Army Leaders Discuss Mission Command
June 19, 2012
KANSAS CITY, MO--Some of the US Army's top leaders, and military officers from around the globe met here Tuesday to discuss the emergence of the Army's newest and arguably most significant warfighting function.
The Association of the United States Army hosted a professional development forum on the topic of "Mission Command," and kicked off the two-day event with introductory comments by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno and a panel discussion titled "Why Mission Command?," which served as a primer for the symposium discussion.
The discussion on "Why Mission Command," was led by retired Army General and former Commander of the Training and Doctrine Command, Gen. John Foss; Lt. Gen., David G. Perkins, Commanding General of the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center; French Maj. Gen. Olivier Tramond, head of the French Army Doctrine Center; and Brig. Gen. Wayne W. Grigsby, Director of the Mission Command Center of Excellence.
The purpose of the panel was to better inform the Army, its joint and international partners on the importance of Mission Command, and the Mission Command Warfighting Function. Mission Command has been codified in the latest Army Doctrine, ADP 6-0, as 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." Moreover, it is executed through the Mission Command Center of Excellence which integrates all the remaining warfighting functions such as Maneuver, Fires and Maneuver Support.
"Done well, it [Mission Command] empowers agile and adaptive leaders to successfully operate under conditions of uncertainty, exploit leading opportunities, and most importantly achieve unity of effort, said Odierno. "Mission Command is fundamental to ensuring that our Army stays ahead of and adapts to the rapidly changing environment we expect to face in the future."
Another reason for holding the discussion was to inform and educate the Army on why Mission Command replaced the concepts of Battle Command and Command and Control in Army Doctrine.
According to Lt. Gen. Perkins, with the old paradigm of Command and Control, many Army leaders saw the function of control as being restrictive in nature while the Mission Command philosophy seeks to empower leaders rather than restrict them.
Lt. Gen. Perkins said the paired use of the individual concepts of command and control (which still exist in Army Doctrine) are "inadequate to discuss specifically what we want the commander to do." He went on to discuss that the Mission Command philosophy is much more effective at empowering units and leaders. Unlike Battle Command, "Mission Command develops adaptability at the point of need," Perkins said.
Gen. Odierno emphasized that the Army is leading the way in the Mission Command philosophy and that due to the Army's lead it is currently being integrated into Joint Doctrine. "We are in a time of strategic change so we have to navigate through those waters of strategic change and part of that has to do with this very topic of mission command… in my mind how we conduct mission command will be the key."
Odierno stated that as the profession and the art of the military continues to change, the Army will have to change with it by transforming both intellectually and culturally, employing both force and influence.
"Mission Command is absolutely the right approach for current and future military operations," Odierno said. "However, it must be a mission command informed by an understanding of our complex environment and executed by an Army that is fully aware of the critical importance of the cultural lexes and the technological capabilities through which all of our actions will be interpreted."