Analysis Of US Army General David Petraeus Best Practices: Mission Command

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Best Practices: Mission Command

Acting in the absence of orders or direct guidance from senior leadership is a tough philosophy to instill in a culture that incorporates a hierarchical rank structure, such as the U.S. military and intelligence community (IC). Both the military and government civilian employment systems utilize pay and rank bands that directly subordinate the “doers” to the “deciders”. However, as our national culture has grown and matured, the idea of empowering subordinates to undertake disciplined initiative to achieve strategic goals has proven successful time and time again; most notably by a new generation of military commanders such as in the burgeoning technology sector, as exemplified by companies such as Google, …show more content…

Army General David Petraeus exemplify the approach of Mission Command recently undertaken by a new generation of military leaders. Guided by Army Doctrinal Publication 6-0, the concept of Mission Command seeks to eliminate micromanagement and empower subordinates – the “doers” – to take action using a decision-making model incorporating senior leaders’ intent and legal guidelines. According to Petraeus, “Implementing big ideas typically requires empowering people and organizations to execute ideas at their levels without the need for constant approval.” Petraeus sought to enable disciplined initiative within his commander’s intent to empower agile and adaptive leaders. He would seek to empower brigade and battalion commanders in particular, but also the “strategic lieutenants” whose tactical actions would have strategic …show more content…

Petraeus wanted to break the Taliban’s control over the Kandahar region of Afghanistan, and chose Colonel Arthur Kandarian and his 2nd Brigade Combat Team to lead the effort. Just as Petraeus emphasized decentralized leadership based on the initiative of subordinates, Kandarian expected his subordinate commanders to take bold action, exercise initiative and accept reasonable risks. According to then-Lieutenant Colonel Peter Benchoff, one of Kandarian’s subordinate commanders, Petraeus and Kandarian’s command philosophies were akin to “drawing a circle on a map, announcing task and purpose, and letting subordinate commanders achieve the intent without slavishly following a dictated plan.” Utilizing the six principles of Mission Command – build cohesive teams through mutual trust, create shared understanding, provide clear commander’s intent, exercise disciplined initiative, use mission orders, and accept prudent risk – Petraeus and Kandarian successfully led tens of thousands of military forces against an entrenched and sophisticated enemy and achieved the desired strategic outcome.
Leaders built cohesive teams through mutual trust by developing and implementing a standard operating procedure (SOP) that they trained and taught to the lowest level of soldiers within the unit. The SOP was very focused on

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