Mission Command: Competence, Assets and Risk

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This article is a junior leader’s framework for mission command and complements Understanding Mission Command.

Mission Command is a commander’s assessment of three things, each dependent upon one another:

Competence – the assessment of the subordinate’s competence, skillset, and previously demonstrated ability to complete the task (or a similar task).

Assets – the assets the commander is willing to allocate to the task and the acceptance of those assets potentially being damaged or lost in the conduct of the task.

Risk – the assessed risk based on the philosophy of ‘likelihood versus consequence’ for the task.

An example of this is the following: A subordinate is instructed to complete a task. They have not completed the task previously and have had little exposure to the work required. The subordinate has only begun their command as a Lieutenant (LT) within the Army. The Commander may apply mission command by accepting a lower level of risk and amending the task to suit the LTs ability OR provide more assets to the subordinate to empower them to complete the task. This can mean providing the subordinate with experienced non-commissioned officers or soldiers to provide subject matter expertise, or more physical assets to support the mission.

Another example: An experienced subordinate is assigned to a mission by the commander. This task is deemed routine for this subordinate. The risk is assessed as low by the commander. The commander may use their assigned assets elsewhere based on the knowledge that the subordinate will have the ability to complete the task in a creative way with fewer assets. This may increase the risk but may still be deemed acceptable by the commander based on the subordinate’s level of competence.

Based on the assessment of competence, assets and risk, it will provide guidance to the commander on the level of supervision required for the mission.

About the Author: Lieutenant Emma Watson is the Adjutant of 11th Engineer Regiment. Follow her on Twitter.

Cover image by skeeze from Pixabay