Mission command is nice but what will make commanders actually practice it?
As I’ve mentioned, I was out at Fort Leavenworth last week. Among other things, I collected enough doctrine and books to give my suitcase a hernia. 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 ...
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.)
Thomas E. Ricks is a former contributing editor to Foreign Policy. Twitter: @tomricks1
More from Foreign Policy
America Is a Heartbeat Away From a War It Could Lose
Global war is neither a theoretical contingency nor the fever dream of hawks and militarists.
The West’s Incoherent Critique of Israel’s Gaza Strategy
The reality of fighting Hamas in Gaza makes this war terrible one way or another.
Biden Owns the Israel-Palestine Conflict Now
In tying Washington to Israel’s war in Gaza, the U.S. president now shares responsibility for the broader conflict’s fate.
Taiwan’s Room to Maneuver Shrinks as Biden and Xi Meet
As the latest crisis in the straits wraps up, Taipei is on the back foot.