Introduction (6)

Mission Command

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Mission command refers to military command style. Mission command is the army’s command approach and control that seeks to empower the subordinates to be able to make decisions. The style also enhances decentralized execution that is appropriate to the situation at hand. In terms of mission command, subordinate units are given a ‘mission’ or purpose by their commander. This ‘mission’ is a statement of the desired end-state, not how to reach that end state. The commander delegates authority to the subordinate level and holds them accountable for achieving the mission by setting time sensitive objectives (e.g., time and place) and measures. Subordinates decide how to reach those objectives within their means and capabilities. The commander does not plan or manage for them and has no higher-level doctrines to impose on his subordinates. He provides resources, support, assistance and stays out of the way unless his subordinates require his assistance.

Mission command is a military concept that focuses on “mission” rather than purely on “command”. The concept was created to address problem areas in traditional military command structure. It has evolved over time to include many tenets of leadership, management and strategy, to help fight as well as possible with a minimal loss of life and resources. The concept advocates that team members be given the maximum amount of decision-making authority relative to their rank on how to accomplish the given mission or goal (Matzenbacher, 2018). This is to increase initiative and flexibility, as well as to reduce the likelihood of inappropriate orders being given, according to the experience and expertise of each individual.

In military command, mission command involves a leader at some level of the chain of command shows failure in their duty. The principles of mission command are mission orders, risk acceptance, commander’s intent, shared understanding, disciplined initiative, mutual trust, and competence. By applying these principles, commanders are able to command an operation with confidence. In the course of a discussion on doctrine the commander must identify the mission and the environment. The Mission Commander must also make a decision to accept or not accept risk. The commander has to specify his intent so that all commanders will know how he wants them to conduct their missions, thus there is a need for clear and concise orders, even if they are no longer used formally (Rubel, 2018).

Principles of Mission Command

Mutual Trust

The principle of mutual trust in mission command refers to the special relationship of trust and mutual respect which exists between a commander and subordinate, such that the subordinate trusts the commander to command competently and achieve success on their behalf (Mikaloff). It refers to an understanding between general and commander that the commander has complete authority and responsibility to command, direct and control all assigned or attached forces. Commanding officer has broad discretion to use his/her judgement; what we might call “the art of command.” The idea of mutual trust in mission command is at odds with the concept of hierarchy, organized with strict discipline. The degree of mutual trust varies depending on specific military leadership philosophies including rank, maturity, experience, innovation skillset, contextual awareness and so on.

Disciplined Initiative

The principle of Disciplined Initiative refers to the intent to empower adaptive and agile leaders in mission command. The focus of this principle is on the work to do in response to any given task or situation no matter what obstacles may be present. The goal is not just a desired outcome but also strategic planning and leadership capabilities. This principle can only function when it has been adopted as part of the culture or mission command manual and incorporated in the training regimen for all leaders. To accomplish this, there must be an understanding that mission command means different things for different people, the most important factor being that it needs to make sense in relation to the current situation. This approach has proven relevant in wartime because it lessens hesitation from unplanned decisions based on higher priorities which leads to increased efficiency and more success with fewer resources.

Mission orders

The principle of mission orders in mission command is used in military organizations to allow the commander to order subordinates to carry out specific tasks. There are two principles of mission orders: a. Mission command system b. Principle of mission orders. The principle of mission orders is the decision-making process that ensures that every task and every subordinate is focused on completing the missions as quickly, efficiently, and effectively as possible. There is a need for the principle of mission orders to ensure that subordinates understand roles and responsibilities and the objectives of the mission. The principle of mission orders also improves unity of command (i.e., unity of effort), simplifies command relationships, enhances situational awareness, results in self-sufficiency, and results in subordinates focusing on completing their role/responsibilities with minimal disruption (i.e., self-sufficiency).

Risk acceptance

The principle of Risk acceptance in mission command is a principle which states that the commander of a military unit, responsible for military operations, should be responsible for deciding whether to take particular risks to accomplish the mission. The commander who has accepted responsibility for a decision should not pass it on without very compelling reasons. This principle was one of the guiding principles of General Norman Schofield’s life and career. General Norman Schofield was born at Cowes on the Isle of Wight in 1881 into an upper-class English family with connections with royalty. He attended Harrow School and then studied modern history at Oxford University before training as an army officer at Sandhurst Royal Military Academy, where he won many prizes including Queen Victoria’s sword.

Commander’s intent

The principle of Commander’s intent refers a clear expression of an operation’s purpose and the desired end state of the military. This expression provides the staff with focus, supports mission command, and assists the subordinates act to achieve the commander desired results. At the operational level, ‘intent’ is a general statement describing what the commander intends to do or wants done during a mission. Intent is not an order. It does not give any particular action, but rather describes the operation that needs to be accomplished and leaves how it will be accomplished up to subordinate units. The difference between intent and orders is that orders are explicit instructions on how something needs to be done and must be obeyed, whereas stated intentions remain within the scope of responsibility for each subordinate unit commander.

