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Command Approach. Keith Stewart. Land Doctrine: CF.

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command approach

Command Approach

Keith Stewart

land doctrine cf
Land Doctrine: CF

“Mission Command ... has three enduring tenets: the importance of understanding a superior commander’s intent, a clear responsibility to fulfil that intent, and timely decision-making. The underlying requirement is the fundamental responsibility to act within the framework of the commander’s intentions. Together, this requires a style of command that promotes decentralized decision-making, freedom and speed of action, and initiative.”

(CFP 300(3) Land Force Command)

field marshal slim
Field Marshal Slim

“ Commanders at all levels had to act more on their own; they were given greater latitude to work out their own plans to achieve what they knew was the Army Commander’s intention. In time they developed to a marked degree a flexibility of mind and a firmness of decision that enabled them to act swiftly to take advantage of sudden information or changing circumstances without reference to their superiors. …This requires in the higher command a corresponding flexibility of mind, confidence in subordinates, and the power to make its intentions clear through the force.”

Quoted in UK ADP Land Operations

“I have published under my name a good many operational orders and a good many directives… but there is one paragraph in the order that I have always written myself… the intention paragraph.”

Quoted in CFP 300(3)

the influence of technology
The Influence of Technology
  • By the late 18th Century central control of forces was becoming unrealistic
    • Improved weapons technology
    • Requirement for reduced concentration
    • Formations broken up
    • Communications could not keep up
  • Historically, junior officers’ roles were focused on motivation rather than direction
  • Dispersion:

“Only when modern weapons forced armies to burrow into the ground and wear uniforms that made them hard to see did junior officers have to become minor tacticians.” (Desmond Morton)

  • With dispersion, advantage was gained by forces that could delegate command authority
  • Effective reform required more than structural change
  • Responsiveness of French commanders to the will of Napoleon is noted
  • Gneisenau’s concept of command by direction:
    • Clarity of objectives
    • Only general indications of method
    • Enables initiative in the face of opportunity
  • Moltke blends these ideas with Clausewitz’s notion of chaos
    • Control should be devolved to the level at which the commander can read the battle
    • Orders are prone to obsolescence as situations change
    • Strict obedience to the superior commander’s intent may require subordinates to alter or even disregard the original order
    • Officers must have independence of mind
  • These reforms took time to embed in the culture
mission command and neops
Mission Command and NEOps
  • New CIS technology:
    • has caught up!
    • supports any command approach
    • “At the tactical level, network-enabled capabilities enhance forward command.” (UK ADP Land Operations 2005)
    • Soviet forces used “C3I systems to strengthen top-down authority in a system described as ‘forward command from the rear’”(Toffler, 1994)



















Command Approach

conceptual framework for c 2


Conceptual Framework for C2

The creative and purposeful exercise of legitimate authority to accomplish the mission legally, professionally and ethically.

Those structures and processes devised by Command to enable it and to manage risk.



The establishment of common intent to achieve coordinated action.

concept of intent
Concept of Intent
  • Intent is more than a goal or a purpose:
    • Includes the implications of a particular goal or purpose in a specific context and the expectation for actions in that context
  • Therefore it encompasses all of the connotations associated with a specific goal or purpose
  • It should convey the meaning behind a particular goal or purpose
commander s intent
Commander’s Intent
  • Commander’s goal or objective, including all of its associated connotations
    • Both explicitly stated and implied
  • Commander’s intent:

1) directs action in foreseen situations

2) guides action in unforeseen situations