Within the planning process of a military operation, there are several key steps that must be accomplished before being able to activate the mission.  The WARNO or Warning Order is one of these key steps that vary in time, detail and method of delivery depending on Mission, Enemy, Terrain, and Weather, Troops and Fire Support, Time and Civilian Considerations (METT-TC).

While some WARNOs are given in a nice heated room from a powerpoint ranger others are given in the field or 5 minutes prior to departure and can even double as an operations order (OPORD) if given correctly.

While WARNOs change, the basic elements of it stay the same.

WARNO Format

(1) Situation

 Enemy Forces

This section is extremely important and should be given in as much detail as time allows.  Give the enemy’s disposition, strength, composition, capabilities, and most likely course of action (MLCOA).  This will allow your soldiers to properly equip themselves with any additional weaponry or equipment necessary. 

Friendly Forces

Use this section to briefly describe any friendly forces that may be operating in the AO or with your unit during the operations.  Also, give the mission of the next higher unit and any adjacent units.  This is always important to help reduce fratricide.  Be sure to give any information that may help in identifying adjacent friendly forces while in the field. 

Attachments and Detachments

Give any information pertaining to attached units such as EOD, K-9, Medics, etc.

(2) Mission

This is given in the Who, What, When, Where, Why (5W’s) format and it should be clear to everyone as to what the objective is and how you plan to reach your desired end state.  Always repeat the mission twice. 

(3) Execution

Provide as much information about how the actual mission will take place as possible.  During a WARNO this can be brief or detailed but should give everyone involved a good idea as to how you are going to accomplish the mission.  Remember to give any information that may help them prepare appropriately.  An example would be to tell them you will be conducting INFIL via rotary-wing aircraft and that everyone needs to bring rappel gloves.

(4) Command and Signal

This is essentially the beans and bullets portion.  This gives troops an idea as to how they will get the equipment needed to complete the operation.

(5) Service and support

This gives the command structure during the operation, freqs, call signs, and any other pertinent information.  Again when giving the WARNO be sure to give troops the information they need to prepare for the mission.  For example, if you are planning to do satellite communication during your operation you need to tell your RTL to bring the appropriate radio, antennas, and fills. 

*Author’s Note

As mentioned WARNOs differ drastically from unit to unit.  While schools like Ranger School and the Special Forces Qualification Course follow a more rigorous guideline for giving out a WARNO these can be tailored in any way needed as long as it gets across the information needed to prepare for the operation.  Following the WARNO each member of the team should have a clear and concise idea of what they need to do to prepare for the OPORD (Operations Order) and or mission.  

If you conduct a similar mission you should always try and have some type of WARNING ORDER template that you can use to fill in the blanks. This could include things like-Equipment common to all -Mission -Specific equipment -Ammunition required -Routes -Target or HVT (High-Value Target) information -Timeline -Seating plan of vehicle platforms -PIR (Priority Intelligence Requirements) 

*Have something in specific that you do to give a WARNO?   Please let us know in the comments section below.   We are always interested in what others do and your information could certainly help other soldiers prepare for their next mission. 

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