Battle Analysis Format Guide
• Purpose: This guide supplements the information provided in the classroom
instruction and related lesson plan. It is not a definitive, line by line set of
instructions. Instead, it serves to help organize your final paper and offer tips.
• Nature: Battle analysis focuses upon a tactical engagement and the related
cause-effect relationships to develop insights relevant to current and future
operations. The accuracy and validity of your insights stems from understanding
what happened during the battle and the prior shaping events that set the
conditions in which the engagement occurred. Hence the battle analysis format
includes considerable coverage of the setting in addition to actual combat actions
and tactical command decisions.
• Compilation: The battle analysis differs from more typical research papers.
There is no introductory paragraph that sets the overall thesis and tone.
Similarly, insights and lessons learned replace the more conventional concluding
paragraph. Similarity does exist within the principal sections. You will write in
complete sentences and fully developed paragraphs that offer clear main ideas
substantiated by specific references.
• Writing style: IAW with the Army Writing Program, your writing needs to be
precise and succinct, free from excessive verbiage and dramatic emphasis.
Avoid the temptation to pontificate or become distracted by addressing national
policy decisions. The purpose of this assignment lies in the analysis of tactical
actions based upon a detailed reading of source material related to the battle.
• Format: The following pages offer some basic comments and guidance for
organizing and presenting your battle analysis. Guidance and suggestions are
presented either in bold, italicized print or plain text. This information is for your
use. Brackets [ ] denote information you must provide. Do not include the
brackets in your final product.
• Section titles: Use section titles throughout your paper to keep your work
organized and facilitate the grader’s understanding of your content. Section titles
should be placed at the top of the page with the exception of the first page. Do
not create your own section titles. Use the section titles provided in the lesson
plan, slide 8, and illustrated below.
• Section length: There is no mandatory length for each section.
• Battle analysis guides from other sources: Use of online battle analysis
guides is not prohibited, but the information provided in class and in the pages
below takes precedence.
The first page of your battle analysis should include the following information
and have a similar layout. Slide 18 in the lesson plan is a good example. This
first page will serve as a title page and Define the Battle. It does not count
against your page count.
[Your name] [ABOLC Class Number] [Date] [NAME OF BATTLE] USE 16 FONT, CAPITALIZE ALL CHARACTERS, AND BOLD
[Date of battle] [Location] [Name/designation of combatants and their commanders] 3
The second page of your paper should include your source list. Number your
sources 1-N, provide pertinent publication or identifying information, and for each
source identify its nature and relevance to your analysis in 1-2 sentences. Slides
19-20 of the lesson plan are good examples. You need to use at least 6 valid
sources. Your source list does not count against your page limit. Do not use
encyclopedias or similar sources, Wikipedia or its derivatives, or blog sites.
[SOURCE LIST] This section title should be at the top of your page, centered, bolded, and use all
 [source name and identifying information] [insert 1-2 sentences re source nature & relevance]  [source name and identifying information] [insert 1-2 sentences re source nature & relevance]  [source name and identifying information] [insert 1-2 sentences re source nature & relevance]  [source name and identifying information] [insert 1-2 sentences re source nature & relevance]  [source name and identifying information] [insert 1-2 sentences re source nature & relevance]  [source name and identifying information] [insert 1-2 sentences re source nature & relevance] For a PDF file from a research module, use the following format:
[name of battle] Research Module, File: [name of file exactly as it appears] For example, the Groupement Mobile 100 file named Luedeke article AR JAN FEB
2001 would appear in your source list as:
Groupement Mobile 100 Research Module, File: Luedeke article AR JAN FEB
Page three will mark the start of your depiction of the Strategic/Operational
Setting for your battle. Capitalize, center, and bold the section title at the top of
[STRATEGIC/OPERATIONAL SETTING] In this section explain why this battle was fought at its particular time and place.
In addition to the suggested information provided on slide 13 of the lesson plan,
the following are some additional considerations to help focus your effort.
• What was the principal mission/objective of each combatant?
• Were there key events or decisions made by the commanders that triggered the
• In addressing this section try to focus upon the battle and the events immediately
preceding its onset. For example, if you are analyzing the battle at Srok Dong on 30
JUN 1966 there is no need to explain how the US came to be in the Vietnam War.
Focus upon the overarching actions and goals of US and VC/NVA forces along
Route 13. If you are studying Brown’s Mill, you may wish to offer more information
in this section since the failure of Sherman’s cavalry formations to coordinate their
actions created an opportunity that Wheeler identified and exploited to force a battle.
• You may find it useful to generate a simple chronology of key events to organize
your thoughts and for possible inclusion in the appendix.
• Stay focused—some writers get distracted by the “big picture” developments and fail
to understand that the input in this section is simply setting the context for analyzing
the tactical conditions and actions.
