Guidelines for creating a Mission Update Brief

A Mission Update Briefing (MUB) provides updates on the progress of a mission to interested parties. It includes new information on the mission’s goals, objectives, and status, as well as any changes to the original plan. The briefing also assesses the current risks and challenges faced by the mission and offers recommendations on how to address them.

Disclaimer: This post is intended to support students of MCSI learn Cyber Operational Planning (COP). The purpose of COP is to ensure that a squad can achieve its objectives in cyberspace.

Overview

We ask students to develop a MUB as a slide pack and submit it for approval on our Online Learning Platform (OLP).

  • Slide 1 - Cover Page: Include the mission’s name, the names of the presenters, the date the briefing will be provided, and the classification and sensitivity level of the materials.

  • Slide 2 - Mission Update: List the major objectives and their status on a single slide. Include any major risks to the mission you’re currently working on. Finally, describe at a high-level the next tasks that the team will complete or work towards. Use graphics to make the slide easy to understand.

  • Slide 3 to 5 - Key Points: Use up to three slides to communicate critical updates that require more explanation. If you’re presenting a mission briefing on a penetration test, for example, this is where you’d explain the most recent and serious vulnerabilities found. If you’re briefing on an incident response operation, you may provide a network diagram of the most recently compromised assets and go over the threat behaviours in greater depth.

  • Slide 6 - Next Steps: Describe the following stages or tasks that your team will complete in greater detail. Your goal is to get all of the stakeholders together to agree on the best course of action. Make sure to include all stakeholders, as they will almost certainly want tasks added to the Action Plan.

  • Slide 7 - Questions and Answers: Allow for questions to be asked. Prepare an Accusation Audit and use Starbursting to anticipate all of the questions that stakeholders will have.

Your MUB can obviously be longer than seven slides, but only include more material if it is extremely relevant. Allowing stakeholders to ask pertinent questions and providing concise answers is preferable to filling the presentation with irrelevant information.

Pitfalls to avoid

  1. Don’t put too much faith in a template. Instead, construct a presentation that is suited to the mission’s particular context by using AIMS (Audience, Issue(s), Message, Storyline).

  2. Don’t overlook the importance of knowing your stakeholders. Each stakeholder will want you to think about their wants, needs, expectations, and personality. If you offer a generic presentation, you should expect a lot of tough questions and your work to be challenged.

  3. Don’t forget to use charts and graphics. The audience expects you to convey the information in the most digestible manner possible. Keep in mind that they only have 10-15 minutes to comprehend and make decisions on a large amount of complex information. Make use of graphs and graphics to help you express your message:

    • Network maps
    • Progress bars
    • Pie charts
    • Satellite imagery
    • Screenshots
    • Short 30sec video recordings even!
  4. Don’t have useless slides. Remove slides that are unnecessary. If some of your slides can be merged then merge them.

  5. Don’t spend too much time on the ‘what?’ and instead focus on the ‘so what?’. Instead of going into great detail about the work you accomplished, concentrate on the ‘so what?’ What does it mean, for example, when you learned the attackers had gained network domain administrator privileges? What is the significance of the vulnerability you uncovered in a particular application?

Structured Analytic Techniques

The majority of students have difficulty with critical thinking.

Structured analytic techniques are important when drafting a mission briefing because they help analysts organize their thoughts and identify key issues. These techniques force analysts to think through all aspects of a problem and consider different potential outcomes. This type of analysis can help prevent cognitive biases and ensure that the mission briefing is comprehensive.

  • Stakeholder Analysis: Stakeholder analysis is the process of identifying a project’s key stakeholders, and assessing their interests, influence, and impact on the mission.

  • Starbursting: Starbursting is a technique used to generate new ideas by starting with a broad question and then “starbursting” out to more specific questions.

  • AIMS: AIMS is a process used to create audience-focused, issue-based, message-driven, and storyline-centered communication.

  • Accusation Audit: Prepare responses to all of the complaints and complaints that your stakeholders may make regarding your team’s work. When dealing with difficult missions or operations where some deliverables/outcomes have failed, this technique is critical.

Readability

Make sure your MUB is simple to comprehend and follow. Imagine sharing the material with stakeholders who are unable to attend the presentation. They’d have to be able to comprehend exactly what you provided even if they weren’t present!