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In this lesson, you will be conducting self paced instruction (SPI) in order to familiarize yourself with Marine Corps operational terms and graphics. This lesson covers the fundamentals of military symbology. This programmed text is self-instructional. No attempt has been made to depict all operational symbols in this text; however, the symbols that you will study will provide you with techniques and uniform methods for graphically portraying various units, weapons, and activities. You will be allocated two hours to complete this self paced text.


In order to fight, commanders and their staffs must issue orders to subordinates, which are directly tied to the commander’s intent. These orders may be issued orally or in writing or by a combination of both. They may be issued in person or by electronic means. Words may be used as the principal means to communicate orders or sometimes only graphics are used to represent the intent of the commander. As a general rule, both are used; one complements the other. All Marines need a common language of operational terms and military symbols so that commander’s intent can be communicated rapidly and with
minimum risk of misunderstanding.

In This Lesson

Some of the things to be discussed herein can give you the ability to communicate effectively in the Marine Corps. This text is not a test. It is designed to teach you individually and at your own pace.

This lesson covers the following topics:

Topic Page
Use of Operational Symbols 4
Questions on Use of Operational Symbols 5
Answers on Use of Operational Symbols 6
Marine Corps Divisions 7
Questions on Marine Corps Divisions 10
Answers on Marine Corps Divisions 11
Operational Symbols 12
Overlays 42
Tactical Control Measures 46
Tactical Tasks 58
Enemy Oriented Tactical Tasks 59
Terrain Oriented Tactical Tasks 63
Friendly Oriented Tactical Tasks 65
Fire Plan Overlay Symbols 67
Summary 71
Self-Test 72
Self Test Answer Key 76
References 80
Glossary of Terms and Acronyms 80
Notes 81