Standard Contingency Documentation Plan

Article 5 min
Review themes, interest items and operations to prepare for your mission when guidance or PAG is not available.

The Standard Contingency Documentation Plan (SCDP) is used as a guide until further guidance is provided by the theater COMCAM/IO/PAO/Commander’s representative or the Theater Public Affairs Guidance (PAG) is published with the key DoD themes and messages. The SCDP applies to documenting combat, combat support operations, humanitarian missions or exercises. Using this information, deploying documentation teams should be able to adapt operations to almost any similar situation. COMCAM does not usually support Public Affairs (PA) missions such as awards, promotions or ceremonies unless directed by the Commander.

General Themes/Mission Support Functions

Imagery support to processes and products for psychological operations, military information support operations, military deception, civil affairs, civil-military operations, key leader engagements and for countering misinformation, disinformation and propaganda.
Visual documentation of battle damage sustained or inflicted, and visual documentation of environmental conditions, before, during and after an operation or exercise.
Imagery to provide commanders a visual assessment of current conditions and variables on the ground.
Visual documentation of SSE collected on-site and submitted for compilation, review and analysis.
Visual documentation used to refute or provide evidence, as well as a record of status, actions, conditions, etc., for potential or actual legal review or proceedings.
Documentation support to the assessment of current measures, capabilities in place, potential threats or weaknesses, either adversary or own.
Documentation of operational efforts, evidence and contraband seized, adversary tactics, techniques and procedures.
Conditions, obstacles, requirements and efforts, for interagency and State Department situational awareness as well as for the public release.
Documenting the progress and challenges of evacuating noncombatant personnel from areas of concern, especially for situational awareness at higher DoD and State Department levels.
Providing imagery of operations and engagements specifically for public release to the media, especially in areas out of reach of normal PA assets or civilian media.
Imagery support to collections, counterintelligence, human intelligence, analytics, assessments, etc.
This documentation imagery supports the training of Combat Support Forces participating in an operation.
Documentation of all aspects of operations from beginning to end for the historical record. Historical record imagery supports archival requirements to depict the significant operational and support efforts of the Department of Defense.

Key Interest Items

Focus on the key interest items relevant to your mission to help you prepare and practice for the types of subjects and actions you'll be documenting.

Includes imagery of U.S. forces working with and supporting the host nation's personnel, planning and operations.
Shows the weight of effort by U.S. forces by documenting the number of aircraft, amount of cargo, number of troops, ships, tanks, etc.
Documentation shows the urgency of the operation, action, effort, emotion, fatigue and how the environment is affecting deployed forces.
When possible, you should record field commanders’ or key operations officers’ assessments of current operations, mission effectiveness, lessons learned and significant events.
Show all possible aspects of base support functions, including:

  • Messing
  • Billeting
  • Mortuary affairs(with guidance from PAO)
  • Medical
  • Engineering
  • Petroleum, oil, lubricants (POL)
  • Transportation
  • Security
  • Spare parts
  • Field maintenance support

Show pre-deployment preparations by documenting:

  • Uniform inspections
  • Weapons storage
  • Packing and marking boxes
  • Classes and training
  • Vehicle staging
  • Briefings
  • Loading equipment
  • Goodbyes to families

Remember to document all that takes place during an operation, including:

  • Water purification
  • Field mess operations
  • Physical fitness
  • Mail operations
  • Operational briefings
  • Weapons training/ops
  • Maintenance trends
  • Rehearsals
  • Medical operations
  • Situational awareness
  • NBC operations
  • Fuel points
  • Aerial recon
  • Communications set-up
  • Environmental effects on equipment and personnel
  • Public Affairs (PA)

After deployment, continue documenting activities, such as:

  • Pack-up
  • Vehicle readiness
  • Homecoming
  • Equipment cleaning
  • Retrograde
  • After action briefs


Review operations relevant to your mission. Make sure you are prepared for the environment you'll be in and the imagery you'll need to capture:

Be prepared to capture imagery of:

  • Inter-theater delivery of mission-impact cargo and personnel
  • Inter-theater delivery of Army, USMC and USAF Airbase Ground Defense combat forces
  • Tactical airlift of combat and key support forces to forward bases
  • Assault strip operations, securing the airstrip, follow-on cargo shipments
  • Airdrop/Airland preparations, troop and equipment loading, jumping/air-landing
  • Tanker Airlift Control Element (TALCE) operations
  • Cargo handling maintenance, flight following and communications
  • Crew briefings, boarding aircraft, in-flight operations

Preferably, you will jump or airland with the first echelon of assault forces. Be prepared to capture imagery of:

  • Combat Control Team (CCT) operations (e.g., controlling landing and airdrop zones, cross-country tactical movement, link up with airdrop/airland forces)
  • Combat airdrop and air-land operations (e.g., capturing imagery of the drop zone and airfield assault and capture)
  • Drop zone or assault strip security operations, patrols and air defense measures
  • Military Security Police in:
    • Base ground defense support
    • Base perimeter security
    • Boundary patrols
    • Use of heavy weapons
    • Communications
    • Point air defense operations
  • Port operations conducting loading, unloading, cargo handling, processing and distribution of supplies
  • Motor pool operations

Be ready to document the following base support operations:

  • Civil engineering operations, such as base camp construction, including tents, latrines, command centers, roads and aircraft parking areas
  • Messing facilities (e.g., troops dining, eating meals-ready-to-eat (MREs) when issued, food preparation and dining facilities
  • Marshaling area activities (e.g., the arrival and breakdown of pallets, equipment and supplies)
  • Area security (e.g., airbase defense, security police and/or host nation security and inter-operability)
  • Petroleum, oil, lubricants (e.g., aircraft fuel pits, trucks and refueling operations)
  • Show inter-operation between different branches of the DoD or Host nation (e.g., transportation, supplies, security or air defense)
  • Explosive Ordinance Disposal (EOD) operations (e.g., bomb disposal, unexploded ordinance recon, EOD operations center and any other explosive related duties)
  • Combat Camera operations (e.g., documentation teams in the field performing acquisition and in their living area to include daily area activities)

Be ready to capture images of command and control in action:

  • Arrival and establishment of headquarters (BDOC, etc.) - Setting up operations centers
  • Arrival, setup, and operation of communications systems, including antenna construction
  • Command and operations planning/execution
  • Interface between US and allied or host nation Soldiers in planning and mission execution
  • Periodic "video situation reports"- Commanders describe recent operations, problems, lessons learned
  • Joint/Interagency aspects of operations - Interface with other Service staffs, joint headquarters, other government agencies (FBI, DEA, State Department, etc.) and joint operations between different branches of the DOD

Show evacuation operations at on-load and off-load point, including:

  • Site security
  • U.S. participation in area security and air cover
  • Evacuees
  • Include interviews with key people when appropriate

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