How to Develop for Mission Command: The Missing Link

US Army soldiers
(Photo: US Army)

The following is an excerpted chapter from the new book Mission Command: The Who, What, Where, When, and Why. It details real-world examples of the mission command concept in action that seeks to show that it will take more than new technology and larger budgets to solve the problems in today’s military. Many of these problems stem from inverted priorities. An undue focus on technology while short-changing people and their development is eroding the military’s effectiveness. The book is a collaborative effort of 13 international experts and historians, many with practical experience leading troops. The book was edited by Donald Vandergriff and Stephen Webber.

The Army defines Mission Command as the "exercise of authority and direction by the commander using mission orders to enable disciplined initiative within the commander’s intent to empower agile and adaptive leaders in the conduct of unified land operations."[1] But before a culture of Mission Command (Auftragstaktik) succeeds, the Army must possess the moral courage to identify countless Industrial age barriers.[2] These barriers must be torn down and rebuilt or eliminated altogether.  If they are not, the current attempt to realize Mission Command will exist only as rhetoric and buzz words on PowerPoint slides and doctrinal slogans. The consequence will be the disillusionment of the next generation of leaders when they hear one thing but experience the same old ineffective actions.  The question remains, how does one develop people to succeed under Mission Command?

Simple: the Army has to institutionalize it across its training and operational commands.[3]

In the past, the “Competency theory” of learning dominated course curricula, and there remain signs of it today in leader development. Competency theory is a product of the “Industrial Age outlook that once, by necessity, governed the way military forces prepared for war.” During the time when we relied on a massed citizen army of draftees, this “assembly line”[4] mentality made sense, but the disadvantage was that this emphasized output more than the individual quality of the product.[5]

Competency-based education evolved from the Principles of Scientific Management developed by management and efficiency theorist Frederick Taylor in the 1890s.[6] By the end of World War II, most Public Schools had adopted it as a foundation for their curriculum. Educators used Taylor’s ideas to create proficiency standards in the classroom selected by a centralized authority. “Industrial-age organizations seek routine and habit achieved through standardized procedures. Complex tasks are therefore broken into simple steps to ensure that employees are both interchangeable and easily replaced. Bureaucratic hierarchies tend to value quantifiable assessment of specific aspects of complex managerial tasks.”[7] A modern manifestation of Competency-Based education is the tendency today for teachers to “teach the test” to ensure better scores on standardized tests. This is teaching “what to think” instead of “how to think.”[8]

Today, some leader-centric programs within the institutional Army still reflect the old “assembly-line approach.”[9] Rigid order and control from the top are at the heart of all curriculum put together by Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) that uses the Competency Theory as its foundation. This continues despite the rhetoric about adaptability development.[10]

Leader development for the full spectrum of 21st century military operations must be based on the quality of leaders, not quantity of personnel, at every grade level. The rule should be, “Soldiers deserve and require trained leaders.” Schools must constantly put students in difficult, unexpected situations, and then require them to decide and act under time pressure. Schooling must take students out of their “comfort zones.” Stress—mental and moral as well as physical—must be constant. War games, tactical decision games, map exercises and free play field exercises must constitute the bulk of the curriculum. Drill and ceremony and adherence to “task, condition, and standards” (TCS)—task proficiency—in the name of process are not important.[11]

Under Mission Command development the emphasis should be growing the decision maker by explaining the reason for the task and teaching in the context of a problem-solving exercise. Higher command levels overseeing officers’ and non-commissioned officers’ (NCO) schools must look for flexible courses guided by outcomes rather than inputs and allow instructors to evolve their lesson plans using innovative teaching techniques and tools for an ever-changing environment.

Strength of Character

[The Battalion Command] executes the battle through missions he assigns to his companies. Only on occasion of obvious misunderstandings or mistakes that could draw the battle in an intended direction, the direction, and the direct override in the platoons of singles companies is due…His actions have to be aimed at retaining the common scheme of the companies. The companies for their part aim upon accomplishment of their missions also to the common scheme.[12]
Exerzir-Regelement fur die Infanterie
Field Regulations of 1888

When subordinates lose contact with their higher commander, the subordinate must be counted on to take appropriate action, rather than to stop and wait for contact to be re-established. This aggressive attitude allows units to take advantage of local successes. In short, “...nothing laid down from above in advance is sacrosanct. A subordinate commander...is justified...in modifying or even changing the task assigned him” as long as his action supports the higher commander’s intent.[13]

The key to the German success with Auftragstaktik was the strenuous selection and development of its leaders. The German military valued three qualities in its officers. These were knowledge, independence and the joy of taking responsibility.[14] Knowledge served at least two purposes. First of all, knowledge provided the foundation for the officer’s decision making.

