Operationalizing Mission Command: Bridging the Gap Between Theory and Application

  • Lieutenant Colonel Monte’ L. Rone

Lessons learned from hard fought wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and the uncertain character of the anticipated operating environment served as catalysts for change in how the United States Army organizes, trains, and equips Soldiers and units for missions in support of Unified Land Operations. In order to seize, retain, and exploit the initiative from a relative position of advantage, the Army must develop an organizational culture that emphasizes decentralization and inculcates a long-term commitment to leader development and talent management. The Army’s failure to operationalize Mission Command is due to a lack of trust and paralysis cultivated in an organizational culture that values the tradition of centralized command and control. This incongruence in Army culture creates a trust deficit that militates against producing leaders with an entrepreneurial spirit. This disjunction is the heart of the adaptive challenge confronting the Army.