Changing Army Culture to Enable Mission Command and Mission Accomplishment

  • Colonel Robert W. Marshall

The Army has made mission command the cornerstone of its operations and leadership doctrine. Despite its inclusion in doctrine for more than 10 years, the Army still struggles to fully enact mission command. There are significant cultural barriers that drive this inability to realize the full potential of mission command. This paper uses Kotter’s organizational change model and Schein’s methods of cultural change to analyze current Army culture and its level of misalignment with the precepts of mission command. From this analysis, it identifies cultural embedding and reinforcing mechanisms to enable senior leaders to create and sustain needed change to fully embrace mission command. Army senior leaders, at multiple levels, must make mission command a focus area and provide role-modeling and coaching to their subordinates. The Army must incorporate mission command principles into its philosophies and creeds and continue to tell the story of why mission command is necessary for future success. Army systems, including performance evaluation, education, training and assignments must be modified to create culture change to better align leader development with mission command.