(Part 2) How To Build A Bulletproof Mission Plan


Ok, so here we go with Part 2 of 3 in this series “3 Powerful Mental Toughness Strategies”.


This article is all about how to create a thorough and bulletproof mission utilising a proven and highly effective military mission planning process.


So in Part 1 we discussed my #1 strategy for building confidence, focus, discipline and powerful momentum every single day that will improve your mental toughness and create a powerful pattern of success to have you reaching whatever targets you set.


And that was what I like to call the ‘small wins’ phenomenon.


As you may recall, small wins or the 1%ers or what we referred to in the Army as ‘war winners’ are the little tasks you do every single day that gives you a small win. That could be making your bed, ironing your shirt, brushing your teeth, cleaning the kitchen, taking out the rubbish…


… all the little things that create a pattern of success and builds that winning momentum, self-discipline and confidence. And all before you even leave the house!


So if you haven’t read Part 1, please go and read it by clicking the link below…




It’s only a 5 minute read and you’ll get a clearer understanding of what the ‘small wins’ phenomenon is all about.


Ok, so onto Part 2.




Mission Planning


When I was in Commando’s and deployed to Afghanistan, we conducted a lot of missions outside the wire. As part of a Sniper in a small 6-man team, we’d regularly go out for 2-3 day missions behind enemy lines.


Now a lot can go wrong in a scenario like that. Anything from, helicopter crashes, team mates getting sick or injured, radio communications failing, the unpredictability of the enemy, harsh whether conditions and so on. A plethora of things that could put the team and mission at stake.


So to ensure we could handle these problems, if they arose and deal with any situation that came our way… we needed detailed, accurate and easily assimilated mission planning to ensure everybody was working to the same plan and confident we could handle any situation.


And what I’m going to show you now, is a tried and tested mission planning process we used in the Military and how you can use the same exact process to plan out any goal you want to achieve. This will ensure you have a detailed, step by step plan to follow to create certainty and confidence in your ability to reach your goal. It will also ensure you have exact tasks to complete along the way and this will really help in those times when your motivation is lacking as you’ll know exactly what you need to do every step of the way.


Now I know some people are thinking, “This won’t work of me, I’m not in the Army”.


Well let me reassure you, this process can be used for anybody in any field of endeavour IF you want to build a thorough plan of action to ensure your mission success in whatever you set as your goal.


Sound good?


Okay, so stick with me below where I’ll teach you this awesome mission planning process beginning with the 5W’s and H.


5 W’s AND H


The 5 W’s and H is an important and useful tool Military Commanders utilise when writing their Orders. It ensures their orders provide clear, concise, and detailed instructions on exactly what they want to achieve.


Your mission statement should include the 5 W’s, while your entire plan should also incorporate the How.



Exactly who is involved? Who is doing what job? Who handles certain tasks? Who’s the subject matter expert for this mission?



What exactly do you want to achieve? This is a direction and will ensure everybody involved is crystal clear on the desired end result.



When is the mission to be conducted and completed? Give an exact timeframe.



Where will the mission take place? Is this a physical location or online?



What is the purpose of the mission or task? The intent. You must also take into consideration your boss’s intent and the intent of your boss’s boss if applicable. This will allow you to seize opportunities that present themselves if relevant to the overall intent of your bosses.



How are you going to achieve your mission? What are the steps you will take? This is the execution phase of your plan.


A simple example of this is when I went for Special Forces. The breakdown looked like this:


Who - Me

What - Attempt Special Forces Selection

When - March 2008

Where - Singleton Army Base

Why - I want to be the best within my profession and know if I have the toughness, drive, and motivation to be an SF soldier. I want to experience the best training, tactics, and equipment the Military can provide and work with the highest quality soldiers.


Now that you have the 5W’s & H of your mission, it’s time to create your thorough plan.




The SMEAC system is a mission planning tool we used in the Military. Although it was created by the Military, its principles are very effective and can be adapted and utilised for any goal setting activity.


SMEAC stands for:


S - Situation


M - Mission


E - Execution


A - Administration and Logistics


C - Communications


Every mission we conducted within the Military had orders given and those orders were always laid out in the SMEAC format. Every person involved in that mission needed to be clear on exactly what the mission was and how it would be conducted. The SMEAC process allowed instructions to be passed on with precision and clarity, ensuring all parties had concise and detailed instructions of the overall mission and their roles and responsibilities.


Even if you’re working alone and don’t have an entire team of troops to convey orders, the SMEAC process will ensure you cover everything you need to within your mission planning activity. This will greatly increase your chances of success and limit possible mistakes.


Utilise the SMEAC process to create your detailed mission plan.



This is where you provide the background to your current situation or a description of what occurred to get you there. How did you arrive at your current situation? What were the sequences that took place to get you there?


Consider the 5 W’s and H from above. What happened? Where did it occur? How did it play out? When, where, and how did it happen?


