Small Wars Journal

Commandership: A Fresh Look at Command

Thu, 03/12/2020 - 3:16am

Commandership: A Fresh Look at Command

Kevin Gentzler and Ken Turner

On the afternoon of Monday June 5, 1944, General Dwight D. Eisenhower penned a note to the Allied Expeditionary Force as it readied itself for the largest amphibious assault in military history.

Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air, and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone. --June 5.[i]

Eisenhower faced immense pressure as he alone held ultimate accountability for the decision to launch Operation OVERLORD. Weather delays, operational security lapses, and training fatalities compounded the stress and uncertainty. The pressure took its toll. Eisenhower was smoking four packs of cigarettes a day and drinking pot after pot of strong black coffee. Facing enormous uncertainty, he was probably a little irritated when, after the weather decision Sunday night June 4, his driver Kay Summersby poignantly commented, “If all goes right, dozens of people will claim credit. But if it goes wrong you’ll be the only one to blame.”[ii] While the comment did not likely improve Eisenhower’s mood, Summersby was right. As the commander, Eisenhower was ultimately responsible and the Allied Nations would hold him personally accountable for any failure. While the success of the operation relied on the efforts of thousands of men and women, the responsibility for failure was his alone. Eisenhower never had to issue his note.

Eisenhower’s note revealed the responsibility, authority, and accountability, coupled with expectations of performance, which mark the uniqueness of command; a uniqueness that separates command from any other responsibility a leader may face. Meeting the demands of authority, responsibility, and accountability places great pressure on an officer in command. There are also expectations placed on commanders, intensifying the pressures of command. These expectations include internal, external, and self-imposed. This compounding of demands and expectations is what some refer to as the burden of command. Commandership is how an officer meets this burden and a central aspect of commandership is how an officer’s way of thinking changes when in command. 

Defining Command

One of the least controversial aspects of command is that it is subject to different interpretations. Command can mean almost anything from an art, to an organization, to a verbal or written order, whatever the user wishes it to be.[iii] In a military context command is:

…the authority that a commander in the armed forces lawfully exercises over subordinates by virtue of rank or assignment. Command includes the authority and responsibility for effectively using available resources and for planning the deployment of, organizing, directing, coordinating, and controlling military forces for the accomplishment of assigned missions. It also includes responsibility for health, welfare, morale, and discipline of assigned personnel.[iv]

This definition provides the specific functions a commander must accomplish. A closer examination of the definition reveals the inherent elements of command are authority, responsibility, and accountability.

Authority, Responsibility, and Accountability

Authority, responsibility, and accountability are essential elements of command, distinguishing a commander from other leaders. “The key elements of command are authority and responsibility.”[v] While the expression “a commander is responsible for all the unit does or fails to do,” might be trite, it is a foundational principle of command and sums up much of what command is about. [vi] There are legal requirements and expectations that link responsibility and accountability to command. Expounding on these ideas provides clarity to the idea of command. 

“Authority is the delegated power to judge, act, or command.”[vii] As a delegated power, authority is power granted from a senior commander to a subordinate commander. Command requires authority to enforce compliance and discipline within the ranks. Command without authority often leads to ill-disciplined troops, contributing to ineffective organizations. Authority for a commander means possessing the power to issue orders and expecting obedient compliance.

Commanders possess the legal authority to enforce their orders, distinguishing commanders from other military and civilian leaders.[viii] A commander’s authority flows from the general power of the executive branch granted to the president in Article II section 1 of the U.S. Constitution. The president delegates some of his constitutionally granted authority to the Army Secretary, and down the chain of command in all services across the Department of Defense. Congress also plays a role in the authority given to commanders by enacting title 10 of the US Code, (USC). Congress is exerting its constitutional power given to the Congress by Article one, section eight to “…make Rules for the Government and Regulation of land and naval Forces.” Title 10 USC grants certain responsibilities to the secretary of defense, who in turn develops administrative regulations which delegate this authority to subordinate commanders.[ix]

Responsibility is another basic element of command. Unlike authority, responsibility is not delegated; it is inherent with a command position. The institution through policies, procedures, and customs, in accordance with the definition of command, holds commanders responsible in three distinct areas; mission accomplishment, the welfare of their Soldiers, and the proper use of resources.[x] The commander has absolute responsibility for everything in the organization. Commanders are legally responsible for their decisions and for those of their subordinates. Commanders are also ethically responsible to their seniors and subordinates for their decisions. A commander may delegate authority to subordinates, but ultimately the commander remains responsible.[xi] Grasping the significant implications of this level of responsibility is essential to understanding the differences between being a commander and serving in any other role as an officer.

