Category Archives: Operations and Leadership

The Navy Owes Congress Independent Honesty, Not Joint Harmony

By Matthew Hipple and Michael DeBoer

The military has two masters – the executive, who directs and operates, and the legislature, who regulates and budgets. The Navy, and other services to a lesser extent, have forgotten that obedience to the executive branch exists alongside, not above, congressional oversight – to which the military owes its total independent honesty when directed. Generations of centralizing service functions under the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) and Joint Staff erroneously encouraged the services to dispose of their independent advocacy. In advocating the budgets and plans OSD orders for execution, the dialogue between civilian government and the military becomes civilian government’s dialogue with itself, lacking the professional advice from those promoted and positioned to provide it – in particular to a Congress owed that candor in public testimony. This crisis in civil-military (civ-mil) relations and institutional inertia demands professional and courageous leadership to correct.

National Security Act of 1947

While civil-military decision-making in a healthy Republic rightly defers to civilian policymakers, the executive constraints imposed on the armed forces by congress throughout the Cold War have disrupted effective civil-military dialogue. The National Security Act of 1947 assigned the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) as the primary advisor to the President on military affairs. This diminishment of service access to the President gradually suppressed the forceful yet necessary presentation of different and dissenting perspectives. President Eisenhower still felt obliged to at least negotiate through his Staff Secretary written support from the Joint Chiefs for the “New Look” and a constrained 1958 budget. In 1960, CNO Admiral Arleigh Burke still fought his way to presenting Eisenhower the Navy’s counterargument to joint nuclear targeting. But by the Johnson administration, the independent culture of the Joint Chiefs had waned – the service chiefs remained publicly silent on Vietnam policy while relying solely on JCS Chairman General Earle Wheeler, who failed to forcefully present their escalating concerns to President Johnson. Voluntarily and structurally, service access to civilian policymakers withered – decreasing the presence of dissenting opinions and driving down the quality of advice and insight to the President and Congress.

This compares unfavorably with civ-mil dialogue before the National Security Act. During World War II, Fleet Admiral Ernest King forced dissenting opinions onto the Combined Chiefs of Staff, at times even upon Allied heads of state. His forcefully argued views aided Allied strategic planners. His feud with Winston Churchill prevented expansion of the Mediterranean Campaign and contributed to the conclusion of Douglas MacArthur’s self-indulgent Southwest Pacific Campaign – wasteful efforts undermining American interests.

Allies’ grand-strategy conference in North Africa. Admiral E. J. King; Mr. Churchill; President Roosevelt; Standing, Major General Sir Hastings Ismay; Lord Louis Mountbatten; and Field Marshal Sir John Dill., 1943 (Photo via Wikimedia Commons)

The National Security Act limited exposure to dissenting opinions – constraining military advice, independent thought, and critical argument. However, the mechanisms of Presidential advice did not relieve service chiefs of their advisory role to Congress. General Wheeler’s contemporaries chose to rely on Wheeler rather than communicate their professional judgement to the legislature. Conversely, in an act of supreme leadership and professionalism, General Eric Shinseki risked his career and sacrificed his influence in 2003 by providing Congress his frank assessment of troop requirements for postwar occupation of Iraq – views that clashed directly with Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and OSD. General Shinseki’s assessments were professionally accurate and procedurally proper, presented to Congress in official testimony where his honest insight was demanded. Career risk is inherent in positions of service leadership, but Shinseki understood his tenure was more expendable than his candor. Three years later, CENTCOM Commander General John Abizaid testified before Congress that “General Shinseki was right…”

February 25, 2013 — Less than a month before the start of the Iraq War, Army Chief of Staff General Eric Shinseki states that several hundred thousand troops may be required to secure Iraq after initial combat operations. (CSPAN Video)

Congressional Budget Act of 1974

The Congressional Budget Act of 1974 eliminated service chiefs’ formal development of independent budgets. Prior to the act, each department presented and defended their service budget requests before Congress. This allowed significant discourse between service chiefs and Congress on substantial matters of service health, acquisitions, and doctrine. Services drove operational innovation through their budgets, from Admiral Burke’s broad revolution introducing multiple high-end ship classes like guided missile frigates and cruisers, ballistic missile submarines, and nuclear carriers to Admiral Elmo Zumwalt’s High-Low Mix concept. The budget act suppressed these service innovations. Since 1974, the only doctrinal innovation conceived and planned by a service and funded by Congress was AirLand Battle. Now services primarily focus on continued access to funding for existing programs of record, rather than driving innovative operational concepts or abandoning failures.

The budget act delegated part of Congress’s responsibility to raise an Army, provide and maintain a Navy, and regulate both services. With resourcing and budget debates seemingly ceded to an executive branch that already controls military operations, the services mistake their perception and advisory duties as also subordinate to the executive branch. The military’s activity shifted from mere loyal execution of executive branch policies to self-imposed advocacy for the executive branch’s policy as well. This put service chiefs in the unfortunate and awkward position of defending budgets they may consider damaging. Instead of robust discourse, hearings became matters of course, with service chiefs falling on the swords of top-line budgets outside their control.

However, the act’s change in budget development did not relieve service leadership of their duty to advocate for realistic needs or to articulate the operational risks of underfunding. Although not a service chief, Commander, Surface Forces (SURFOR), Vice Admiral Thomas Copeman frustrated service leadership for his public candor on the surface fleet’s operational decline in 2013. Admiral Copeman honestly and publicly described the surface force’s readiness challenges, including warships’ loss of range and lethality, and the fragility of logistics at sea. He criticized programs openly, and backed these concerns with resource requests and actionable concepts:

“It’s getting harder and harder, I think, for us to look troops in the eye and say, ‘Hey, just do it and meet the standard’…You’ve got to make choices…And if it was my choice—and it’s not only my choice—I’d give up force structure to get wholeness.”

Now, even when offered the chance to advocate for more resources by Congress, the Navy declines while in the same assessment acknowledges repairs or replacements for cruisers are unaffordable.

Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Christine Fox and Vice Admiral Tom Copeman discuss technical aspects of the USS Freedom while touring the ship’s bridge during her visit to San Diego, Ca., Feb. 10, 2014. (DoD Photo By Glenn Fawcett)

Admiral Copeman helped pave the way for the Distributed Lethality concept of operations — accelerating modular weapons deployment, defenses for naval auxiliaries, and improved autonomy for at-sea commanders in a communications-denied environment. Although Distributed Lethality faded in a service “narrative correction,” towards centralization, Admiral Copeman’s work accelerated reform, weapons acquisition, and procurement of the Constellation-class frigate. But for simple, effective acts of candor he was sarcastically dubbed the “Sea Lord” for bucking the agreed OSD narrative – a moniker those who understood the crisis knew was unintentionally complimentary. Expending his own forward career momentum on his service’s future, Admiral Copeman did his duty as the leader of the surface community.

Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986

The Goldwater-Nichols Defense Reorganization Act of 1986 hammered the final nail in robust military advice’s coffin. The act strengthened combatant commanders (COCOMs) at the expense of the service chief’s power of maintenance and budgetary management already reduced by the Budget Act. Prior to Goldwater-Nichols, the Joint Chiefs functioned as a check on the operational decisions of combatant commanders, as when the chiefs expressed significant reservations regarding General MacArthur’s plans to expand the Korean War. The Joint Chiefs eventually supported MacArthur’s relief and their blunt testimony to Congress supported President Truman’s decision to fire a nationally popular and politically-connected household name. Unfortunately, COCOMs now receive relatively little oversight in execution of their operational functions. Attempting to provide oversight to CENTCOM General Tommy Franks’ Iraq invasion war plans was yet another moment of sacrificial professionalism that cost General Shinseki influence as Army Chief. 

Further, Goldwater-Nichols removed the linkage between operations and acquisitions. Prior to the act, service chiefs managed the breadth of their services obligations, ensuring that a ready, able, and well-trained force could execute its global responsibilities. Goldwater-Nichols ensured that resource-unconstrained COCOMs could request forces not in existence, forcing the service chiefs to attempt to meet requests for operational forces their services could not safely generate. When services decline to support COCOM Requests for Forces, “more often than not, in deference to the COCOMs, the Secretary (of Defense) will direct a service be ‘forced to source’ the requirement.” This particularly strains naval forces, but despite meeting less than 75 percent of regional requests, the U.S. Navy’s ship numbers continue in abject decline since 1986.

But far from inviting service silence, Goldwater Nichols’ final blow against the mechanisms of formal service control emphasized the need for strong advocacy and leadership willing to more aggressively invest a service’s political capital for their needs. For example, Commandant Berger’s necessary shift of Marine Corps’ priorities to Indo-Pacific Command may not please European Command, Central Command, or the retired Marine Corps generals attacking the changes, but the effort is strongly argued, clearly communicated, and involves a candid public discussion of advantages and drawbacks. Although Commandant Berger committed not to ask Congress for “one penny more,” he offered that the Marine Corps “will become smaller if we have to” to support procuring the Light Amphibious Warship (LAW). Such comments demonstrate an organization clear on what costs are acceptable to pursue priorities and a willingness to discuss the logic publicly – demonstrating a level of candor to which extra resources may be entrusted.

Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. David H. Berger delivers remarks at a press briefing at the Pentagon, Washington, D.C., March 26, 2020. (U.S. Marine Corps/Lisa Ferdinando)

Avoiding Self-Delusion and Self-Destruction

The results of these acts continue to solidify disaster for U.S. military efficacy, from the operational and strategic failures of Afghanistan, to the systemic under-resourcing leading to the 2017 collisions, to the 20-year relative shift in strength between the U.S. Navy and PLA Navy. This is not a reflection of the people who provide advice but a reflection of the mistaken civil-military norms, legislated and trained to, that see even honest and professional divergence before Congress as a breach. To meet the mistakenly perceived norm and not breach the trust of the executive branch, military officers swallow dissenting advice to avoid the perception of division. Generations of officers in Afghanistan understood reconstruction flagged under endemic corruption and that removal of U.S. support would trigger a collapse. However, leadership sustained executive continuation of policy through echoes of advocacy, hoping solutions would appear or institutional inertia might change without leaders showing disobedience by touching the scale alone.

Unlike the chronic ills of Afghanistan, the threats faced by the Navy are acute. The PLAN surpassed the U.S. Navy in size and operates with strength in its home waters while supported by a robust detection and area denial network. Furthermore, the PRC operates a world-class maritime industrial base capable of greater peacetime production and wartime repair than what the U.S. domestic market can achieve. Yet when offered the chance to advocate for more resources by Congress, leadership declines. The CNO’s recent call for a 500-ship navy is a start, but its aspirational 18-year timeline without a shipbuilding plan fails to provide the strong budgetary request or inter-service knife-fight needed today to reach for these goals tomorrow, or clarify the fleet capacity questions of the near future. Further, with a requirement to build net 12.5 ships every year to meet the aspirational 500 goal by 2040 or roughly net 8 ships per year to reach the 355-ship legal requirement by at least 2030 – the Navy clearly declines to fight for its legal and operational needs.

Comissionings of surface combatants per year that remain in active service in the U.S. and Chinese Navies. (Graphic via Foreign Policy)

Continued deference to OSD’s managed veneer of agreement over hard-nosed budgetary fights and reform will put the U.S. Navy in a tactical and strategic position with many parallels to the Russian Army’s present disaster in Ukraine. After a contentious period of reforms focused on procurement, financial discipline, and professionalization under Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov, since 2012 Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu smoothed ruffled feathers by prioritizing palace politics and avoiding interagency conflict. Difficult choices were avoided, the right stories were told, and the right contracts were sold. With political tradeoffs made, Russia now fights with a vast military capacity gutted of capability, bereft of morale, riven with corruption, and led by generations of weak, unprofessional NCO’s — all problems it claims to have solved over the last decade.

The U.S. Navy faces roughly the reverse – a shrinking, well armed force with strong NCOs whose more principled service leadership eschews conflict with OSD and other services by over-selling capability as a cure for the increasing gap in capacity. Minister Shoigu bought smooth politics and the veneer of capability by selling his military out to the right political partners; the U.S. Navy invests in the veneer of inter-service agreement by over-selling the capacity of a small, capable force and avoiding institutional confrontation. In both cases, the forces are supported by supply chains insufficient in both resiliency and capacity. Whether Russia’s corruption or America’s strategically questionable deference to OSD over congressional oversight, disillusioning defeat is the common result of sacrificing necessary debates on the altar of organizational politics.

The U.S. is out of space, money, and time for the Navy’s multi-generational plans that avoid uncomfortable disagreements while awaiting tectonically slow shifts in OSD bureaucratic and strategic inertia. In a decade where China seeks ascendance with a likely vassal Russia in tow, the U.S. and its public needs a strong, forward, and mobile military to backstop American interests abroad. The military’s failure to understand its rightful place in answering both to the executive and legislative branches has impoverished the public debate on military and foreign policy matters, and weakened national security. Strong, innovative leadership comfortable with serious but professional public disagreements between OSD and other services is necessary to innovate and advocate for America’s pressing security needs. Such leadership is possible, as proven by Admiral Burke, General Shinseki, General Berger, Vice Admiral Copeman, and others who took the right risks for the right reasons. If Washington headquarters continue to fear dissenting conversations held in public more than war, our Navy – and military generally – will face brutal defeat and the ascendancy of a system determined by strategic adversaries.

