The Marine Brief: SMEAC

As an Officer Candidate, you will be communicating in a new way, the military way. And this will begin by giving a brief or operational order to your peers and instructors at OCS and TBS. The faster you can learn the structure, the quicker you will build your confidence in your presentations. Candidates will have a much easier time with a basic understanding of SMEAC before leaving for OCS.

Lucky for you the Corps has made remembering the steps in giving a brief through acronyms. This article will be teaching you the operation order format, SMEAC. The five paragraphs are Situation, Mission, Execution, Administration and Logistics, and Command and Signal. Marines use the acronym SMEAC to make learning, remembering, and implementing much easier. The following article is from the Officer Candidates School Student Outline.

What is SMEAC?

ORIENTATION. Prior to issuing an order, the unit leader orients his subordinate leaders to the planned area of operation using a terrain model, map, or when possible, the area of operation. The purpose of the orientation is to simply orient subordinates prior to issuing the order. Keep the orientation simple and brief. The orientation should include:

  • Present location (eight digit grid)
  • Direction of attack (Cardinal Direction, ex. Northeast, Southwest)
  • Location of the objective (eight digit grid

1. SITUATION. The situation paragraph contains information on the overall status and disposition of both friendly and enemy forces. The information provided is that deemed essential to the subordinate leader’s understanding of the current situation. The situation paragraph contains three subparagraphs: Enemy Forces, Friendly Forces, Attachments and Detachments.

a. Enemy Forces. Information about the enemy contained in this subparagraph should be the culmination of intelligence provided by higher headquarters and information gathered which pertain to the accomplishment of the mission. The Enemy Forces situation can be issued using the acronyms SALUTE and DRAW-D.

(1) SALUTE. This information is obtained directly from your higher commander’s order. This provides information on such things as known and suspected enemy locations, current/recent activities, what type of unit the friendly force is facing. SALUTE represents: Size of the enemy force, their Activity, last known Location (given with 6-digit grid coordinate), Unit type/designation, Time the enemy was last observed, and Equipment they possess.

(2) DRAW-D. This information should highlight what course of action the enemy will most likely execute upon contact. DRAW-D represents: Defend, Reinforce, Attack, Withdraw, and Delay. There is no requirement to mention every course of action the enemy might possibly take, only the one that is most likely.

– Example Enemy Forces Situation: (Briefed in TSUALE format to follow storyline) “About one hour ago, 3 enemy soldiers wer spotted preparing an observation post near the objective. The are amred with semi-automatic weapons and have communications gear. They are expected to withdraw upon contact

b. Friendly Forces. Information contained in this subparagraph is obtained directly from your higher commander’s order. It contains the missions and locations of higher, adjaccnt, and supporting units. Information should be limited to that which subordinate leaders need to know to accomplish their assigned mission. The Friendly Forces situation can be issued using the acronym HAS, which represents:

(1) Higher Unit for Higher Headquarters/HQ). The mission of the next higher unit (for a squad leader’s order, the platoon’s mission).

(2) Adjacent Units. The mission and location of units to your left, right, front and rear having effect on your mission. Listed are the unit’s missions and general locations.

(3) Supporting Units. Nonorganic units providing combat support or combat service support are addressed here. If there are no supporting units, simply state “none.1′

(3) Attachments & Detachments. Non-organic units attached (+) and or organic units detached (-) from the unit. The unit and effective time of attachment/detachment is given. If there are no attachments or detachments, simply state “none.”

2. MISSION. The mission statement is a clear and concise statement (one simple sentence) of what the unit is assigned to accomplish. It expresses the unit’s primary task and purpose represented by the “five Ws” — When (time), Who (unit), What (task), Where (grid), and Why (purpose) for the mission assigned. The task describes the action to be taken while the purpose describes the desired result of the action. Of the two, the purpose (Why) is predominant. The purpose of the mission statement is always represented by the words: in order to (and can be abbreviated by IOT).

While the situation may change, making the task obsolete, the purpose is more permanent and continues to guide actions. The Main Effort is the commander’s “bid for success” and is the one subordinate unit (e.g. fire team) assigned the most important task to be accomplished by the higher unit (e.g. squad). The commander ensures the success of the main effort by providing it with a preponderance of support (i.e. “weighting the main effort”) and designating corresponding “Supporting Effort” tasks to the remaining units. Only one (1) unit is designated as the Main Effort and must be identified in it’s mission statement.

– Example Mission Statement “On order, 1st Squad will destroy the enemy observation post located near the objective in order to prevent the enemy from interfering with the platoon assault on the objective. We are a supporting effort ”.

3. EXECUTION. The execution paragraph contains the “how to” information needed to conduct the operation. This paragraph consists of four subparagraphs: Commander’s Intent, Concept of the Operation, Tasks, and Coordinating Instructions. The information in this paragraph is generated by the unit leader issuing the order. Subordinate unit leaders must generate their own Execution Paragraph outlining their plan to accomplish their mission.

a. Commander’s Intent. This is the part of the order that ties the mission statement and the concept of the operation together (your mission with your plan to accomplish it). At OCS, you will simply state “none.”

b. Concept of the Operation. The concept of operation includes two subparagraphs: Scheme of Maneuver (SOM) and Fire Support Plan (FSP).

(1) Scheme of Maneuver. This is the “‘big” picture on how all subordinate units will conduct the plan. It should be described in general, or “anonymous”, terms without identifying specific units (i.e. the “main effort” or “one” fireteam will do…vs. “1st” fireteam will do… – This is important to keep everyone’s attention to the entire plan. If subordinate unit tasks have not been identified, then none of the fireteams will know who is doing which specific part of the entire plan and will be forced to listen on what the whole squad is doing).

