Best Defense

Thomas E. Ricks' daily take on national security.

Lack of mission command: I see this so often it make me think the U.S. military simply is unable to do anything about it

Everyone knows there is a problem but no one really has a handle on how to effectively address the problem.

AXAFA
AXAFA

"Most serving officers know the command style we articulate is not the style we practice," writes Navy Capt. Dale Rielage in the April issue of Proceedings. "In many cases, we have grown comfortable with a centralized style in execution and are inadvertently creating command-and-control systems that threaten to make centralized control our structural default."

That’s not an unusual comment to read from an active-duty officer nowadays. The problem is that I keep seeing it. That makes me think everyone knows there is a problem but no one really has a handle on how to effectively address the problem.

And that makes me think that the only thing that really will force change is a catastrophe in our next war. Part of being a good commander is not only taking prudent risks, but encouraging your subordinates to do so, and backing them up when they do.

“Most serving officers know the command style we articulate is not the style we practice,” writes Navy Capt. Dale Rielage in the April issue of Proceedings. “In many cases, we have grown comfortable with a centralized style in execution and are inadvertently creating command-and-control systems that threaten to make centralized control our structural default.”

That’s not an unusual comment to read from an active-duty officer nowadays. The problem is that I keep seeing it. That makes me think everyone knows there is a problem but no one really has a handle on how to effectively address the problem.

And that makes me think that the only thing that really will force change is a catastrophe in our next war. Part of being a good commander is not only taking prudent risks, but encouraging your subordinates to do so, and backing them up when they do.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

Thomas 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 ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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