Matthew Hipple is an active duty naval officer and  former President of the Center for International Maritime Security (CIMSEC).

CDR Mike DeBoer is a naval officer.

These views are presented in a personal capacity and do not necessarily reflect the views of any U.S. government department or agency.

Featured Image: Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jim Inhofe, R-Okla., left, greets Vice Adm. Michael Gilday, right, at Gilday’s confirmation hearing to be the next chief of naval operations on July 31, 2019. (Andrew Harnik/AP)

Put the Commander back in Commander’s Intent

By Capt. Bill Shafley

Commander’s intent is the cornerstone of mission command.1 Yet, it remains a nebulous form of communication. In naval operations, commander’s intent is infrequently understandable, let alone actionable. It is filled with jargoned terms like purpose, method, key tasks, end state, critical information requirements (CCIRs), and acceptable level of risk (ALR). While these terms of reference create nicely formatted PowerPoint charts, the resultant commander’s intent is an exchange of sterile terms that inhibit rather than enable mission command. The processes that create commander’s intent are staff-centric. The thinking surrounding mission command is commander-centric.2 The resulting mismatch prevents shared awareness, slows disciplined initiative, and challenges a commander’s ability to take prudent risk.3

The Critical Role of Commander’s Intent

Not only can we get better at writing intent, we must do so in a manner that enables our up-echelon commanders to take advantage of the creativity, ingenuity, and style of their subordinate commanders. First, commanders must take back the responsibility for thinking about and crafting their own intent. The Naval Planning Process (NPP) has whittled away the commander’s role in the process of analyzing a mission, developing courses of action, and creating a written order, and the commander’s role must be restored.4 Second, commanders must personalize their intent and ensure it reflects their vision of the unfolding operation, not the staff’s version of same. Successful intent statements are plain language attempts at a commander’s visualization of the battle. It lays the foundation and provides the framework for all that unfolds.5 Finally, commanders need to be developed for effective leadership in an environment where mission command is the norm. In an era where communication is ubiquitous and spans of control are ever-growing, the information demands of higher headquarters grow as well. This is making it more and more challenging to define commander’s business.

Formalized opportunities for this type of development need to be programmed into the career path of senior leaders. Improving self-awareness, deepening critical thinking skills, and providing the opportunity to reflect upon the responsibilities of and best practices for executive decision making are a must. 

Essential Element of Mission Command

In a white paper issued by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey, “The commander is the central figure in Mission Command.”6 Staffs have neither the authority nor the accountability to execute operations. From receipt of the mission to orders production, the commander is the pivot point in command and control.7 NPP is all about planning, while commander’s intent is about decision making.8

As Milan Vego stated, “There is possibly no greater responsibility for a commander but to make decisions on the employment of…combat forces.”9 Staffs need to get out of the commander’s intent business. The planning process gives them ample opportunity to inject their expertise into mission analysis and course of action (COA) development. The by-product of a staff generated commander’s intent is that it feeds off the data collected, analyzed, and presented to the commander. It flows from the steps of mission analysis and COA development and thereby gets structured in terms of tasks, end state, and risk. Even the most involved commander will find it challenging to weave intent into this staff process. A personal example brings these observations to the forefront.

During strike group work-ups, the destroyer squadron (DESRON) staff worked diligently in developing its planning bona-fides. We committed to five-paragraph orders that included commander’s intent, CCIRs, and ALR as a format to communicate our mission tasking with assigned units. With the notion that these orders to subordinate units would give them ample understanding of what needed to occur, the staff needed to make follow-on decisions and decide how much risk we as a team were willing to accept to accomplish the assigned mission.

As the commander, I spent time with my planners throughout the planning process in an attempt to ensure the strike group’s mission and how it fed the fleet end state was adequately captured. Our planners developed a Situation, Mission, Enemy Situation, Admin, Command and Signal (SMEAC) five-paragraph order format. Over the course of work-ups, we refined the manner in which we captured the friendly and enemy situations. We labored over purpose and method. We added critical information requirements and discussed risk. Yet, after each order, reflection, and modification of our format, I still found myself summarizing that data in plain language from commander to commander to ensure we could see the forest through the trees.