With responsibility comes accountability. Unlike authority, a commander cannot delegate accountability. The system grants the commander authority and conversely holds him or her accountable. Accountability is how the Nation and the Army enforce responsibility. While the senior commander is the initial point of accountability, the American people also hold commanders accountable. Rules and regulations operationalize accountability. If a senior commander is not doing enough to hold a subordinate commander accountable, the public can engage Congress to enforce accountability or Congress can act on its own. The recent initiatives by members of Congress to curtail commanders’ abilities to adjudicate sexual assault cases through the Uniform Code of Military Justice is partly a result of a perceived lack of accountability on the part of senior commanders. While accountability applies to all areas of responsibility in the armed forces, the expectations both seniors and subordinates place on a commander increases the magnitude of accountability for the commander.

Jonathan Haidt notes in his book “The Righteous Mind” that “…when people know in advance that they’ll have to explain themselves, they think more systematically and self-critically.”[xii] The same logic applies to commanders. When commanders commit to the idea that the ultimate responsibility and accountability for the entire organization lies with them, this commitment can often inspire a different perspective in how commanders view actions.

Command is Different

The Army is a command centric organization. Every element has a commander. The Army selects commanders based upon an officer’s abilities and potential and treats commanders differently than other officers of the same rank. Command is a sacred trust not lightly given. It is so sacred that Army regulation prohibits giving command of US Soldiers to members of other armed forces.[xiii] We honor this sacred trust with the change of command ceremony, signifying not only the transition from one leader to the next, but also the change that we expect from each leader who takes on the mantle of command. Commanding is more than just the physical act of being in charge. It is more than taking possession of the organizational colors symbolizing the acceptance of authority and responsibility inherent in command. One day a Soldier is a staff officer and the next day, after some pomp and circumstance, the officer is a commander. The cultural perception is that at the point of accepting the unit colors the new commander becomes a different person, with different expectations.[xiv] The reality is the commander must grow into the position through a change in thinking to meet self-imposed and externally imposed expectations. Part of this change in thinking is understating and applying the art of command.  

The Art of Command and Commandership

Current Army doctrine asserts the art of command comprises authority, decision-making, and leadership. “The art of command is the creative and skillful exercise of authority through timely decision making and leadership.[xv] This is useful but incomplete. A more comprehensive view of the art of command considers the idea of commandership.[xvi] Commandership is exercising the art of command through leadership, management, and command. It involves the artful application of these three forms of authority to address the various challenges a commander faces.

Retired Marine Corps Brigadier General F.P. Henderson equates the art of command to “commandership.”[xvii] He asserts that commandership is more than leadership. Commandership is the art by which a commander commands. General Henderson asserts that command is a personal endeavor where the troops must know their commander through physical presence.

Presence is an elusive characteristic, but is a vital attribute of all Army leaders, especially commanders. [xviii] The idea of presence evokes images of great commanders of the past. General Mathew Bunker Ridgway had presence. One of Ridgway’s senior aides, General Walter F. Winton, said of Ridgway “The force that emanated from him was awesome. You had the impression he could knock over a building with a single blow, or stare a hole through a wall, if he wanted to.”[xix] Commanders manifest presence, known as bearing, through a combination of physical stature, demeanor, confidence, professional conduct and physical location. Often presence is about perception, what those around the commander perceive of his expertise, surety, and confidence.

Wise commanders use presence to motivate and inspire subordinates of all ranks when necessary, while balancing the need to maintain a larger organizational perspective. LTG Harold G. Moore described this when he acknowledged during combat he would,

…periodically detach myself from the noise, the screams of the wounded, the explosions, the yelling, the smoke and dust, the intensity of it all and ask myself: ‘What am I doing that I should not be doing that I should be doing to influence the situation in my favor?[xx]

Command entails applying presence to sense the human element of an organization to assess effectiveness, especially during times of duress, an ability tritely referred to as “being at the right place at the right time.” Through physical presence a commander garners a sense of the state of the command, assessing what is going well, and what needs personal attention. Command presence also makes the commander’s experience and wisdom available to subordinates through personal interaction.[xxi] For the commander, presence is essential to organizational success.

