Battlefield complexity brings new command, staff tasks
June 20, 2012
By Scott Gibson
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (June 20, 2012) -- During the past decade of war, U.S. commanders and staff officers have been asked to conduct a rising number of tasks in an ever-increasing environment of complexity, and a group of military experts here Wednesday gathered to discuss how future commanders will need to be taught to succeed in an environment future generations could never have imagined.
As part of the Mission Command Symposium, a professional development forum hosted for the Army by the Association of the United States Army, known as AUSA, experts from the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center and Mission Command Center of Excellence were joined by leaders from U.S. Cyber Command to discuss some of the new challenges that face leaders on today's battlefield.
The forum, titled "Mission Command Commander and Staff Tasks" was moderated by a former commander of the 101st Airborne (Air Assault), retired Maj. Gen. Jeffrey J. Schloesser, who reinforced the complexities of the modern battlefield, not only concerning enemy combatants, but complexities in communicating with friendly elements as well.
Retired Col. Clint Ancker, the director, Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate, pointed out that although some skeptics are concerned that the Mission Command philosophy could be used as an excuse to send Soldiers out without adequate resources or training, the opposite is true.
"In fact, Mission Command demands that when you give someone an order you give resources to go along with that," he said.
According to Ancker, although many of the basic tasks for commanders and their staffs have not changed over the years, there are tasks that commanders and staff officers now need to know how to do. Chief among these tasks are those that deal with an exploding amount of information now available to commanders. In addition to driving the operations process through the activities of understand, visualize, describe, direct, lead and assess, commanders must now develop teams within their own organization and with unified action partners while conducting inform and influence operations inside and outside of their organizations.
Additional requirements for today's staff officers also have increased well beyond simply conducting the operations process of plan, prepare, execute and assess. Today's staff officers also need to understand and execute knowledge and information management programs, conduct inform and influence activities, and conduct cyber electromagnetic activities. Both commanders and staff also have the additional responsibility of conducting additional tasks such as conducting military deception, protecting information, conducting airspace control, conducting civil affairs operations, and installing, operating and maintaining the network, Ancker said.
Retired Brig. Gen. Thomas M. Jordan, director, Capabilities Development Integration Directorate, discussed the importance of staffs managing operations in a global domain that includes such things as cyberspace and electro magnetics.
"We have gone from a limited physical battlefield to a Global Battlefield with a 24-7 cycle," Jordan said. "All of this is something now that commanders and all of us have to deal with, much different than 10 years ago."