MS300 09-02 Concept Brief

Military Science 300
Course Director
MAJ Chad Foster
Assistant Course Directors
MAJ Craig Gibson and CPT Al Vigilante
What is MS300?
Course Themes and Priorities
References and Conceptual Foundation
The Boyd Cycle
MS300 Teaching Methodology
Tactical Decision-Making Exercises
Conceptual Emphasis
Course Outcomes and Measures of Effectiveness
AY 09-01 Course Layout
How to Get to “Flexibility”
What Is MS300?
MS300 is the 3rd year military science course at the United States
Military Academy
It is one semester in length (40 lessons) and builds on the tactical
decision-making and communication skills developed during previous
Military Science Courses (MS100 and MS200) . . . The main difference
between MS300 and the others is the level of complexity that the
cadets must deal with in the scenarios.
All ‘teaching’ is scenario-based . . . No PowerPoint presentations or
lectures!!!! No rote memorization of information!
The purpose of MS300 is to nurture adaptability, strength of
character, effective communications skills, and decision-making
MS300 is based on the principles of Outcomes-Based Training and
Education (OBT&E) and uses the Adaptive Leader Methodology (ALM)
as a guide for teaching.
Course Themes and Priorities
“Be willing to make decisions. That’s the most important
quality in a leader.”
“War is an art and as such is not susceptible to explanation by
fixed formula.”
- General George S. Patton, Jr.
1. The Worst Thing To Do Is To Make No Decision At All
2. There Is No Single, Scientific Solution To A Tactical Problem
3. It Is About “How To Think” Not “What To Think”
4. Communicate Effectively
References and Conceptual Foundation
The principles that underlie U.S. Army doctrine are the
emphasis as we teach cadets “how to think.” Doctrine is not
taught as “dogma.” The fundamental principles are
understood as being the guide for future action.
William S. Lind’s Maneuver Warfare Handbook provides
inspiration and a conceptual basis for the themes and
objectives of the course. Of particular importance are the
concepts of enemy “surfaces and gaps,” mission orders,
Schwerpunt, and Commander’s Intent.
Donald E. Vandergriff’s Raising the Bar
provides a “how to” blueprint for building a
course based on the Adaptive Leader
Methodology (ALM).
The critical ‘step’ is Orientation!
It is here that one makes sense of
information, recognizes patterns,
and formulates the “WHY”
behind the subsequent decision.
An individual “takes
in” the information
using all his senses.
The Boyd Cycle
He sorts through all
the information and
focuses on what is
really important. He
then ‘interprets’ that
information within
the context of the
specific situation.
He uses the
information that he
‘oriented’ on to
make a decision.
He takes
action in
with his
The “OODA Loop” is NOT a rigid process!!!! It is a model to illustrate how individuals
think as they make decisions. It serves as the basic framework for teaching in MS300.
MS300 Teaching Methodology
Formal Intro of
‘Theory’ or
Cadet Decision
Brief / Defend Decision
Before Peers and
Brief / Defend Decision
Before Peers and
Cadet Decision
Change to
Tactical Decision-Making Exercises (TDEs)
Two Main Types:
Immediate Decision TDE
-Focus on rapid, immediate decision
Planning TDE
-Focus on timely, flexible COA
development and clear communication
-30 seconds to 1 minute allotted
-2 min or more allotted
-“Shoot” or “Don’t Shoot” situations
*These shorter duration TDEs are well suited
to ROE or escalation of force dilemmas
- Culminates in briefing of an order
* Most of the “Planning TDEs” include “immediate
decisions” during execution (usually prompted by
changes to the situation)
All scenarios are Platoon or Company-level and involve various types of units
and weapon systems. By immersing the cadets in the scenario, we “teach”
them about various weapons, types of operations, and Army branches
without ever conducting a block of instruction or PowerPoint lecture!