If command is personal and commandership is essentially a human endeavor as Henderson asserts, commanders must capitalize on the human element within command. “Command is considered more art than science because it depends on actions only humans can perform.”[xxii] Field Marshal Sir William Slim expressed the idea of command as art when he observed, “…I should say command is the projection of personality-and like all true art, and command is an art, it is exercised by each man in his own way.”[xxiii] No machine can exercise command. No formula can guarantee success and no list will assure success. Each successful commander exercises command informed by his experiences, education, and wisdom. Great commanders understand command is more than blithely following orders and mindlessly applying regulations. Roger Nye in The Challenge of Command asserts “Command calls for a creative act, spawned by a carefully carved vision of one’s mission and professional values. Great commanders have confidence and courage to interpret rules and orders, and to put their personal stamp on the decision….”[xxiv] A successful commander understands the art of command requires the synthesis of direct command, management practices, and leadership.

Keith Grint proposes a construct that addresses the relationship between power, authority, and solving problems. In what Grint calls a Typology of Problems, Power and Authority, he contends that there is an appropriate form of authority to use for each problem type. He posits that leaders exercise three forms of authority; command, management, and leadership. He further associates the three forms of authority with actions of the leader. In Grint’s typology, he associates command with providing answers, management with applying a process, and leadership with asking questions. He expands on Rittel and Webber’s typology of wicked and tame problems introduced in 1973, further categorizing problems as critical, tame, or wicked. [xxv]

In Grint’s construct, critical problems are associated with crisis. Critical problems involve very little uncertainty and require a decisive response to resolve the issue. Critical problems are the domain of authoritarian actions and command is the appropriate form of authority to address crisis problems. Tame problems have a definitive answer, have likely been solved before, and respond well to standard management procedures. Grint presents wicked problems as the most challenging of problems. Wicked problems are complex, cause and effect are undiscernible, and previous procedures do not offer or guarantee success. He proposes that leadership is the appropriate form of authority for addressing wicked problems.[xxvi] He presents this construct in a model, with the vertical axis representing the level of uncertainty associated with the problem and the horizontal axis reflecting the level of collaboration required to resolve the problem. See figure one.


Figure 1- Typology of problems, power and authority.

Grint’s premise is that leaders often rely too much on direct, authoritative command forms of power when many problems leaders face are wicked and would be more effectively addressed through collaboration. Grint associates collaboration with asking questions as a leader. He proposes that many of the challenges leaders face are wicked problems, unsolvable through coercion or by applying a rational, best-practice type of solution. While Grint refers to a need for collaborative compliance to handle more difficult problems, his idea of collaborative compliance is similar to the idea of commitment as defined by Yukl.[xxvii] 

Grint’s understanding of leadership and problem-solving is more detailed than the ideas developed by Henderson. Henderson’s ideas about commmandership provide insight from his experiences about the differences between being an officer and being a commander, but lack depth and detail. Grint describes differences in applied leadership based on how leaders react to a set of circumstances, which create a problem for an organization. Both Grint and Henderson present valid ideas. The real benefit to military professionals comes in a synthesis of the authors’ works with ideas from current Army doctrine on leadership and command. Figure 2 describes this synthesis in graphic form.


Figure 2 – Synthesis of Grint and Henderson.

Many civilians assume, and it appears Grint is in this category, that command is a negative concept where coercion and force rule the day. This assumption focuses too much on direct level leadership and detailed command, not considering the subtleties of commandership. This paradigm is also present in the structured hierarchical culture of the US military. Often leaders believe they must supply all the answers because they are “in charge.” Many subordinates share this paradigm, expecting the commander to provide all of the answers. This view of command is too narrow and perhaps pejorative.

Henderson clearly understands that command is more than barking out orders and expecting immediate compliance, the normal civilian paradigm of military commanders. Henderson introduces the idea of commandership, which is a higher view of command than Grint’s perspective allows. We assert that Henderson’s idea of commandership is implied within Grint’s work and only needs to be drawn out. Commandership requires the artful application of the appropriate decision-making and influence techniques based on the level of complexity of the problem to address the root cause of the problem. In other words, commandership involves successful identification and application of all three of Grint’s processes, command, leadership and management, based on time and level of complexity.

Figure 2 demonstrates how the best commanders use all available tools based on the context of the mission. The commander must discern when leadership, management, or command functions and activities are required or when a task requires a synthesis of all three. Successful commanders “manage well when management is called for, lead well when leadership is necessary” and decide when decisions are needed.[xxviii] Failure to grasp this concept will likely result in a failed mission or a commander relieved of his command. 

