These are the resources for Mission Command PME.
We will be discussing the beginning of Mission Command and then we will look at some quick examples of Mission Command as practised by Lord Horatio Nelson.
This PME should help officers and SNCOs understand what Mission Command is, where it came from, why it is important today (today, now more than ever!) and most importantly how to practice it in your unit or sub-unit. The list here will be evolving as we spend more time developing resources, including those specifically around Mission Command and other resources that help highlight the context for MIssion Command.
Mission Command isn’t new, indeed elements of it can be traced back thousands of years when Sun Tzu said, “If orders are not thoroughly understood, then the general is to blame.” However, many authors look at the twin disasters of Jena-Auerstadt for the Prussians at the hands of Napoleon’s French Army as being the birthplace of Mission Command, but it is clear that the benefits of Mission Command were clear to many before the development of the Prussian Military developments.
Mission Command and the Nelson Touch
“To say that an officer is never, for any object, to alter his orders, is what I cannot comprehend. The circumstances of this war so often vary, that an officer has almost every moment to consider, what would my superiors direct, did they know what was passing under my nose?” “But, sir,” said he writing to the Duke of Clarence, “I find few think as I do. To obey orders is all perfection. To serve my king, and to destroy the French, I consider as the great order of all, from which little ones spring; and if one of these militate against it (for who can tell exactly at a distance?) I go back and obey the great order and object, to down—down with the damned French villains!—my blood boils at the name of Frenchmen!”
BRIG Ulf Henricsson and Mission Command with NORDBAT 2.
The excellent article by Tony Ingesson on Strategy Bridge, Trigger-Happy, Autonomous and Disobedient: Nordabat 2 and Mission Command in Bosnia, highlighted the benefits of Mission Command. His story is really interesting and I was lucky enough to be able to interview BRIG Henricsson to get a better understanding of how he structured Nordbat 2 and his Command Philosphy as the Battle Group was put into a complex socio-political situation.
I interviewed BRIG Henricsson in 2019 as a part of a wider discussion about Mission Command. Have a listen to the interview to get an understanding of the implementation of Mission Command in the Swedish military.
Read the article, and or listen to the podcasts.
You can listen to the podcasts through the links or on your favourite podcast player on your phone.
Mission Command PME discussion questions.
These are a list of questions to stimulate discussion around the practice of Mission Command.
- Why do we use Mission Command?
- How effective is Mission Command today?
- Does tight legislative and regulatory requirements, together with resource constraints, compound to work against mission command? Do these constraints breed conservatism and indecisiveness, potentially creating a tendency towards risk aversion in a wider operational environment?
- What is the relationship between risk and Mission Command? Is Mission Command easier to practice in conflict than in a peace time military?
- How would BRIG Henricsson’s leadership mesh within a current military context?
- Is there a requirement for the political leadership to have an understanding of Mission Command for it to be effective in a Western Democracy?
Other PME Resources: