Military Review English Edition March-April 2016 - Page 87

LEADERSHIP (Photo by Staff Sgt. Whitney C. Houston, 128th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment) Soldiers from the 82nd Airborne Division participate in an air assault on Darwazgay Pass 23 June 2014 in Zabul Province, Afghanistan. article titled “The Long and Winding Road,” Eitan Shamir discusses how Moltke viewed Auftragstaktik: Superiors specify the mission objectives and constraints and allocate resources, leaving the rest to their subordinates. The latter’s skills, creativity, and commitment, or lack thereof, will ultimately determine the battle plan and its execution.6 Like the U.S. Army’s mission command philosophy, Auftragstaktik relies on leaders to provide direction then delegate and empower subordinates. It encourages individual initiative, skill, and creativity. Embedding those principles into the Prussian military culture served as an effective driving force in German tactical victories in the Second World War.7 The assimilation of Führen mit Auftrag into Prussian military culture was gradual.8 The assimilation of mission command into U.S. Army culture will also be a measured process. Compounding the challenge is the Army’s managerial approach, which according to Shamir is “characterized by centralization, standardization, detailed planning, quantitative analysis, and aspires for maximum efficiency and certainty.”9 This managerial approach is effective for centralized MILITARY REVIEW  March-April 2016 operations but runs contrary to many mission command principles. Surprisingly, many of these principles have appeared in U.S. Army doctrinal publications for over a century. Retired Army Col. Clinton J. Ancker III details this history in a 2013 Military Review article titled “The Evolution of Mission Command in U.S. Army Doctrine, 1905 to the Present.” Ancker traces the roots of U.S. mission command back to the very first Army combined arms manual, the 1905 Army Field Service Regulation (FSR). The FSR acknowledges that a commander cannot predict or issue guidance for all possible outcomes. Rather than issue rigid orders, it directs commanders to “lay stress upon the object to be attained [italics in original], and leave open the means to be employed.”10 This concept of issuing guidance and then encouraging individual initiative appeared nearly unchanged in subsequent versions of the FSR for the next four decades.11 The Army stressed and improved upon the mission command concepts in the FSR until 1976. In 1976, the doctrine of “active defense” overturned the mission command principles. This philosophy accentuated a “much tighter control of operations than in the past.”12 85