There’s never enough time.
This is just something you have to accept as a leader. You will never have enough time to make everything perfect. It’s part of the complexities of battle. While you plan to deal with an enemy, the enemy is actively changing the situation. You will always be adapting and changing plans to adjust to a developing situation.
As a leader, it’s your responsibility to ensure that your subordinates have as much time as possible and is needed to accomplish their tasks. This is why the military applies a one-thirds two-thirds (1/3-2/3) rule.
This rule simply states that any leader should provide two-thirds of the available time for subordinates to plan and prepare for an operation.
Quite often leaders will consume all of the preparation time without giving their subordinates time to prepare. Imagine you have 3 days to prepare for a mission. The one-third two-third rule gives you one day to make the plan. This gives the next level subordinate leader 16 hours to analyze your plan and create their plan to support yours.
The higher you are, the more subordinate plans will be necessary to accomplish the mission. Even at a company level, following the 1/3-2/3 rule with three days will still only result in a few hours of rehearsal time for fireteams. And that’s a best-case scenario.
Tips for Meeting the One-Thirds Two-Thirds Planning Rule
- Plan, don’t pack. Often leaders will focus on getting themselves ready during the planning process. This not only causes your subordinates to have less time, but it creates a disconnect between leaders and subordinates. You’ll have plenty of time to pack after the Operations Order.
- Designate a timekeeper. Creating a plan can consume you. Identify someone responsible to track the time and give them the authority to get in your face if you’re falling behind.
- Involve subordinate leaders. These people can help you identify problems with your plan and alternative solutions before they become a last-minute problem.
- Adjust the timeline. If you have control over when the operation occurs, plan your mission and then set your timeline to double the time it took you to plan. Don’t get carried away with this option or nothing will ever get done.
- Delegate early. There will be aspects that take time to prepare. If you’re using a terrain model, PowerPoint presentation, or any other tool that will take time to create, get someone to start on these tasks before you’re ready to fill in the small details.
Update/Bonus Tip: A good warning order will help you set the pace for meeting the 1/3-23 planning rule.
Key Points to Remember about the 1/3-2/3 Rule
This rule is meant to hold leaders accountable. If you can use less of the time, do it. One-third is your limit!
Things will change, and Fragmentary Orders will happen. However, if you make a change to the plan that causes subordinates to significantly change their plans, you have violated the 1/3-2/3 rule.
With 12 years as an Infantryman in the United States Army, Jason has served in Kosovo, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He has served in positions from Rifleman to Platoon Sergeant, and as an Observer/Controller. During his time in the Army, he received the Ranger Tab, Airborne and Pathfinder Badges, a Bronze Star Medal for service and more. After leaving the Army, Jason served as a WPS contractor in Baghdad for 2 years and now has a bachelor's degree in Web Design and Development.