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  • Mission Command Philosophy

    On my path to becoming an Army Officer and we get these questions so I wanted to see how ACG members would answer it:
    • Pick one army leader, and describe how he or she applied the Mission Command Philosophy in their leadership (see ADRP 6-0).
    • Argue whether current military operations are more conducive or less conducive to the exercise of Mission Command Philosophy than operations in past military environments (see ADRP 6-0).
    According to ADRP 6-0 the principles of Mission Command are:
    • Build cohesive teams through mutual trust
    • Create shared understanding
    • Provide a clear commander’s intent
    • Exercise disciplined initiative
    • Use mission orders
    • Accept prudent risk
    Then it describes how commanders apply the philosophy of mission command to balance the art of command with the science of control. The art of command is the creative and skillful exercise of authority through timely decisionmaking and leadership. The science of control consists of systems and procedures used to improve the commander’s
    understanding and support accomplishing missions.

    Keep in mind the date of the publication, May 2012 and what historical context that may be providing.

    Here is an example the Army provides:
    Command Based on Mutual Trust and Shared Understanding—Sherman, 1864

    In a letter to MG William T. Sherman, dated 4 April 1864, LTG Ulysses S. Grant outlined his 1864 campaign plan. LTG Grant described MG Sherman’s role:

    “It is my design, if the enemy keep quiet and allow me to take the initiative in the Spring Campaign to work all parts of the Army together, and, somewhat, toward a common center.
    . . . You I propose to move against Johnston’s Army, to break it up and to get into the interior of the enemy’s country as far as you can, inflicting all the damage you can against their War resources. I do not propose to lay down for you a plan of Campaign, but simply to lay down the work it is desirable to have done and leave you free to execute in your own way. Submit to me however as early as you can your plan of operation.”

    MG Sherman responded to LTG Grant immediately in a letter dated 10 April 1864. He sent Grant, as requested, his specific plan of operations, demonstrating that he understood Grant’s intent:

    “ . . . Your two letters of April 4th are now before me... That we are now all to act in a Common plan, Converging on a Common Center, looks like Enlightened War... I will not let side issues draw me off from your main plan in which I am to Knock Joe [Confederate GEN Joseph E.] Johnston, and do as much damage to the resources of the Enemy as possible... I would ever bear in mind that Johnston is at all times to be kept so busy that he cannot in any event send any part of his command against you or [Union MG Nathaniel P.] Banks.”

    The Papers of Ulysses S. Grant, Volume 10: January 1–May 31, 1864, by Ulysses S. Grant, edited by John Y. Simon. Ulysses S. Grant Foundation. 1982. Excerpt from pages 251 through 254, used by permission.
    The Europa Barbarorum II team [M2TW] needs YOUR HELP NOW HERE!

  • #2
    I like how Sherman kept it short and sweet. Grant knew what he was up against and trusted him. I think too many young men today would be tempted to write a short novel and try to impress with his skill at writing.

    Pruitt
    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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    • #3
      The mission command principles, as you noted, seem to have grown to be very bureaucratic. The mission order when it first entered U.S. Army doctrine back in the 1970's was modeled after a perception of the German auftragtaktiks. The intent from Moltke initiating this type of order was the commanders should be well forward in the operation, and the officer on the spot must take the initiative in the situation based on their knowledge of the mission and their perception of the situation. A change in orders was expected by the commander on the scene, and not wait for a removed headquarters or commander to make a call. What the American did not pick with this concept was that the junior officer was to change the orders/make a change in the orders within the context of existing operating procedures. It was not some creative solution plucked from commander's mind. The junior decision should be concentric with the operating procedures and the capability of the force, as opposed an eccentric solution that committed the unit beyond its capabilities, for example seizing a hill that could not be adequately defended by the existing force.
      Last edited by R.N. Armstrong; 02 Oct 19, 14:42.
      Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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      • #4
        Further recollection on the Army's initiation of mission orders, a "Commander's Intent" paragraph was inserted into paragraph 3, Operation, in the five-paragraph field order. The 'Intent' paragraph was to provide the commander's guidance to subordinate commanders to make decisions in rapidly changing situations. Working at division staff level during this period, I saw a lot of commander's intent paragraphs in multiple exercises. Some were concise, clear guidance. Others rambled into multiple paragraphs that clouded the mission, ruminated on alternatives, and proved confusing to subordinate commanders' interpretation.

        Later, attending the Command and Staff College at Ft. Leavenworth, I recommended to the faculty that they should spend more time on writing concise commander's intent paragraphs and require students to read General Grant's orders which are models of clear, concise orders. Hence, my initial characterized on the first post describes a distracting bureaucratic approach to the order that seems to have grown since the 1980's. It seems poor writers have won.
        Leadership is the ability to rise above conventional wisdom.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by R.N. Armstrong View Post
          (...) mission order when it first entered U.S. Army doctrine back in the 1970's was modeled after a perception of the German auftragtaktiks. The intent from Moltke initiating this type of order was the commanders should be well forward in the operation, and the officer on the spot must take the initiative in the situation based on their knowledge of the mission and their perception of the situation.
          I've heard it said "Auftragstaktik" as a concept didn't enter German military doctrine untill *after* the second war, when former Wehrmacht officers started writing for the US army.

          English language military history often dates it back to the the Prussian reforms of 1806, or Moltke as you do...

          But does anyone know when it is first evidenced in written German military doctrine ?

          https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a509971.pdf

          There are significant problems in attempting to identify the nature of Auftragstaktik. Chief among them is that not until after World War II did the term come into general use. At that time, former German generals coined the term to label certain aspects of the German army's approach to war in the past.
          (note how the earliest clear reference is a US military manual dated 1973-1982)

          Much like "Blitzkrieg" it may just be that "Auftragstaktik" was something first perceived by the Germans' former enemies, rather than by German military theorists themselves…

          https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=17475
          Last edited by Snowygerry; 08 Oct 19, 08:25.
          High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post
            But does anyone know when it is first evidenced in written German military doctrine ?
            Well, maybe it's first evidenced in an American military source - but written by a German. "Battle leadership", by Adolf von Schell, writing in English when he was at Fort Benning in the 30s.

            "In the German Army we use what we term “mission tactics”; orders are not written out in the minutest detail, a mission is merely given to a commander. How it shall be carried out is his problem. This is done because the commander on the ground is the only one who can correctly judge existing conditions and take proper action if a change occurs in the situation."

            When this was translated into German, the translator used "Auftragstaktik" - unsurprisingly.

            Michele

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            • #7
              ^ Welcome back, mi amici. Long time, no see. Don't be a stranger, eh.
              I was married for two ******* years! Hell would be like Club Med! - Sam Kinison

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