Former Navy SEAL officer reveals 11-point checklist he used to prepare for battle

Richard feloni

Former Navy SEAL Bruiser Work Unit Platoon Leader Charlie Leif Babin. Courtesy of Jocko Willink and Leif Babin

When Leif Babin was training to be a US Navy SEAL officer, he didn’t expect to spend so much time writing combat mission briefings in Powerpoint presentations, he explains in his new book “Extreme property: how the US Navy SEALs lead and win. “

This was a common sentiment, and the reason why, during training sessions, he and other officers-in-training tended to create memories with the intention of impressing their instructors, as opposed to developing plans that would actually be useful to a whole team. .

When Babin joined the Bruiser Work Unit in 2006 as the Officer in Charge of Charlie Platoon, his commanding officer and future co-author Jocko Willink told him to forget about Powerpoint. As part of a final exercise that would determine if they would be sent to fight in an incredibly dangerous part of Iraq (a desirable scenario for them), Babin and another platoon commander were to create a mission briefing more impressive than two. other tasks. units.

“The real test of a good brief is not whether senior officers are impressed,” Willink told them. “It’s a question of whether the troops who are going to carry out the operation really understand it. Everything else is bull -.

Babin and his fellow platoon leader stopped worrying about being impressive and focused on making their mission brief as clear and easy to follow as possible. They worked with their subordinates to ensure that if they were to put the brief into action, each member of the team would clearly understand the assignment that was being asked of them.

The commander in charge of judging the briefs determined that the Bruiser task unit had the most understandable and therefore the best of the three, even though the others had more impressive PowerPoint slides. He focused on what Willink calls “commander’s intent,” that is, when the team understands its commander’s objective and the end-state of the mission so well that they can act without further guidance.

Task Force Bruiser was dispatched to Ramadi, where it became the most decorated special operations unit in the Iraq War.

It was a valuable teaching experience for Babin. In “Extreme Ownership,” he describes the planning checklist he used as a platoon commander:

  • Analyze the mission. Understand the mission of the higher headquarters, the commander’s intention and the end state (objective). Identify and state the intention and end state of your own commander for the specific mission.
    Extreme property
  • Identify staff, assets, resources and time available.
  • Decentralize the planning process. Empower key team leaders to analyze possible courses of action.
  • Determine a specific action plan. Lean towards selecting the simplest course of action.
  • Empower key leaders to develop the plan for the selected action plan.
  • Plan for the likely contingencies at each phase of the operation.
  • Mitigate as much as possible the risks that can be controlled.
  • Delegate parts of the plan and brief key junior leaders. Take a step back and be the tactical genius.
  • Continually check and question the plan against emerging information to make sure it still matches the situation.
  • Present the plan to all participants and support staff. Emphasize the commander’s intention. Ask questions and engage in discussions and interactions with the team to make sure they understand.
  • Carry out a post-operational debriefing after execution. Analyze lessons learned and implement them in future planning.

Babin writes that this checklist can be easily adapted for the business world, and this is what he and Willink taught the executives they worked with through their leadership consulting firm. Front step since 2011.

“Implementing such a planning process will ensure the highest level of performance and give the team the best chance to accomplish the mission and win,” writes Babin.

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