In the first three articles of this five-part series, you learned what it means to be Special Forces; how those warriors are found; and how they are groomed over time to allow them to accomplish the missions they are tasked with. In this article, I’ll explain why, even with great soldiers and great culture, there still needs to be a special sort of method to the madness to allow these operators to thrive and excel during their missions.

Most of the guys I train for Special Ops selection will spend a good amount of time prior to selection mastering the basics. They do this by practicing hand-to-hand combat drills, land navigation, survival, orders, and other basic soldiering skills until they can perform them and teach them at a high level. (A side note here: Mastering the basics is a constant pursuit, not an end state.)

While a solid understanding of how to create a set of orders and execute upon them will certainly carry over into the SOF community, new soldiers soon realize that things are done a little bit differently in these units. The SOF world practices what we call “bottom-up planning.” This planning ideology is what makes some of these units so successful in the first place.

This bottom-up planning process is one of the reasons that SOF units are able to operate the way they do. It allows them to be quick to adapt, remain flexible, and grasp innovation to move things forward. It allows a clear, concise understanding of everyone’s tasks and responsibilities within the mission. However, this planning process wouldn’t work just anywhere.