I was in my stateroom that morning having a cup of coffee when Major Mike “Honcho” Ford, a burly southerner with a cowboy’s drawl, knocked on my door. “Hey man,” he said calmly, “we got a ship that’s been pirated. No official tasking yet, I’ll pass you a sitrep when I get it. Go ahead and put the guys on alert-120.” As the 15th MEU’s Maritime Raid Force Commander, the platoon and I had been training with “Honcho” for nearly a year for this mission, so what happened over the next 60 minutes was by now a well-rehearsed standard operating procedure.
One thing caught my eye, and it is a trick the Army could learn from the Marines. The Marines train up on several “canned” scenarios before they go on an afloat deployment. Rather than planning an operation from scratch, they pull the canned plan from their menu of options, and only “brief the exceptions.” That is, the only thing that has to be discussed before executing are those few things that are unique to the operation at hand. It saves a lot of time, and by keeping as close as possible to their training scenarios, it minimizes the possibilities for confusion.