Shared understanding

The principle of shared understanding in mission command refers to the idea that the commander must share an understanding with subordinates as to what is occurring in the mission. As a leader, you provide clarity and insight through your words to ensure your team can apply these same guidelines to their day-to-day operations. The principle helps leaders relay instructions in a way that inspires confidence and trust in the members of their team while also creating an intimate bond by having “one voice” among leaders and teammates throughout a mission (Pearce et al., 2021). These are two key ways in which teams avoid confusion and continue operations without major issues or errors along the way.


The principle of competence in mission command involves the capability of a unit’s leader to lead by virtue of their competence, without the need for detailed plans. The theory was developed during World War II and espoused by British military officer Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery. The principle is considered central to the success of every military unit in battle from then until now, as it provides clear leadership that would not be possible if units had to be micromanaged constantly by officers on the ground. Competence in Mission command is most effective when commanders can exercise discretion and independence, with orders being given clearly on an “as needed” basis. This allows for better cooperation among staff members who are able to take initiative day-to-day activities with minimal guidance from above.

Command and Control

Elements of command

Command can be defined as the process by which someone or something gives a set of orders to others for a specific purpose or goal. There are different types or levels of command but most fall into one category in particular: strategic management. Strategic management consists of three types of management: business level, system level and tactical level. The main elements of command are authority, responsibility, decision making, and leadership. There are other elements that are important, such as supporting the mission, achievement of mission objectives, and performance. All these elements help to make up the command structure in any given organization or group. This article is meant to introduce you to command and give you an overview of its nature and importance.

Elements of Control

Elements of Control in mission command are direction, feedback, information, and communication. The element of direction involves defining objectives and making sure those objectives are clearly understood by the task force. The element of feedback uses assessments and results to provide timely feedback to the military commander on whether or not their plan is working as intended. Information is key with this element as it helps in managing resources and giving the commander an accurate overview of what is going on within his/her mission area. And finally, communication ensures that they have all the important information necessary for continued operations. This blog post discusses these four elements that make up mission control and how they work together to give a clear understanding of what’s happening within an operation.

Command and Control as a Warfighting Functions

Warfighting Functions

Warfighting Functions refers to systems and tasks that enables a commander to effectively synchronize and converge all elements of combat power. The functions of mission command are Planning, Direction, Support, and Training (Ploumis, 2020). Take for example; an Infantry platoon is tasked with search and destroy missions in an urban environment during warfighting operations. A commander of this platoon needs to make sure he has his maps updated with correct coordinates of the target building before engaging in armed conflict. He also needs to ensure his subordinate leaders are aware of the current situation prior to them deploying their troops into that area of operation. Once they have calmed any unruly civilians any critical infrastructure outside the area they will be entering, he coordinates air support for troops on the ground while making sure there is no collateral damage nearby buildings or lives on either side.


Major tasks in mission command are command forces, control operations, establish command and control systems, and drive the operations process. Command forces task to manage operational procedures, personnel, and resources. Control operations tasks are to plan and execute the operation with available resources. Establish command and control systems tasks are to develop systems that ensure commanders can easily exercise their authority during the operation. Drive the operations process tasks are to establish priorities for an operation, synchronize operational actions across different lines of effort, employ all available assets for maximum effect, and coordinate or train subordinates on a particular skill set. The significance of these is that they all work together in order to create one coherent mission with many different objectives that were made prior by the commander.

Command and Control System

Command and Control System in mission command involves people, processes, networks, and command posts. Military operations are not simple tasks to take on, especially when taking into account the many projects that need to be completed given any typical operation (Chen et al., 2021). It might seem like chaos at first, but each step is carefully planned out and assigned to someone who can execute it best; this makes it possible for things like missions to go through without a hitch if everything goes accordingly. Command and control system ensures that everything remains under control throughout the course of any given operation.


Burke, R. P. (2018). Command and Control: Challenging Fallacies of the’Military Model’in Research and Practice. International Journal of Mass Emergencies & Disasters, 36(2).

Chen, X., Li, L., Zhang, W., & Li, L. (2021, December). Command and Control System in Intelligentized Warfare. In 2021 IEEE Conference on Telecommunications, Optics and Computer Science (TOCS) (pp. 951-954). IEEE.

Matzenbacher, M. B. (2018). The US Army and mission command. Military Review, 2018, 61-71.

Mikaloff, M. R. S. School of Advanced Military Studies United States Army Command and General Staff College Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Pearce, A. P., Naumann, D. N., & O’Reilly, D. (2021). Mission command: applying principles of military leadership to the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) crisis. BMJ Mil Health, 167(1), 3-4.

Ploumis, M. (2020). Mission command and philosophy for the 21st century. Comparative Strategy, 39(2), 209-218.

Rubel, R. C. (2018). Mission Command in a Future Naval Combat Environment. Naval War College Review, 71(2), 109-121.