UNITED STATES MARINE CORPS
THE BASIC SCHOOL
MARINE CORPS TRAINING COMMAND
CAMP BARRETT, VIRGINIA 22134-5019
W3S0005 Military Briefing
1. TERMINAL LEARNING OBJECTIVE.
a. Given subordinate units and an order, while considering the situation
and time available, issue a five paragraph order to communicate a complete,
realistic, and tactically sound plan that accomplishes the
b. Given a unit and references, conduct a military brief to ensure the
audience receives the message. (MCCSLDR-2204)
2. ENABLING LEARNING OBJECTIVES.
a. Given a scenario, commanders intent, and available references,
determine format for the information brief in order to facilitate the
transfer of information. (MCCS-LDR-2204a)
b. Given a scenario, commanders intent, and available references, build
content into formatted information brief in order to facilitate the transfer
of information. (MCCS-LDR-2204b)
c. Given a scenario, commanders intent, and available references, present
an information brief in order to facilitate the transfer of information.
d. Given an audience, with the aid of references, communicate orally to
present ideas with confidence, accuracy, and completeness. (TBS-CORE-2102b)
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1. TYPES OF MILITARY BRIEFS. Military briefs are designed to present
selected information to commanders, staffs and other audiences in a clear,
concise and expedient manner. The types of military briefs are dictated by
purpose. There are four (4) basic types: the information brief, the decision
brief, the staff brief, and the mission brief. Although there are elements,
which are common to all four, each type of brief is distinct in that it is
designed to accomplish a specific purpose.
a. Information Brief. The information brief is designed to merely
provide information to an audience. An information brief deals only with
facts. The desired end state of this type of brief is listener
comprehension. No conclusion or decision needs to be drawn form the brief.
Times when an information brief may be utilized include: Passing information
of high priority which requires the immediate attention of proper authority,
when passing complex information requiring detailed explanation or an After
Action report for a military operation.
(1) Format. The basic format for the presentation of an information
brief is as follows:
1 Greeting. Recognize senior member(s) of audience. Follow
up with “gentlemen” or “ladies and gentlemen” in recognition of others
present. Finally, identify yourself.
2 Purpose. Explain purpose and scope.
3 Procedure. Explain conduct of brief, lecture,
demonstration, display, tour, combination, etc.
4 There is no need, nor time, for an attention gainer.
1 Organization. The body should follow an organization
providing the best arrangement, presentation and support of main ideas.
Sequence may be chronological, such as what happened, is happening, and is
expected to happen; or it may be presented as cause-and-effect, as in an
after action report.
2 Plan for effective, smoothly executed transitions.
3 Be prepared for questions at any time.
1 Summarize main ideas. Keep in mind that this is the last
thing your audience will hear and so it will be one of the more prominent
memories. It is here that you should restate any significant facts.
2 Closing statement. “This concludes my brief, are there any
questions.” Or, if briefing a senior, “Sir, pending your questions, this
concludes my brief.”
3 Introduce next speaker, if applicable.
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b. Decision Brief. Designed to be presented to a commander in order to
elicit a decision.
(1) The outcome is usually the manner in which a unit will execute a
pending mission. For example, a commander may be presented a decision brief
containing three (3) Courses of Action (COAs), all of which are designed to
accomplish the same mission, but in different manners.
(2) After being presented and considering the strengths and
weaknesses of each COA, the commander can make an educated decision. Of
course, the commander retains the prerogative to modify or reject the choices
and send his staff back to the drawing board.
(3) The format for a Decision Brief is built upon the Information
1 Greeting. Recognize the senior member(s) of the audience.
Follow up with “gentlemen” or “ladies and gentlemen” in recognition of
others. Finally, identify yourself.
2 Purpose. State the purpose is to obtain a decision.
3 Procedure. Explain any special procedures or introduce
4 Coordination. State any previous coordination.
5 Classification. Identify security classification of brief.
1 Assumptions. State all that are valid, relevant and
2 Facts Bearing. Any supportable facts bearing on the
problem should be stated concisely and accurately.
3 Discussion. Analyze COAs. The initial statement should
indicate the origin of the problem and point out any command guidance given.
