Sunday Funny: the Ever-Expanding Op Order

“…do you want a powerpoint slide with 10 little helicopters on it with little arrows pointing to their location…and a portion of the chart where I actually do first grade addition showing you that I cannot provide you with 3 aircraft?

Brilliant staff work, Doctrine Man

A lot of you reading this will know what a 5-paragraph OP Order is supposed to be like (I hope). Same as a FRAGO or my personal favorite, the sadly under-used Mission Order. It never ceases to amaze me how success in briefing preparation is so frequently measured by power point slides and pages of text generated. Need SSIs for an upcoming inspection? You should spend a large chunk of several weekly staff meeting arguing about how to properly format them, then at the last minute make them about five times as complicated as they really should be. During a joint operation with an Army combat engineer unit once, I sat through an Op Order full of staggeringly inconsequential information. I recall the joy I felt when we spent approximately 15 minutes on the proper employment of turn signals during convoy movement; then we went over the entire cycle of operations of the M240. Sweet.

In any case, should you also be someone who has been or continues to be repeatedly astounded by bureaucratic military inanity, you will like DOCTRINE MAN. I highly recommend it. Check out this video, and visit DM on his Facebook page. You’ll be glad you did.

“…we use the operations order to describe everything from combat operations to setting up a f#$&ing hot dog stand. We also think it’s a good idea to place common sense information in an operations order…I sh@# you not. Not only is this in the fragmentary order, but it takes up half a f#$&ing page and includes needless references to tasks to subordinate units and coordinating instructions for ordering a f#$&ing burger no less…paragraph 3-5-A-1 SUBJECT improved burger king customer service. Task to subordinate units, see Coordinating Instructions. Coordinating Instructions, please know what menu item or value meal number being purchased as soon as possible. Have money ready. Please have one person speak at a time. Know what size value meal if applicable. Know what kind of drink you desire. Be courteous to eatery staff. The POC for this information is the restaurant manager….seriously, do the Canadians go through the entire military decision making process just to get a cup of coffee at Tim Hortons isn Kandahar? FML.

Frustrated with the mind numbing ridiculosity of the world’s largest entrenched bureaucracy? It’s almost guaranteed you’ll like about everything Doctrine Man says. Check out More Mysteries of Command Guidance as well.

About the Author

Kilgore & Call
Richard Kilgore and Jake Call have been writing on and off for for many years now. You can reach them at or follow them on Instagram at @breachbangclear or Tumblr at
  • reflexivefire

    Doctrine Man is great! Anyone who has ever sat through 200 power point slides and then had to raise their hand to ask, “So what’s the mission?” will relate to this.

  • mpower6428

    good stuff. all that mumbo jumbo should be the preoccupation of a “peacetime” armed forces, or so you’d think, how did doctrine man survive the wars i wonder….

  • Protesilaos

    The part where he says ”.. when I here < > I know I am dealing with someone who is functionally illiterate” sure does remind me of certain people.
    Absolutely hilarious. And I had a near powerpoint-death experience only 2 weeks before.

  • CATeam

    Hit right on the head. In my situation, my S-3 didn’t know what he was doing, so he left an E3 do his job while all the Chiefs tell that private how to do it. “Cut and paste and add some more detail to make it look like i did the work” is the right phrase to say on what they. I swear, If I can only choke a CPT. without going to jail, it would have been sweet at the time.

  • Tom

    This is why were unarmed when we went into meetings with the Army.

  • reflexivefire

    Power Point used to be somewhat fun before the memo came out about not splicing pornographic images in between slides.

    • SleepyDave

      I resisted the urge to do this. On a daily basis. Or using innuendo. Or, heavens forbid, bringing cat memes into the SKIF. TS/SCI Lolcats.

      • SleepyDave

        SCIF, not SKIF. Damn typos.

  • nomoppt

    I blame booz allen…but in reality they’re probably just enablers.

  • Jesse

    Doctrine Man rocks! Great to follow commentary on the inane.

  • Lance

    Love the fact the mastermind bud guy is named Halliburton LOL.


    So as my Brigade was going through it’s train up at Camp Shelby the all great and wonderful 1st Army (Sarcasim right there) had a deal with former commanders to come in as advisors which they were paid eroneous amounts of money to do. Well as luck would have it we got the former 82nd Airborne Division Commander, MG Charles Swannack RET. as our advisore for our Brigade Commander. So I give a Enemy Sit brief to my commander, S-3 and the rest fo the staff and when I am done he chimes in. “Great brief SSG but I have a few suggestions. You should throw more imagery on there and some more graphics depicting the Intelligence you are sharing. You should even throw in some more tables and charts.” I see the this thought sinking into my commanders head and I see my S-2 slapping his forehead because he knows what this would cause. Being the smart a$$ that I am and knowing a little about this guy’s past endevours that put hios own soldiers lives needlessly at risk I decided to add my own input. “Sir, if the commander tursts his S-2 shop then why would it be neccesary to show him how they milked the cow when all he wants is the milk.” I added that “Time is crucial to actioning Intelligence therfore it is in our best interest to avoid the unneeded waste of time that the additional information would cause.” He gave me a glaring look, the Brigade staff was laughing to themselves and my commander goes “SSG I completely agree” chalk one up for common sense.

    • Grafton1802

      SFC Young Gob bless you and all the other salty E-7’s out there. S/F

      • reflexivefire

        It’s all about Officers who no longer have actual troops to command instead acting out their micro-management tendencies in their power point slides.

  • Twidget at large

    FYI: If you must do a power point (*cough* higher powers*cough*cough*), ensure that it lasts no longer then 15 minutes or you will lose their attention. Picked that up in Scientific America I think.

  • Earl B. Smith

    Swannack. Nice to see that unethical pile of crap is getting big money to be a “consultant.”

  • Riceball

    Which probably explains a lot of the features that the Army wanted incorporated into their Future Force Warrior and its predecessors/descendants. Thinking of it, I’m surprised that they didn’t try to get some of Power Point feature built into it so that Platoon Leaders can send nifty, graphics filled sitreps to their brigade and division commanders while in the middle of a heated firefight.

  • nraddin

    The military is not the only place that has this problem. Middle Management has become the largest group of employees in just about every major company in the world. Their job is to manage those that manage the day to day operations, in short there job only exists because there is a max number of people a single individual can manage. Despite the reality of middle managements necessity, they often look as if they are doing nothing. After all they don’t do the day to day work, they don’t even manage the people that do the day to day work. So in order to get big bonus, or be promoted they have to show to the people above them that they are doing great things with the people they manage. In order to ‘prove’ this middle management becomes verbose, picture and chart happy. They do this because the larger the document, the more pictures it has, the more work it looks like they are doing. This used to not be required, but as it becomes more and more obvious that the old dynamic of team size being less than about 25 per manager is no longer a reality, those in those positions rush to show their own personal usefulness. Mass communication has allowed for much larger groups of people to be coordinated by much smaller groups or even individuals.

    I don’t have a great fix for this issue, in the corporate world you will just reduce management to employee ratio, but in the military not only do you have a much more entrenched doctrine but you also have the issue of small unit command in the field, where command and control is almost all verbal the “management” to “employee” ratio can’t really change there.

  • leftoftheboom

    I had to brief my SGM’s slide while he was on R/R. He hated the slide because it basically said wht three others did but he was not allowed to take it out. And it never changed.

    When it was my turn to brief…

    BDE CDR> so what is new about this slide?

    Sir (me)> I changed the color yellow to marigold for better clarity.

    BDE CDR> Okay good job.

    Of course the DCO called me into his office right after that. But I never had to brief again.