FORT EUSTIS, Va. –
Gen. Stephen J. Townsend, commanding general, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, has set a near-term priority to emphasizing the importance of Mission Command from AIT to the battlefield.
Mission Command is the Army’s approach to command and control. It focuses on empowering subordinate decision-making, decentralized execution and using mission orders to enable disciplined initiative in accomplishment of the commander’s intent.
In a recent Army University Press article, titled “Reinvigorating the Army’s Approach to Mission Command,” Townsend and Maj. Gen. Douglas Crissman, the commander of the Army’s Mission Command Center of Excellence, echoed the Chief of Staff of the Army in saying the time is right to ensure Mission Command is clearly defined in Army doctrine and is applied in every aspect of Soldier training.
“We preach Mission Command, but we don’t necessarily practice it on a day-to-day basis in everything we do…If we’re going to have to operate like that in warfare, we have to train as we’re going to fight,” said Chief of Staff of the Army, Gen. Mark A. Milley. “We have to live and operate like that on a day-to-day basis, even on administrative tasks you have to do in a unit area.”
Although the Army’s approach to Mission Command builds off of a deep foundation that traces back to the crossing of the Delaware in 1776, the term mission command first appeared in Army doctrine in the early 2000s. At the time, Army Doctrine Publication 6-0 approached Mission Command from a strategic standpoint that Soldiers are needed to make split second decisions nested in the commander’s intent. However, according to Army senior leaders, over the years mandatory training has robbed subordinate leaders of the opportunity to lead and promote trust and confidence.
“The bad news is many in our Army find the idea of Mission Command confusing or insincere,” Townsend said. “For some, there is a significant difference between what Mission Command should be versus what actually happens.”
To address this say-do gap, the Army is updating ADP 6-0. The new doctrine, titled “Mission Command: Command and Control of Army Forces,” clarifies both the logic and the language the Army uses. Additionally, the updated ADP 6-0 defines Mission Command based on seven principles: competence, trust, shared understanding, mission orders, commander’s intent, disciplined initiative, and risk acceptance.
“We are currently engaged in a much-needed professional dialogue to get it right. Our orders must be clear and simple enough to be executed without continuous communication or leader interaction,” Townsend said. “Our success as an Army depends upon our ability to build leaders at all levels, who recognize when their plan is failing or when the enemy has presented an opportunity. They must be smart enough to come up with a plan that will work and have the guts and trust to execute.”
Townsend, and other senior leaders, recognize changing Army culture will take time, training and deliberate efforts by commanders to build trust and confidence in subordinate leaders, but they are committed to reinvigorating the culture of mission command.
“This approach is the only way to lead a winning Army,” Townsend said.
Parts of this story were taken from the Army University Press article, “Reinvigorating the Army’s Approach to Mission Command.” This is part one of a three part series to be released in the Military Review this summer. Read the full article at https://www.armyupress.army.mil/journals/military-review/online-exclusive/2019-ole/march/reinvigorating-mc/