Leader Development and Command and Control

Lieutenant General Leonard P. Wishart III, US Army

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When this 1990 article was written, the US Army had already made some major advancements in training and leader development with the National Training Center, 6 years old in 1990; the Center for Army Lessons Learned, 5 years old; and the Battle Command Training Program, 4 years old. With the world drastically changing in 1990 after the fall of the Berlin Wall, Lieutenant General Leonard P. Wishart III says in this article that more leadership training and more command and control (C2) improvement are vital for dealing with future military operations. Since 1990, the Army has established its battle labs program and begun other initiatives to work on C2 issues for today and the 21st century.


Events in Europe and around the globe continue to force us to form new perspectives about the future. Emerging prospects are already shaping new concepts in our national military strategy and defense posture and will, undoubtedly, precipitate many changes for our Army. These changes will come about in many forms—force structure, systems development and fielding, concepts for warfighting and training—to name a few.

However, as we shape our Army for the next century, many precepts of the past will remain constant. The “principles of war” and the AirLand Battle tenets of synchronization, depth, agility and initiative will continue to be the foundations upon which our new warfighting concepts will be built.

Two imperatives that the Combined Arms Center (CAC) has recognized as essential for future battlefield success are the development of highly competent, bold combat leaders and the provision of a first-rate command and control (C2) system. Leadership, command and the necessary control systems, coupled with solid, realistic training, are the keys to mental and physical agility. This agility permits the commander to synchronize combat power throughout the depth of any battlefield, operate inside the enemy commander’s decision cycle, seize the initiative and decisively defeat him.

The recent liberation of Panama by US Army combat forces as part of a joint operation dramatically demonstrates the results of applying these fundamentals. A synchronized combat assault simultaneously placed joint forces at dozens of different locations, totally fixed the enemy and kept casualties and collateral damage to a minimum. Realistic training prepared the units involved, while superb leadership at all echelons, decentralized command and superior C2 systems allowed the swift and decisive execution of this highly successful contingency operation.

Today, we have unique opportunities to improve battlefield C2 and further leader development by focusing our efforts on specific deficiencies that have been identified in training, during large-scale exercises or on operational deployments. It is possible now because we recognize the increased importance of training in an era of possible “come as you are” conflicts and better understand the impact of technology and command support on leader development and C2.

Command and Control

A clear and precise focus on C2 is being provided through feedback from force-on-force training exercises conducted at the combat training centers (CTCs). The Battle Command Training Program (BCTP), Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, is providing the same discrete feedback from division and corps command post exercises. The Army’s Center for Army Lessons Learned (CALL), Fort Leavenworth, is developing a data base of observations from all CTCs and from operations such as Just Cause and GOLDEN PHEASANT (1988 exercise/show of force in Honduras) that will provide improved analysis.

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The environment of the command will often determine junior leaders’ behaviors. A positive environment, which ensures that subordinates know the commander’s intent and standards and feel free to exercise delegated authority, is a breeding ground for the bold, audacious leaders our Army requires. Delegation of real authority to the leader at the lowest level capable of routinely executing a task or mission to standard is essential. We know we must operate that way in combat, and we must do the same in peacetime and during training.

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We already know many of our C2 deficiencies. Commanders must improve the synchronization of combat power in order to be successful. Commanders at all echelons must speak in a common doctrinal context and use common terms in order to provide a clear understanding of intent and concept. Execution must be decentralized, but consistent with the higher commander’s intent.

The analysis and decision-making process must be accelerated so leaders at all echelons can make the right decisions in a timely manner. Commanders must be able to project and anticipate in order to seize the initiative, and their staffs must have decision aids and situation assessment systems that will enable them to accurately “see the battlefield” in real or near real time. Simultaneously, we must deny this information to the enemy. These requirements provide a clear focus for correcting priority C2 deficiencies. Battle command integration of the solutions is the key to achieving better C2.

C2 is not one word, although we often tend to treat the term as such. Command is the art of assigning missions, prioritizing resources, guiding and directing subordinates and focusing the entire command’s energy to accomplish clear objectives. Control is the science of defining limits, computing requirements, allocating resources, prescribing requirements for reports, monitoring performance, identifying and correcting deviations from guidance and directing subordinate actions to accomplish the commander’s intent.

