Once you’ve considered the METT-T factors and taken accurate stock of the situation, you need to develop a solution or make a plan. The following Principles of War and Tenets of Operations are taken from FM 3-0 and should be used as guidelines in planning, executing, and refining solutions to tactical problems.



Direct every military operation toward a clearly defined, decisive, and attainable objective. Subordinate units should be assigned clearly defined and attainable tasks that contribute to decisively achieving the overall objective.


Seize, retain, and exploit the initiative. Force the enemy to fight the battle on your terms. "Fahrkarte bis zur Endstation."


There should always be a point of main effort (Schwerpunkt) where you concentrate the effects of combat power at the decisive place and time. This does not require you to position your forces all in the same space, rather, it requires that your forces be able to mass their fires at the right place and time. You must understand the capabilities of your own forces to do this. Combining your arms so that the effects of the different arms, e.g. armor, infantry, and indirect fire, complement each other is necessary as well. "Klotzen, nicht Kleckern!"

Economy of Force

Allocate minimum essential combat power to secondary efforts. Commanders never leave any element without a purpose. When the time comes to execute, all elements should have tasks to perform. Economy of force does not mean using the least amount of force necessary. It means that every asset is put to its optimum use.


Place the enemy in a disadvantageous position through the flexible application of combat power. Own the field and use it. "Der Motor des Panzers ist ebenso seine Waffe wie die Kanone."

Unity of Command

For every objective, ensure unity of effort under one responsible commander.


Never permit the enemy to acquire an unexpected advantage. Position and maneuver your forces so that you are able to see him before he sees you.


Strike the enemy at a time or place or in a manner for which he is unprepared.


Prepare clear, uncomplicated plans and clear, concise orders to ensure thorough understanding.

(See also 12 New Principles of Warfare: http://www.armedforcesjournal.com/2007/07/2807407 )



Initiative is setting or dictating the terms of action throughout the battle or operation.


Tactical agility is the ability of a friendly force to react faster than the enemy. It is essential to seizing, retaining, and exploiting the initiative.


Commanders use depth to obtain space for effective maneuver, time to conduct operations, and resources to achieve and exploit success. Depth enables momentum in the offense, elasticity in the defense, and staying power in all operations.


Through synchronization, commanders arrange battlefield forces to mass the effects of combat power at the chosen place and time to overwhelm an enemy or dominate the situation. Synchronization is a means, not an end. Commanders balance synchronization against agility and initiative; they never surrender the initiative or miss a decisive opportunity for the sake of synchronization. In other words, the perfectly synchronized plan that requires too much preparation is not perfect.


Competence in a variety of missions and skills allows forces to quickly transition from one type of operation to another with minimal changes to the deployed force structure. Structure the disposition of your forces so that they can react quickly to all possible situations. Additionally, it is a firm practice of the First US Volunteer Cavalry to rotate members through different command positions in-game. This practice enables all members to competently assume any in-game position.


Page 1, Definition

Page 2, Taking Stock of the Situation

Page 3, Developing the Solution

Page 4, Contextualizing the Principles

What the world says about forces and initiative
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