The Mission Essential Task List

Every Leader worth his salt, from the military structure to a corporate structure, maintains an absolute critical skill- the ability not just to plan, but to reverse plan. The Mission Essential Task List (METL) is the structure by which we identify unit purpose, training requirements and qualifications, and how to plan to accomplish that goal.

Typically in any Platoon Office or Team Room will be three calendars- a Week broken down by day with large blocks to write each daily task, a Month, with essential training events and monthly benchmarks laid out, and a Six Month, or Long Range schedule, normally with exercises, annual qualifications, and unit goals laid out.

In order to create this, we must know exactly what we need. These tasks differ depending on the unit structure. Creating a METL is the simplest way to break this down. In the Army at the basic level, there’s requirements for all Soldiers known as Common Tasks, and then there’s specific requirements based upon MOS(your job) and specialty within your MOS. For example, the knowledge base for a Helicopter Mechanic is different than that of a Commo guy, which is different than an Infantryman. Even further, the specific training requirement of a Mortarman is different from the advanced training of an Infantry Scout; they’re both Infantrymen, but with different specialties.

The end goal now becomes how to create a program to train each person on your team and maximize their capability; in addition, how you appeal to each team member’s specialty integrating that into a diverse and capable force. The only way to do it is to identify those strengths now and foster those capabilities.

How This Applies To You

As a Leader, it’s of utmost importance to understand what you have and what you don’t before doing anything. Most likely, you’ll have a bunch of guys who want to be shooters. Well, that’s nice, but understand that first, not everyone is cut out for that, and second, that for each shooter there’s a tremendous support structure to not only get him to the fight but to keep him there.

In an underground or covert structure, it’s that much more prudent to create a supporting apparatus. Let’s put something into perspective:

  • The latest headlines showcase the Act. What it doesn’t do is show what it took to get there; like a Magic trick, you see only what you’re meant to see, and the mop-up by security forces now is simply rounding up the exposed support structure. It happens every time, without fail.

Receive the Mission, Issue a Warning Order, Make a Tentative Plan…

The first three Troop Leading Procedures(TLPs) illustrate this principle; think of receiving the mission as identifying your unit’s purpose. Begin to ask yourself questions about unit requirements of anything from skill sets to equipment needs including the number of people you’ll need to accomplish your mission, from the minimum number to the maximum.

Once you’ve made sense of this, begin creating a schedule to train. You might be the absolute bees-knees at something, but remember a couple things- every skill is perishable, and if you don’t cross train your folks once you’re out of the fight there becomes a hole in your capabilities.

Cross training is paramount; if one guy’s a stud at Long Range Marksmanship, one’s a Paramedic, one’s a mechanic, and one guy’s a Commo Wizard, learn from each as much as you can. Their skills are wasted if lost on them alone. Your schedule should be built around these capabilities and having them share what they know. Everyone brings something to the table; believe me, every skill set will become relevant at some point.

You as the Leader must identify now what your strengths are, the Skills your folks bring to the fight, how to further nurture that, and where your Team is weak. Only then will you begin to be ready. The more diverse, the better.

Current events are demonstrating that the tempo is cranking up. Atlas may very well be about to shrug. It’s long past time to get serious; our Leaders may refuse to protect us but the beauty of it is that you can build Teams now. Identify what you need and get there.

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