Friday, November 27, 2015

2012 Mission Command Versus 1991 Maneuver Warfare

It’s the year 2015, and there is a renaissance occurring in the US military over a concept called Mission Command, ARDP 6-0. The publication discusses about decentralized command and control; empowering and trusting subordinates to take initiative; seize and create opportunities; and, exploit them as long as the objectives are in line with the organizational vision.

The concept is great, but the insight is old, and indicates we’ve failed to learn from the past. The current version of an old concept is discussed in the Army’s ARDP 6-0 dated May of 2012.

I find the ARDP 6-0 a complex read. It’s too verbose and seems to confuse the message by appearing to exert to much control and too much emphasis on process.

At the same time there’s an old piece written in the 1990s that address the concept of Mission Command, under its previous label - Maneuver Warfare.  Maneuver warfare is about outthinking and outacting the enemy versus relying on process and rules. It’s a much easier read than the ARDP. The title of the work is, “Thinking Like Marines” by Retired Marine Colonel Duncan Wyly; written in 1991.

You can find Wyly’s excellent succinct work via

The piece addresses:

-How to adapt to change in chaotic environments while retaining the competitive edge

-The importance of a vision statement

-Empowering self-driven subordinates to take action without asking for permission to best exploit time, space and opportunity to create, shape and/or exploit opportunity.

-How to put the competition into dilemmas and disrupting organizational/individual cohesion and morale.

-The use of probes, multiple thrusts to identify exploitable opportunities and seizing them

-Reinforcing success and consolidating gains

-Focus energy on disrupting threats without seizing and tying oneself down to terrain.

Again, here is the link:

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