Plan for smooth transitions. THIS IS THE CRITICAL PHASE OF THE DECISION
1 State conclusions reached as a result of your analysis.
Rank the COAs based upon level of supportability. Do not introduce new COAs
or suggest modifications at this point. Restrict to only logical conclusions
derived from discussion phase.
2 State recommended actions. Read recommendations to ensure
accuracy and phrase them so the commander can mentally accept or decline.
Recommendations must be specific and not solicitations of opinion.
(d) Conclude your brief.
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1 Ask for questions.
2 Solicit decision or inquire if recommendation is approved
c. Staff Briefing. The staff briefing is the most widely used military
briefing and is used at every level of command from the Marine Corps
fire/demo team to HQMC. It is used to secure a coordinated or unified
effort. The staff briefing is designed for the rapid, oral dissemination of
(1) In peacetime, staff briefings are normally conducted on a
scheduled basis. In combat, they are held as often as the situation
(2) At the battalion level, the executive officer usually presides
over the staff briefing, but the commander may elect to do so if he desires.
The individual presiding normally begins by identifying the purpose of the
briefing and may review the mission of the next higher headquarters. He may
highlight the briefing and then call on staff members to brief their areas of
responsibility. These staff representatives should avoid presenting a rehash
of the entire staff estimate but should tailor their presentation to specific
areas that will assist the commander in the execution of the mission. For
example, the S2 chief should refrain from reciting verbatim the entire
weather forecast. Specifically, he should focus only on the effects of
weather on mission accomplishment.
(3) Staff representatives present matters that might pertain to, be
of interest to, or require coordination action by other staff sections. The
commander usually concludes the briefing but may take an active part
throughout the presentation.
(4) The format for presentations by each staff member during the
staff briefing varies and is dependent upon the commander’s guidance. The
format may be elaborate, using visual aids to depict the activities of each
staff representative; or it may be less formal, with the emphasis on each
staff member briefing only those items or areas the commander feels are
d. Mission Brief. Mission briefings are used under operational
conditions to impart information or to give specific instructions for
accomplishment of the mission.
(1) In an operational situation or when the mission of a specific
unit is critical, it may be necessary to provide individuals or smaller units
with more data than written orders provide. This may be done by means of the
(2) The mission briefing reinforces written orders and provides more
detailed requirements and instructions. The mission briefing is normally
conducted as a joint staff effort, with the commander stating the mission the
unit has received and each staff member presenting information on his area.
(3) There is no prescribed format for the mission briefing, but it
should be tailored to achieve the specific purpose of the briefing. In most
cases, the operations order (OPORD) format can be used if it is not
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(4) The purpose of the mission briefing can be summarized as the
final review of a forthcoming military action to ensure those taking part are
certain of their mission, understand the intent of the commander, and grasp
his concept of the operation. For these reasons, the commander actively
participates throughout the confirmation briefing.
(5) The Confirmation Brief is a form of the Mission Brief that is
performed as a part of the Marine Corps Planning Process. After the
subordinate commander receives his order or plan, the subordinate commander
then briefs the higher commander on his understanding of the higher’s intent,
their specific task and purpose and the relationship between their unit’s
missions and the other units in the operation. The Confirmation Brief also
allows the higher commander to identify gaps in his plan, identify
discrepancies between his and subordinate commander’s plans and learn how
subordinate commands intend to accomplish their mission. Lastly, The
Confirmation Brief informs the higher commander that the subordinate unit is
ready to execute and lays out the timeline for the execution of its mission.
(6) The format for a Confirmation Brief will vary from unit to unit,
however the brief generally follows the OPORD format with emphasis being
placed on the Mission and Execution paragraphs. In some cases, the
Situation, Admin and Logistics, and Command and Signal paragraphs are omitted
as a part of the Confirmation Brief since they have been addressed previously
during the planning process and would be redundant. For example, the weather
forecast published by the S-2 usually doesn’t need to be reiterated to the
commander by one of his subordinate commanders. However, selected portions
of these paragraphs may be included if they have a direct effect on the
accomplishment of your mission and the higher commanders mission. For
example, if the rain the S-2 forecasts will cause a delay in your operation,
then that is something that should be briefed.
2. PREPARING A BRIEF. The preparation or creation of a brief involves
several steps. A briefer must have a thorough knowledge of the subject to be
presented. Knowledge is gained through research. Knowledge alone, however,
does not guarantee an effective brief. Effective planning is also important.
