How to Build a Mission Essential Task List – Forward Observer Shop

How to Build a Mission Essential Task List

As we fix a few last minute things for the new online training area today, I wanted to describe for you Mission Essential Tasks and the Mission Essential Task List (METL) because I’ll be providing you with a template for Intelligence Mission Essential Tasks. You’ll find the METL in Army and Marine Corps units, but does it have any relevance to community security and preparedness? Absolutely.

As the name implies, the mission essential tasks will be required to complete the mission. Every individual must become proficient in the individuals tasks, and then squads and platoons together must become proficient in their collective tasks, and then companies and battalions do the same. The METL is how commanders ensure that all their soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines get the training required for their next deployment and are able to accomplish that mission.

Once we understand the mission (airfield seizures, running supply convoys, patrolling your part of Baghdad, or securing your own neighborhood, etc.), we can develop the Mission Essential Task List, or METL, and ensure that we have the required training so that we can go do our job, which is accomplishing the mission.

The mission essential tasks will be different for every unit and mission. For instance, even though they’re both infantry units, the METL for 1/75th Ranger Regiment will be different than the 2/87th Infantry from the 10th Mountain Division. It’s because they have different missions. In addition, there are infantry unit-specific METLs, artillery, armor, and all sorts of other METLs. Even in intelligence, there are different METLs for signals intelligence soldiers, human intelligence, counterintelligence, all-source analysts, etc.

What we need to do at the community security level, and specifically as the community intelligence team, is consider our mission. What will we be doing in an SHTF scenario? What will be required of us? What specific actions and tasks will we need to perform, both individually and as a team? Think that through, take copious notes for each member/role, and you’re well on your way to developing your own Community Security METL.

Today, I’m going to outline our Intelligence METL and use it as a guideline for training requirements. These are the tasks that every member of our intel team needs to know, backwards and forwards. We’ll be training to the standard in the Schoolhouse (the tentative name of our online training area) and I’ll be teaching students how to do each of these mission essential tasks. Your METL may vary based on your own situation, so pick and choose what’s most appropriate for you.

One caveat: typically collectors and analysts are different jobs, with different training, and staffed by different people. We may not have that luxury in community security because we’re always going to lack for manpower and resources, so I’ll divide the mission essential tasks into three categories (Collection, Analysis, and ACE Chief), but understand that most everyone will need to be trained on the whole METL.

Intelligence Mission Essential Task List (Collection)

  1. Understand and Respond to Collection Requirements
  2. Conduct Informal/Low Level Human Intelligence Collection
  3. Conduct Basic Signals Intelligence Collection
  4. Conduct Open Source Intelligence Collection
  5. Conduct Imagery Intelligence Collection
  6. Write Intelligence Information Reports

Intelligence Mission Essential Task List (Analysis)

  1. Identify Intelligence Gaps
  2. Generate Intelligence Requirements
  3. Prepare an Area Study of the Operating Environment
  4. Monitor the Operating Environment
  5. Prepare Maps and Overlays
  6. Battle Track the Threat Environment
  7. Conduct Threat Analysis
  8. Provide Source Feedback

Intelligence Mission Essential Task List (ACE Chief/Collection Manager)

  1. Organize and Run the ACE
  2. Implement the Intelligence Cycle
  3. Review and Approve Intelligence Requirements
  4. Task Intelligence Requirements for Collection
  5. Provide Quality Assurance of the Intelligence
  6. Disseminate Finished Intelligence
  7. Manage 24/7 Operations for the ACE

This is a template to get you started thinking about the very basic requirements of intelligence and community security. I’ll be publishing the full METL with tasks and sub-tasks in the Schoolhouse, and then designing/implementing a training program with an explanation and instruction on each sub-task.

Due to the demand for this training, we’re running an Early Bird sale for our online training. Your subscription will get you access to the current training modules and at least one new skill each month, the Mission Essential Task List (so you can ensure that your neighborhood watch, community security team, or preparedness group is proficient in the required skills and tasks), and it will also go to support our Mission Teams who will be providing intelligence support to humanitarian aid and disaster relief efforts.

If you want access to this top notch community security and intelligence training, you can subscribe here.

If you want access to this training PLUS our three intelligence reports each week, you can subscribe here.

As always, I hope this post is helpful for you to begin or continue your understanding of what intelligence looks like and how it’s performed for community security and during a disaster scenario.

Always Out Front,

Samuel Culper




Mike Shelby is a former military intelligence NCO and contract intelligence analyst. He spent three years in Iraq and Afghanistan and is now the intelligence and warfare researcher at Forward Observer.


  1. Interesting post, in the light of intelligence operations. Certainly worth expouding upon for all aspects of individual, family, neighborhood and community security operations. Heck, might we even introduce “doctrine” for the concept of community security? I know others have done it. And then propose tables of organization and equipment, “unit” (family, neighborhood, etc) METL and individual common tasks and role-specific tasks? I know….getting carried away, right?

    1. Hey Kent – I think you’re on the right track. We’ve kind of built out a set of doctrine for intelligence and community security, but it could certainly be built out for the other aspects of preparedness. Who else has done the doctrine on community security?

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