Driving Institutional Adaptability

Written by on January 27, 2012 in Frontier 6 Sends - 1 Comment
The network as a weapon system has become a new paradigm for the Army force within the Mission Command Center of Excellence (MC CoE). Photo by U.S. Army/Russell Meseroll

This posting is based on the article “The Mission Command Center of Excellence: Driving Institutional Adaptability,” found in the February edition of the Army Magazine.

Recently the Army’s Mission Command Center of Excellence (MC CoE) celebrated its inaugural year. Then-TRADOC Commander GEN Martin Dempsey designed this organization to identify and create institutional solutions for the Army to conduct mission command. GEN Dempsey recognized that the Army focused on staff-driven decisions instead of those driven by the Commander, including the integration of the warfighting functions during the operations process.

While both the philosophy and warfighting function of mission command are generally directed toward the operational force (combat units), the commander-focused perspective found in mission command also requires the generating force to ensure mission command requirements and solutions are developed, integrated and synchronized across the warfighting functions and Army Centers of Excellence. The MC CoE is ideally suited to drive the critical elements in this endeavor through concept and capability development, mission command doctrine, leader development, education, training, and network integration.
In the last year the MC CoE has created progress in all of these areas, including:

  • The inclusion of mission command in all Army operational concepts, beginning with the rewrite of the Army’s capstone doctrine, Army Doctrinal Publication 3-0, Unified Land Operations,
  • The development of mission command programs of instruction in military education and training packages,
  • And working through the Network Integration Evaluations at Fort Bliss to develop and integrate technologies designed to increase mission command across all echelons through the Army Network.

Despite these accomplishments and the gathering momentum it has created, the MC CoE has much work ahead to ensure the proliferation of mission command principles and institutional solutions throughout the Army. This includes the continued development of network integration solutions, and more importantly, the institutionalization of mission command in leader development, education and training programs. Most of all, we must ensure that mission command is taught over a Soldier’s entire career, from entry level and unit training to professional military education.

At this historic inflection point the importance of an adaptable generating force that can enhance the ability of our operational force cannot be overstated. Partnering with stakeholders across the Army, the MC CoE will help drive the development of mission command principles and capabilities. These partnerships will ensure that our Army has the ability to conduct mission command and form the foundation for the Army of 2020.

Prepare for War – Victory!
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One Comment on "Driving Institutional Adaptability"

  1. kristopherhowell February 7, 2012 at 6:48 pm ·

    After reading the article “The Mission Command Center of Excellence: Driving Institutional Adaptability,” and reading the notes from LTG Perkins, I’m driven to provide some insight as someone who has experienced the transition from battle command to mission command, if not in name, in practice.

    Serving as the 4ID DTAC and then the DMAIN Current Ops Battle Captain from January 2005 – May 2006, I saw first hand the evolution of the command post as we tested ABCS 6.4 for validation and then deployed to OIF 05-07 with a functioning CPoF (now MCWS) SOP and integrated CPSOP covering all ABCS systems. My sole purpose as a captain was to train command post staff to manage the tools, information, and capabilities that allowed the CG to command the mission at hand for the division. To accomplish this, it took extensive training of the full command post and the maintenance of a “field command post” environment to ensure optimal functioning in our combat configuration. All systems operators were experts on their ABCS systems, they understood its application, and knew how and why it contributed to the overall mission command of the CG. Following the return from OIF 05-07, the command post was permanently established at Fort Hood and served as a mirror command post to that in Iraq. Though I was no longer in the command post, I have no doubt it better maintained its effectiveness in following deployments due to this configuration in garrison.

    The article by BG Grigsby and BG Flynn touches on the training aspects of mission command in relation to command posts but leaves out a critical aspect of the difficulty in training a command post to support the commander in “mission command.” Too often training is only conducted during exercises relying on forced scenarios which the staff struggle to get through. When the exercise is complete, issues may be identified, but most inadequacies are shelved until they can be addressed at the next training exercise. These gaps between exercises lead to inconsistent development of the command posts and result in command posts which never meet the full expectation of mission command. Critical to assessing, training, and continually focusing a command post in support of mission command are the majors, and they are missing the mark coming out of ILE.

    Majors within battalion, brigade, and the division command posts are primarily responsible for the command post’s application of mission command, and as such, majors should be the key focus of the mission command training effort while in the institutional side of the army — specifically ILE, so they can take this expertise and energize their command posts. However, within ILE, majors are not receiving a clear understanding of what mission command is in contrast to their understanding of battle command. Since they do not see a distinction between battle command and mission command, they remain frustrated with the concept and as a result lack buy-in to anything supporting mission command outside of what they think they already know. The end result of this frustration will be less effective command posts which may function, but they will not fully support the concept of mission command.

    If the goals of BG Grigsby and the MC CoE are to “create command posts that emphasize providing support to the commander, who in turn uses the network as a weapons system and treats bandwidth as a class of supply,” majors coming out of ILE must have a better understanding of their role in this process after leaving the institutional side of the army. These goals can be met, but majors at ILE need to be engaged by more than a lecture in an auditorium and posters on their staff group class room to reach buy-in. Better explanation by the MC CoE to ILE students, will lead to better understanding of mission command at this level will help to more quickly actualize the MC CoE vision throughout the force.

    MAJ Kristopher Howell
    ILE Class 12-01, SG12D

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