Small Wars Journal

mission command

Mission Command and Armed Robotic Systems Command and Control: A Human and Machine Assessment

Tue, 06/09/2020 - 5:50pm

Dr. Robert J. Bunker, Senior Fellow, Small Wars Journal-El Centro has a new Land Warfare Paper at the Association of the United States Army. The paper"Mission Command and Armed Robotic Systems Command and Control: A Human and Machine Assessment" looks at 'Mission Command' in the context of emerging armed robotic systems (artificial intelligence driven autonomous and semiautonomous weapons systems) in war. — SWJ Editors

Armed Robotics Bunker


Mission Command and Armed Robotic Systems Command and Control: A Human
and Machine Assessment 

Robert J. Bunker
AUSA ILW Paper 132
29 May 2020

For almost 20 years, mission command has been a key component of command and control (C2) in the U.S. Army. However, with the advancements in the realm of artificial intelligence and the resultant utilization of autonomous and semiautonomous weapon systems in warfare, it is necessary to examine the extent to which these machines can cooperate within this construct.

Mission command, properly understood, empowers subordinate decisionmaking and decentralized execution appropriate to any given situation. It is solely meant for human-to-human C2. Like war itself, it is an inherently “human endeavor . . . not a mechanical process that can be precisely controlled by machines [or] calculations.” Systems that use machine algorithms for their decisionmaking processes are in direct variance to the emotive- and moral-seeking components of
human cognition. Humans experience love, fear, camaraderie and hate—machines do not. Nor do they understand honor, integrity or self-sacrifice. Faced with this conflict, how can the deployment of machines work in concert with the Army’s C2?

Available at:


Empowering a Mission Command Climate SWJED Tue, 09/24/2019 - 12:07am
As the Department of Defense shifts its national defense strategy to re-establish dominance against near-peer threats by synchronizing joint and coalition forces in full-spectrum operations, the Army is well served to update its doctrine into a universally shared language with sister services and allied partners.
Why History Matters: Making Junior Leaders More Effective SWJED Tue, 08/28/2018 - 12:37am
With posters on Mission Command adorning virtually every classroom at the US Army’s Command and General Staff College, and with its prominence as one of the pillars of the Army’s Operational Concept, the term Mission Command has become a buzzword. One of the concept’s true benefits relies on quality personnel, and developing those leaders through the proper use of historical case studies can help to not only make military history engaging but also useful in everyday duties for even a young officer or a non-commissioned officer, and contribute to developing quality personnel.
How to Develop for Mission Command: The Missing Link SWJED Thu, 06/28/2018 - 1:03am
The Army defines Mission Command as the exercise of authority and direction by the commander using mission orders to enable disciplined initiative within the commander’s intent to empower agile and adaptive leaders in the conduct of unified land operations. But before a culture of Mission Command (Auftragstaktik) succeeds, the Army must possess the moral courage to identify countless Industrial Age barriers
How the Germans Defined Auftragstaktik: What Mission Command is - AND - is Not SWJED Thu, 06/21/2018 - 12:17pm
As an institution, the U.S. Army has yet to see Mission Command as what it really is - a culture of professionalism. All too often, we have sought tangible metrics at the expense of holistic understanding.
Hypervisibility: Mission Command’s Unseen Adversary SWJED Sun, 03/04/2018 - 1:21am

The increased proliferation of information collection technologies is becoming a threat to the Army’s Mission Command Philosophy.