06:47 UTC+0, 2023-02-08
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Tactical Spotlight: Briefing

By Raptor, on 2023-02-08

The foundation for a successful operation is a proper briefing. The better your preparation is, the less surprises will you encounter during the deployment.
Mainly responsible for the briefing is the designated leader. But comments and discussions are usually allowed during the briefing phase since time is not an issue (the British Special Air Service calls this "Chinese parliament"). Hence this is the right time to ask questions before the action starts.
To present all aspects in a logical order and ensure that nothing is missing, we use a scheme called SMEAC or "five paragraph order":

  1. Situation:

    First of all one should describe the current situation. Main points are available information about the target area or building(s), enemy forces, friendly forces and civilians.
  2. Mission:

    Second one should list the mission objectives. They must be absolutely unambiguous and should be as short as possible.
  3. Execution:

    The next step is to work out a plan how to actually conduct the operation and accomplish the objectives. A general scheme of maneuver and routes are created, available operators are divided into teams and roles are assigned.
  4. Administration and Logistics:

    In the second last step equipment is assigned. Moreover it is determined how to handle own casualties and enemy prisoners.
  5. Command and Signal:

    The last step is to ensure that everyone knows the chain of command and the available means of communication. Calls signs are assigned, radio frequencies (or TS3 channels) set and checked.


Many real-life law enforcement and military forces use their own variant of this scheme. Obviously different types of operations must focus on different aspects. A briefing for a law enforcement high risk warrant looks quite different from a briefing for a military special operation behind enemy lines. Nevertheless a lot of real-life organisations follow the SMEAC scheme and modify only the details of sub-points.
Since we are playing a huge variety of missions in various games, our actual Standard Operational Procedure lists various detailed sub-points suitable for different types of operations. The leader who gives the briefing can and should leave out some points while emphasizing others as the mission requires. (For Swat4 we have a more specific version focused on Law Enforcement.)


Note that we apply this scheme even during “casual” gameplay, although briefings during events like Live Operations are usually more detailed.
“Situation” and “Mission” will most of the time be given by the map/scenario creator or HQ (example for an Arma2 operation). In this case the leader usually sums it up quickly. If no proper briefing is given, then the leader has the opportunity to correct this. He may add information from previous rounds, or remove information from the original briefing. The decisions and actions of the team will always be based on the information given by the leader during his briefing.

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