METT-TC: What is it? How will you apply it at Ranger and Sapper School?

METT-TC is a mnemonic used by the military to help soldiers remember and prioritize what mission variables to analyze during the planning phase of any operation. METT-TC stands for Mission, Enemy, Terrain/Weather, Troops and Support Available, Time Available, and Civilian Considerations. This post will take you through all six factors of METT-TC, and discuss them in detail.


After receiving an order from your cadre, either in a warning order (WARNO) or in an operations order (OPORD), the leaders will begin to analyze the mission. They view all of the mission variables in terms of their impact on mission accomplishment. The mission is the task, together with the purpose, that clearly indicates the action needed and the reason for the action. It is always the first variable leaders consider during decision-making. A mission statement contains the, who, what, when, where, and why of the operation. Questions the leader should ask themselves:

  • What is my task and purpose for this operation?
  • What is the commander’s intent?
  • What are the specified tasks for the operation (those that the commander stated must be accomplished)? (NOTE: In the OPORD, these tasks are outlined in paragraph 3, which comprises the commander’s intent, concept of the operation, tasks to subordinate units, and coordinating instructions.)
  • What are the implied tasks for the operation? These are other tasks, not specifically noted by the commander, which must be accomplished during the operation.
  • What are the essential tasks for the operation? These are all tasks, both specified and implied, that are absolutely required to ensure mission success.


The second variable to consider is the enemy dispositions (including organization, strength, location, and tactical mobility), doctrine, equipment, capabilities, vulnerabilities, and probable courses of action. This information will come from paragraph one of the OPORD you receive from the Cadre. Leaders will take this information, decide how it applies to their mission and unit, and build their own paragraph one. Questions leaders should ask themselves are:

  • What are the types of enemy units?
  • Where are these units?
  • What is the enemy doing?
  • How strong is he?
  • What kind of equipment does he have?
  • What are his capabilities and weaknesses?
  • Where is he vulnerable?
  • Where are his kill zones and fire sacks?
  • What are the enemy’s intentions, doctrinal objectives, and most probable course of action?
  • What can he do in response to friendly actions?

Terrain and Weather

Terrain and weather analysis are inseparable and directly influence each other’s impact on military operations. Terrain includes natural features (such as rivers and mountains) and man-made features (such as cities, airfields, and bridges). Leaders analyze terrain using the five military aspects of terrain, observation and fields of fire, avenues of approach, key and decisive terrain, obstacles, cover and concealment (OAKOC). The military aspects of weather include visibility, wind, precipitation, cloud cover, temperature, and humidity. Leaders delegate a subordinate to conduct this analysis while at Ranger or Sapper School. A good rule of thumb is to have a young officer do this because they usually cover terrain and weather analysis extensively in Basic Officer Leader Course or BOLC.

Troops and Support Available

This variable includes the number, type, capabilities, and condition of available friendly troops and support. Leaders get this information from paragraph one. Do not forget to take into account attachments and detachments. Questions leaders should ask themselves are:

  • What is the present condition of the platoon’s soldiers, vehicles, and equipment?
  • What is the supply status of ammunition, fuel, and other necessary items?
  • What is the state of training of the platoon?
  • What is the state of morale?
  • How much sleep has everyone had?
  • How much sleep can they get before and during the operation?
  • Does the platoon need any additional equipment to support or accomplish its mission?
  • What attachments does the platoon have (or require) to accomplish its mission?

Time Available

Leaders assess the time available for planning, preparing, and executing tasks and operations. This includes the time required to assemble, deploy, and maneuver units in relationship to the enemy and conditions. The leader’s analysis of the time available for an operation begins with the “one-third/two-thirds” rule of planning and preparation. This principle allows the leader to use one-third of planning and preparation time, then to allocate the remaining two-third to subordinates. At Ranger and Sapper School, your whole squad will work as a team to plan and prepare. As the leader, you will be responsible for ensuring that everyone is properly using the time available. Questions leaders should ask themselves are:

  • How much time is available to plan and conduct reconnaissance?
  • How much time is available for rearming, refueling, and resupply?
  • How long will it take the platoon to move along the planned route, to the line of departure (LD), and/or to the objective?
  • How much time is available to the enemy for the activities listed in the previous items?
  • How does the potential enemy timeline for planning and preparation compare with that developed for friendly forces?
  • Is there enough time for rehearsals? (At Ranger and Sapper School, this answer must always be yes)

Civilian Considerations

Civil considerations are the influence of manmade infrastructure, civilian institutions, and activities of the civilian leaders, populations, and organizations within an area of operation on the conduct of military operations. Civil considerations comprise six characteristics, expressed as ASCOPE: areas, structures, capabilities, organizations, people, and events. The only time you may need to consider this is in Mountain Phase because from time to time a patrol runs into a hiker. 

  • What are the applicable rules of engagement (ROE) and/or rules of interaction (ROI)?
  • What procedures and guidelines will the platoon use in dealing with refugees, prisoners, and other civilians?
  • Will the platoon be working with civilian organizations, such as governmental agencies, private groups, or the media?
  • Will the platoon be tasked to conduct stability operations (such as peace operations or noncombatant evacuation) or support operations (such as humanitarian or environmental assistance)?

Here is an example of METT-TC from ATP 3-21.8 page 7-5

METT-TC Example


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