Brief the scheme of maneuver in logical sequence; begin at your current location and brief your unit’s actions through completion of your mission. For an offensive operation the scheme of maneuver includes: form of maneuver, initial formation, attack formation, assault formation and the basic plan for consolidation and reorganization.

(2) Fire Support Plan. Describes how fire support will be used to complement the scheme of maneuver. The Fire support plan ties in directly with the scheme of maneuver. If there is no fire support available, simply state “none.”

Marines with Company F, 2nd Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, call for artillery fire support. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Angel Serna/Released)

– Note: At OCS, the form of maneuver will always be frontal attack or single envelopment. The initial formation should be squad column, fire team wedge. The attack formation should be squad wedge, fire team wedge. The assault formation should be squad on line, fire team skirmishers right or left.

After consolidating 10-20 meters past the objective, form a hasty ISO and prepare for enemy counterattack. When determined that there is no chance of enemy counterattack, consolidate into a 360 around the objective, assign overlapping sectors of fire, gather ACE Reports from fire team leaders and report to higher. Fire Support Plan will always be “none ” while at OCS since no assets are available.

c. Tasks. The specific missions to be accomplished by each subordinate element of the unit will be listed in a separate numbered subparagraph. Task statements are your subordinate unit’s mission statements, and as such, should be written in the same manner as any mission statement. Just as your mission statement from higher, your subordinate task statements should answer the “5 Ws” for the missions you assign.

When a subordinate unit is designated the main effort, it must be stated in the unit’s tasking statement. Then a subordinate unit’s “specific” part of the scheme of maneuver is rebriefed in logical sequence. (This is important so the subordinate again hears the plan, but this time it is their ‘‘specific” part they have and how they tie into the entire squad.)

 Example task statement “2nd fire team, you are the main effort. On order, attack to destroy the enemy observation post near the objective in order to prevent the enemy from interferring with the platoon assault on the objective ”

d. Coordinating Instructions. Coordinating instructions are those specific instruction that tie the plan together. Inclucded are details of coordination and control applicable to two or more units in the command. Items commonly addressed in coordinating instructions include:

(1) Time of Attack. The designated time to cross the line of departure

(2) Base Unit. This term and the Main Effort can be synonymous.

(3) Order of Movement. Include formations through each control measure and each fireteam’s location in them.

(a) Assembly Area to Attack Position: (Example: Squad column, fire team wedge, order from front to back is 1st fireteam, 2nd fireteam, then 3rd fireteam.)

(b) Attack Position to Assault Position(Example: Squad wedge, fire team wedge, order from left to right is 1st fireteam, 2nd fireteam, then 3rd fireteam.)

(c) Assault Position to Objective(Example: Squad on line, fire team skirmishers right, order from left to right is 1st fireteam, 2nd fireteam, then 3rd fireteam.)

(4) Security. When halted provide security. After securing the objective assign sectors of fire via the clock method for both the 180, and the 360 .

(5) Tactical Control Measures. Ensure you list the grid coordinate and the terrain feature for the following:

(a) Assembly Area (AA)

(b) Attack Position (Atk Pos)

(c) Line Departure (LD)

(d) Assault Position (Aslt Pos)

(e) Objective (Obj)

(6) Route to the Objective: direction (azimuth in degrees magnetic), distance, and key terrain feature for each of the three legs (AA to Atk Pos, Atk Pos to Aslt Pos, and Aslt Pos to Obj.)

4. ADMINISTRATION & LOGISTICS. This paragraph contains all the information necessary for subordinate units to coordinate their resupply, recovery of equipment, and evacuation of wounded and prisoners. This paragraph is represented by the “4 Bs” — Beans (chow), Bullets (ammunition), Band-aids (MEDEVAC) & Badguys (EPWs) and is divided into two subparagraphs.

a. Administration.

(1) Medical evacuation plan for wounded, including location of platoon corpsman.

(2) Enemy prisoners of war (EPW) handling procedures and evacuation plan.

b. Logistics.

(1) Initial issue and resupply plan (ammo, chow, water)

(2) Any other logistical concerns to include transportation, etc.

– Example Administration and Logistics: “We will conduct self aid, buddy aid, then corpsman aid for alt casualties. Consolidate casualties in the center of our 360 upon consolidation on the objective. EPWs will be guarded and delivered to the platoon sergeant upon completion of the mission. Everyone will carry’ one day supply of chow, two full canteens and a Camelback, and 30 rounds

5. COMMAND & SIGNAL. This paragraph contains instructions and information relating to command and communications (control) functions. It contains two subparagraphs: Signal and Command.

a. Signal. Specifies the signal instructions for the operation.

(1) Prearranged signals.

(2) Passwords and countersigns.

(3) Radio call signs, frequencies, and radio procedures.

(4) Emergency signals.

(5) Pyrotechnics.

(6) Restrictions on the use of communications.

b. Command. Identifies your location, the location of subordinate leaders and other leaders as required.

(1) Location of the key leaders (and the higher commander).

(2) Succession of command (i.e. if the squad leader becomes a casualty, then who will assume command of the squad; normally, 1st fire team leader, or main effort leader, then 2nd fire team leader, 3rd fire team leader, or supporting effort leaders, etc.).

– Example Command and Signal: ” We will use hand and arm signals until contact. Upon contact with the enemy we will switch to voice command. The platoon commander will be located with 2nd squad, the platoon sergeant will be located with us. 1 will be with 2nd fire team. Succession of command will be to 2″ fire team leader, then to Is’ fire team leader, then to 3rd fire team leader ”.

*Finally, after the operation order has been issued, two remaining items are addressed:

“Are there any questions?” – this is asked to ensure that there are no misunderstandings.

“The time is now, “military time” a time-hack is given to coordinate the same time between all units and ensure that the timeline is adhered to (more importantly to ensure that all units cross the Line Departure when required.)

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