You prepare for a briefing by using knowledge, research and planning. To
ensure success use the following steps to guide you in your preparation of
(1) First, determine the purpose of the briefing. You have to ask
yourself (and others); Why am I giving this brief? What is the desired
outcome? Ask for guidance in order to inform accurately – your purpose is not
to sell or entertain, but to impart information.
(2) Second, consider your audience. Know the size and composition,
including names and grades. Learn the interests, desires and traits of the
(3) Next, consider the time and schedule contingencies. Know in
advance how much time you have and how flexible the schedule or itinerary is.
(4) Consider the requirement for equipment and facilities. Size,
comfort, accessibility, acoustics of the facility, and freedom from
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distractions will affect selection of visual aids, seating arrangements, and
use of assistants.
(5) Finally, check the SOP. Many commanders have definite rules for
the presentation of briefings. Know and follow these rules on such things as
protocol, uniform, manner of greeting, use of manuscripts and other important
aspects. If your brief contains classified information, it is imperative
that you clear your brief through the S-2/G-2.
b. Research Topic/Write Outline.
(1) Tailor topic(s) to meet time restraints/constraints. Both the
content and the organization depend on the purpose and scope established in
the initial guidance.
(2) Collect authoritative material to support your position.
Examples include statistics, surveys, and interviews.
(3) Determine main ideas to form the foundation of your brief.
(4) Sequence main ideas in logical order. This could be
chronological, cause and effect or possibly in the building block format
depending on the situation.
(5) Write an outline (your “rough draft”). Main ideas should be in
some logical sequence with natural transitions from idea to idea.
c. Write the Briefing.
(1) Depending on local SOP, program as an outline or a complete
manuscript, the latter being a rarer requirement.
(2) Advance approval of a briefing is usually required; obtain firm
approval of content and organization prior to rehearsal to avoid changes
(3) For use in rehearsals and presentations, prepare an outline,
prompter cards, or an annotated manuscript. Use lectern notes and visual
aids for the rehearsal just as you plan to do for your actual brief.
d. Rehearse. Rehearsing your brief is the best way to alleviate
excessive nervousness. Complexity of the briefing and time available to
present it will govern the amount of time you devote to rehearsals.
(1) Rehearse alone initially to get the sequence of the briefing down
and the manipulation of visual aids.
(2) Rehearse with assistants to coordinate key words.
(3) Bring in a live audience of one or two persons to give you an
objective criticism of your presentation. What is logical to you may not be
logical to others.
(4) Conduct a dress rehearsal with only your audience missing.
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(5) The above order will not always be possible, but the briefer must
at least walk through the main points of the briefing and fix in his mind the
approach to the subject.
(6) Make a final check. Insure that everything is ready for the
actual briefing. Give special attention to seating arrangements and other
(7) Sometimes, the items listed above will not be feasible. The
briefer must, however, at a minimum walk and talk through the main points of
the brief to set to mind the basic organization of the presentation.
e. Prepare a Briefing Packet. An effective packet helps to guide an
audience through your brief. Creating a packet is not always necessary or
even feasible depending upon the situation and environment. Determine the
requirement, or lack thereof, in your initial analysis. Effective packets
serve as a “tour guide” and follow the following guidelines:
(1) Synchronized with presentation to prevent constant page turning.
(2) Simple, large – bulleted format.
(3) Contains only essential information. If detailed, amplifying
data is needed, include it as an enclosure at the end of the packet or
provide as an additional handout.
(4) Items incorporated in a briefing packet include, but are not
limited to, the following:
(a) Title Page. The title page should contain the name of the
mission or exercise, the type of brief that is being given, the names of
those presenting the brief, the date, and the classification of the brief.
(b) Orientation Tab. During the orientation show a map of the
AO. When briefing the orientation, remember that you are not the first or
only person to brief, so much of the orientation has already been provided by
the S-2 or S-3. Brief the orientation from the Engineer perspective. Brief
general to specific and do so in an organized manner. Remember to use a
1:50K map when doing the orientation.
