity. By referring to the TLP, leaders can ensure that critical aspects of mission planning take place and in the correct order to ensure a successful operation. 

The TLP is made up of the following steps: 

  1. Receive the mission.

  2. Issue a Warning Order.

  3. Make a tentative plan.

  4. Initiate necessary movement. 

  5. Conduct reconnaissance.

  6. Complete the plan. 

  7. Issue the Operation Order. 

  8. Supervise preparations and revise the plan, as necessary. 

NOTE:  Steps 3-5 do not need to be completed in order. These may occur simultaneously or in any order appropriate to effectively complete the plan (Step 6). 


STEP 1 — Receive the mission.

When receiving a mission order, subordinate leaders must be sure to begin preparing to execute that mission under the intent of higher command. Subordinate commanders must understand: 

  • Who is intended to conduct the mission?

  • Where will the mission be conducted? 

  • When will the mission be conducted?

  • What is the objective?

  • Why is the objective important? 


STEP 2 — Issue a Warning Order. 

It is critical that commanders brief their staff immediately to notify them that a mission has been tasked. As much information, as known, should be provided. This allows subordinate commanders and staffs to begin completing any tasks necessary to plan and prepare for their part in the mission. 

Commanders use a Warning Order (WARNO) to brief their staff, providing the following critical information: 

  • Situation — A brief statement to report the status of activities and participating forces

  • Mission — The Who, What, Where, When, Why and expected start date/time and duration of the mission

  • Execution — A general concept of the operation, schedule, immediate tasks for subordinates, any changes to standard operating procedures, and special equipment necessary to conduct the operation

  • Service Support — Any critical administrative and logistics activities/services that will support the operation which differ from standard operating procedure during normal operations


STEP 3 — Make a tentative plan.

Commanders need to start building their mission plan immediately so that the "big picture" comes together rapidly, as any changes in the planning may drive further changes in staff activities as the mission planning progresses. Commanders must also be mindful that the plan will continue to evolve over time, so it is imperative to be dynamic in building the plan at a high level and only fine details be added as they become known. 


STEP 4 — Initiate necessary movement. 

One of the biggest time-wasters is to delay equipment and personnel from moving to "forward lines," resulting in the additional time it can take to transport troops and materials to the "starting location." 

Start ordering supplies. Have your staff work on their respective tasks. This is the time to keep busy! 


STEP 5 — Conduct reconnaissance. 

It is critical for most missions to have an idea of the Area of Operation (AO) in which the mission will be conducted. Gathering this information will help commanders understand: 

  • Available movement routes 

  • Expected safety and security hazards

  • Obstacles to movement

  • Terrain conditions

  • Impacts to terrain by weather or other factors

  • Advantages and disadvantages of terrain to friendly or adversarial forces

  • Special equipment that may be required

  • Civil considerations in the AO

Reconnaissance is not always easy for units to conduct, especially given any time, equipment, or vehicle constraints. Commanders should consider their available reconnaissance options, in this order to prioritize: 

  1. In-person reconnaissance in the actual AO 

  2. Fly-over of the AO

  3. Interactive/3-Dimensional mapping of the AO

  4. Satellite images of the AO

  5. Photograph images of the AO from the ground-level

  6. Sketch maps/drawings of the AO from memory

  7. Verbal consultation with individuals who have previous experience at the AO


STEP 6 — Complete the plan.

Finalize the plan by compiling the information learned since completing Step 2. 

Analyze all of the information learned and consider how it fits into the "grand scheme" of the operation. It is best to compile this information into an Operation Order (OPORD) format so that the information, as it is obtained, is "given a home" in the appropriate area of the mission plan and continues to help "build the picture" for mission personnel. 

Make sure all of this information is being shared with the staff as it is being learned. Periodic update and/or planning meetings is strongly recommended so that the staff can be "on the same page" as the plan continues to be developed. 


STEP 7 — Issue the Operation Order.

The final plan should be constructed into a formal OPORD for final review by the higher headquarters commander who should approve the plan prior to its execution. 

The OPORD should be formally briefed with the staff and subordinate commanders before everyone "splits off" to finalize their own preparations. This briefing should occur no later than the TA-PLAN mark in the planning schedule, using the One-Thirds, Two-Thirds model

Remember that the plan will continue to evolve. Changes should be made using a Fragmentary Order (FRAGO). 


STEP 8 — Supervise preparations and revise the plan, as necessary.

Let your subordinate teams prepare to conduct their part of the mission by allowing them the flexibility to complete their required tasks and conduct any necessary training or readiness exercises which may identify deficiencies in their capabilities to successfully accomplish their objectives. 

By holding regularly-scheduled check-in meetings and reviewing After-Action Review (AAR) results, you can provide additional guidance to continue preparations and also make any necessary changes to the plan. Changes may be the result of learning about troops capabilities, obtaining new information about the mission or the Area of Operation, or other factors which may require the OPORD to be modified. 

When modifying the OPORD, issue a FRAGO to only modify the critical components of the OPORD which need to be amended, rather than modifying the entire ORDER. Present the FRAGO in a formal briefing session. If the changes are too complex or scattered throughout the OPORD, issue a new OPORD and hold a formal briefing to go over the new plan. 

Remember that time is the single resource that you and your team cannot get back, so effectively use the One-Thirds, Two-Thirds model to ensure that preparations are conducted in a timely and structured manner. 

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