1-2. The operational environment for an Infantry platoon and squad is a composite of conditions, circumstances, and influences affecting the employment of that platoon or squad. It has a bearing on decisions made by the platoon leader and squad leader. As with Army leaders at all levels, platoon leaders and squad leaders use operational variables to analyze and understand the specific operational environment in which they conduct operations. They use mission variables to focus on specific elements of an operational environment during mission analysis. The operational environment for each operation is different and usually evolves as an operation progresses. It is critical that each platoon leader and squad leader understands his specific operational environment in order to plan, prepare, execute, and assess operations. (Refer to ADRP 5-0 for more information.)

Working to piece together intelligence.

Working to piece together intelligence.

Operational Variables

1-3. When Infantry forces are alerted for deployment, redeployment within a theater of operations, or assigned a mission, their assigned higher headquarters provides an analysis of the operational environment that affects operations at that higher level. From that higher-level operational environment analysis, a platoon leader or squad leader can draw any information relevant to his particular part of the higher headquarters operational environment. This allows him to use the limited resources available to collect and analyze additional information that applies only to his more specific operational environment. Analysis of operational environment at all levels of command uses the common framework of the eight operational variables and associated subvariables. The term PMESII-PT is used as a memory device. The following is a list of the operational variables, their definitions, and examples (in parentheses) of questions a platoon leader or squad leader might need answered about each variable -

  • Political. Describes the distribution of responsibility and power at all levels of governance—formally constituted authorities, as well as informal or covert political powers. (Who is the tribal leader in the village?)
  • Military. Exposes the military and/or paramilitary capabilities of all relevant actors (enemy, friendly, and neutral) in a given operational environment. (Doperational environments the enemy in this neighborhood have antitank missiles?)
  • Economic. Encompasses individual and group behaviors related to producing, distributing, and consuming resources. (Doperational environments the village have a high unemployment rate?)
  • Social. Describes the cultural, religious, and ethnic makeup within an operational environment and the beliefs, values, customs, and behaviors of society members. (Who are the influential people in the village? For example, religious leaders, tribal leaders, warlords, criminal bosses, or prominent families.)
  • Information. Describe the nature, scope, characteristics, and effects of individuals, organizations, and systems that collect, process, manipulate, disseminate, or act on information. (How much access doperational environments the local population have to news media or the Internet?)
  • Infrastructure. Comprises the basic facilities, services, and installations needed for the functioning of a community or society. (Is the electrical generator in the village working?)
  • Physical environment. Includes the geography and man-made structures as well as the climate and weather in the area of operations. (What types of terrain or weather conditions in this area of operation favor enemy operations?)
  • Time. Describe the timing and duration of activities, events, or conditions within an operational environment, as well, as how the timing and duration are perceived by various actors in the operational environment. (For example, at what times are people likely to congest roads or conduct activities that provide cover for hostile operations?)

1-4. Upon receipt of a warning order (WARNORD) or mission, leaders filter relevant information categorized by the operational variables into the categories of the mission variables used during mission analysis. The mission variables consist of METT-TC.

1-5. Incorporating the analysis of operational variables into METT-TC ensures leaders consider the best available relevant information about conditions that pertain to the mission. Input from the operational variables often emphasizes the operational environment civil aspects. This emphasis is most obvious in civil considerations, but it affects the other mission variables of METT-TC as well. The platoon leader analyzes civil considerations in terms of, areas, structures, capabilities, organizations, people, and events (ASCOPE). (Refer to ATP 2-01.3 for more information.)

1-6. The Infantry platoon interacts with people at many levels. In general, the people in any area of operation can be categorized as a threat, an enemy, an adversary, a neutral, or a friend. One reason land operations are complex is all categories are intermixed, often with no easy means to distinguish one from another. Threat, enemy, adversary, and neutral are defined as ─

  • Threat. Any combination of actors, entities, or forces that have the capability and intent to harm U.S. forces, U.S. national interests, or the homeland. (Refer to ADRP 3-0.)
  • Enemy. A party identified as hostile against which the use of force is authorized. (Refer to ADRP 3-0.) An enemy is a combatant and is treated as such under the law of war.
  • Adversary. A party acknowledged as potentially hostile to a friendly party and against which the use of force may be envisaged. (Refer to JP 3-0.)
  • Neutral. A party identified as neither supporting nor opposing friendly or enemy forces. (Refer to ADRP 3-0.)
  • Host Nation. A nation which receives the forces and supplies of allied nations and/or NATO organizations to be located on, to operate in, or to transit through its territory.


1-7. Threats may include individuals, groups of individuals (organized or not organized), paramilitary or military forces, nation-states, or national alliances. When threats execute their capability to do harm to the United States, they become enemies. Preparing for and managing these threats requires employing all instruments of national power: diplomatic, informational, military, and economic. (Refer to ADRP 2-0 for more information.)

1-8. The term hybrid threat has evolved to capture the seemingly increased complexity of operations, and the multiplicity of actors involved, and the blurring between traditional elements of conflict. A hybrid threat is the diverse and dynamic combination of regular forces, irregular forces, terrorist forces, or criminal elements unified to achieve mutually beneficial effects. Hybrid threats combine regular forces governed by international law, military tradition, and customs with irregular forces that act with no restrictions on violence or targets for violence. Such varied forces and capabilities enable hybrid threats to capitalize on perceived vulnerabilities, making them particularly effective. While the existence of innovative enemies is not new, hybrid threats demand the Infantry platoon and squad prepare for a range of possible threats simultaneously (Refer to ADRP 3-0 for more information.)

1-9. Incorporating civil considerations into mission analysis requires critical thinking, collaboration, continuous learning, and adaptation. It requires analyzing ASCOPE . In support of unified land operations, Army forces at every echelon must strive to obtain support from the indigenous population and institutions. Many social factors influence perceptions; these include language, culture, geography, history, education, beliefs, perceived objectives and motivation, communications media, and personal experience.


1-10. Mission variables describe characteristics of the area of operation, focusing on how they might affect a mission. Incorporating the analysis of the operational variables into METT–TC ensures Army leaders consider the best available relevant information about conditions that pertain to the mission. Using the operational variables as a source of relevant information for the mission variables allows commanders to refine their situational understanding of their operational environment and to visualize, describe, direct, lead and assess operations. The mission variables are ─

  • Mission. Commanders and staffs 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 to be taken and the reason for the action. It is always the first variable commanders consider during decisionmaking. A mission statement contains the, who, what, when, where, and why of the operation.
  • Enemy. 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.
  • 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). Commanders 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.
  • Troops and support available. This variable includes the number, type, capabilities, and condition of available friendly troops and support. This includes supplies, services, and support available from joint, host nation and unified action partners. They also include support from civilians and contractors employed by military organizations, such as the Defense Logistics Agency and the Army Materiel Command.
  • Time available. Commanders 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.
  • Civil 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 in the memory aid ASCOPE: areas, structures, capabilities, organizations, people, and events.