While the preceding discussion addresses critical ideas of command, it does not address the all-encompassing nature of command arising from both expectations others place on the commander and his or her own expectations. It is the combination of the elements of command; authority, responsibility, and accountability, together with the expectations placed on the commander, which compound each other and result in the “burden of command.” Examining the burden of command provides some insight into the all-encompassing nature of command.

Burden of Command

The burden of command is an abstract concept best understood by those who have commanded. The expectations the Army and others place on commanders, coupled with self-imposed expectations, comprises the burden of command. This burden effects each commander differently. The burden cannot be shared, delegated, or removed. As figure 2 indicates, to meet this burden leaders must change the way they approach these ideas which results in a change in how they think when assuming command.

Expectations of Others

The external expectations placed upon the commander come from a variety of sources. Subordinates, superiors, peers, families, and the Nation all have different expectations about how a commander should accomplish the major elements inherent in command.

One of the external expectations arises from the Army culture. The Army expects commanders to put their Soldiers first and their own welfare last, regardless of situation. The Army expects commanders to accomplish the mission while looking after the welfare of their Soldiers and sharing the hardships and danger. The commander will subordinate his or her own personal desires or welfare to the good of the organization. Meeting this expectation demonstrates the level of commitment of the commander to the organization and the Soldiers in the organization.

Another expectation comes from the Soldiers. Soldiers initially place their faith and confidence in a new commander to meet the obligations of command. Subordinates expect commanders to make decisions in the best interests of the organization. This expectation might conflict with expectations of individual Soldiers who perceive himself or herself more important than the organization or the mission. When these two expectations conflict the institution expects the commander to meet his responsibilities to the organization.  

The Army expects commanders to have a vision for their organization and make decisions that align the organization towards that vision. The vision must also be nested with the visions of higher headquarters’ and the Army’s. Meeting this expectation requires an adept officer who can synthesize multiple lines of thought into a coherent, inspirational message providing focus for the organization. 

The Army expects commanders to uphold the honor of the organization. The commander’s personal example and public actions carry a tremendous moral force compared to other leaders.[xxix]  The commander becomes the human face of the organization. The commander must prove daily the trust and authority inherent in command is well-placed and deserved. Any scandal or sense of impropriety brings discredit on the entire organization. While the commander is not the sole repository of the honor of the organization, Soldiers expect more from the commander than from other members of the organization. Unethical behavior within the organization, or even the perception of impropriety, can result in setbacks that will take months to overcome. If the error is too egregious, the commander might be removed to save the honor of the organization. 

The philosophy of mission command also creates expectation of commanders. The commander must be capable of driving the operations process, developing teams, informing and influencing others during combat operations, and apply many of those same capabilities during garrison operations. Commanders must understand all processes and systems in the command. He or she must also develop subordinates. While some commanders can meet these expectations on a singular level, it is difficult to meet all the expectations well. 

A final expectation is that the commander will maintain a professional demeanor during the most difficult of times, sending Soldiers to their death. One of the paradoxes of command is that a commander may have to oversee the death of those for whom he or she is responsible.

During the Korean War, President Truman received a letter from Mr. William Banning, who lost his son during the war. Mr. Banning enclosed his son’s Purple Heart in the letter. 

Mr. Truman,

As you have been directly responsible for the loss of our son’s life in Korea, you might just as well keep this emblem on display in your trophy room, as memory of one of your historic deeds.

Our major regret at this time is that your daughter was not there to receive the same treatment as our son received in Korea.

Signed William Banning.[xxx]

The weight of total responsibility for the lives of the members of the organization and the ramification of decisions is inherent in the life of the commander. While commanders do not receive their Soldiers in the same manner they receive equipment, the Nation and families entrust the commander with their lives, and rightly hold the commander to exacting standards of professionalism and accountability.[xxxi]

The commander has absolute authority over the lives of members of the organization. Leading Soldiers into battle, even into a war-torn area with a mission not likely to see direct combat, is a sobering experience. Command is an intensely human, very personal endeavor. Understanding people and families are expecting the commander to ensure the safety of their child, spouse, sibling, or friend in an exceptionally dangerous environment is a daunting thought. This expectation sets command apart from any other responsibility a Soldier may face. 

