Small Wars Journal

mission command

Mission Command in the Yom Kippur War

Tue, 09/28/2021 - 5:56am
Mission command dates back to the mid-19th century, when the Chief of Prussian general staff, Helmuth von Moltke, first conceptualized the decentralized operational framework known as Auftragstaktik. German doctrine adopted Auftragstaktik in 1888, which later served as the foundation for the infamous German Blitzkrieg of WWII. Today, Auftragstaktik provides the foundation for mission command, which U.S. doctrine defines as having seven key principles: competence, mutual trust, shared understanding, commander’s intent, mission orders, disciplined initiative, and risk acceptance. These principles are compounding, with each one enhancing the efficacy of the next. This article analyzes MG Ariel Sharon’s effective employment of mission command during the Yom Kippur War, specifically through the principles of competence, mutual trust, disciplined initiative, and risk acceptance.

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Mission Command and Armed Robotic Systems Command and Control: A Human and Machine Assessment

Tue, 06/09/2020 - 5:50pm

Dr. Robert J. Bunker, Senior Fellow, Small Wars Journal-El Centro has a new Land Warfare Paper at the Association of the United States Army. The paper"Mission Command and Armed Robotic Systems Command and Control: A Human and Machine Assessment" looks at 'Mission Command' in the context of emerging armed robotic systems (artificial intelligence driven autonomous and semiautonomous weapons systems) in war. — SWJ Editors

Armed Robotics Bunker


Mission Command and Armed Robotic Systems Command and Control: A Human
and Machine Assessment 

Robert J. Bunker
AUSA ILW Paper 132
29 May 2020

For almost 20 years, mission command has been a key component of command and control (C2) in the U.S. Army. However, with the advancements in the realm of artificial intelligence and the resultant utilization of autonomous and semiautonomous weapon systems in warfare, it is necessary to examine the extent to which these machines can cooperate within this construct.

Mission command, properly understood, empowers subordinate decisionmaking and decentralized execution appropriate to any given situation. It is solely meant for human-to-human C2. Like war itself, it is an inherently “human endeavor . . . not a mechanical process that can be precisely controlled by machines [or] calculations.” Systems that use machine algorithms for their decisionmaking processes are in direct variance to the emotive- and moral-seeking components of
human cognition. Humans experience love, fear, camaraderie and hate—machines do not. Nor do they understand honor, integrity or self-sacrifice. Faced with this conflict, how can the deployment of machines work in concert with the Army’s C2?

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Why History Matters: Making Junior Leaders More Effective

Tue, 08/28/2018 - 12:37am
With posters on Mission Command adorning virtually every classroom at the US Army’s Command and General Staff College, and with its prominence as one of the pillars of the Army’s Operational Concept, the term Mission Command has become a buzzword. One of the concept’s true benefits relies on quality personnel, and developing those leaders through the proper use of historical case studies can help to not only make military history engaging but also useful in everyday duties for even a young officer or a non-commissioned officer, and contribute to developing quality personnel.

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How to Develop for Mission Command: The Missing Link

Thu, 06/28/2018 - 1:03am
The Army defines Mission Command 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. But before a culture of Mission Command (Auftragstaktik) succeeds, the Army must possess the moral courage to identify countless Industrial Age barriers

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Introducing the Notion of “Type II” Mission Command SWJED Sat, 09/30/2017 - 1:20am

This is a synopsis of a chapter I wrote in the newly released book, "Mission Command: The Who, What, Where, When and Why: An Anthology".