Page 3 + X will mark the start of the Tactical Setting. The quantity of information
you provided in the previous section will determine whether Tactical Setting
begins on page 4 or later. There is no mandatory page number upon which
Tactical Setting, Describe the Action, or Insights/Lessons Learned must start.
Capitalize, center, and bold the section title at the top of the page.
[TACTICAL SETTING] In this section address the tactical circumstances of the battle. Indicate the
relative status of the combatants. Other considerations include those found on
slide 14 of the lesson plan and the following:
• What did each commander seek to achieve and how did they prepare/deploy
their forces to accomplish?
• Were there any particular terrain, climate, or weather issues that influenced the
• Were there any technological factors in play? For example, at 73 Easting did the
2ACR have any advantages related to materiel that benefited its combat
• Did planning considerations shape tactical developments? If you are addressing
the Hammelburg Raid, this event is not a single battle but a series of tactical
movements/actions intended to culminate in the liberation of US POWs held by
the Germans. Were the resources made available to the American task force
appropriate to the mission?
• Did the combatants have access to good intelligence regarding enemy
dispositions and intent?
• Were there any significant political or social factors that impacted tactical
developments? For example, during the first Thunder Run did political
indoctrination of Iraqi paramilitary forces result in intensified or reduced
resistance to TF 1-64 AR?
Capitalize, center, and bold the section title at the top of the page as shown.
[DESCRIBE THE ACTION] In this section summarize the battle, highlighting key command decisions and
developments. Slide 15 of the lesson plans provides some considerations. In
addition you might think about the following:
• How were the combatants initially arrayed? If you have a good, clear map, you
can include it in the appendix. If you do so, be sure to reference it in your text
rather than leaving it up to the reader to determine its relevance.
• How would you characterize the battle overall? Movement to contact, ambush,
counter ambush, armored reconnaissance, or something else?
• What are the principal actions during the battle? Think in terms of phases,
decisions, key events (including the arrival or reinforcements or a flanking
action), or other developments that impact the combatants. At Srok Dong, for
example, did the American use of helicopters to transport infantry disrupt the Viet
Cong’s attempts to disengage?
• If you indicated key terrain considerations at least reference how the terrain
influenced the battle’s outcome. In the first Thunder Run, for example, did the
urban environment create any specific challenges for TF 1-64 AR (high angle
buildings, overpasses, civilian traffic, close range engagements, etc.)?
• The challenge in this section is to provide sufficient detail to get a sense of the
battle without becoming immersed in minutiae. Remember you are not writing a
book but trying to make sense of the battle and generate relevant lessons
learned. You should have more knowledge of the battle based on your research
and reading than is necessary for the paper. Select the most important and
significant items. One example from the experience of Groupement Mobile 100
lies in the early destruction of key French radio sets early in the action. You
would identify this event and indicate its consequences.
• Remember to address both combatants, not just the actions of US forces.
• For battles for which information on one of the combatants is limited (ie—some
Vietnam and OIF engagements), provide at least some general sense of how
these forces conducted themselves in combat. There is information available on
general composition, basic tactics, combat power, etc. even if we cannot identify
a specific unit and trace its actions and movements on the battlefield in detail.
Capitalize, center, and bold the section title at the top of the page as shown.
[INSIGHTS/LESSONS LEARNED] In this section you will address the significance of your battle in terms of insights
or lessons learned that have relevance today. Studying history, or a historical
event like a battle, has limited value beyond basic information or entertainment
unless you can identify its significance, or put more bluntly, answer the “so
what?” question. In addition to the considerations found on slide 16 of the
lesson plan, here are some additional thoughts regarding this section.
• Do not introduce new details and information in this section. Instead provide
insights based upon your analysis. If you find yourself introducing new
information regarding command decisions, key events, etc., integrate this
information into an earlier section. You can still retain a lessons learned or insight
statement if applicable—it will now derive from what has already been presented.
• Avoid overly general or vague statements. In general, if you can remove a
sentence from your paper without altering its meaning or content flow, it is too
vague and contributes nothing toward your analysis.
• Be sure to provide at least 4 insights or lessons learned. If you have done your
work correctly, you should be able to provide more than 4.
You are not required to use maps, diagrams, graphics, tables, etc. If you do so,
place each such item in the appendix on a separate page. Appendix pages do not
count against the overall page limit. Number each item and make sure you have
referenced each one in the text. Do not leave the reader guessing as to your
motive in including these items. The source of each item should be identified in
the same manner applied throughout the text. Capitalize, center, and bold the
word “Appendix” at the top of the page on which it begins.
[APPENDIX] [Figure #, Name or designation of item, (source #, page or other)] Example for this image:
Figure 1: 16th Cavalry Regiment Distinctive Unit Insignia (2, pp. 12)