At the same time, it was also the main source for generating trust among your subordinates. Independence was also related to decision making. Independence was needed because, as an officer, you were the only one present where decisions had to be made. You could not wait for others to tell you what to do and when to do it. The last and the most important personal quality was the joy of taking responsibility. The joy of taking responsibility was what kept you on the battlefield. It was what forced you to stay despite the horrors you were experiencing. It was what made you endure.[15]

The best way to separate the great from everyone else was to empower them with responsibility. Not only were leaders responsible for their own units but they were responsible for “service to the people.” This leads to the introduction of an interesting German word, Verantwortungsfreudigkeit (“strength of character”). German doctrine as early as World War I uses this term, but particularly it is highlighted in the 1933 Truppenführung. The 1921 regulation of Führung und Gefecht der Verbundenen Waffen[16] (Regulation 487: Leadership and Battle with Combined Arms) in 1921-23, says that “the most distinguished leaders’ quality is the joy of taking responsibility.”[17]

Truppenführung from 1933 discusses the concept, stating that “All leaders must in all situations without fearing responsibility exert his whole personality. The joy of taking responsibility is the most distinguished leader quality.” This demonstrates the importance with which the German military viewed responsibility. Clausewitz also wrote about the necessity of an officer bearing responsibility on his shoulders. What was different and new is that the Germans wanted the officer to enjoy this responsibility.[18]

Why is it important for an officer or any leader to enjoy responsibility? Independence equips an officer to handle uncertainty and still make quality decisions. When facing the horrors of the battlefield an officer needs more than just independence to keep him vigorous. The feeling of responsibility kicks in when everything is difficult and everyone around him seems to have given up. It is the feeling that only he can decide the outcome of the engagement after everyone else has given up that he experiences the “emptiness of the battlefield.”[19] This is why “Verantwortungsfreudigkeit,”[20] or the joy of taking responsibility, makes the officer “endure the situation” on the battlefield. It is also the most important quality for a leader.[21]

The Missing Link: Old Ways Don’t Work

Orders (Anordnungen) given from rearward commands will easily be made obsolete by the events. Timely action is often only possible upon independent decision. Subordinate commanders must recognize at the same time that they are required to solve the tactical problem (Gefechtsaufgabe) as intended by the higher commander.[22]

There is an emerging methodology to develop Mission Command in all Soldiers from the beginning of Initial Entry Training (IET) through the War College, called Adaptive Leader Soldier Training and Education (ASLTE).  This methodology, when taught as a “train the trainer” course, also uses the U.S. Army’s Command Doctrine of Mission Command as its vehicle to teach the tools of developing adaptability.[23] Its goal is to make Soldiers and leaders better teachers, not instructors, while showing them how to teach using the principles and tools of ASLTE. The principles of ASLTE are:

(a) Training to grow problem-solving teaches Soldiers to “teach themselves” the skills necessary to the success of their mission.

(b) Training to increase intangibles develops the intangible attributes of confidence, accountability, and initiative.

(c) Training to increase understanding and awareness teaches through contextual understanding of the task and its mission application.

(d) Training to increase deliberate thought conditions Soldiers to always exercise a deliberate thought process while under stress.

(e) Training to improve combat performance conditions Soldiers to overcome the psychological and physiological effects of combat.[24]

Additionally, the ASLTE Workshop’s outcomes build adaptability and comply with the intent of the Army Learning Model 2015:

(a) Confident with Adaptive Leader Soldier Training and Education as part of the Army Learning Model 2015.

(b) Introduced an array of tools to assist in developing adaptability, which is an evolving process.

(c) Able to demonstrate a proficiency in the art of facilitation while conducting decision-making exercises, tactical decision exercises, and the AAR.

(d) Introduced to and become familiar with wargaming, free play force-on-force exercises, and adaptive leader physical training.

