When preparing for a mission, officers, who’ve signed off on hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment and are responsible for troops each wearing around $17,500 worth of gear, crowd around a simple box made of sand, sticks, and stones. The S-3 officer will pick up a rock and say, “first platoon, this is you guys” and they’ll use another rock to represent second platoon. And maybe they’ll even throw in some ad-libbed sound effects. Admittedly, it’s kinda silly at first glance.
Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you’ll get an operations officer to spring a couple bucks and buy a few green, plastic Army guys to represent each unit, which makes it feel more like a tabletop RPG or something. Whatever markers are used, the intent is the same — and it may be one of the best instructional tools available when briefing the troops on what’s about to go down.