Mission Tactics

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RESTRICTED THE NEED FOR DEVELOPING A POSITIVE LEADERSHIP CULTURE FOR BANGLADESH ARMY Major Mohammad Alam Tareque, psc, East Bengal A favourable situation will never be exploited if commanders wait for orders. The highest commander and the youngest soldier must be conscious of the fact that omission and inactivity are worse than resorting to the wrong expedient"- Gary Klein (Sources of Power: How People Make Decisions) Introduction 1. The future war would be very complex and likely to begin at short notice.

The type of war that Bangladesh Army is expected to be involved in is a limited war in nature1. The limited war is of short duration and being fought at high tempo and intensity. It would involve lethal weapons thus requiring great dispersion across the engagement area. In future conflicts, at the very outset, advanced fighting forces would try to upset the chain of command of the enemy by disrupting communications. This may be achieved by the use of electro magnetic pulse, by employing conventional special forces or by using unconventional forces. The battle field situation will be very fluid where psychological warfare coupled with the media would aim to propagate rumour to confuse commanders at all levels. The increased reach of integral firepower and surveillance resources, including space-based systems will make the area of operation deeper and wider. There will be non linear operations and exist threat from enemy special forces to rear areas which will necessitate earmarking of troops to provide security to lines of communication. All these will perforce necessitate decentralisation of command and control as much as possible.1

Operations of War, Volume One, GSTP 0032, p 1-4.














unconventional warfare from the very beginning of the breakout of the hostilities.2 According to our present doctrine, the Unconventional Force Commander will receive mission type orders from the overall commander. The Unconventional Force will also require breaking up in small groups. Junior leaders will have to lead The Unconventional Force independently and in isolation. The Unconventional Force Commander will be responsible for planning, execution and improvisation to achieve the mission. 3 In the perspective of future conflict, considering these above mentioned attributes of our new doctrine, it is obvious that any sub unit level commander has to adapt his unit with fast moving fluid situations. Employing the sub unit or a unit is much easier under the instructions from higher headquarters but what will happen when the communication is lost and the sub unit commanders (say lieutenants and captains) need to act without detailed orders from superiors?


Command is based on task and situation. The task lays down the aims to

be achieved, which the commander charged with achieving it must keep in the forefront of his mind. Task and situation give rise to the mission...The mission must be a clearly defined aim to be pursued with all one's powers...The commander must leave his subordinates freedom of action, to the extent that

2 3

Ibid. Ibid, pp 32-03198.


RESTRICTED doing so does not imperil his intention. 4 The quoted statement summarises what a commander must do in case of not receiving any further instructions from superior as a result of lost communication. GSTP 0032 states further: he (commander) must not go into such details that the initiative of the subordinates is curbed. The answer is Auftragstaktik5. Thus, this specifies the necessity of adopting Mission Tactics. The term Mission Tactics has been evolved from the German term Auftragstaktik (German word Auftrag means task/mission and taktik is tactics). This term defines the essence of mission oriented tactics: the Commander only tells subordinates what tasks to accomplish, but not how to accomplish.6 Therefore, adopting this approach requires a deliberate training and a command climate based on mutual trust. If Bangladesh Army is to adopt Mission Tactics then it needs to generate a new positive leadership culture vis a vis a culture of initiative, hence we must begin by creating the right frame of mind in our troops and officers. The question is Are we preparing for that?


The paper will discuss and examine the need for developing a leadership

culture of initiative for Bangladesh Army with a view to adopting the Mission Tactics. I will therefore, explore rather than to define the significance of leadership based on initiative for adopting Mission Tactics and relate it to the perspective of Bangladesh Army. In doing so, First, I will present the concept of4

Richard E. Simpkin, Race to the Swift: Thoughts on Twenty-First Century Warfare (London: Brassey's GSTP 0032, Op Cit, p 5-2 (0511). John T Nelsen II, Auftragstaktik: A case for Decentralised Combat Leadership, (The Challenge of Military

Defence Publishers, 1985), p. 228.5 6

Leadership), p 29.