(e) Familiar with how to produce outcomes and measures of effectiveness (assessments) to judge student learning.

(f) Encouraged to experiment with new ways to develop adaptability and their own leadership and teaching styles.[25]

Students are exposed to these principles seamlessly throughout the course. The students learn how to incorporate what they learn in existing Programs of Instruction (PoIs). They begin to understand how to move beyond “Competency-based” learning to Outcomes or Discovery based learning.[26] This methodology also confirms to the latest research by the nation’s leading learning expert, Dr. Robert Bjork, Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA).[27]

Additionally, students learn many other things that will make them better teachers and leaders. Most importantly, students learn how to create and sustain a "fail safe" environment that encourages peer-to-peer and discovery learning under the facilitation of a teacher or student. The students take ownership of learning and to encourage others to do so as well. At the same time they develop strength of character and taking responsibility for one’s own decisions by not allowing students to “piggy-back” off other’s answers with responses such as “I would do what so and so did…” or “my answer is similar to the lieutenant’s.”[28]

From the very start, ASLTE teachers ensure that students are involved in problem-solving games that expose them to a variety of subjects that leads them to be better teachers, while understanding how adaptability and Mission Command works.  Students learn through doing, such as how to present a good After Action Review (AAR).  Doing it right is emphasized from the very beginning by facilitating the AAR toward a stated outcome.

At the end of any ASLTE course, the student will be confident with ASLTE as part of the Army Learning Model 2015 to developing leaders and Soldiers to practice Mission Command.  Students use an array of tools to assist in developing adaptability, which is an evolving process.  During the entire course, students have to demonstrate the art of facilitation while conducting decision-making exercises, tactical decision exercises, and the AAR. Also, they are introduced to wargaming, free play force-on-force exercises, and adaptive leader physical training.[29]

Most importantly, they become familiar with how to produce outcomes and measures of effectiveness (assessments) to judge student learning.  And finally, they are encouraged to experiment with new ways to develop adaptability as well as their own leadership and teaching styles. This is accomplished each day by teachers that continually challenge and direct the students away from old methods and encouraging them to employ what they are hearing, doing and seeing.

On the final day of the multi-day courses, students demonstrate proficiency in the art of facilitation while conducting decision-making exercises, tactical decision exercises, and always finished with a good AAR.  Up to the final day, students view a correct AAR focusing on one to three points the teachers wants to students to discuss. They also view a proper problem-solving or decision-making game, while they participate, and then facilitate every tactical decision exercise. And finally, students conduct AARs in front of peers and teachers.

The key aspect of the course is that students are encouraged to return to their courses or units and begin evolving their programs of instructions or lesson plans into ones that incorporate the principles and tools of ASLTE.  This does not need to be done all at once, as the students are now teaching others how to use ASLTE.  Additionally, students are introduced to reading selections during the course and have to brief his peers back on a summary of what they have read. The students are also provided with real world examples where leaders have applied innovative ideas that made their units or organizations better. And finally, students are shown what other courses use ASLTE to develop adaptability to support Mission Command.[30]

Rhetoric Does Not Match Reality

While the emphasis is on the importance of “institutional culture” in embracing Mission Command, the Army culture is driven by an out-of-date personnel system.[31] The regulations, policies and laws guiding the personnel system impact all behaviour throughout the Army. Personnel bureaucrats fight the wars of today with practices from the past.  Changing the way we educate and train is a first step toward enabling personnel to succeed under Mission Command.[32]

Little has changed since 1975 with a focus on “task-condition and standard” (TCS) training developed by the new U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command. While the names of key players are different, the substance of their policies is not. As Jörg Muth recently wrote in reference to the 3d Infantry Division’s 5 April 2003 “Thunder Run” into Baghdad:

The episode shows a command culture that has only gradually evolved from the days of World War II. While the technical knowledge of today’s U.S. Army officers is far superior to that of their predecessors, their leadership capabilities are not. There are exceptions as some of the aggressive officers of the 3rd Infantry Division have demonstrated. Before the second Thunder Run, [Colonel David] Perkins outlined for his officers which decisions were his to make and which ones they could make. That is as close as the U.S. Army has ever come to Auftragstaktik, but Perkins has proven to be an exceptional officer. This most effective and democratic of all command philosophies has, 120 years after its invention, been studied but not yet understood nor yet found a home in the armed forces of the most democratic of all nations.[33]