Self-imposed Expectations

A new commander likely has many self-imposed expectations while in command. One expectation is that command will be the best time in an officer’s career. This expectation might be unreasonable. Often command is filled with extreme trials and tribulations, clouding the rewarding experience in the tumult of dealing with problems. This often exacerbates the burden and it might not be until the officer leaves command that upon reflection the experience is remembered as the best time in one’s career. Another expectation is the commander will be able to improve the organization. This expectation may increase the burden of command because the state of the organization might be such that no major or easily identified improvements are apparent or required. An expectation closely tied to this is that the commander will be able to generate support for any changes he or she deems necessary. A fourth expectation might be that the commander will be a good developer of individuals within their command. Developing people, leaders in particular, is a difficult task and placing an expectation on one’s self based on that idea may be detrimental to success. A final personal expectation is that the commander will have a positive influence on every Soldier in the command and walk away from command with a “legacy” of success and people who are happy the commander was there.

Every new commander brings different personal expectations to command, making the burden of command personally unique. The way each commander addresses the burden of command can often be the difference between success and failure. How the individual officer addresses the internal and external expectations is one of the aspects that makes command such a personal endeavor. One of the requisites of a successful command is the shift in thinking required when assuming command.

Mental Transition Exists Because of the Burden

To overcome the burden of command a mental transition must occur that is akin to the transition from direct to organizational level leadership. This mental transition is among the most important changes a leader must make when assuming command. Many competent officers fail in this mental transition, and as a result become ineffective commanders.

Much of the mental transition that must occur includes expectations they hold of themselves. Similar to what Peter Senge notes in The Fifth Discipline, commanders undergo a shift of thinking from seeing the parts of an organization to seeing the entire organization. The commander cannot fail to understand how the parts work together to create necessary synergy to ensure high levels of organizational performance. Much like the mental transition from direct to organizational leadership, commanders must shift their perspective from being highly competent and parochial in a specific function to maintaining a broader, holistic perspective that encompasses the entire organization and those it interacts with. A commander’s perspective is broader and less technical. Grint’s description of the three types of authority indicates this change in depth and breadth. The commander’s interactions with personnel outside the organization carry greater weight for their organization. His or her effects on people within the organization are also greater. These two ideas place a premium on increased interpersonal skills. 

Commanders who do not properly adjust to the greater expectations of responsibility and accountability may find themselves micromanaging their subordinates. This micromanagement may result in trying to do the work themselves or blaming their subordinates’ failures instead of owning up to the failures with their superiors. Many unsuccessful commanders do not understand this necessary change or are simply not capable of making the mental transition.

One aspect of the mental transition is that commanders should view problems differently than the staff officer. The conscientious staff officer wants an efficient staff section operating as smoothly as practical. One section’s efficiency may or may not contribute to another section’s efficiency. The commander, on the other hand, focuses on effectiveness and efficiency. Commanders must take into account all of the aspects of the problem and the implications resident in the proposed solutions. In other words, the commander must view a problem from a holistic point of view. Most staff officers only view the problem through their own soda straw of responsibility. For example, the G4 is often primarily concerned whether the logistics plan adequately supports the total plan. That is his or her area of responsibility. The successful commander overcomes that parochialism, taking a more holistic view of the situation, synthesizing the disparate input from the staff to gain a complete understanding of the situation or problem.    

Commanders often rely on intuition blended with the analytical recommendations from the staff to make decisions. A commander’s intuition is bred of experiences tempered by judgment, instead of the mostly analytical thought process of the staff. By using an intuitive approach, the commander can bring clarity to a problem when the intuition is tempered by good analysis of the staff.


Command is different from any other leadership challenge an officer may face. Command is more demanding than simply accepting the organizational colors. Command is different because of the level of authority, responsibility, and accountability inherent in command, the expectations placed on the commander, and the changes required in a how a commander must think to solve the problems faced by the organization. Successful commanders understand the role of commandership. An effective commander: provides answers when required; manages processes when necessary; and leads collaboratively when needed. Seamlessly blending leadership, management, and command to solve problems and improve the organization is the mark of a successful commander. If a new commander fails to recognize he or she must change, command will likely be a rough, short-lived experience. If a commander does recognize the mental transition required and grasps the expectations at the outset of command, adjusting to meet all the demands, command can be one of the most fulfilling experiences of a successful military career.


Army, Headquarters Department of the. 2014. Army Command Policy; AR 600-20. Washington, D.C.: U.S. Army .

