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Mission Command and the Army?s Capstone Concept

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  • Mission Command and the Army?s Capstone Concept

    With the official adoption of the Capstone Concept in December of last year, the U.S. Army embraced Mission Command, another phrase for mission-oriented orders. The notion is hardly new, but for those of you a little rusty on the idea, here’s how the U.S. Army’s TRADOC (Training and Doctrine Command) Pamphlet 525-3-0 The Capstone Concept describes it:

    Mission command is the conduct of military operations through decentralized execution based on mission orders. Successful mission command demands that subordinate leaders at all echelons exercise disciplined initiative, acting aggressively and independently to accomplish the mission within the commander’s intent (FM 3-0).

    Stripped of the buzz words, what does it mean? More to the point, what distinguishes Mission-oriented orders from other command styles? In a nutshell, mission-oriented orders inform subordinates what objectives are to be taken, not how to take them. That second part is up to the subordinate leaders to work out.

    There is a recent article addressing the theory of Mission-oriented orders, as well as some of the historical background on their development, in Small Wars Journal, by retired USAF Colonel Dave Shunk.. Just the other day retired Army Major Don Vandergriff wrote a commentary and elaboration on the original article, and both of these pieces are worth reading. I love thought pieces like this which try to get to grips with the theory and practice of battlefield command. This is a subject theoreticians and practitioners have struggled whit for over two thousand years – that we have written records of.

    Here’s what struck me ...


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