As a retired command sergeant major that spent his career in special operations stated, “Soldiers succeed in spite of the system, not because of it.”[34]

For example, standards in officer accessions (how we prepare individuals to become officers), leader development, promotions and military and civilian education opportunities were recently lowered to meet the need for growing global commitments, as well as the two campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite lessons learned from the mistakes made in the personnel system, things remain unchanged.[35]

In 2010, the Defense Science Board report on the personnel system concluded that the Defense Officer Personnel Management Act (DOPMA) [with “up or out” as its centrepiece] and other policies and regulations “have the effect today of inhibiting the Department’s flexibility and adaptability."[36]

A 2011 Secretary of the Army Human Dimension Task Force found that the Army’s solution meeting staffing needs was to balance input with output by pumping up the input.[37] In this case by beginning to demand more from accession sources, raising the percentage of Soldiers who just made major, considering cutting down pin-on time to major, and, one of the worst decisions, sending lieutenants to a combat zone without going to Ranger school in order to fill “lieutenant slots” in battalions deploying to a war against insurgents. In short, despite past evidence of its weaknesses, the conveyor-belt method of mass production of Soldiers and officers ensures only that the quantity of service members remains high. Their quality, on the other hand, is compromised by the inadequacies in the current methods of education.[38]

In J. F. C. Fuller's Foundations of the Science of War, “The confusion between the meanings of science and art in the head of the average Soldier is most pronounced."[39] They do not understand that “a science teaches us to know, an art to do".[40] If you replace "the average Soldier" with TRADOC you begin to understand the essence of the problem. TRADOC infrastructure is the scientific management of "knowledge," which breaks doctrine down into testable, quantifiable parts.  This process began when General William DePuy took over TRADOC in the 70s.  Every subject is assigned to a curriculum developer (civilian, usually a retired SNCO or Officer) who arranges these parts into Terminal (i.e. "testable”) Learning Objectives (TLO) and Enabling Learning Objectives (ELO).  Every hour of instruction is accounted for in the POI with a constant eye towards the efficient transfer of terminal learning objectives (retention be damned).  That is why bold and great teachers are constantly told to stick to the POI or Training Support Packets (TSP) whenever they attempt to improve retention and understanding among their subordinates outside of the formal lesson cards.

They do not specialize in teaching the art of warfighting needed to develop leaders for Mission Command. The exceptions are the School of Advanced Military Studies or SAMS at Fort Leavenworth, KS and courses like the Army Reconnaissance Course (ARC) at Fort Benning, GA.  In a course or unit under Auftragstaktik, the student is held accountable for showing up prepared for that course, so there is a smooth, seamless transition from one duty to the new duties—that is professionalism. The ARC is a physically and mentally demanding course, and students know they have to show up in combat condition, as well as knowing certain tasks that serve as the baseline for ARC missions.

The ARC cadre are not going to retest or familiarize students with the knowledge they should already possess or tasks they should know before they attend ARC. Holding the students accountable for a baseline of knowledge allows the cadre to move to the next level of learning and maximize their limited time for more new learning vice relearning or retesting.

The ARC is not an “introduction to recon” course…The ARC course schedule does not allocate time for re-teaching doctrinal reconnaissance information or refreshing baseline task standards already achieved in OES/NCOES [Officer Education System/Non-Commissioned Officer Education System] courses.[41]

With this in mind, the ARC targets a student’s character and accountability through the ambiguous design of missions. All orders students write under the context of a reconnaissance push framework. This flexibility in the order provides students numerous opportunities to develop fundamentally sound courses of actions, rather than scripted checklists. Student plans will create conditions in which the students must then operate, and they are accountable for adapting to those conditions. For example, a student must determine recovery and resupply plans. When poor planning leads to a platoon’s inability to accomplish a reconnaissance mission, the leader of that platoon is held accountable.[42]

Students do not receive packing lists for field operations. Cadre brief a fragmentary order on the type of mission and the expected duration of the field problem. The students must then assess weather forecasts and demonstrate their capabilities and limitations to develop a packing list feasible to accomplish the upcoming mission. With supervision from the cadre to ensure safety, the students’ decisions on what to pack or not to pack leads to conditions under which the students operate.

