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Famous METS- How Hard are METLs?

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Friday, June 24, 2011

Mission Threads, Architectures, Readiness and METLs Oh my!

Word from the street has it that CNO himself asked for help on figuring out how all these concepts align to the Navy's ROC-POE and the current structures for organizing and preparing the Fleet to fight. In a budget uncertain, resource constrained, complex environment- where can the leadership go to determine a way out of the "permanent whitewater" as Admiral Harvey espouses, other than just to hang on?

Perhaps there is a way that, if studied, appreciated, and implemented, would lead us to greater understanding and a set of paths so we can take hold of the situation rather than just keep muddling through. The leaders have said- "Get back to basics" - "Maintain standards" - and "Communicate-Collaborate-Coordinate."

Does a process exist that helps us focus on the mission, align all efforts for success, and discover and employ measures that track our progress and validate our chosen paths?

I submit that the mission to task -strategic to tactical- alignment discussed in the UJTL and employed through the METL process offers not only a way- but has been specified by DOD as The Way when all of the concepts, missions, Kill Chains, Capabilities, Mission Threads, Architectures, Readiness and METL guiding documents are laid out clearly and visualized as an integrating whole.

Strategy must start at the top and set the vision. Leaders must equip their operators with the training, tools and time to achieve mission objectives. Three big questions need to be answered (and continually re-answered):

What do we really have to do?

How well do we have to do it?

What help do we need from outside our organization?

Any Marine can tell you and as related by Kaufman (1992): "First figure out the What- then see about the How?"

Answering those questions and employing some kind of visualization tool- e.g. a "picture"- can show how the tasks link together and what organization- or person- should be responsible for each. If we now fill in the "How well" for each task, we have an idea of what to track to measure progress and call it "success." Moreover, as we study the tasks, we will also discover certain constraints that can make the job harder or enablers which accelerate the job to success.

Three pages from the UJTL -highlighted for emphasis- follow:

1. Purpose. The UJTL is a library of tasks, which serves as a foundation for capabilities-based planning across the range of military operations. The UJTL supports the Department of Defense in joint capabilities-based planning, joint force development, readiness reporting, experimentation, joint training and education, and lessons learned. It is the basic language for development of a joint mission-essential task list (JMETL) or agency mission-essential task list (AMETL) used in identifying required capabilities for mission success.

2. General

a. The UJTL, when augmented by Service and other applicable task lists, is a comprehensive, integrated menu of functional tasks, conditions, and measures to aid in crafting standards (measures and criteria) supporting all levels of the Department of Defense in executing the National Security Strategy (NSS), National Defense Strategy (NDS), and the National Military Strategy (NMS).

b. The UJTL database (DB) consists of appropriate tasks, conditions, and measures in a common language and reference system for various users, to include joint force commanders (JFC)/Agency Directors and their planning staffs, joint force developers, combat support personnel, joint experimentation agencies, and joint trainers. The UJTL is adaptive and flexible, and vertical and horizontal linkages exist and can exist among UJTL tasks. Vertical linkages connect related tasks between levels of war (LOWs), such as strategic national communications linked to tactical communications, while horizontal linkages, or parallel linkages, connect different tasks at the same LOW, such as tactical communications being used for tactical maneuvers. UJTL tasks are meant to be mapped to capabilities to meet operational mission requirements. For example, joint operations planners and analysts can use the UJTL to translate missions into common language tasks that trainers and combat developers can use to derive operational and future force development requirements. This capabilities-based mission-to-task connectivity enables determination of what Doctrine, Organization, Training, Materiel, Leadership and Education, Personnel, and Facilities (DOTMLPF) changes affect future force development.

Additionally, these tasks will enable operational planners to determine what forces (defined as "an aggregation of military personnel, weapon systems, equipment, and necessary support, or combination thereof") are required to achieve desired capabilities when used in conjunction with the Defense Readiness Reporting System (DRRS). During the planning process, lessons learned linked to specific UJTL tasks will provide insight into how best to accomplish specific missions using various capabilities. Additional applications of the UJTL are described in Paragraph 9.

c. The UJTL is a key element of the capabilities-based, "mission-to-task" joint training system (JTS). In implementing this system, all users conduct mission analysis, identify specified and implied tasks, use the UJTL to describe these tasks (including supporting and command-linked tasks), apply guidance to determine essential tasks, select conditions that impact the tasks, and select measures and criteria that form the basis for standards. They document these essential tasks, conditions, and standards as their warfighting requirements in a(n) J/AMETL.


