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Commander’s estimate

Definition The Commander’s Estimate is a formal, comprehensive assessment made by a military commander during decision-making processes. It incorporates analysis of the mission, enemy capabilities, terrain and weather, troops and support available, and other factors. The aim is to evaluate various possible courses of action and select the one most likely to accomplish the mission […]


The Commander’s Estimate is a formal, comprehensive assessment made by a military commander during decision-making processes. It incorporates analysis of the mission, enemy capabilities, terrain and weather, troops and support available, and other factors. The aim is to evaluate various possible courses of action and select the one most likely to accomplish the mission successfully.

Key Takeaways

  1. The Commander’s estimate is an essential military concept that describes a process wherein a commander assesses a situation, reviews possible courses of action, and decides on the best course of action based on available information. This process is fundamental to effective military decision-making.
  2. It involves various factors like the analysis of the own forces and enemy, evaluation of the mission, and assessment of various scenarios. This exhaustive process ensures that the commander is equipped with a comprehensive understanding of the situation and can therefore make informed decisions.
  3. The Commander’s estimate isn’t a solitary action, but rather part of a continuous assessment and reassessment process. As additional or new information becomes available, the estimate may be revised to reflect updated realities. This encourages flexibility and adaptability to changing combat or operational conditions in real-time.


The Commander’s Estimate is crucial in military operations as it is a detailed assessment or evaluation of a situation that guides crucial decision making.

This term refers to the comprehensive judgment made by the commander, based on available data and information, about the various aspects of a mission or operation.

It helps to anticipate potential challenges, evaluate different courses of action, and select the most effective strategy to achieve objectives.

The importance of the Commander’s Estimate lies in its role in ensuring the success of any operation, as it addresses factors like enemy capabilities, environmental conditions, potential risks, and resource availability, which directly affect the viability and success of a mission.

Therefore, the Commander’s Estimate is key to strategic planning and efficient utilization of resources in military operations.


The Commander’s estimate is an essential component of military operations, which serves the purpose of analyzing and evaluating a combat scenario or situation in detail. It is essentially an assessment tool that involves the commander applying their judgment, experience, and knowledge to map out all possible outcomes, considering all relevant factors such as resources, time, terrain, enemy tactics, and the morale of their own troops.

Through this comprehensive analysis, the commander gains a clearer understanding of the situation, its complexities and potential challenges, which will enable them to make more informed decisions and devise effective strategies. Moreover, the Commander’s estimate plays a crucial role in the military decision-making process.

This tool guides the commander to choose the best course of action from the array of available options. The chosen course of action will be designed to accomplish the mission with minimal risks and maximum operational efficiency or to achieve a position of advantage over the enemy.

Therefore, the Commander’s estimate serves as a key decision-making tool that aids in planning, executing, and controlling military operations. It is not just about predicting the actions of the enemy, but also about considering how own actions will impact the overall operational environment, thereby facilitating an effective response to changes in the battlefield dynamics.

Examples of Commander’s estimate

The Commander’s Estimate is a military term which involves a comprehensive analysis of the different aspects of a military operation. This includes factors like the mission objective, available resources, potential challenges and enemy capabilities. Here are three real world examples:

Operation Overlord (D-Day): During World War II, General Dwight D. Eisenhower, the commander of the Allied forces, used Commander’s Estimate by weighing various factors such as the strengths and weaknesses of his forces, the defenses along the Normandy coast, the weather conditions and the element of surprise to successfully plan and execute the largest amphibious invasion in history.

Operation Desert Storm: General Norman Schwarzkopf, the commander of the coalition forces during the 1991 Gulf War, made an assessment of Iraq’s military capabilities, the strength and readiness of the coalition forces, the geographic factors affecting the campaign, and potential political implications. This estimate helped him formulate a strategy and decision making approach that led to a swift and decisive victory.

Operation Neptune Spear: In 2011, Admiral William H. McRaven, then-head of the Joint Special Operations Command, produced a Commander’s estimate for the mission to capture or kill Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. McRaven had to take into account the various aspects of the complex operation, including planning the route in and out of the compound, the defenses they might encounter, and the potential reaction of the Pakistani authorities. His meticulous planning contributed to the success of the high-risk mission.

FAQs on Commander’s Estimate

What is a Commander’s Estimate?

A commander’s estimate is a documented process of reasoning used by commanders to consider all the circumstances affecting a military operation and reach a decision on a course of action.

Why is a Commander’s Estimate important?

A commander’s estimate is crucial as it aids in the selection of the best course of action in a military operation. It systematically appraises the situation and possible courses of action to make an informed decision.

What are the steps in preparing a Commander’s Estimate?

The steps involved include mission analysis, developing course of action, analyzing of courses of action, comparing courses of action, and decision making. Each step is systemically carried out to ensure effective decision making.

How is a Commander’s Estimate used in military planning?

In military planning, a commander’s estimate is used to make strategic choices. It provides a formal method that tests the feasibility, acceptability, and suitability of various options before the commander makes the final decision.

Who uses a Commander’s Estimate?

A commander’s estimate is primarily used by the commander and their staff in military establishments. A well-drawn estimate is shared with subordinates to facilitate understanding of the plan and to aid in carrying out the assigned tasks effectively.

Related Military Operation Terms

  • VA Disability Compensation: This is a benefit paid to a veteran due to injuries or diseases that came about or were worsened during military service.
  • Service-connected: This term refers to a veteran’s illness or injury that is linked directly to their military service, influencing their disability rating and benefits.
  • Benefit Rate Tables: These tables show the amount of monthly benefits VA provides for disability, dependents, and other circumstances.
  • Evidence: This refers to the documentation required to support the veteran’s claim for benefits, including service records, medical records and doctors’ reports. The commander’s estimate could be part of this evidence.
  • Veterans Pension: This is a tax-free financial assistance program for low-income qualifying wartime veterans.

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