sensitive areas are defined in FM 101-5-1 as environmental areas of interest. Environmental areas
of interest include natural and man-made structures, such as waste treatment plants and dams.
Step 3. Determine the specified, implied, and essential tasks. The staff analyzes higher HQ orders
to determine which environmental considerations should be specified, implied, and essential tasks.
The mission determines if environmental considerations are essential tasks. For example, if the
mission is focused on response to a natural or man-made emergency, it is more likely that
environmental considerations will be important.
Step 4. Review the available assets. The commander and his staff examine additions to and
deletions from the current task organization, support relationships, and status (current capabilities
and limitations) of all units. They consider the relationship between specified and implied tasks
and available assets. From this information, they determine whether they have the assets to
perform all the specified and implied tasks. If there are shortages, they identify additional
resources needed for mission success. Current subordinate unit capabilities to deal with
environmental considerations may be limited. If environmental considerations require expertise
that is not organic to the commander's unit or subordinate units, it is critical that those issues be
Step 5. Determine the constraints. A higher commander normally places some constraints on
subordinate commanders to restrict their freedom of action. Environmental considerations may
also place constraints on an operation. The commander and his staff must identify and understand
these constraints, which will normally be found in the scheme of the maneuver, the concept of
operations, and the coordinating instructions. The commander ensures that the critical
environmental constraints are prominent in the body of the order and not relegated to an annex or
Step 6. Identify the critical facts and assumptions. The staff gathers two categories of information
concerning the assigned task--facts and assumptions. Facts are statements of known data
concerning the situation, including enemy and friendly dispositions, available troops, unit
strengths and materiel readiness. Assumptions are suppositions about the current or future
situation that are assumed to be true in the absence of facts. They take the place of necessary, but
unavailable facts and fill the gaps with what the commander and his staff know about a situation.
An assumption is appropriate if it meets the tests of validity and necessity. Validity means the
assumption is likely to be true. "Assuming away" potential problems, such as weather,
environmental considerations, or likely enemy options, would result in an invalid assumption.
Necessity is whether or not the assumption is essential for planning. If planning can continue
without the assumption, it is not necessary and should be discarded. When possible, assumptions
are cleared with the higher HQ to ensure that they are consistent with the higher HQ plan.
Assumptions are replaced with facts as soon as possible. The mission may require significant
environmental considerations. In this case, the facts and assumptions regarding environmental
considerations may assume a preeminent position in the planning process.
Step 7. Conduct risk assessment. The commander and his staff identify accident risk hazards and
make an initial assessment of the risk level for each hazard. The commander also makes an initial
assessment of where to take tactical risks. While the focus of risk assessment is on tactical risk,
significant issues for accident risk with respect to the environment are also considered.