Mission command is the meticulous execution of mission type orders through the art of balancing the command and the science of controlling during a military operation. General David H. Petraeus, was assigned the responsibility of rescuing a failing war according to the then President which was characterized by daily deaths averaging 100 or 2000-3000 per month, increasing resurgence of dissidents both internally and externally.
This report highlights how he managed to visualize and design a sustainable restoration of order in a complicated environment. It also addresses how using the mutually dependent principles of mission command enabled his ability to overcome existing challenges.
He returned to Iraq amid challenges characterized by deep sectarian divisions in the country, which heightened mistrust among citizens fueled by the need to either grab or remain in power after the fall of Saddam Hussein. This gave rise to mass sectarian massacre and a complete loss of control by the united front. He was also faced with a team that had lost focus, dedication and moral due to despair of some members of his command who thought they had already lost the fight in Iraq. Stifled by a congress worried of ridicule, he confronted by conflicting recommendations to use additional U.S. forces to reinforce the advisory teams entrenched with the Iraqi forces, however, he opted to increase the military combat operations. Besides this, it was apparent that the political situation was extremely compounded and almost immeasurable to those without direct information and familiarity in Iraq. Iraq was being controlled by three major groups or tribes namely: the Sunni, Shiites, and Kurds (Hooker, and Collins 24). With each group dominating the middle, southern and northern regions respectively, it was somewhat impossible to cultivate trust among each in the midst of aggressive advances against each other. The situation was aggravated by the influence of respective religious leaders who also wanted to dominate the political situation.
One of the most important mission command principles is to build unified teams through common trust. Following past experience, He knew how important this was in blending the art of command and the critical science of control while managing staff. This aspect of trust is demonstrated when He personally pushed for the restoration of the defunct tower 57 which previous administrations had failed to restore for months. It took his personal interest to restore its functionality amid cheers from staff on his accomplishment. Close teamwork between General Petraeus and the U.S. Ambassador to Iraq Ryan Crocker explored each other’s strengths and demonstrated respect for each other roles and functions (Ricks 74). This typical coalition helped collective problem solving in a very complex environment.
Creation of shared understanding among stakeholders is paramount to realization of command mission principles. Each single day, held a Battle Update Analysis which started, at 7:30 in the morning to 8:30, involving several small groups, which way to a meeting with handpicked group of senior coalition leaders, followed by a meeting with both US and UK, and finally just Lieutenant General Odierno and General Petraeus to evaluate progress.
General Petraeus provided a clear commander’s intent, torn in between the decision of either an approach fight enemy or protect the population proved to be one of the most vital and challenging choices he had to make.
Identifying and communicating the big idea effectively would define the strategic leadership roles bestowed on the general (Robinson 69a). With the use of his experience and that of his colleague, General Odierno, a decision of securing the Iraq population was reached against military operations on the insurgents. Arguably, there was no need securing Iraq areas only for the insurgents to more back after the coalition forces have moved forward.
Execution of the big Idea of securing the population was through Baghdad a plan that was authored by Colonel Doug Ollivant who posed as an innovative army thinker (Ricks 80). The plan was to live among the people, requiring the construction of several small security stations and combat posts. While the problem related to Tower 57 brought out a motivational aspect on the staff, General Petraeus used the chance to argue for the need for the team to demonstrate self-initiative, emphasizing that he expected his assistants to demonstrate how they would solve issues affecting the operations instead.
General Petraeus took calculated risks that were well within the mission orders. Knowing very well the importance of trade in stabilizing the region amid UN embargo restraining trade with Syria, Petraeus intentionally and strategically took the decision to open the boarders on the Iraq side which essentially did not violate any of the existing orders that required approval from congress. He took advantage of what was well within his jurisdiction with the aim of saying they opened the boarders within their mandate and in the interest of the mission to stabilize.
In conclusion, it can be noted that General Petraeus used the principles of command mission to understand the situation facing him as captured in the challenges above. The level of organization and strategy development also summarizes the effectiveness of mission command.
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Works Cited Hooker, Richard D, and Joseph J. Collins. Lessons Encountered: Learning from the Long War. 2015. Ricks, Thomas E. The Gamble: General Petraeus and the American Military Adventure in Iraq. Penguin Books, 2010. Robinson, Linda. Tell Me How This Ends: General David Petraeus and the Search for a Way Out of Iraq. London: EastRead Large, 2010. Print.