—. 2012. Army Doctrinal Reference Publication (ADRP), 3-0; Unified Land Operations. Washington D.C.: U.S. Army.

—. 2012. Army Doctrinal Reference Publication, (ADRP), 6-0; Mission Command. Washington DC: Government Printing Office.

—. 2012. Army Doctrinal Reference Publication, (ADRP), 6-22 Army Leadership. Washington D.C.: Headquarters Department of the Army.

—. 2003. Field Manual 6-0; Mission Command and Control. Washington D.C.: Department of the Army.

Banning, William. n.d. Harry S. Truman Library and Museum. Accessed August 15, 2016.

Connelly, Owen. 2002. On War and Leadership: The Words of Combat Commanders from Frederick the Great to Norman Schwarzkopf. Princeton New Jersey: Princeton University Press.

D'Este, Carlo. 2002. Eisenhower: A Soldier's Life. New York : Henry Holt and Company .

Doty, Joe and Doty, Chuck. 2012. "Command Responsibility and Accountability." Military Review 35-38.

Grint, Keith. 2005. "Problems, Problems,Problems, Problems: The Social Constrution of Leadership." Human Relations , 1467-1494.

--- 2014. "The Hedgehog and the Fox: Leadership Lessons from D-Day." Leadership (SAGE Publishing) Vol. 10 (2): 240-260.

Haidt, Jonathan. 2013. The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion. New York: Vintage Books.

Henderson, F. P. Jul 2013; 97, 7;.(Originally published in Jan 1992). "Commandership: The Art of Command." Marine Corps Gazette pg. 9-12.

Howieson, W. B. and Kahn H. 2002. "Leadership, Mangement and Command: The Officer's Trinity." Air Power Leadership: Theory and Practice 1-20.

Loh, John Michael. 2001. "The Responsibility of Leadership in Command." AU-24: Concepts for Airforce Leadership , 91-92.

Nye, Roger H. 1986. The Challange of Command. Wayne New Jersey: Avery Publishing Group .

Rittel, Horst W. J. and Webber, Melvin M. 1973. "Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning ." Policy Sciences 4, 155-169.

Roman, Gregory. 1997. "“The Command and Control Dilemma: When Technology and Organizational Orientation Collide." Air War College, Maxwell paper no. 8. Maxwell , Alabama: Air War College Air University.

Slim, William. 1990. "Higher Command in War." Military Review, May: 10-21.

Wallace, Troy C. 2010. "Command Authority: What Are the Limits on Regulating the Private Conduct of America’s Warriors?" The Army Lawyer, DA PAM 27-50-444, May: 13-21.

Yukl, Gary. 2006. Leadership in Orgonizations. Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

End Notes

[i] Carlo D'Este, Eisenhower: A Soldier’s Life, (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2002), 527.

[ii] Carlo D'Este, Eisenhower: A Soldier’s Life, (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2002), 524.

[iii] Gregory A. Roman, The Command or Control Dilemma: When Technology and Organizational Orientation Collide (Air War College Paper, Air War College University, 1997), 1.

[iv] This definition is in Army Doctrinal Reference Publication, ADRP 6-22, Army Leadership, ADRP 3.0 Unified Land Operations, and ADRP 6.0, Mission Command. Joint Publication 0-1 provides a definition with the same fundamental elements applicable for all U.S. military forces.

[v] Headquarters Department of the Army, Army Command Policy; AR 600-20, (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 2014), paragraph 1-5, 1.

[vi] Headquarters Department of the Army, Army Command Policy; AR 600-20, (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 2014), paragraph 2-1b, 6.

[vii] Headquarters Department of the Army, ADRP, 6-0; Mission Command, (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 2012), 2-6.

[viii] According to Army Regulation 600-20 “A civilian other than the commander in chief may not command.” Page 1 Paragraph 1-5 Command.  

[ix] Troy C. Wallace, “Command Authority: What Are the Limits on Regulating the Private Conduct of America’s Warriors?,” The Army Lawyer, DA PAM 27-50-444 (May 2010): 14. Also see Howieson, W. B. and Kahn H. “Leadership, :Mangement and Command: The Officer's Trinity Air Power Leadership: Theory and Practice, 2002 for a discussion on authority of command.  

[x] Headquarters Department of the Army, ADRP 6-0; Mission Command, (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 2003), 2-6.

[xi] Headquarters Department of the Army, Army Command Policy; AR 600-20, (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 2014), paragraph 2-1 b, 6.

