Memorandum pre-writing

1. Pre-Writing Assignment Overview:

For this pre-writing assignment, each student will:

–Demonstrate an understanding of how to organize a military memorandum,

–Answer in plain language a number of questions that demonstrate an understanding of the scope of what you are being asked to do.

–Develop a number of key elements of the memorandum.

A “sample” is provided at the end of the assignment to provide information on how to structure this submittal of the assignment. Standardizing the assignment in this way will make it easier to complete peer reviews on each others’ work. The following information is provided below: the three steps for completing the pre-writing assignment, a description of the problem, and an example of what the final assignment should look like.

Step 1: Developing Document Layout and Memorandum Header Elements

Using the memorandum guide provided in the first reading assignment, develop a document header and titles for the required sections. Complete the header content by reading the problem described below.

Step 2: Problem Definition

Your first step in the assignment is to cut and paste each question below into a new document and starting on a line below each question, provide an answer:

  • What problem you have been asked to address? While you are using statistics to support a particular answer, the question and the outcome that is being sought from you (below) are not numeric. You need to describe the question and outcome sought in plain language.
  • What is the answer that is being sought from you? OR What is the outcome you are supposed to have in writing this memorandum?
  • What statistical approach will you use to address this problem? AND Why does this approach provide you insight into addressing the problem?
  • Who have you been asked to address this memorandum to (find the person’s name and official title)?
  • What are the addressees likely to need from reading the memorandum? (This is a critical thinking exercise, so ask yourself what the addressees’ responsibilities are and use that to think about what they need to know from you).

Step 3: Develop Key Elements

  • Summary and Thesis. Now that you understand the scope of the assignment and what your audience needs when reading your memorandum, you will develop the summary and thesis statement (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.for your document. Remember the summary should provide enough information for a busy reader to be able to understand the key elements of the memorandum without reading the entire document. For this type of document, the summary must include a brief statement of the problem, how you will approach addressing it and why that is a valid approach and the recommendation you are planning making.
  • Graphics. Graphics should be used in this assignment to support or make more clear ideas you are presenting in the document. Determine what type of graphic you will use in your document and describe why it is the best approach for enhancing your message. Review Quick Reference for Figures section the Figures and Charts (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.handout from UNC writing center to assist you in thinking through this. Develop the graphic you will use in the final document. Include identifiers on your graphic that are necessary to make the graphic clear for an outside reader. Provide a title using the formatting discussed in the Figures and Charts (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.handout.
  • Research Resources. To complete this assignment, you will need information on the causes of death that are occurring in the war zone. Include a minimum of two crediblesources that provide this background. Document these two sources following How to Write a Military Memorandum directions for documenting references.

Problem Description:

The United States military has been involved as a peace-keeping force in a humanitarian effort to prevent further genocide in the country of Linhir. Many soldiers have died in this effort. The government has recently approved the use of emergency funds to improve the situation, but funding will only support one initiative. The officer in charge of the theater of operations, your commanding officer, has asked you, a military engineer, rank of Lieutenant, to evaluate the situation and recommend a course of action to reduce the number of fatalities and enable the peace-keeping force to remain in place. Analyze the provided data regarding soldier fatalities in a one-month period and make a recommendation regarding what the government and military should do. The final product of this case (assignment 1.5) is a memorandum following How to Write a Military Memorandum (provided in assignment 1.1 reading) that must provide compelling information to the audience the memorandum is addressed to.

Audience: Any time you prepare a professional document, you should consider the audience

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Links to an external site.

that you are writing the document for. You should tailor the content, language, tone, and structure of the document to the audience you are addressing. This document is being prepared for senior-level government and military members. Ask yourself what they can be reasonably expected to know about this topic, and what they need to know to make an informed decision. Address the memorandum to:

  • The United States Secretary of Defense (primary addressee)

Provide carbon copies (cc)’s to:

  • The House of Representatives Defense Subcommittee
  • The United States Senate Defense Subcommittee

Tone: The Audience for this document requires that the style

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Links to an external site.

is precise and professional.

  • Utilize plain language when describing your analysis, as you cannot assume all readers will be statistically literate. However, there are also some who will understand statistics and will want to understand the statistical logic that you used to determine your recommendation.
  • Start the document with a summary that readers can read to understand the essential elements of the document – the context of the issue, what is being examined and how, and the recommendation you will make.
  • Develop the document around a direct, coherent message (thesis), (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site.and clear evidence (Links to an external site.)Links to an external support it.
  • Do not use contractions, slang or colloquialisms (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., clichés (Links to an external site.)Links to an external site., abbreviations, or text message shortcuts.

Data: Each number on the attached spreadsheet represents the cause of death of one soldier. The cause of death represented by each number is identified on the table below.

Soldier Fatalities Data

Data Coding:

Cause of Fatality Code
Staph infection 1
Typhus 2
Cholera 3
Dysentery 4
Fragment wound 5
Burn wound 6
Gunshot wound 7
Exploding ordnance wound 8
Blood hemorrhage 9


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