Mission Command: A Time-Proven Leadership Philosophy that Emphasizes Trust

  • Colonel Gregory H. Penfield

The Army’s formal adoption of mission command as its central philosophical approach to leadership and as a warfighting function is nearly four years old. Its basic elements – mission type orders executed within the commander’s intent to exploit the initiative while accepting prudent risk – are not exactly new or innovative ideas. Yet the Army continues to struggle with implementing mission command as its core principle for leadership and command, and the force seems to not quite understand where the Army is going regarding mission command.This paper will seek to answer two fundamental questions: whether mission command is really a new philosophy or just an reintroduction of existing doctrinal precepts, and what the Army is really trying to accomplish with mission command. This paper will review the current mission command construct and look at command in previous Army doctrine to answer the first question; describe what the Army is doing to implement mission command to date to answer the second question; and finally offer potential potential measures to institutionalize mission command as a core philosophy.