Tag: mission command

Situationally Aware or Just Overwhelmed?

By Major Carl “Skin” Forsling, USMC

As military leaders, we like to believe that we have a core set of values, beliefs, and leadership practices that transcend the day-to-day workings of society.  Our services have slogans such as “Semper Fidelis,” “This We’ll Defend,” or “Honor, Courage, Commitment.”  Some even joke that we have over two centuries of tradition unhindered by progress. That isn’t true.  We are a product of the society from which we are drawn, for better or worse.           

The military takes American society and amplifies it.  Usually, this is a good thing.  Today, in one important way, it’s not.

Information is the modern world’s stock in trade.  It’s often said that we’re moving towards an information-based economy, even an information-based society.  Cell phones, e-mail, satellite communication, and the like have changed our lives.

The overloading effect of information has been picked to death.  In this sense, the military is only a reflection of society.  Every office worker in America hates his e-mail inbox, as do most military leaders, both enlisted and officer. 

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Mission Command is Not Enough

Note: Departing for Gettysburg Historical Staff Ride, so this is coming a day early.

Friday’s Last Word – Pull Pin, Throw Grenade, Run Away: A provocative thought to kick off the weekend…

By Major Matt Cavanaugh

No West Point cadet will attend academic classes today due to the Simon Center for the Professional Military Ethic’s “Mission Command Conference.”  “Mission command” is a fairly massive initiative in the Army, defined 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.” In short, this is how the Army educates and inspires junior officers to take the initiative when on mission (avoiding constant need for supervision and guidance).  This is both useful and critical on today’s battlefield.

Yet mission command is inherently constrained by the word, “mission.”  The US Army doesn’t fight missions, it fights wars. Missions are designed to support war efforts, therefore, thinking about how one’s mission fits into the war’s context is not just helpful, but necessary.  War is about much more than the tactical fight.

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