RESTRICTED Mission Tactics and then I will list down the constraints of the Bangladesh Armys Leadership that need to be scored to cope with the demand of Mission Tactics. Second, I would propose how we can inculcate a positive leadership culture based on initiative to overcome those constraints and facilitate adopting the Mission Tactics concept for Bangladesh Army. My intent in writing this essay is to stir debate on this important issue. Frankly, I do not have all the answers, just a number of questions for those of us in the Bangladesh Army to grapple with. If this paper causes other officers to think about our lack of a positive leadership culture then I have been successful. AIM 5. The aim of this paper is to analyse the need for developing a positive

leadership culture based on initiative for Bangladesh Army with a view to adopting Mission Tactics.



The paper will only discuss the mission tactics i.e. tactics carried out with

mission oriented command and control and to adopt this approach why do we need to develop a positive leadership culture based on initiative. We believe that the adoption of Mission Tactics is already settled in GSTP 0032 therefore, the debate whether or not the Mission Tactics is relevant for Bangladesh Army is beyond the scope of this paper. 4 RESTRICTED


The Concept of Mission Tactics


The term Mission Tactics, which is developed from German term

Auftragstaktik, is also adopted by advanced armies of the USA, the UK and the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). Auftrgastaktik was officially incorporated in German Warmacht manual in 1888 though its origin can be traced back to Prussian Military Reforms that began in 18087. Out of necessity, the Prussian Army studied the problem to rectify their acknowledged deficiencies in decisionmaking at the lower echelons. The Prussians then commissioned the Drill Regulations of the Infantry (1888). It stipulated that commanders should give subordinates general directions of what were to be done, allowing them freedom to determine how to do it. That was the start of allowing decision making at the lower levels in the Army. It encouraged commanders to be "thinking leaders" who can make tactical judgments on their own and who would also be less likely to "freeze up" when faced with new situations without formal instructions. This tactics was practiced and advocated by two most successful commanders of German Army Guderian and Rommell. The German Army regulations describe 'Auftragstaktik' as: A command and control procedure within which the subordinate is given extensive latitude, within the framework of the intention of the individual giving the order, in carrying out his mission. The missions are to include only those restraints which are indispensable for being able to interact with others, and it must be possible to accomplish them by making use of the7

H W Koch, A History of Prussia, pp 180-187.


RESTRICTED subordinate's forces, resources, and the authority delegated to him. Mission oriented command and control requires uniformity in the way of thinking, sound judgment and initiative, as well as responsible actions at all levels.8


One must be curious to know why this term Auftragstaktik is adopted as

Mission Tactics / Directive Control by armies like the USA, the UK and the IDF despite the fact that Germans lost World War II. One of the reasons may be that the combination of Auftragstaktik and Blitzkreig let the Germans win many battles fought being outnumbered. For the IDF the reason is: At the primary or individual level there are other factors that provide IDF soldiers with high levels of morale and combat motivation. These are, for each soldier, a goal, a role, and a reason for self-confidence.9Indeed, the IDFs traditional emphasis on Mission Tactics gives subordinates right down the chain of command the greatest possible freedom of action.10 The IDF practiced successfully this approach of Mission Tactics in two of the Arab-Israeli lightning wars, in 1956 and 1967. In Mission Tactics the military commanders give its subordinate leaders a clearly defined goal (the mission) and the forces needed to accomplish that goal with a time frame within which the goal must be reached. The subordinate leader then implements the order independently. The subordinate leader is given, to a large extent, initiative and a freedom which enables flexibility in execution. Mission8

Armor,90(January-February 1981),"The German Army's Mission Oriented Command and Control," p 12. Frederick J. Manning, Morale, Cohesion and Esprit de Corps, in Handbook of Military Psyc