If you fail to plan, you plan to fail

Planning is integral to every successful military transition and just like the military, using an effective planning framework is key to having an effective plan.

A common theme discussed routinely on this site is that of how much the skills you gained in the military will transfer well in the private sector – one of which is operational planning and project management.

The same tools and methodologies that help us plan brigade sized Joint Forcible Entries into enemy controlled areas are directly transferable to planning your military transition.

From ADRP 6-0, Mission Command:

Drive the Operations Process through Understanding, Visualizing, Describing, Directing, Leading and Assessing
The Army’s overarching framework for exercising mission command is the operations process—the major mission command activities performed during operations: planning, preparing, executing, and continuously assessing the operation (ADP 5-0). Commanders, assisted by their staffs, integrate activities within the headquarters and across the force, as they exercise mission command. Commanders drive the operations process through the activities of understanding, visualizing, describing, directing, leading, and assessing operations. Throughout the operations process, commanders apply leadership to translate decisions into action. They do this by synchronizing forces and warfighting functions in time, space, and purpose, to accomplish the mission (see figure 3-3).


A lot to unbox in that excerpt from doctrine, but the main point is this: the commander is you. You alone can set the guidance for yourself in your life. When you choose to leave the military, there is not a higher headquarters providing you with a mission statement or desired endstate.

You have to identify what you want on the back end. Where do I want to be in 5 years? What kind of career do I want to have? Where do I want to live?

Only you can answer these questions yourself. Only one person can live your life and its the ugly face you see in the mirror everyday – you have to lead yourself to the promised land. You have to develop your own commander’s intent.

ADRP 6-0: The commander’s intent is a clear and concise expression of the purpose of the operation and the desired military end state that supports mission command, provides focus to the staff, and helps subordinate and supporting commanders act to achieve the commander’s desired results without further orders, even when the operation does not unfold as planned (JP 3-0). The higher commander’s intent provides the basis for unity of effort throughout the larger force. Each commander’s intent nests within the higher commander’s intent.

So first and foremost, you have to DECIDE on what you want.

As a former fire supporter, this ties in nicely with the Army’s prescribed targeting methodology: decide, detect, deliver, assess or D3A.


From ATP 3-60, Targeting:

The decide function begins the targeting cycle. This step provides the overall focus and sets priorities and criteria for intelligence collection and engagement planning. The decide function draws heavily on the staff’s knowledge of the enemy, (to include their tactics, culture, and ideology), a detailed intelligence preparation of the battlefield (IPB), and continuous assessment of the situation. Targeting priorities must be addressed for each phase or critical event of an operation.

You have to choose many things in your transition with the first being “should I get out?” This is the beginning of the process and as you continue in your planning you will be faced with even more decisions.


Once you have completed that step, once you have made your decision to get out of the military the real work begins.

Much the same as Troop Leader Procedures (TLPs) or the Military Decision Decision Making Process, you have to your backwards planning.


You have to set a target date for your ETS and then begin working backwards, listing out all of the things you need to do prior to that date in order to be prepared.

Remember 1/3rds, 2/3rds planning? Yup, its a thing.


From there it continues on with continued preparation in time leads to execution of the plan you first established.

Picture 1

You constantly assess your progress throughout all phases and efforts – eventually you will be concurrently planning (since your first will not be the best), preparing, executing, and assessing. But eventually the dust and noise will settle and this will allow for a deeper and more meaningful assessment of your transition.

But in the meantime focus on the flow depicted below:


This site will follow the path depicted above, with each phase having its own primary page complete with a summary and various articles discussing what you may encounter.