During dismounted operations, for example, a student’s desire to pack additional items may increase his ability to maneuver for long duration. The improved outer tactical vest, the advanced combat helmet, eye protection, and gloves are essential for both the Soldier in a combat environment and for the ARC Soldier. Additionally, the Soldier must use his professional judgment to arrange his ammunition and additional equipment to best accomplish his mission.

Accountability and responsibility at ARC occur in every aspect of the course.  Their development and evaluation lead to more adaptive personnel, and carry over into physical fitness as well.  ARC physical fitness events require problem-solving abilities as well as physical endurance. During one physical training event, for example, the students divide into teams of four or five and are provided a map with three sets of points in a circular pattern. Red points, set along the ring closest to the start location, are worth five points each. White points, which are mid-distance from the start point, and are worth 10 points each. The third ring of blue points is set the farthest away from the start location, and each blue point is worth 15 points.

Teams have five minutes to plan their routes and 45 minutes to execute the course. Students are instructed to return before time expires with the most points they can accumulate; the route and points they run are based solely on the teams’ decisions. During the event, cadre determine not only a student’s overall level of fitness but also, more importantly, how students conceptually solve problems. Students demonstrate how they are assessing their own abilities and the abilities of their teams to accomplish the mission. Yes, the students do run for 45 minutes and conduct a physical fitness event, but the students’ ability to problem solve, navigate, and persevere under physical and mental pressure build a more comprehensively fit Soldier. This is an example of an ASLTE based course doing it right!

Unfortunately, the way ARC operates is an isolated case in the Army. While the U.S. Army preaches Mission Command and ASLTE, they are limited in the scope of their implementation by Industrial-age barriers. Joint Professional Military Education (JPME) tracks all training and education via a certification system.  It appears that one of the underlying assumptions for the adoption of a systems approach to training/education was that the more a service member “knows,” the more he or she can “do.”  The truth is, as Heraclitus observed in 500 BC, in war, “out of every one hundred men, ten shouldn’t even be there, eighty are just targets, nine are the real fighters, and we are lucky to have them, for they make the battle. Ah, but the one, one is a warrior, and he will bring the others back."[43] This is true whether they just graduated from the War College or are fighting for ISIL with no formal education.

As long as training requirements continue to increase to mitigate risk, TRADOC will continue to emphasize the tangible over the intangible, the checklist over the innovative.

Scientific managers view the ASLTE methodology to teach Mission Command as inefficient and hard to evaluate.  ARC teachers using ASLTE effectively apply the art of war based on history and personal experience (just like the Germans did and continued to do). TRADOC managers view these methods as a threat to their livelihood (i.e. master instructors do not need curriculum developers).  Until the DoD dismantles its scientific management model - all reform efforts will continue to exist on the fringes.  Why?  Because every time a senior leader sees something like the innovative Adaptive Soldier Leader Training and Education workshop and asks "is there anything we need to do to update our POI to reflect what he just taught?"  The answer they get in return from their curriculum developer is "no, our POI is signed and certified.[44]

A perception that everyone who deployed in support of OEF/OIF accomplished their mission and everyone is a hero complicates matters. This perception disproves the need for a focus on the art and how it is taught and causes everyone to scratch their head when a true teacher is "abrasive."  In their minds, the scientific approach to training and education in the military has a proven track record. What could be wrong with it?[45]

Footnotes



[1] US Army, Army Doctrine and Training Publication 6-0 Mission Command, (Washington, D.C.: Headquarters Department of the Army 2014) p. 1-1. back

[2] Jörg Muth, Command Culture: Officer Education in the U.S. Army and the German Armed Forces, 1901-1940, and the Consequences for World War II, (Denton: University of North Texas Press, April 7, 2013), p. 44. back

[3] Vandergriff, “Misinterpretation and Confusion: What is Mission Command and Can the US Army Make it Work?” Army, (Arlington, VA: Association of the US Army, February 2013), 1-2. back

[4] Ibid, p. 3. back

[5] John Taylor Gatto, “Why Schools Don’t Educate,” (January 31, 1990). Article accessed from http://www.naturalchild.org/guest/john_gatto.html.  “This article is the text of a speech by John Taylor Gatto accepting the New York City Teacher of the Year Award on January 31, 1990. It is reprinted with permission of the author.” Email from John Taylor Gatto to author March 2008. back

