|An Automated Log
for Managing FRAGOs
|by Captain Daniel A. Holland
The author describes a database developed by
the 4th Sustainment Brigade that
allowed staff officers to track fragmentary orders and other
information while deployed to Iraq.
During combat operations, the production of orders requires
efficient management of large volumes of information that
can overwhelm even the most experienced staff. A staff’s
ability to produce timely and accurate orders allows effective
communication of the commander’s intent, establishes
and maintains priorities, and facilitates the successful execution
of missions. Maintaining a functional and effective information
tracker is vital during the planning, preparation, and execution
phases of an operation.
While it was deployed in Iraq, the 4th Sustainment Brigade
operations team tracked and provided technical oversight
of the staff work for over 4,500 fragmentary orders (FRAGOs)
issued by the brigade, the 3d Corps Support Command, Multi-National
and Multi-National Division-Baghdad. To handle this workload,
the brigade staff developed a Microsoft Access database
to track FRAGOs, command directives, and other mission-related
information. One of the best features of this “FRAGO
log” was its ability to efficiently consolidate information
published by higher command elements or internal staff sections,
then import information defining a specific mission, its suspense,
the units tasked for the mission, and the responsible staff
The FRAGO log provided a quick and effective tool for managing
large volumes of information and multiple suspenses with easy-to-use
search features. The system allowed staff members to track
all suspense dates for FRAGOs and command directives simultaneously,
including the current suspense, suspenses due within the
next 48 hours, and overdue suspenses. This innovative tool
was used to provide essential information so the brigade
commander could exercise logistics command and control. Information
listed in the FRAGO log was user friendly and accessible
on shared folders, which allowed all staff members quick
assess to the same information.
FRAGO Log Capabilities
A degree of overlap is inherent between the timing of information availability
and the timing of an operation’s execution. It is critical during this
period of overlap that an accurate determination of
both the commander’s intent and the concept of the operation be captured.
The FRAGO log proved to be very effective during such times. The log’s
capabilities provided the brigade commander with timely, accurate, and up-to-the-moment
snapshots of the status of all open FRAGO’s. The brigade’s FRAGO
manager ensured that the appropriate information was incorporated into the
FRAGO log and disseminated to the proper staff sections for review. From the
log, the commander could quickly identify critical suspenses in one view. The
FRAGO log provided staff officers an effective and efficient means of displaying
critical suspenses so they could establish their planning timelines.
displayed in on a FRAGO log page like this allows
users to track FRAGO sus-penses and responsibilities.
The chart at left shows a typical FRAGO log page.
The information displayed in the FRAGO log provided many
options for users in the 4th Sustainment Brigade, including—
- Secure access to multiple desktop computers, as long as the database was
used only over the Secure Internet Protocol Router Network (SIPRNet).
- Visibility of information added to the log, which ensured that suspenses were not missed.
- The ability for staff sections to look at future event dates listed in the log,
thus creating a working “rolodex” for information management.
- The ability for the battle captain to quickly research current suspenses due
from the brigade staff sections or subordinate battalion staff sections, which
allowed him to contact those sections to verify compliance or actions pending.
The FRAGO log’s keyword search capability made it
easy to quickly find the right document or FRAGO, simply
by using the “Find” option provided by the
Access program in the toolbar at the top of each FRAGO
sheet. It provided search options, such as subject, staff
section, FRAGO number, and current suspense, by using key
search words or phrases. This function was what made the
log the most valuable and time-efficient tool the brigade
had for setting priorities and tracking information provided
from higher headquarters. The FRAGO log also contained
hyperlinks that allowed instant access to FRAGOs stored
on the shared server system (see chart below). These two,
simple capabilities allowed the quickest references available
when accessing the tracking system, which proved invaluable
from a time-management standpoint.
link has keyword search and hyperlink features that
create instant access to
Use of Macros
Macros located on the entry screen of the Access spreadsheet
allowed the user to search by current suspense date, suspenses
due in the next 48 hours, and suspenses overdue. This permitted
instant updates to the brigade commander, as well as the
ability to brief the commander on suspenses within a matter
of seconds (see the first image below). The log also employed
quick search links located throughout the FRAGO “Forms” section.
The addition of links to the FRAGO log allowed instant
access to all related folders shared on the server, providing
yet another way to easily search for FRAGOs, pending draft
FRAGOs, and recently published FRAGOs from higher headquarters.
An example of a macro report is shown above. This is an example
of a briefing slide that would bring to the commander’s
attention the suspenses due within the next 24 to 48 hours.
The information on this slide provided the commander enhanced
visibility of the staff’s upcoming work and the number
of reports and executable suspenses due from subordinate
units to the brigade and from the brigade to higher commands.
Macros on the entry screen of the FRAGO log
searches of FRAGOs, including by current suspense
date, suspenses due in the next 48 hours, and
Below: This example of a macro report shows
suspenses due within the next 48 hours.
Logistics units typically do not get early notification
of operational requirements. The FRAGO log gave the 4th
Sustainment Brigade an innovative tool to enhance operational
visibility up and down the combat orders communication
channel. This “in the loop” visibility was
highly valued by all commands because it improved their
insight and facilitated a proactive posture for future
operational requirements. By tracking directives from two
command levels higher, the 4th Sustainment Brigade gained
the ability to anticipate and forecast upcoming suspenses,
which improved the timing of operational execution and
even the use of assets.
The creation of this FRAGO management tool greatly enhanced
the operational success of the 4th Sustainment Brigade
by making the combat orders communication channel more
dynamic. It was a reliable database that required little
maintenance to work properly, was very user friendly, and
was highly flexible in meeting the needs of any military
operations cell. I strongly recommend that this tool be
reviewed for broader application to more military units
because of its relative simplicity and adaptability, which
proved to be immensely beneficial to the user, the staff,
and, most importantly, the command.
Captain Daniel A. Holland is the Commander of C Company,
704th Support Battalion, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry
Division, at Fort Hood, Texas. He was the Medical Logistics
Officer and FRAGO Manager of the 4th Sustainment Brigade
during its deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom
05–07. He holds a B.A. degree from West Virginia
State University and is a gradu-ate of the Medical Service
Officer Corps Officer Basic Course. For comments or questions
about this article, he can be reached at email@example.com.