Academic journal article Military Review

Preserving Mission-Focused Command and Control

Academic journal article Military Review

Preserving Mission-Focused Command and Control

Article excerpt

The demands of fighting both as an industrial and post-industrial power place a premium on well-educated, professional men and women who have mastered the tools of modern warfare while maintaining the traditional fighting spirit of the US Armed Forces. Our military must be skilled in the use of bytes and bayonets alike. I

AS THE US ARMY PURSUES its Force XXI vision into the next century, the measured application of digital technologies is central to efforts to further leverage the Army's unique contributions to the joint fight. Yet, as Joint Pub 1 highlights, we must strike a careful balance among technology, tradition and the essential role of people. The immense potential of new digital technologies is tarnished by the underlying fear that they may tip this careful balance in favor of more centralized command and control (C^sup 2^) on the future battlefield. This could then threaten the US Army Field Manual (FM) 100-5, Operations, doctrinal imperatives of mission-focused C^sup 2^: commander's intent, initiative, decentralized execution and mission orders, "which specify 'what' the subordinate commands are to do without prescribing 'how' they must do it."2

In "US Doctrine and the Revolution in Military Affairs," David Jablonsky highlights some of the challenges inherent in future information technologies. He summarizes the view held by former Army Chief of Staff General Gordon R. Sullivan and supported by studies that "integrative technology on the post-industrial battlefield will increase the tempo of action-reaction-counteraction and thus continue the necessity for initiative at lower command levels and for the concomitant decentralization of decision making."3 He cautions that "the picture of the small unit leader operating independently in the nirvana of pure aufstragstaktik still will not be easy to create."4 Auftragstaktik, a German army term, literally means mission tactics. It is more accurately described as a complex leadership philosophy, built around initiative, risk taking, confidence and independent action.5 The auftragstaktik picture, or US Army equivalent, is worth striving for as we realize the exciting benefits of new digital technology in shaping Force XXI. But we must also heed the advice of US Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Pamphlet (Pam) 525-5, Force XXI Operations, that "success on past battlefields has resulted not so much from technological advances but from innovative ways of considering and combining available and sometimes new technologies as they apply to warfighting."6

TRADOC Pam 525-5 also emphasizes that doctrine must continue to serve as the engine of change into the 21st century. Mission-focused C2 is an effective doctrinal foundation that we should retain in Force XXI. By understanding the complex ways in which digitization can impact upon tactical C9, we can then "recalibrate" the Army's future systems around this doctrine of choice. To preserve missionfocused C2 in Force XXI requires us to look within the Army, at the other services and even at unorthodox approaches to tactical C2.

C2 Past and Present

Union General of the Army Ulysses S. Grant's instructions to General William T. Sherman to undertake operations against Confederate General Joseph E. Johnston on 4 April 1864, were: "I do not propose to lay down for you a plan of campaign, but simply lay down the work it is desirable to have done and leave you free to execute it in your own way. Submit to me, however, as early as you can, your plan of operations."7 Comparable sentiments echoed in the 1941 FM 100-5 stated: "[a]n order should not trespass upon the province of a subordinate. It should contain everything the subordinate must know to carry out his mission, but nothing more."8

While US Army doctrine writers drew upon the German auftragstaktik to shape AirLand Battle doctrine in the early 1980s, the US Army had a long tradition of mission-focused C2.9 There is evidence that Hessian mercenaries returned to Prussia with a conception for auttragstaktik based on their experiences with American soldiers during the Revolutionary War. …

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