Mission Command: Challenges to Implementation and Institutionalization in the Army

  • Lieutenant Colonel Arturo J. Horton

Mission command is the philosophy of command that Army commanders and leaders must use to lead Soldiers and units in the 21st Century. While first conceptually introduced in 1982 with the publication of Field Manual (FM) 100-5, Operations, the Army did not officially adopt the evolved doctrinal term and concept of mission command until 2003 with the publication of FM 6-0, Mission Command. While mission command has been integrated into its doctrine, the Army still has yet to institutionalize it. The Army has not yet fully integrated mission command into its culture, fostered unit climates that engender it, incorporated it into its training methodologies, developed personnel management systems that reward it, and employed it consistently in all environments. These challenges result from the Army’s inability to create major change and transform over the past 11 years, as well as its rooted culture, organizational climates, tiered structure, bureaucratic processes, and dated training and personnel management systems. This paper describes this latest evolution of mission command, explains why challenges to its institutionalization exist, and proposes solutions to Army senior leaders as to what should be done to achieve institutionalization.