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Types of Army Orders

In today’s post, I will outline the five types of army orders and go over what you should know about each kind. This will benefit NCOs and help Army officers and young soldiers who are about to become NCOs.

The Importance of Army Orders

In the Army, we give and receive orders regardless of rank. An order is a form of communication between a superior and a subordinate. When you specify what you want someone else to do, it could be in writing, verbally, or via email. 

An Army order describes the situation, mission, execution, service and support, and command and signal. It’s really important to remember that big missions typically have complex orders. 

A simple mission, such as “Go clean the latrine,” does not have a written OP order. But a big mission, such as conducting a raid, doing an ambush, or doing a movement with a bunch of vehicles, will require a written, more complex army order.

Types of Army Orders

There are five types of army orders: 

  • Operations Order
  • Service Support Order
  • Movement Order
  • Warning Order
  • Fragmentary Order

I will cover each of these briefly to give you a 30,000-foot view of what they are and how they work.

Operations Order (OPORD)

Operations Army orders are directives for a specific mission, typically some operational mission. It’s in a five-paragraph format and includes information on the situation, mission, execution, service and support, and command and signal.

An operations battalion order always specifies a date and a time for the execution of the mission—the more complex the mission, the more complex the OP order. Most operations orders are published by the commander but created by the S3 section at the battalion level and higher.

Service Support Orders

Service Support Army Orders are directives on the service support aspects of operations, such as logistics, transportation, supply, maintenance, and administration. It can be an annex within the OPORD or a standalone document.

The service support order covers the logistics plan for the unit. Think transportation, supply, maintenance, and admin – those are the administrative parts that go in the service support order.

Key Elements of the Service Support Order:

  • Transportation
  • Supply
  • Maintenance
  • Administration

Movement Order

Movement Army Orders are directives on unit movements such as convoy in combat, an administrative movement, or any movement of personnel or equipment.

It can be an annex to the OPORD or a standalone document. Usually, the logistics officers prepare it for Army commanders. 

Warning Order (WARNORD) 

Warning Army Order is a notice that an Operations Order (OPORD) will be issued in the future, providing a heads-up for initial planning by unit leaders.

 A warning order has a similar format and style to an operations order; however, it’s not a complete plan; it’s the information the commander or the operations office has on hand at the moment. 

The commanders will funnel and filter that information down to their subordinate units, so they have a heads-up and can start the initial planning. The information here is shared at the earliest convenience while higher headquarters finalize their plan and finish the Operations Order (OPORD).

A warning order does not authorize the execution of the mission; it’s for unit leaders’ planning purposes only. It’s important to remember that.

Fragmentary Order (FRAGO)

A fragmentary army order is an abbreviated form of an operations order (OPORD). It’s used to publish changes to an original operations order without having to recreate a new (OPORD) every time there is a mission to complete. 

Units can publish a fragmentary order (FRAGO) to publish any changes to the order of the original operations. 

For example, you might have an operations order if you’re deployed for day-to-day operations, but then you get a specific mission on a particular day that’s different from your daily operations; that’s an example of when you would do a FRAGO.


Order TypePurposeFormat
Operations OrderDirects a specific operational mission5-paragraph
Service SupportDirects service support of operations, including administrative movementsAnnex or standalone document
Movement OrderDirects unit movements, such as convoys and administrative movementsAnnex or standalone document
Warning OrderGives notice that an OP order is about to be issued, used for initial planning by subordinatesSimilar to operations order
Fragmentary OrderPublishes changes to an original OP order without recreating the entire orderAbbreviated form of OP order
Army Orders

Army Orders: Conclusion

As a military leader, it’s important to understand the basic types of orders. As you progress through the ranks, you will be more involved and more intertwined with these types of orders. 

As a young leader, a brand new lieutenant, or an NCO, you will mainly deal with the warning order, the operation order, and the FRAGO. But as your career evolves and you move into positions of increased responsibility, you will deal with all of the Army orders.

Some will be written, some will be emails, and some will be verbal. And it’s the mission that dictates the complexity of the order.

George N.