(c) Situation. When briefing Enemy and Friendly situations,
focus on how it affects your engineer mission only. For example, if you are
in a Confirmation Brief for obstacle planning, talk to the enemy’s breaching
(d) Request For Information & Assumptions. In a Confirmation
Brief you should have already had all your RFI’s answered. Any unanswered
RFI’s become assumptions that you have to work off of when planning. When
making assumptions, use the worst case scenario.
(e) Mission. Your mission comes directly from the task that was
provided to you in your CO’s order. Your mission should be stated as
engineers to support the commander’s intent. Make sure you answer the Who,
What, Where, When, and Why (IOT).
(f) Commander’s Intent. This should be your intent as the
Engineer Officer based on the engineering mission. Although it will not be
the exact same as the intent of the CO, it should not refute anything that he
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has stated in his order. The end-state is again based derived from your
engineering mission. Although it will not be the exact same as the end-state
of the CO, it should not refute anything that he has stated in his order.
(g) Execution. This should be the meat and potatoes of your
brief. Brief your plan in phases in such a way that it illustrates how you
will accomplish your mission. Use maps and graphics as required. All
coordination with supported or supporting units should have already been
conducted so be sure that you are not introducing anything new to the units
at the brief. At the end of this section the entire briefing audience will
walk away knowing what your plan is and have a general understanding of how
you intend to execute that plan. Be sure to show the commanders in the room
what you will be doing.
(h) Timeline. There are several ways to depict a timeline. When
you brief the Commanding Officer, you need to convey what you will have done
and by when. In your briefing packet you should show the mathematics of how
you arrived at that timeline. GANTT charts, CPM, Activity Estimation sheets,
(i) Administration. Do not just list the T/O – however you
should show the Task Organization of how you have your platoon broken down.
You should also list any critical MOS’s that you have. For instance, if you
are doing a utilities heavy mission and only have (2) 1141’s, you should
mention that. Lastly, ensure the CO knows of any additional augments you
have, especially from other units.
(j) Logistics. Do not list your entire T/E, just like you don’t
list your entire T/O. However, you need to show your critical pieces of
equipment and gear, and show the big ticket items of Class IV and Class V.
All requests for the materials should have already been coordinated with and
approved by the S-4. You need to account for how you plan to move all your
equipment, gear, Marines, and materials. Any gear you are temporarily
loaning from other units or internal units to the battalion should be noted
in this section.
(k) Command & Signal. Explain the location of key personnel –
PltCdr, PltSgt, PltGuide. You should also explain what frequency you will be
operating on and if there are any changes to the POI. If you have any
brevity codes associated with the mission, i.e. breaching, make sure you
explain them clearly in this section.
(l) Conclusion. Summarize your main points. Reiterate what time
you will be mission complete from the engineering standpoint. Do not
introduce any new ideas in this section; it should take you no more than 45-
(m) Questions. Ask for questions from the audience. It usually
pays to have the Platoon Sergeant or Platoon Guide on hand as well to help
answer questions if need be.
f. Use of Notes. Think of your notes as signs on a highway. You pick
up information at a glance as you whiz by; you should do the same with your
notes. Here are some tips on preparing your notes:
(1) Use cards (3”x5”, 4”x6”, 5”x8”) or sheets of paper, whichever is
easiest for you. Number each card or page in the upper right-hand corner.
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(2) Keep your notes brief, just a word or phrase, with plenty of
space between key points so that your eye easily locates the next “thought-
(3) Type or print in large block letters.
(4) Underline important words in ink or colored pencil.
(5) Do not fold your notes (they should lie flat) or staple the pages
together. Turning pages distracts the audience.
(6) Notes tell your audience you are prepared, so do not conceal
(7) Occasionally, you may be required to read from a study as part of
your briefing. Here are some guidelines:
(a) Be familiar with the materials.
(b) Listeners cannot see punctuation, so punctuate for them with
(c) Hold your reading material at a comfortable height so that
you can read out and over it, not down into it. Look at your listeners
occasionally. Use free hand or thumb to guide your eye down the page.
g. Use of Media.
(1) Media (Computer Generated Graphics) can greatly enhance the
effectiveness of a brief. Power Point has become the unofficial standard
throughout the Marine Corps. As leaders, you need to familiarize yourself
with the program and become proficient with it.
