Today's lesson covers the function of the S-3 section.
The S-3 has a dual role: Training, and Operations. Why is elegant in its simplicity:
So that you have trained people to conduct operations, and so that the training is adequate to enable same.
If your training and operations were separated, your training might be worthless, on the day. But because the people ostensibly planning the operations also devise the training, the people they get can hopefully find their back end without both hands, a mirror, and an anatomical chart.
And if you ain't done no training, you ain't doing no operations. Period.
Think you don't need no stinkin' training? Suture self.
So your S-3 person(s) should be in an endless loop. They should figure out, with the input of the leadership, what operations every swinging Richard should be capable of undertaking. Then they plan backwards, and figure out all the essential individual and group tasks that will or might be needed. Then they make sure that everyone knows how to do all the things on those lists, first individually, then as part of larger and larger groups, until you've got a functional group. Crawl, walk, run, over and over until you get it right.
Then because of human memory, personnel turnover, etc., do it all again.
Remember, Rangers, SF, SEALs, etc. aren't better at stuff because they have secret knowledge; by and large, they're better because they've completely mastered the fundamentals to the point of near-flawless execution.
You can too, if you choose to do so.
Under the heading of not re-inventing the wheel, this is the sort of thing John Mosby covered back in 2013 on his mountainguerrilla website:
Planning Group Training: Mission Essential Task List
That would be an excellent place to start, for a group.
He also took a more comprehensive whack at it even earlier, down to the individual task list:
Individual And Collective Task Training
(So, as a side note, JM had this stuff pounded into him in SF, then spent some period of time helping to teach it long before he blogged it. I'm pointing you to it 3 1/2 years after reading it there, and after going over this stuff both on paper and in person going back considerably longer than that. Let's not be baby ducks: this stuff isn't new, and if, through no fault of your own, it's new to you, dig into it, and master it, for your own good. M'kay? Then get your group(s) up to speed on it as well.)
I would further suggest breaking it down to individual tasks. Then work out a schedule: weekly, monthly, and annual. Whether it's just you, or your handful of guys, or a whole group, figure out how often you're willing to work on stuff. Then do it! Then next time, do the next task. Once or twice a year, see who knows what, and test them on it. Until everybody can do everything, to the standard of mastery.
Want to cross-pollinate a bit? Find out if anyone in your group is better qualified to present and teach one skill, then have them do exactly that. Take turns teaching each other. Do that in a small group, and you now have your instructors for the new people who come along. Got a gaping hole in the skill set with no expert(s)? Now you know what to recruit for, or where to spend more time learning until you have one. Lather, rinse, repeat.
Nota bene that four guys teach twelve guys, twelve guys teach forty guys, forty guys teach a hundred guys, a hundred guys teach as many as you need.. Which is a fire team - squad - platoon - company progression. And also exactly the way - and exact ratio - Jesus mentored his followers. And I bet you didn't even know he was a tactical guerrilla genius, did you?
And for those for whom inability, disability, or the march of time precludes training in some of the warrior skills, cheer up: somebody has to do those staff functions we've already laid out, including this one, and the ones yet to come. Another real world hint: In Israel, the IDF doesn't allow women in combat roles, but women do serve. And for many of them, they make them the instructors. Because using biology means, lo and behold, a bunch of guys pay more attention when the instructor is a woman. And the male trainees try to outdo each other to show off. So biology is leveraged into better-trained people, and they don't waste staff and training cadre jobs by putting able-bodied (male) warriors into them. You could do worse than to emulate that model.
Whatever your group needs to do, it needs to train to do. Practice doesn't make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect. And you have to put together an S-3 functional entity to do that training, whether it's one guy or several. Then what?
Their other job is to take that trained up entity, and figure out where it needs to be employed, and how best to go about it. In an actual battalion, the S-3 officer is almost without exception the third most senior person in line to command it, after the CO and XO. Because that person knows the group and its abilities the best, they are the best ones to pick up the job if actual operations create a vacancy at the head.
In the meantime, the job of the S-3 is to direct training and operations to fulfill leadership goals, and also to have any contingencies available or in mind for most possible new goals. Their job is to think things through several steps ahead, and be ready to shift to the next mission seamlessly regardless of outcome of the current one, while making sure everybody is properly ready to perform as needed beforehand, which requires that they know what is desired by leadership, and so can anticipate future eventualities
Their job isn't to plan the first move, and then the next one; it's to plan the last move, and then work backwards for every move from there to the start. This is chess, not checkers or tic tac toe.Then make sure everything required has already been done to make the plan successful.
Which beats the hell out of showing up and just hoping everything works.