[6] Phil Hill, “Competency-Based Education: An (Updated) Primer for Today’s Online Market,” found at http://mfeldstein.com/cbe-an-updated-primer-for-todays-online-market/. back

[7] Edward L. Bouie, Jr., Ed.D. “The Impact of Bureaucratic Structure, Scientific Management, and Institutionalism on Standards-Based Educational Reform,” Mercer Journal of Educational Leadership, Vol. 1, No. 1, (Atlanta, GA: Mercer University, Spring 2012), p. 1-5. back

[8] See the work of John Taylor Gatto, as well as, Peter Kline, Why America's Children Can't Think: Creating Independent Minds for the 21st Century, (Inner Ocean Publishing September 2002), p. XI-XII. back

[9] Vandergriff, “Today’s Training and Education (Development) Revolution: The Future is Now!” Army, (Arlington, VA: May 2011), 6. back

[10] This is based on interviews and discussions with hundreds of Soldiers, Leaders and civilians involved with TRADOC schools. Despite the advocacy for Adaptability Development, the structure that General William DePuy put in place in order to facilitate the control he wanted in order to evolve Army training in the 1970s remain in place. All these agencies and individuals have vetoes or a say in what happens within an organization or a unit’s training. back

[11] Donald E. Vandergriff, “Review of Army Training,” unpublished paper, September 2006, pp. 4–5. back

[12] PreuBisches Kriegsministerium, Exerzir-Regelement fur die Infanterie (signed 1888) (Berlin, Germany: Ernest Siegfriend Mittler and Sohn, 1889), p. 129-130. back

[13] Richard E. Simpkin, “Command from the Bottom,” Infantry, (Columbus, GA: US Infantry Association, vol. 75. No. 2, March-April 1985), p. 34. back

[14] Ola, Kjoerstad, “German Officer Education in the Interwar Years,” (Glasgow, Scotland: University of Glasgow, June 2011), p. 42-50. back

[15] Kjoerstad, “German Officer Education in the Interwar Years,” p. 42-50. back

[16] See H. Dv. 487 "Führung und Gefecht der verbundenen Waffen" (F.u.G.), Neudruck der Ausgabe 1921-1924 in 3 teilen, (Osnabrück, Biblio Verlag, 1994). back

[17] H. Dv. 487 Führung und Gefecht der verbundenen Waffen (F.u.G.), Neudruck der Ausgabe 1921-1924 in 3 teilen, (Osnabrück, Biblio Verlag, 1994). back

[18] James S. Corum, in Condell, Zabecki (eds), On the German Art of War, Truppenführung, (Boulder Colorado 2001), p. 3. back

[19] H.Dv. 300/1 Truppenführung, p. 3. back

[20] Quote is from Ola Kjoerstad, “German Officer Education”, and p. 67. Also see, Oberleutnant Hauck, “Wissen und Können”, MW 1927, no 38, column 1395. back

[21] Ola, Kjoerstad, “German Officer Education in the Interwar Years,” p. 64-69. back

[22] Preubisches Kriegsministerium, D.V.E. Nr. 130 Exerzier-Reglement fur die Infanterie, 126a. back

[23] William R. Burns, Jr. and Waldo D. Freeman, Developing an Adaptability Training Strategy and Policy for the DoD, (Institute for Defense Analysis, October 2008), p. 51. This study indicates that Don Vandergriff’s Adaptive Leader Methodology or Adaptive Course Model (ACM) is one the two best programs to develop adaptability across the Army (the other being the Q-Course selection phase of Special Forces Q-Course). back

[24] A symmetric Warfare Group, “Outcome Based Training and Education: Fostering Adaptability in Full-Spectrum Operations,” briefing, December 2008, slide 7. back

[25] Dan Grazier, “Military Reform Through Education,” Straus Military Reform Project, (Washington, D.C.: Project for Government Oversight (POGO)). Accessed at http://www.pogo.org/straus/issues/military-people-and-ideas/2015/military-reform-through-education.html. back

[26] Dr. Robert Bjork, “How We Learn Versus How We Think We Learn: Implications for the Organization of Army Training” (unpublished briefing presented at Science of Learning Workshop, UCLA, Los Angeles, Calif., 1 August 2006), p. 2. Dr. Bjork, Distinguished Research Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) is considered the leading authority on learning. back

