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Essay: Don Vandergriff on "The Myth of Mission Command"

Black and white photograph of a tank with soldiers in Wernberg, Germany, April 1945

Major Don Vandergriff (USA, retired) is the author of Path to Victory, Raising the Bar and numerous other publications addressing the most important dimension in conflict, the human dimension.

He recently wrote an essay that is appearing at The Bridge-a military strategy blog run by Major Nathan Finney, US Army.

Don's new essay, "The Myth of Mission Command: How 'Synchronization Warfare' Has Removed the Human from Modern Warfare," addresses what is perhaps the most difficult challenge the Army and Marines, and the other military services, face if they are to reform in any serious manner to face the modern threats that have prevailed against us in Iraq and Afghanistan and that we will again fail to address with budget enhancing gimmicks like Air-Sea Battle. While Don addresses it far more profoundly than I can, we can consider it the problem of overcoming the lure of technology, simplistic top-down micro-management, mechanistic training and careerism that so thoroughly dominate the upper ranks of modern American military leadership.

photograph of Maj. Donald E. Vandergriff (U.S. Army, ret.)
Major Don Vandergriff (USA, Retired)

We are lucky to have thinking, acting leaders like Vandergriff, and those who helped him with this essay, to remind us that the budget debate in Washington is important, but not nearly as important as the more basic human issues.

I urge you to read this essay. But beware, it is not easy reading; it is dense, a little unpolished (complete with typos), and it is a little longer than the usual material that circulates in Washington. I urge you to stick with it, to consider the deeply embedded problems it talks to, and to think about how those issues pertain to all of us-not just the armed forces.

Find The Myth of Mission Command here.