Training Development using the Situation-Intelligence-Decision-Action (SIDA) Model
The process used to create an exercise Intelligence Estimate and Operations Order (OPORD), and then drive that exercise, is MUCH different than the Military Decision Making Process (MDMP).
- The MDMP essentially directs actions based on the enemy situation.
- Training requires the opposite approach: you decide what actions you want the soldiers to take (based on the tasks that need to be trained) and then you create an enemy situation that will stimulate those actions.
Replace "What would Red do in this situation?"
"What must Red do in this situation to train or evaluate the Soldiers?".
What's needed is an Intelligence Estimate describing an enemy whose composition and actions precisely drive the tasks to be trained. In creating one of these, I recommend the Situation-Intelligence-Decision-Action (SIDA) model, so named because
- a Situation
is developed & presented (Situation = Scenario + OPORD + Reports fed to unit)
- from which Intelligence
is created (a Soldier evaluating what he sees is creating Intelligence)
- which is used to make Decisions
(related to Battle Planning & Battle Execution)
- which produces Action
(Tasks are performed & standard of performance is evaluated)
- which alters the Situation (the feedback loop that makes the exercise alive!)
For training, you predetermine which specific individual & collective tasks are to be performed based on assessments of readiness, or perhaps a lack of an assessment. You also want the tasks to be performed in such a way that it alters the Situation predictably and conveniently. The goal is a smooth transition from one set of tasks to another. For example, movement to contact leads to hasty attack leads to hasty defense leads to deliberate defense. Therefore, the planning sequence is Task - Action - Situation - Decision - Intelligence1. Tasks.
What Tasks are to be trained? This is a Commander/S3 call, NOT an S2 call (unless, of course, we are talking about tasks within the S2 section). 2. Action.
For each Task, determine the action that will result in the Soldier/Unit performing the task. Tasks are separated from Action because an action may result in the Soldier/Unit performing several tasks. Brainstorm and select what is appropriate given all the tasks to be trained, and your ability to evaluate them. For example, responding to a night ambush initiated with CS powder might result in the squad performing many tasks, but since the goal is to evaluate performance of the tasks, you might decide it's tough to measure times for "don protective mask" and "clear jam from an M16". This, also, is S3 work. 3. Situation.
Determine the Situation needed to elicit each of the desired Actions. For soldiers on the ground, you COULD just hand them a card saying "The enemy just initiated an ambush to your left. Respond appropriately." If someone had done that to me as a Squad Leader, I might hand them back a written note saying "We killed them all, without losses, in seconds." A MUCH better situation would be a physical threat appearing on their immediate left flank. If using MILES, human OPFOR; if live fire, pop-up targets. 4. Decisions.
Look at each Situation-Action pair, and determine what decision you want them to make. In the above example this appears obvious . . . but it's not when you consider a "Hogan's Alley" type of range, where you are evaluated on hitting the bad guys and NOT hitting the good guys. Is the decision drill-based (don a protective mask, clear a rifle stoppage, reboot the computer, duplicate the OPORD) or Situation based (conduct mission analysis, react to ambush, move through hostile territory, execute a decision point)? Is it a decision to Validate, Select, Categorize, Create, or Act? (Decisions and their Categorization
) Is it structured as a GO-NO GO, or Pick One of Many? Are the Options clear (Route 1 vs Route 2?) or ambiguous (find the best route from Pittsburg to Huntsville)?
And, of course, are you evaluating the act of decision making? This is critical! If you are not, then why bother giving them a chance to blow it, perhaps selecting an option that will require intervention, intervention that will taint the evaluation. For example: "Nice route, Sergeant, and we appreciate the effort, but we want you to follow this route, exactly." What does the sergeant hear? "Your route doesn't go through the ambush we so carefully planned. Here's a route that does."5. Intelligence.
Here, I use the word "Intelligence" in this way: "Information required to make the Decision"; it's Blue Intelligence if it is about Friendlies, and Red Intelligence if it is about the Enemy. Remember, we are still constructing a scenario, we are not, ourselves, performing Intelligence Analysis. We are hand-crafting the Intelligence nugget(s) needed to make the Decision. We might obscure these later by surrounding them with distractions, or scattering them about the documents, but at this stage they are pure, wholesome, and easy to find.
You must decide, for each Situation-Action pair, what are you going to give them in the way of information for them to make their decision? Are the Hogan's Alley pop-up targets Nancy Drew with Schoolbooks VS. Osama with an AK-74? Or will you throw in a few with Nancy pointing a shotgun, and a kid wearing an Osama Halloween mask? Neither method is inherently right or wrong. Is the enemy situation predigested, or are they required to perform some level of analysis? When and how will you give them the Intelligence? Up front in the OPORD & Intel Estimate? Or as a FRAGO / spot report during the exercise? If a live exercise, will you wait until their vehicles need maintenance or repair, or will you inject an artificial event, such as "this vehicle just lost its transmission. Call for evacuation."
Intelligence follows Decision to ensure you provide enough of the right intelligence, at the right time, to allow those being trained to make the Decision you imposed on them.6. Run through this for EVERY task
, then embed the Intelligence into the appropriate documents.
a. STARTEX OPORD. Red Intelligence goes into the Intelligence Estimate to drive IPB. Blue Intelligence goes into the OPORD to drive Mission Analysis. Remember, IPB and Mission Analysis processes happen at the lowest echelons, informally, and often unconsciously. Heck, even children use them!
"Dad will kill us if you use that!"
"But he told us to sweep the floor!"
"Not with the leaf blower, dummy."
"The sweeper cord's too short!"
"SO? Get an extension cord. Or use the broom."
b. Exercise Reports. These are spot reports, Blue and Red, that are released at appropriate times during the training. Some of these are injected electronically. They might be a note handed to a soldier, like those "You are a casualty". Timed events would also fall into this category, for example, the popping up of a target array or the passing by of the target to be ambushed.
c. FRAGOs. Fragmentary Operations Orders that are released at appropriate times during the training.7. Flesh out the documents, obscure the essentials.
a. At this point the STARTEX OPORD and FRAGOs contain ONLY the essential stuff, nothing else. Fill in the rest with verbal glue to bind the concepts together. Add clutter, if you want, to obscure the specifics. BE CAREFULL you don't confuse things.
b. Add additional Exercise Reports.
- How many, and of what type, depends on the expertise of the unit being trained.
- Let them see what they would expect to see for real.
- DO NOT let these contradict or change the essentials you added in Step 6.
c. Create the stack of stuff you needed to run the exercise: a "Road To War" that explains the events leading up to the OPORD, exercise directive, game rules, etc.End Note
It is quite possible, of course, to bypass all of the above and grab some freaking huge scenario off of the shelf. Caspian Sea comes to mind, but there are as many scenarios out there as there are contractors hired to write them. These are convenient because we can change the headquarters designations and have a nice lunch while the printers spew out paper products by the pound. This solution falls into the category of "If you want it bad, you'll get it bad." If this satisfies your requirement, you have my deepest sympathies.Excellent ReferencesMeasuring Instructional Results, Robert F. Mager
This was the inspiration for the Army development of Battle Focused Training in the 80s.The Saber-Tooth Curriculum
, J. Abner Peddiwell.
One of my all-time favorite books on how not to develop instruction. Hilarious!