- By Thomas E. RicksThomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the new material there is lots of emphasis on mission command. I think it is a fine idea. What I don’t understand is what incentives there are for commanders to actually practice it. I think many will give mission command lip service and then issue scads of fragmentary orders, undercutting the whole idea. We saw this in the report on the 2nd ACR’s October maneuvers in Germany.
The response I get is that it is so hard because we have a "zero defects" Army. I don’t think we do. We have a micromanaging Army. If there really were no tolerance for defects, wouldn’t we see more reliefs for incompetence?
Also, contrary to some stray comments, the prospect of relief does not increase micromanagement. In my book, I argue that it actually decreases it. (But to understand that, Maj. Rod, you’d have to read the book, not just the comments on Amazon about it.)