How to Prepare an Operational Needs Statement
Commonly abbreviated as ONS in military procedures, an operational needs statement is a request for materiel to conduct military operations and complete missions. This statement follows a specific format that commanding officers are expected to use when submitting a request. Preparing an ONS requires learning the proper format. One simple method is to follow an Army outline.
When a commander in the field becomes aware of an urgent need for additional supplies or equipment to fulfill a mission, the needs are documented using an ONS. The ONS is submitted up through the chain of command, and an ONS from a deployed unit gets top priority. A shortage of standard equipment essential to the mission or equipment preauthorized for deployment with a unit is not included on an ONS. Requests for this type of materiel go through different channels using different documentation.
Army guidelines are given for the ONS using a 12-paragraph format over two to six pages. Extending the length of the ONS if necessary to explain the request fully is permissible. Paragraph 1 is simply the unit identification code -- a unique alphanumeric code that uses six characters to identify single groups under the Department of Defense umbrella. Paragraph 2 of the ONS is the shipping address where the requested materiel should be sent.
In Paragraph 3 of the ONS, the need for the request is described in terms of problem identification and how the requested material will provide the solution. Paragraph 4 is justification for the request, which includes a projected explanation of what will happen if the request is not fulfilled.
A detailed description of requirements is given in Paragraph 5. Paragraph 6 states how the material will be used. Who will use the material and at what level of command is provided in Paragraph 7. Whether the materiel will be used to fulfill ongoing operations or only to evaluate a need is stated in Paragraph 8 of the operational needs request.
In Paragraph 9 of the ONS, any support needed for the requested materiel is detailed. This includes items like special tools, diagnostic equipment, repair manuals and logistical support. Paragraph 10 provides information on any known existing system that will meet the need.
The ONS concludes with Paragraphs 11 and 12, with 11 providing any recommendations to meet the need and resolve the situation. The final paragraph lists the particular point of contact -- POC in military terms -- to communicate with about the needs statement.