The Principles of Mission Command in Operation Anaconda


Mission Command is an army philosophy of command, which is the basis for the management of soldiers and the direction of their activities. Commanders use this concept “to create a balance between the art of command and the science of control as they integrate the sustainment warfighting function with the other warfighting functions to achieve objectives” (Douglas et al., 2017, para. 1). Thus, Mission Command represents the universal principles that should shape army activities and lead to successful mission completion. However, this concept is complex and requires a variety of skills from the command, as well as building relationships with soldiers. Mission Command’s principles are well reflected in Operation Anaconda, which was a success due to them.

Mission Command as Army Philosophy

Mission Command aims to coordinate the joined efforts of troops to achieve the success of operations. In particular, this concept is used to form the tactics of missions and analyze the necessary changes in the plan. Kugler (2007) notes that in the age of information technology for the army, the correct command is highly important, especially during disperse operations. The need to create Mission Command principles arose precisely in situations where troops are dispersed on the battlefield and the commander cannot fully see them. Thus, the command needs to consolidate various units into a single tool to carry out a military mission. Such actions primarily require constant analysis of information and the development of multifactorial tactics that would take into account the fragmented nature of the troops in a particular situation.

Mission Command is based on the assertion that military operations often require different types of troops. In this case, contradictions may arise between the various goals and methods of work of different units, which must be overcome. Kugler (2007) the example of Operation Anaconda shows that sometimes army and air forces need consolidation to achieve their goals. However, the command of various types of troops does not always manage to adjust tactics in time, taking into account interaction. Kugler (2007) concludes that “the capacity to adapt quickly through new forms of joint operations is vital” (p. 21). In this case, the use of Mission Command is important in order to constantly monitor the situation and adjust tactics depending on new conditions. Additionally, it is critical to ensure that the orders are executed, which is often extremely difficult when consolidating efforts.

Mission Command Principles in Operation Anaconda

Operation Anaconda is a prominent example of the application of the Mission Command principles. The main task of applying this philosophy is the need to unify military functions for the successful achievement of the objectives of the operation. The first and most important principle of Mission Command is competence, which allows the command to develop plans and adjust them. This aspect is also linked to another critical principle of the commander’s intent, which describes the unique role of a senior officer in organizing and consolidating troops. The main value of the army is “unity of command that is military campaigns and battles should be commanded by a single senior officer with the authority and staff assets” (Kugler, 2007, p. 7). In this situation, the principles of competence and commander’s intent allowed the command to use limited resources and assess the situation in the implementation of Operation Anaconda.

During the planning of the operation, the command of the various units was multi-headed, which presented difficulties in the later stages of the mission. As part of Mission Command, it is important for commanders to adhere to the principles of mutual trust and shared understanding that helped reorganize the command structure under Operation Anaconda. In particular, both the command and the soldiers were aware of the need to unify control over the ground and air forces in order to increase the efficiency of military activities. The principles of mutual trust and shared vision, in this case, became the basis for creating a more effective command structure, as well as transferring power to certain individuals. Authority plays an important role in the command of joint forces, which is also based on relationships within troops and units.

Planning is an important part of operations, but it also needs to be done on the battlefield. For this, the command applies the principles of the commander’s intent and the use of mission orders. Commander’s intent allows you to give precise orders through communication with soldiers to direct their actions. In conjunction with mission orders, commanders achieve specific objectives of the operation. In the case of Operation Anaconda, the main task was to neutralize the enemy without killing civilians. This became possible only thanks to clear orders and communication of the command and units, which ensured the execution of plans.

Finally, an important principle of Mission Command is the acceptance of the risk that Operation Anaconda resulted in decentralized decision-making. In particular, the command allowed subordinates to analyze the situation and collect relevant information. Another critical principle is a disciplined initiative, which is especially important when consolidating various units. In Operation Anaconda, ground and air forces were required to focus on the overall objective of the mission and assume the authority of command, which ensures discipline and order.


Douglas, M., McBride, M., & Snell, R. L. (2017). Applying mission command to overcome challenges. U. S. Army. Web.

Kugler, R. (2007). Operation Anaconda in Afghanistan: A case study of adaptation in battle. Case Studies in Defense Transformation, (5), 1-25.

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DemoEssays. "The Principles of Mission Command in Operation Anaconda." January 5, 2023.