a. The JDEIS UJTL DB contains a comprehensive hierarchical listing of the tasks that can be performed by the Joint Staff, Services, combatant commands and components, activities, joint organizations, the National Guard Bureau (NGB), and combat support agencies (CSAs) responsive to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The relationship between missions, operations, and tasks is discussed in Paragraph 8. In addition, the JDEIS UJTL DB includes a menu of sample measures of performance and measures of effectiveness associated with each UJTL task. These measures with criteria associated with a particular maximum or minimum performance level by commanders/directors, become the standards of performance consistent with mission requirements. These measures are neither directive nor all-inclusive. They should be used as a guide and may be modified or expanded based on the user's experience and needs.

b. The UJTL identifies what is to be performed in terms common to joint organizations. The UJTL task description does not address how or why a task is performed (found in joint doctrine or other governing criteria), or who performs the task (found in the commander's concept of operations and joint doctrine). UJTL language and terminology must be consistent and compliant with existing joint doctrine language and terminology and in accordance with (IAW) reference e (See paragraph 7).

c. In J/AMETL development, commanders/directors select the tasks that most closely describe what is being performed as determined by mission analysis. Single-digit listings (e.g., SN 1, ST 1, OP 1 and TA 1, etc.) are "category headings," designating broad functional task areas. In general, they should not be used in a(n) J/AMETL, though in very rare situations single-digit listings can be considered when two-digit tasks would be so numerous to the point of being unmanageable. Two-, three-, four- and five-digit tasks allow for more specificity in creating a J/AMETL, and they should be used to effectively capture the requirements of a mission's specified and implied tasks. d. The JDEIS UJTL DB contains a listing of conditions in the physical, military, and civil environments that may be used to describe the operational context for selected mission tasks. Conditions are neither directive nor all inclusive. They should be used as a guide and may be modified based on the user's experience and needs. Modified conditions should be submitted to the JS J-7 UJTL Coordinator (UC) for inclusion in the UJTL DB. (This in no way precludes the commander/director from using conditions prior to their being incorporated in the JDEIS UJTL DB. The intent of submitting the conditions is to add the conditions to JDEIS for everyone's use.)

4. Joint Tasks

a. Joint tasks describe, in broad terms, the current and potential capabilities of the Armed Forces of the United States. Joint tasks are actions or processes accomplished by a joint organization under joint command and control using joint doctrine. They are assigned by combatant commanders, subordinate JFCs and joint task force commanders to be performed by joint forces, staffs, and integrated Service and functional components. This CJCSM provides an overall description of joint tasks that can be applied at multiple levels of command (e.g., strategic national, strategic theater, operational, and tactical). Each Service publishes its own task list to supplement the UJTL and links appropriate Service tasks to corresponding UJTL tasks. A detailed description of these tasks is provided in the JDEIS UJTL DB.

b. The joint tasks listed in this DB are not all inclusive. Service and Defense agency components are capable of tasks beyond those listed.

5. Conditions. Conditions are variables of the environment that affect the performance of a task. Some conditions are designed to help describe the theater of operations (e.g., host-nation support); others describe the immediate joint operations area (e.g., maritime superiority), while still others describe the battlefield conditions (e.g., littoral composition). When linked to specific joint tasks, conditions help frame the differences or similarities between assigned missions. Enclosure C of this manual provides a more detailed explanation of "Joint Conditions."

6. Measures and Criteria of Performance. Commander's approved measures and criteria of performance comprise the task standard to describe how well a joint organization or force must perform a joint task under a specific set of conditions. Commanders use criteria and measures to establish task standards based on mission requirements (such as maximum number of failures or minimum percentage of units trained). These standards, when linked to conditions, provide a basis for planning, conducting, and evaluating military operations as well as training events.

11:00 am edt          Comments

Monday, June 13, 2011

Visualizing the Mission- Seeing the METL as a Picture

Most folks familiar with METLs understand their source is from mission analysis.  One key input is the “picture” as created during the planning- or design-phase of a mission.  What tasks lead to the end state and how should they fit/ be sequenced?

Are they just single or are there many that must be repeated over and over?  How can we truly measure those that do not fit in as single tasks?  Are they even relevant to overall mission accomplishment?

METLs produced by current systems (NTIMS, DRRS, etc) come out “flat”- either as Alpha-numeric documents in Word or pdf files or as stacks of spreadsheets in Excel.  No system produces them as a “picture.”

Capabilities designers, developers, trainers, and testers need a better display of the mission METL in operations views.  They need to crawl inside the mind (Coups d’oeil) of the commander!  What patterns have been developed, what timing, tempo, indicators are passing through his “O-O-D-A” loop as Boyd described it?

It is just this picture that has eluded those of us who have been pressing in on the METL issue.

Recall that NTTP 1-01 contends that “NMETLs allow a commander to quantify the level and scope of effort required to achieve mission objectives.”[1]  Pictures aid the planning view.  Aid the commander’s ability to articulate the Vision!

[1] NTTP 1-01 The Navy Warfare Publication Library (April 2005).

10:45 am edt          Comments

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