Mission Command

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Mission command is the exercise of authority and direction by the commander using mission orders to enable disciplined initiative within the commander’s intent to empower agile and adaptive leaders in the conduct of unified land operations (ADP 6-0).

Mission command is one of the foundations of unified land operations. This philosophy of command helps commanders capitalize on the human ability to take action to develop the situation and integrate military operations to achieve the commander’s intent and desired end state. Mission command emphasizes centralized intent and dispersed execution through disciplined initiative. This precept guides leaders toward mission accomplishment.

Mission Command

The mission command warfighting function is the related tasks and systems that develop and integrate those activities enabling a commander to balance the art of command and the science of control in order to integrate the other warfighting functions.

Disciplined initiative fosters agile and adaptive forces. Throughout operations, unexpected opportunities and threats rapidly present themselves. The nature of military operations requires responsibility and decision making at the point of action. Leaders and subordinates who exercise initiative, within the commander’s intent, create opportunity by taking action to develop the situation. Agile leaders are comfortable with uncertainty and understand that disciplined initiative is an important part of being adaptive. Successful Army leaders adapt their thinking, their formations, and their employment techniques to the specific situation they face. Adaptive leaders realize that concrete answers or perfect solutions to operational problems are rarely apparent. They understand that there may be periods of reduced uncertainty as the situation evolves. Agile and adaptive leaders use initiative to set and dictate the terms of action. They accept they will often have to act despite significant gaps in their understanding. Agile and adaptive leaders make timely adjustments in response to changes in their operational environment.

Through mission command, commanders integrate and synchronize operations. Commanders understand they do not operate independently but as part of a larger force. They integrate and synchronize their actions with the rest of the force to achieve the overall objective of the operation. Commanders create and sustain shared understanding and purpose through collaboration and dialogue within their organizations and with unified action partners to facilitate unity of effort. To function effectively and have the greatest chance for mission accomplishment, commanders, supported by their staffs, exercise mission command throughout the conduct of operations.

Mission Command as a Warfighting Function

Mission command—as a warfighting function—assists commanders in balancing the art of command with the science of control, while emphasizing the human aspects of mission command. A war fighting function is a group of tasks and systems (people, organizations, information, and processes) united by a common purpose that commanders use to accomplish missions (ADRP 3-0). The mission command warfighting function consists of the mission command warfighting function tasks and the mission command system.

Mission Command System

Commanders need support to exercise mission command effectively. At every echelon of command, each commander establishes a mission command system—the arrangement of personnel, networks, information systems, processes and procedures, and facilities and equipment that enable commanders to conduct operations (ADP 6-0).

Mission Command is covered extensively in BSS5: The Battle Staff SMARTbook, 5th Ed. (Leading, Planning & Conducting Military Operations). Material referenced from ADRP/ADP 6-0 includes a full chapter (40 pages) on Mission Command to include: 6 pages of mission command overview (principles, exercising, philosophy, and information), 10 pages on mission command as a warfighting function (integration, mission command system, commander and staff tasks and responsibilities, additional tasks), 12 pages on command posts (organization and CP types, CP operations, organization considerations, effectiveness and survivability factors, shift changes, command post cells and staff sections, functional and integrating cells, battle rhythm and working groups), 6 pages on liaison (fundamentals, duties, receiving and sending unit responsibilities, and considerations), and 6 pages on military deception (principles, process and capability, in support of operations, tactics and means, planning steps, in the operations process).

BSS5: The Battle Staff SMARTbook, 5th Ed.This article is an extract from “BSS5: The Battle Staff SMARTbook, 5th Ed. (Leading, Planning & Conducting Military Operations)” by The Lightning Press. Download a free PDF sample and learn more at: BSS5: The Battle Staff SMARTbook, 5th Ed. (Leading, Planning & Conducting Military Operations).

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