Mission Planning For SWAT Teams


It is no surprise that a lot of SWAT teams use the Military five point operations order for mission planning. There are many similarities and SMEAC (Situation, Mission, Execution, Admin & Logistics, Command & Signal) is a great tool for planning to ensure nothing is overlooked or missed.

However, I see that base model being used even when there is more than enough time to detail plan. In the following paragraphs I will detail each of those portions, and suggest some break out section that can be added to the format. Those things are usually contingencies, but we have to remember that the Ops plan serves the primary purpose of briefing a bunch of people what their individual and element functions are within the overall plan. In addition, it is a discoverable item and should stand on its own to show professionalism within the group. That document should make a jury say to themselves, “These dudes have their shit together.”

General overview of the call, but it should do so succinctly. Who – bad guys known to be present and associates information. Kids and No-PC adults should also be listed. Cops that will assist, SWAT, detectives that will come up post clear, patrol that will block roads or take custody of flex cuffed people should all be listed and present at the briefing.

Super short; In example, We will serve the warrant using surround and callout tactics, detain everyone leaving the residence for ID, and on command conduct a slow clear of the location making it safe for detectives to process the scene. 5 “W’s”, who, what, when, where, why.

I am trying to put a lot of pieces together to form a cohesive plan. Each element should understand everyone’s part, and each element should get the same care in planning that the assault element receives. Breaking this up into parts is the best and easiest way to ensure nothing is overlooked.

My first paragraph is Concept of the Operation. Very little detail in this, it is enough information that perimeter knows when Assault is moving and Assault knows where perimeter is located. Basic information so we all understand the larger strategy.

Tasks to Specific Elements will detail out what each element will do, how they will do it, when they will do it, contingencies and/or secondary assignments. This is detailed planning AND briefing to ensure specific tasks are done at the right moment in time.

Additional equipment required, will we video approach and breach, routes to target, CP location, Contingencies, Rally Points and so forth get covered here. Rather than write this all out as a single paragraph, have bullets for each item so you address them accordingly. Logistic concerns for a Dynamic Warrant service are different than S&C, Vehicle Takedown and so forth. One of the things have here is Post-Entry assignments. It is not uncommon for us to leave SWAT men behind to keep the location secure while detectives search. Huge customer service piece, as well as a great bridge builder. Food for thought.

Who is in charge and how will we talk to each other? Sounds simple enough but in discussions with my teams legal advisor he has stated that a consistent theme from cases where SWAT got in trouble was lack of establishing Chain of Command. So make sure you do it. Radio channels for different elements goes here.
There should be an included graphics package with route maps, area overviews, deployment symbols and interior floor plan. The paper copy that is attached have places for it but this whole thing could easily be made into a power point presentation for ease of dissemination and flow of briefing. If you’re trying to hold up a picture in front of the group and point at critical terrain, you are failing.

Last but not least is adding a section at the end that forces the TL to justify the tactics, techniques and procedures chosen for the job. We are trying to show mindfulness on the part of leadership and making them justify the TTP’s helps to ensure that we are not a team that ALWAYS does it this way. The situation and circumstances drive the TTP’s. The checklist at the end of the document is one more control measure to ensure nothing was overlooked. I always go through the checklist and I always find out I forgot something. Use it.

Within my team we have four team leaders and four Assistant Team Leaders. If time allows, the Op Plan is sent by email to leadership before the briefing and a text message is sent advising them to review. None of us is as smart as all of us, and I need to check my ego and take feedback and suggestions from the group. Because the objective is a well thought, easy to understand plan that the men can execute. So make sure you include a review process in some fashion before you deliver it to the guys.

OP Order Template:


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