The point of this situation is to provide clarity on where you are, right now, and provide background information to the following set of orders.



This is what you are going to set out to achieve. It should be a short statement that is clear, concise, and direct. Include the 5 W’s within this statement.



This is the how of your plan. How are you going to achieve your desired result and complete your mission? This is detailed instructions of the step by step processes you will need to follow to achieve mission success.


Bullet-proofing your mission by creating your ‘actions on’ are implemented in this step.


Administration and Logistics

This encompasses all the tools and equipment you’ll require. What resources do you need to utilise in your plan? How are they going to be organised?


Command and Signals (communication)

This is the chain of command or who’s who within your plan and what communications are involved. Who’s in charge? Who’s second in charge? Who’s your boss? Do you report to someone higher? What are the forms of communications you will utilise throughout the mission?


Continuing with my goal to make it into Special Forces, here’s a brief version of the plan I constructed to complete my mission:



I’ve recently returned from a private security contract in Iraq, where I have been operating for 2 years. I now wish to prove to myself I have what it takes to become a Special Forces soldier and work with the best soldiers in the world. I have no intention of returning to the contracting world and have the time, motivation, and ability to proceed with my goal.



I will attempt and complete the 01/08 Commando Selection and Training Course at Singleton Army base in February 2008 to become a Special Forces soldier within the 2nd Commando Regiment.


(Who, what, where, when & why)



Step 1.

Train hard and become as physically fit as possible

- Follow the 6-week training program to pass the Special Forces Entry Test

- Follow the 13-week training program to pass the Selection course


Possible roadblocks: Running ability

Fixes: Lose any excess weight, talk with Army physical trainers and get sprint program, ensure equipment is set up correctly and efficiently


Step 2.

Learn everything about the subject from experts

- Talk with guys who have previously attempted the course

- Talk with mates I have in the unit

- Talk with PTI’s

- Read subject specific books


Possible roadblocks: Secrecy about the unit and the course constantly changing

Fixes: Consult those who have completed the last selection course and mates in the unit who have instructed on the last course


Step 3.

Study the unit and its history

- Read books

- Watch videos and documentaries


Step 4.

Become the best soldier I can

- Study navigation, first aid, All arms call for fire, weapons handling, shooting


Possible setbacks: Limited navigation areas, shooting opportunities

Fixes: Gain leave from work and travel to areas to conduct navigation, talk with staff to organise shooting days with other units


Step 5.

Receive the approval of my Commanding Officer

- Let those in the unit know of my intentions and show them I am keen and committed


Possible setbacks: Not getting the approval of the CO

Fixes: Ask for an explanation and work to improve my shortcomings if needed


Step 6.

Attend and pass the psychological assessment


Possible setbacks: Not receiving a recommendation

Fixes: Ask for explanations and what I can do to gain approval


Step 7.

Pass the entry test

- Complete all the required physical training and study


Possible setback: Failing a physical component

Fixes: Ensure I’m adequately prepared well before the day and easily pass the required assessments


Step 8.

Pass the Selection course

- Attend the March 2008 Selection course


Possible setback: Injury, illness, being returned to unit (taken off the course)

Fixes: Train hard and smart. Healthy diet, no alcohol. If taken off the course, find out why and see what I can do to improve for next course.


Administration and Logistics

- Alice frame backpack

- American style webbing rig

- Well-worn in boots (2 pairs)

- Navigation equipment

- First aid equipment

- Complete list of equipment needed for course


Command and Signals

- Section Commander

- Platoon Sergeant

- Platoon Commander

- Company Commander

- Face to face contact

- Email and Intranet communications

- Phone calls


On every mission that I went on while in the Military, we utilised this SMEAC mission planning process. As you can see it’s very detailed, but you can make it as detailed or as general as you like. Its highly effective and will increase dramatically the chances you have on reaching your goals. It will provide you with clarity and focus and give you tasks you must complete along the way.


Now every mission has problems and unforeseeable events that will try and derail your efforts. As murphy’s law states:


Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong!


So what are you going to do when that happens? How are you going to deal with setbacks and failures.


Well, that’s exactly what I’m going to answer in Part 3 of this series. In tomorrow’s article I’m going teach you the exact process I go through when I hit a setback and how to deal with failure. I’m actually going to show you what I did when I failed Selection twice (plus the entry test once) and what I did to ensure I was successful the final time.


And I’m going to teach you how you can implement this process to ensure that whenever you hit a setback or experience failure, how to assess what went wrong and how to overcome any problems and move forward on your mission path to success.


So just before I go, I’d like you to do two things…


  1. Create a simple 5W’s & H for a current goal or a goal you may want to go after in the near future. Get it down on paper.
  2. Comment below and let me know your 5W’s & H, and also tell me what you’ve thought of this article.


Talk tomorrow,


Rhys Dowden

Operator Edge