Mission Command
‘Match of the Day’
Sqn Ldr Rhys Cowsill
SCOPE
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Origins.
Use and Development: 1806 to Cold War.
Introduction to British Military Doctrine.
‘Mechanics.’
Culture.
Threats and Opportunities.
MATCH OF THE DAY
14th October 1806
PRUSSIA
(Professionals and hot favourites)
vs
FRANCE
(Upstart peasants – New Manager)
At Jena and Auerstadt
Kick-off 3.00pm
NAPOLEON
SCHARNHORST
SCHARNHORST
‘We fought bravely
enough, but not
cleverly enough.’
CARL von CLAUSEWITZ
‘On War’
(published posthumously 1832)
CLAUSEWITZ’ LEGACY
• The Fog of War.
• The Friction of War.
• The importance of speed of decision
making.
Findings of Scharnhorst’s
‘Board of Inquiry’
• The Prussian Army was run as a machine,
with iron discipline, because the morale of the
troops was low.
• Officers tried to counter chaos of battle by
using mathematical principles.
• Nobody took action without orders.
• Highly centralised and process-dominated.
• It used ‘Befehltaktik’ – i.e. based on Orders.
Findings of Scharnhorst’s
‘Board of Inquiry’
• Napoleon was able to communicate
very rapidly with his Marshals.
• He explained his intentions, as well as
what he wanted them to do.
• He expected them to use their initiative.
• They did!
• The result was a very high tempo – a
very fast ‘OODA loop.’
The OODA Loop
Observation
Orientation
Action
Decision
Reforms to the Prussian Army
• The need for speed of decision making was
recognised.
• Officers were trained and authorised to make
real-time decisions at low level.
• Philosophy that it was better to act now with
good intentions than to wait for the ‘right’
order.
• Doing nothing was a greater sin than making
the wrong decision.
• Orders from above could not possibly give
the officer on the ground all the guidance he
would need.
Field Marshal Von Moltke
Field Marshal Von Moltke
• Father of
‘Auftragstaktik.’
• “Obedience is a
principle, but the
man stands above
the principle.”
Auftragstaktik
• Senior commanders should not order
more than was absolutely necessary but
should ensure the goal was clear.
• In case of doubt, subordinate
commanders should seize the initiative.
MATCH OF THE DAY 2
Franco Prussian War 1870
Return (grudge) Match
FRANCE
vs
PRUSSIA
Kick-off 3.00pm
MATCH OF THE DAY 3
The Great War 1914
GERMANY
(ex Prussia)
vs
COMBINED SERVICES
(France/BEF)
Match Report
• Owing to muddy conditions and
outstanding new goalkeeping device
(machine guns), match stagnates and
goes into extra time.
• OODA Loop goes from ‘observation’ to
‘action’ and back again.
The OODA Loop
Observation
Orientation
Action
Decision
Match Report
• Owing to muddy conditions and
outstanding new goalkeeping device
(machine guns), match stagnates and
goes into extra time.
• OODA Loop goes from ‘observation’ to
‘action’ and back again.
• Auftragstaktik comes on as late
substitute and almost wins the game.
Between the Wars
• Germany develops ‘an Army of 100,000
officers.’
• Training centred on ‘thinking obedience.’
• Trust becomes central to military doctrine.
• Everyone expected to learn, and be able to
do, the job 2 levels up.
• Proves very effective in coping with and using
the chaos of the battlefield.
British Army (the Victors!)
• Reverts to ‘huntin’ shootin’ an’ fishin.’
• Prefers to try to control the chaos of the
battlefield.
• Designs a ‘Master plan.’
• Master plan specifies in great detail precisely
what everyone has to do.
• Yet, orders are not considered absolute.
• Result is a lot of debating and delay
– very slow OODA Loop.
The OODA Loop
Observation
Orientation
Action
Decision
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
Royal Air Force
• Unusually, prepares to fight the NEXT
war.
• Dowding designs ‘integrated defence
system’ for Battle of Britain (NEC?).
• Delegates responsibility for the fighting
to Group Commanders.
• Allows for a very fast OODA Loop.
The OODA Loop
Observation
Orientation
Action
Decision
Royal Air Force
• Unusually, prepares to fight the NEXT war.
• Dowding designs ‘integrated defence system’
for Battle of Britain (NEC?).
• Delegates responsibility for the fighting to
Group Commanders.
• Allows for a very fast OODA Loop.
• This is the main reason for the defeat of the
Luftwaffe.
MATCH OF THE DAY 4
Second World War 1939
‘OLD FIRM’ GAME
Venue – Various
Kick-off 3.00pm
Match Report
• Germany has outstanding first half using
Auftragstaktik from the ‘off.’
• Big wins away in Poland, Czechoslovakia,
Holland, Belgium France etc. etc.
• Manager substitutes Befehltaktik for
Auftragstaktik just after half time.
• Germany loses away in Russia (Stalingrad
City).
• Loses to new Combined Services (US/UK).
• Loses at home trying to play 2 games at
once.
Cold War
• Static posturing.
• Everyone told what they had to do
(Befehltaktik?).
• Not ‘manoeuvre warfare.’
• Little need for Auftragstaktik.
• But!! BAOR is seriously out-numbered
and so…
Field Marshal Bagnall KCB GCB
CVO MC*
• 1986 – Introduces principles of
Auftragstaktik to UK Military doctrine
and influences NATO doctrine.
• Doctrine becomes known as ‘Mission
Command.’
• Great idea!
• ……but nobody knows about it.
Mission Command
• Is designed to facilitate effective action
under chaotic and confusing conditions.
• Is based on trust.
• Is intended to unify autonomy and
alignment.
• The ‘mechanics’ are as follows:
Mission Command
• The Commander:
– Briefs his intent to 2 levels down.
– Explains the limitations, e.g. time,
boundaries, must do, mustn’t do.
– Allocates resources.
– States WHAT is to be achieved, not HOW
it is to be achieved.
– Gives decision-making criteria.
Mission Command
• The Subordinate Commander:
– Understands ‘my role in his plan’ 2 levels
up.
– Devises his own plan to play his part in
achieving the commander’s intent.
– Asks for more resources if needed, but
offers back resources not needed.
– Briefs his subordinates 2 levels down.
and so forth…
The Culture Required for
Effective Mission Command
• The Commander retains ultimate
responsibility for decisions but:
– He must genuinely empower his people.
– He must trust his subordinates.
• Everyone must act as a leader.
• A decision to act now in accordance with
commander’s intent, rather than to wait for
orders, is imperative.
Threats and Opportunities
• The greatest threat to the successful
implementation of Mission Command is
a belief that technology will allow
command to be supplanted by control.
• The greatest challenge is to use Mission
Command, not just in war, but in everyday episodes of leadership at all levels
and to become proficient in its use.
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Mission Command - Royal Air Force