[27] “The overlying theme of "desirable difficulties," first introduced by Robert Bjork (1994), is also explored through manipulations in the spacing of learning events and the study schedule produced by interleaving various to-be-learned items, such as English-Swahili translated word pairs or prose materials. Interleaving occurs when a to-be-learned target item is initially presented and followed by different to-be-learned items prior to the target's subsequent presentations. An interleaving schedule used during the presentation of a painting matched with the name of the artist has been shown to lead to better performance on later recognition tests when compared with a massing presentation schedule in which each painting and artist name was presented back-to-back, with one presentation immediately followed by the next presentation of a different painting by the same artist” (Kornell & Bjork, 2008). back

[28] Donald E. Vandergriff, The Missing Link: Developing Personnel for Mission Command, A Superior Command Culture, forthcoming, (Annapolis, MD: United States Naval Institute Press, MAR 2018). back

[29] Accessed at http://www.tradoc.army.mil/tpubs/pams/tp525-8-2.pdf. back

[30] Accessed at http://www.military1.com/army/article/564601-aslte-the-new-army-training-methodology/ back

[31] Kent W. Park, “Assembly Line to Custom Design: Reforming the Officer Development System,” Association of the United States Army, Land Warfare Paper no. 81, (Arlington, VA: Association of the U.S. Army, 2010). back

[32] Lieutenant Colonel Scott M. Halter, “What is an Army but the Soldiers? A Critical Performance Assessment of the U.S. Army’s Human Capital Management System,” Military Review, (Fort Leavenworth, KS: Combined Arms Center, January–February 2012), pp. 16–23. back

[33] Muth, Command Culture, p. 209. back

[34] Comment from unnamed command sergeant major to author, June 2010. back

[35] Fred Kaplan, “Dumb and Dumber the U.S. Army lowers recruitment standards … again,” Slate, accessed at http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/war_stories/2008/01/dumb_and_dumber.html. back

[36] Report of the Defense Science Board Task Force on Understanding Human Dynamics, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics, March 2009. back

[37] Secretary of the Army John McHugh, “Human Capital Management Reform,” (Washington DC: Headquarters, GPO, and 20 June 2011). The author was a member of this task force Dec 10 to June 11. back

[38] Halter, “What is an Army but the Soldiers?”. back

[39] JFC Fuller, Foundations of the Science of War. In Chapter 1, pg 20, in his 7th endnote, found at https://www.pearsonhighered.com/assets/hip/us/hip_us_pearsonhighered/samplechapter/013265797X.pdf back

[40] Archbishop Thompson, Laws of Thought, p. 10. accessed at http://www.ccapitalia.net/descarga/docs/1847-boole-laws-of-thought.pdf. back

[41] Robert C. Perry and Kevin McEnery, “Army Reconnaissance Course”, Armor, (Fort Knox, KY: US Armor Association, June 2011), p. 19. back

[42] The author is indebted to the cadre of the US Army Reconnaissance Course, particularly CPT Levi Thompson, the course director and Master Sergeant (P) Jacob Stockdill, senior instructor, for their input and insights to this chapter from June-August 2014. He is also indebted to countless current and past cadre for their professionalism and dedication of making ARC one of the best courses in the U.S. Army. back

[43] Ancient History Encyclopaedia, “Heraclitus of Ephesos.” July 14, 2010. Accessed at http://www.ancient.eu/Heraclitus_of_Ephesos/. back

[44] Accessed at https://medium.com/the-smoking-gun/we-re-developing-the-wrong-leaders-ee805196add8. back

[45] Brigadier General Mark C. Arnold, “Don’t Promote Mediocrity,” Armed Forces Journal, May 2012. back

photograph of Maj. Donald E. Vandergriff (U.S. Army, ret.)

By: Maj. Donald E. Vandergriff (U.S. Army, ret.), U.S. Army, retired

Don Vandergriff, CDI Military Advisory Board Member, is the author of four books and over 60 articles dealing with military reform issues, specifically personnel and training reform. His book “Raising the Bar” is mandatory reading for cadre at U.S. Army Cadet Command and the Department of Military Instruction at the United States Military Academy.

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