In hindsight, I have concluded that the order is for watchstanders and subordinate planners, the intent is for commanders. It was clear to me in practice that my planners could only get me so far. I needed to add clarity to their words and do it a manner that made sense to my subordinate commanders. Without that additional clarity, the shared awareness, disciplined initiative, and prudent risk-taking I was trying to achieve would remain opaque.    

Commander’s Personal Viewpoint

As Gen. Dempsey described it, “In mission command, the commander must understand the problem, envision the end state, and visualize the nature and design of the operation.”10 Intent should reflect a commander’s personal and deep understanding of the mission. It should describe how subordinate units and warfighting functions come together to bring about a desired effect against an enemy force. It is, in its purest form, visualization. It communicates in clear terms for subordinate commanders how the boundaries and conditions around which a battle ahead should unfold. Intent communicates roles, success, failure, and pace. It describes to subordinate commanders and their staffs what is required to make decisions and who can make them and even how to act in the absence of further orders. Milan Vego has offered rules of thumb in drafting intent, including writing it in the first person, ensure it reflects the personality of the commander, keep it short and memorable, and write clearly and precisely.11 Intent crafted in this manner is akin to scaffolding around a building. It is simple pieces simply put together.  

Reflecting again on recent personal experience, workups provide numerous opportunities for strike group and warfare commanders to use intent as a reflection of this deeper understanding of the mission. Multi-warfare, multi-phased operations that consume a common set of resources create opportunities for friction, early culmination, and priorities. Commanders know where the breaking point lies and must be able to communicate that eventuality in a manner that is meaningful. We can use these opportunities to apply Vego’s reminders and really dig into what the sequence of tactical operations presented mean to the afloat fighting force and its staying power in the fight. 

Admiral Chester W. Nimitz achieved this in his famous Calculated Risk letter in the days leading up to the Battle of Midway.12 In a mere five sentences, he was able to communicate when it was appropriate for Rear Admirals Frank J. Fletcher and Raymond A. Spruance to commit their forces to action.13 Nimitz artfully told his commanders simply to avoid attack unless you know you can win. With that clear direction in hand, they took off to Midway and made the decisions necessary to turn the tides of the war.

Faced with the same resource challenge associated with the commitment of combat power during our own work-ups, we struggle to make it that clear. Nimitz understood it from the strategic through the tactical level. Fletcher and Spruance were tactically competent, their strike forces ready to take the fight to the enemy. Nimitz was aware of how this engagement was sequenced in time and space throughout his area of operations. He knew what failure meant to the remainder of the campaign in terms of residual combat power. It is a very good example of simple pieces put together simply.

Raising Commander’s Intent Above the Noise

Modern commanders keep a lot of plates spinning. There are horizontal and vertical relationships to foster within and beyond the immediate organization. There are allies and partners that need to be brought into the fold and enabled. As a local commander looks to the fight two echelons up and attempts to tap into the developing situation, even with the best staffs and the most refined process, it gets harder and harder to know what decision lies ahead and how commanders must work together to solve them. The time available to think and reflect is at a premium. A commander’s span of control affects his ability to influence subordinates directly. These challenges impact a commander’s ability to craft clear and meaningful intent. Buying back time through efficient and effective communication and developing our senior leaders for these challenges can mitigate some of this risk.

In the age of digital communication, we are clobbered by the exchange of information. Commanders are robbed of the time to write something thoughtfully, let alone consume it, and provide feedback. This deprives commanders of one of the remaining meaningful tools they may have to communicate complexity in these dispersed environments. Most commanders will argue that time is the biggest challenge to their collective ability to think critically, reflect deeply, and cogently communicate important information.

As a best practice, deliberate use of the battle rhythm and the various voice and video tools available can alleviate some of these pressures. As the battle rhythm drives the commander’s decision cycle, it can be used to home in on and tease out information necessary to assess ongoing operations and guide follow-on ones. A well-crafted and judicious set of critical information requirements are similarly helpful.14 While voice, video, and data tools remain available, interaction between and amongst commanders virtually affords the opportunity to communicate intent broadly. Minutes count in these environments. Time spent preparing for the battle rhythm and time spent consuming the information it presents slices away at the cognitive power of commander and their staffs. It is important to make wise use of it. Strike group workups provide another example.

Time must be guarded, and information exchange streamlined and relevant for commanders to gain the advantage in this environment. Workups deliberately tax afloat staffs to stress test the processes used to generate orders to subordinate units. Time becomes the most precious commodity. As workups evolve, the pace at which the changes occur to the base plan deliberately create trade-offs and resource constraints. As the fluidity of the tactical situation evolves, the challenge becomes to recognize those trade-offs, communicate them to higher headquarters, and capture them in a running change to commander’s intent. This rapidly evolving tactical situation, inside of this complex communications environment quickly exposes the weaknesses of even the best set of staff processes.