AY 09-02 Conceptual Emphasis
Enemy “Surfaces and Gaps”
Identification and avoidance of enemy
strengths and identification and exploitation
of enemy weaknesses
Direct Fire Planning
Application of principles of DFP and
development of graphic control measures to
help guide subordinates in accomplishment of
desired ‘effect’ on enemy and avoid fratricide
Integration of ‘Combat Multipliers’
Integration of indirect fires, aviation, UAV,
PSYOPS, host nation security forces and other
assets into tactical planning and problemsolving
Communication of Orders
Flexibility and Adaptability
Utilizing various visual ‘tools’ to augment
clarity of briefings; understanding the ‘why’
behind everything; clear and concise orders
that answer the “so what?” for subordinates
Understanding that “70 percent” is usually better
than “90 percent” . . . Be ready for change and
avoid overly complex and rigid plans
Sample of MS300 Intended Outcomes and
Measures of Effectiveness (1 of 3)
MS300 employs the Adaptive Leader Methodology (ALM) as a guide for teaching, but
the course is based on the philosophy of Outcomes-Based Training and Education
(OBT&E) . . . Below are four of our most important intended outcomes along with
their associated measures of effectiveness:
Measures of Effectiveness
Outcome: Cadets are able to go beyond mere regurgitation of information from higher
HQ by effectively analyzing the enemy threat for an operation
Cadets can estimate enemy strength, composition, and capabilities based on
information and analysis from higher headquarters as well as their own common-sense and
knowledge of the area
Cadets can identify enemy weaknesses that can be exploited by friendly forces
during an operation as well as enemy strengths that must be avoided or neutralized
Cadets can formulate an educated guess about the enemy’s course of action based
on that enemy’s capabilities, limitations, and past patterns as well as an understanding of the
effects of terrain, weather and all other pertinent factors that in a given situation
Cadets can explain why they believe the enemy will take the actions that they
outline in the ECOA
Cadets understand, and can explain, how an anticipated enemy COA is just a “best
guess” and how that “best guess” is used as a starting point for tactical planning
Sample of MS300 Intended Outcomes and
Measures of Effectiveness (2 of 3)
Outcome: Cadets are able to develop simple COAs that ensure unit of effort by their
subordinates and adheres to the higher headquarters commander’s intent
Cadets can clearly define a successful end-state for an operation that adheres to
the higher headquarters commander’s intent
Cadets can assign tasks to subordinates that make sense in terms of accomplishing
their intended end-state for the operation
Cadets can effectively “link” the efforts of their subordinates by explaining why
each element is performing their assigned task and how that supports their overall plan
Outcome: Cadets are flexible and adaptive tactical planners
Cadets avoid focusing on only one possible enemy COA during planning
Cadets develop COAs that are able to deal with multiple enemy threats while still
remaining focused on accomplishment of the assigned mission
Cadets can rapidly formulate and effectively communicate FRAGOs to their
subordinates based on drastic changes in the tactical situation
Sample of MS300 Intended Outcomes and
Measures of Effectiveness (3 of 3)
Outcome: Cadets are effective tactical communicators
Cadets effectively integrate visual tools such as maps w/graphics, sketches and
terrain models into their orders briefings as appropriate
Subordinates come away from orders briefings understanding what it is that they
are expected to do and why they are supposed to do it.
Cadets provide subordinates with guidance that is clear enough to ensure unit of
effort and adherence to the CDR’s intent but also flexible enough to allow subordinate leaders
the ability to exercise initiative as the situation on the ground changes (provides clarity of
guidance without micro-managing)
MS 300 AY 09-02 Course Layout (40 Lessons)
Adaptability, Strength of Character, Communication and Decision-Making
and “Nesting”
IPB and
COA Development
and Direct Fire
Integration of
‘Combat Multipliers’
Mission Prep
27 28 29
In-Class TDE
(Cadets in CO
DFP Assessment
(100 pts)
(100 pts) Graded TDE #1
(100 pts)
Graded TDE #2
Issued Platoon
(200 pts)
(100 pts)
39 40
(300 pts)
(100 pts)
How to Get to ‘Flexibility’
(The “House of Cards” Technique)
1 Have cadets develop COA based on very specific
enemy intelligence . . . This is the ‘bait’
Require cadets to ‘execute’ plan during a
MAPEX or simulation
With either the instructor or peer ‘role3 playing’ as the enemy, drastically alter
the enemy situation.
The cadets with plans that are rigidly tied to
4 one specific enemy COA will see their plans
“fall apart” (like a house of cards will collapse
when there is a slight change in the breeze).
This allows for the emotional experience of a
5 ‘controlled failure,’ reinforcing the fact that “70%
and flexible” is better than “90% and rigid.”

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