[xii] Jonathan Haight, The Rightous Mind, (New York: Pantheon Books, 2013), 88.

[xiii] With approval of the President or Secretary of Defense, US Soldiers may be OPCON or TACON to foreign military members but commanders cannot give command of US Soldiers to other nations. Army Regulation 600-20, (para 1-8, 6.) 

[xiv] John Michael Loh, “The Responsibility of Leadership in Command,” Concepts of Air Force Leadership (2001): 91.

[xv] Headquarters Department of the Army Army, ADRP 6-0: Mission Command, (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 2012), 2-6 and Headquarters Department of the Army Army, ADRP 3-0: Unified Land Operations, (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 2012) 2-11. ADRP 3-0 has a slightly different definition ommitting “timely” before decision making. 

[xvi] F. P. Henderson, “Commandership: The Art of Command,” The Marine Corps Gazzette, Vol 97, no. 7 (July 2013): 10.

[xvii] F. P. Henderson, “Commandership: The Art of Command,” The Marine Corps Gazzette, Vol 97, no. 7 (July 2013): 10.

[xviii] Headquarters Department of the Army, ADRP 6-22, (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 1 August 2012), Chapter 4.  

[xix] Owen Connelly, War and Leadership: The Words of Combat Commanders from Frederick the Great to Norman Schwarzkopf, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002), 173.

[xx] Owen Connelly, War and Leadership: The Words of Combat Commanders from Frederick the Great to Norman Schwarzkopf, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2002), 215.

[xxi] Headquarters Department of the Army Army, ADRP 6-0: Mission Command, (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 2012), 2-11.

[xxii]Headquarters Department of the Army, ADRP 3.0: Unified Land Operations,(Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 2012) 2-11, para 2-51.

[xxiii] William Slim, Higher Command in War, Military Review, Vol LXX, no. 5 (May 1990): 11. 

[xxiv] Roger Nye, The Challenge of Command, (Wayne New Jersey, Avery Publishing Group, 1986), 28.

[xxv] Horst W. J. Rittel and Melvin M. Webber, “Dilemmas in a General Theory of Planning,” Policy Sciences no. 4, (1973): 160. Keith Grint, “Problems, Problems, Problems, Problems: The Social Construction of Leadership,” Human Relations, 58/11, 2005 1477.

[xxvi] Keith Grint, “The Cuckoo Clock Syndrome:  Addicted to Command, Allergic to Leadership,” European Mangement Journal 28 No. 4 ( 2010): 307-309.

[xxvii] Gary Yukl, Leadership in Organizations, (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, 2006), 147.

[xxviii] Roger Nye, The Challenge of Command, (Wayne New Jersey, Avery Publishing Group, 1986), 29.

[xxix] Headquarters Department of the Army, ADRP 6-22: Army Leadership (Washington DC: Government Printing Office, 2012), paragraph 1-18, 1-3.

[xxx] William Banning n.d., Letter to President Truman contained in the Harry S. Truman Library and Museum, (accessed 15 August 2016)

[xxxi] Joe Doty and Chuck Doty, “Command Responsibility and Accountability,” Military Review Vol 92, no. 1 (January-February 2012): 35.

About the Author(s)

Mr. Ken Turner is an Assistant Professor of Leadership Studies in the Department of Command and Leadership, Command and General Staff College where he has served for twelve years. He has held a variety of command and staff positions retiring in 2008 as a Colonel after twenty-six years of service. Career highlights include assignments as a battalion commander, deputy task force commander of a seven nation PSYOP Task Force, and command of the only PSYOP Group in the active Army.

He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in History and Political Science from Arkansas Tech University and three advanced degrees; a Master’s Degree in International Relations from Troy State University, a Master’s Degree in Military Arts and Science from the Command and General Staff College, and a Master’s Degree in Strategic Studies from the Army War College.

Dr. Kevin Gentzler is an Associate Professor of in the Department of Command and Leadership, Command and General Staff College where he has taught for 12 years. He spent 22 years on active duty and served in various leadership and staff positions throughout his career including as the Commander of the 15th Finance Battalion – Fort Hood Texas and Baghdad, Iraq. Dr. Gentzler is currently working on a book about leader development in Christian Churches.

Dr. Gentzler graduated with a Bachelors in Business Administration from Missouri Southern State University. He holds a Masters in Organizational Leadership from Regent University and a Doctorate of Management from the University of Phoenix.



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