I frequently found myself challenged to keep a broader view. My own personal time to think critically about what was occurring around me in time and space was taken away brief after brief. Fatigue was setting in from endless phone calls in the middle of the night about tactical information that I had asked for in pristinely written orders that turned out to be irrelevant. Despite a fantastic staff and what I thought were fairly refined processes, my ability to think critically, write cogently, and re-assess my intent remain challenged.

Learning to Personalize Intent

Leaders are swimming in information, striving to make sense of it, and looking for where best to apply scarce resources to best effect. We can’t just expect a senior leader to learn how to be effective in this environment through broadening headquarters assignments alone. There are few opportunities for group commanders to get the balance of education and training necessary to excel in these new environments.15 Exposure to additional leader development opportunities that stress self-awareness, critical thinking, and executive decision making are necessary investments for commanders. These should include board selected in-residence opportunities at senior service colleges, political-military think tank fellowships, and corporate leadership development courses. Pulling forward courses like CAPSTONE for newly selected flag officer down to the major command level would go a long way in developing our senior commanders. Every year counts in an officer’s career progression. Spending 18-24 months off the flight-line or away from the waterfront is a calculated risk in its own right. In residence education, and more than once perhaps, is a must to provide the time away from the “building” to develop. Opportunities like these would help senior officers with the process of growing into roles where doing at the tactical level is replaced with sensing, shaping, and communicating priorities and expectations synonymous with executive leadership.16


Nimitz, Fletcher, and Spruance are tall figures for senior leaders to emulate. Though the environments they commanded in were markedly different in many ways, they wrestled with many of the same issues we wrestle with today. Their formations were large and diffused over many miles. And while communication methods improved over time, they were still left with fog and friction to overcome.

But none of them sailed with the same retinue of staffs, processes, and methods of communication that we sail with today. Yet they still succeeded with crafting plans that synchronized forces in space and time, and in a manner that created effects that employed resources effectively and efficiently. Simple written notes to each other created a shared understanding of the mission at hand and the roles of the forces assigned.

Commanders today are disadvantaged in many ways. We have large staffs and refined processes. Our communications methods create opportunities for over-communicating and are bereft of the right information at the right time for the right decision. Doubling down on putting the commanders back in intent, providing them with the skills necessary to create time and space for thinking and reflection, and deepening our investment in their development will help lay the foundation for successful mission command.

Captain Bill Shafley is a career Surface Warfare Officer and currently serves as Commodore, Destroyer Squadron 26, and Sea Combat Commander for Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group. He has served on both coasts and overseas in Asia and Europe. He is a graduate of the Naval War College’s Advanced Strategy Program and a designated Naval Strategist. These views are presented in a personal capacity.


1. For a good working definition of Mission Command, see ADRP 6-0 (2012).  p. 1-3.

2. General Martin Dempsey (2012) “Mission Command White Paper, 03 APR 2012,” p. 4.

3. For the tenets of Mission Command, see ADRP 6-0 (2012).  p 2-1. 

4. Milan Vego, “The Bureaucratization of the Military Decision Making Process,” Joint Forces Quarterly: Vol 88, 1st Qtr 2018, p. 39.  

5. Dempsey, “White Paper,” p. 4.

6. Ibid.

7. Ibid.

8. Vego, “Military Decision Making,” p. 35.

9. Ibid., 36.

10. Dempsey, “White Paper,”  p. 4.

11. Vego, “Military Decision Making,” p. 39.

12. Robert C. Rubel, “Deconstructing Nimitz’s Principle of Calculated Risk,” Naval War College Review: Vol. 68: No. 1, Article 4.

13. Ibid.

14. See my previous published work in CIMSEC regarding Information exchange and Mission Command.

15. SWOS Major Command and the Major Command Course at NLEC are the two predominant courses for SWO Major Commanders.  Over the course of 4 weeks, both courses do their best to provide these opportunities, but they are not enough.

16. See Heather Venerable’s recent work regarding education and Senior Officers.

Featured Image: POLARIS POINT, Guam (Feb. 7, 2020) Capt. Al Alarcon, prospective commanding officer of the submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS 40), salutes sideboys as he arrives at a change of command ceremony aboard the ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Second Class Heather C. Wamsley/Released)