(2) Many units or organizations will have a standard slide background
format or “master” that you’ll be required to utilize for briefs or other
presentations. Use classification marks (Unclassified, Secret, Top Secret)
in the header and footer as appropriate.
(3) In absence of a standard format, try to avoid the use of the more
complicated or “busy” backgrounds contained in the design templates. Text
can sometimes get “lost” in the details of the background. Not all of the
design templates are suitable in certain light conditions. Details and
colors displayed on the monitor may look different when projected onto a
screen or whiteboard, especially when viewed under florescent lighting. Make
sure you look at your brief from the perspective of your audience to avoid
problems of clarity.
(4) Lengthy text paragraphs become a reading exercise for your
audience vice an informative brief and should be avoided. Keep sentences
simple or use sentence fragments. Proof read fragments to ensure your
message is clearly understood and that the point that you’re trying to make
isn’t misconstrued. Choose a font style, size and color that will contrast
against your background and be visible to all. Keep in mind that there is
nothing wrong with black on white.
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(5) The use of graphic animation should be limited as it becomes
distracting over time. This is especially true with the use of sound effects
and should generally be avoided for a military brief. Standard military
symbology and colors must be used where applicable and practicable.
(6) Since the brief will most likely be displayed behind you, keeping
eye contact with your audience presents a greater challenge. The use of the
notes pages printed from your brief and placed on the lectern or podium can
help you to keep your focus on your audience. It’s acceptable to glance at
your slides from time to time, but reading from them is not acceptable.
h. Use of Visual Aids.
(1) Stand as close to your visuals as possible. If you are right-
handed, stand stage left. If you are left-handed, stand stage right.
(2) When using the overhead projector, turn the projector off when
you have finished showing a transparency, remove the transparency, and then
place the next one on the projector before turning the projector on. This
will prevent the audience from being subjected to flashes of bright light on
(3) Turn the projector off when you are not using a visual.
(4) If your visuals are on charts, place them face down on the floor
or face against the wall when you finish with each one to avoid distractions.
(5) If you are using slides, place them in an orderly sequence so
that you can readily find the one you want during the question period.
(6) If handout material is necessary for your briefing, distribute it
either before or after your briefing. It is impossible for the audience to
receive the material, read or glance at it, and still devote attention to
what you are saying. If you must distribute material during your briefing,
pause until the audience receives it before you resume speaking.
i. Use of Pointers.
(1) Use a solid (wood or metal) pointer.
(2) Look at the visual only to get the pointer on the right spot and
to glance at words printed there. Then face the audience to speak while
holding the pointer fixed on the spot.
(3) Unless you are circling an item of interest, hold the pointer
steady on the spot. Do not wave it around.
(4) When pointing at a line of words, place the pointer at the end of
the line nearest you and hold it there. Do not sweep it or move it from word
to word as you read.
(5) Place the pointer under a word horizontally as an underline for
(6) When pointing on a transparency, lay the pointer down on that
portion of the transparency you wish to emphasize.
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(7) When you do not need the pointer, lay it down or hold it
motionless at your side.
(8) If using an assistant, plan for him to use the pointer to
emphasize key points while you present the brief.
3. BRIEF DELIVERY.
a. A military brief is a highly specialized type of speech. It is
characterized, more than any other type of speech, by conciseness,
objectivity and accuracy. A successful brief depends, not only on organized
content, but also on how the briefer presents it. A confident, precise and
forceful delivery, based on in-depth subject knowledge and the following,
(1) Present the subject as directed and ensure it is understood.
(2) Conclusions and recommendations must be logical.
(3) Need for brevity precludes a lengthy introduction and/or summary.
b. Communication Techniques. Effective verbal communication involves
the effective use of each of the following eight (8) techniques:
(1) Volume. Volume is vital in holding listeners’ attention. A
speaker should use the volume necessary to reach an entire audience,
regardless of the speaking environment. Do not, however, overpower the
closest members of an audience. Various situations call for different volume
(2) Inflection. Inflection is directly related to volume. More
commonly referred to as “pitch,” inflection aids in maintaining listener
attention. A lack of inflection results in a monotone speaker. Inflection
is often used to express an emotional or persuasive point. This helps make a
brief or lecture more meaningful.
(3) Rate. Rate is the speed of delivery. Speak too fast and
listeners may miss important material. Speak too …