We must ensure that leaders at all levels understand our intent, but know they are free to operate and command their units to best achieve our objectives. We must control our operations, directing all efforts toward accomplishment of the mission. Command can best be facilitated by developing intelligent, bold, risk-taking leaders, while control is best improved by the application of sound doctrine and the intelligent use of technology.

Leader Development

Our Army prides itself on our leaders, who have grown through a system that combines a formal education process, experience and mentorship, and self-development. Leaders at all levels must concern themselves with their own development and that of their subordinates. Leadership is a constant process, and so is leader development.

Leader development depends heavily on personal example, environment and accountability. Just as units will perform as they train, junior leaders will follow developmental patterns based upon the examples of their superiors. The environment of the command will often determine junior leaders’ behaviors. A positive environment, which ensures that subordinates know the commander’s intent and standards and feel free to exercise delegated authority, is a breeding ground for the bold, audacious leaders our Army requires. Delegation of real authority to the leader at the lowest level capable of routinely executing a task or mission to standard is essential. We know we must operate that way in combat, and we must do the same in peacetime and during training. Equally important, leaders must be held accountable for the results. Recognition of mission accomplishment, or substandard performance, must be fair and immediate. The establishment of such an environment does not occur overnight. However, the benefits accrued to the unit and the Army last far into the future, for leaders produced in such an atmosphere will strive to achieve the same environment as they progress in the Army.


The explosive growth of automation and information management capabilities provides vastly improved control and staff support systems. Increased use of knowledge-based applications, parallel computer architecture, data fusion and information processing, coupled with new communication capabilities, provides incredible techniques for improved C2. Our superior technological capability is one of our nation’s great strengths. As we exploit this capability, the battlefield payoff can be dramatic. At the same time, we cannot take such superiority for granted. We must be equally prepared to face an enemy of technological parity.


Recent Army initiatives have resulted in modernized training facilities, as well as an enriched training environment. US Army Field Manual (FM) 25-100, Training the Force, and FM 25-101, Battle Focused Training (Approved Final Draft), for battalion level and lower, provide the clearest training concepts yet published. Unit training is battle focused and oriented on correcting identified deficiencies. The message of these manuals is clearly to emphasize mission-oriented training. Realistically, units do well what they are trained well to do. Train soldiers for their jobs, and they will perform those jobs.

The CTCs provide unique collective training environments, and technology is being used to develop improved training simulations and simulators for commander, staff, unit and crew training at home station. Computer-driven simulations provide realistic, stressful training for commanders and staffs from battalion through corps. Linked simulators permit small units to conduct training on C2 tasks at less cost and with less risk. High-fidelity simulators for aircraft, combat vehicles and gunnery systems can train crews and individuals on critical teamwork skills before they put them into practice in the field or on the range.

Command Support

No lasting or dramatic improvements can be made in battle command without the active support, interest and backing of senior Army commanders and officials at all levels. Such support exists today and has been fundamental to the increased emphasis on leader development. Senior Army leaders realize the payoffs that result from preparedness, superior leadership and C2. The chief of staff of the Army has personally emphasized leader development, realistic training and battlefield synchronization as keys to a trained and ready Army, now and in the future.

At CAC, the Battle Command Integration Program (BCIP) provides a strategy that will ensure an integrated and focused approach to leader development and C2. BCIP also ensures that developers of doctrine, training and system resources are synchronized in efforts toward common priority goals. BCIP is not an organization or activity, nor will it, in itself, produce a tangible product. It is a strategy that provides focus, coordination and integration of all existing activities. It pulls together the collective responsibility for C2, leader training and doctrinal development, for fielding of C2 systems and for providing organization and training to accomplish the battle command mission.

The commanding general (CG) of CAC provides the senior leadership of the BCIP. A general officer steering committee and a command and control integration council (C2IC) has been established to provide advice and assistance to the CG. All Fort Leavenworth activities concerned with the issues of leadership and C2 are represented on the council and play a role in the program. In addition, the major players involved in C2 in Army Materiel Command (AMC), the field commands and other agencies are represented. These include Communications-Electronics Command (CECOM), Laboratory Command (LABCOM), Army Research Institute (ARI), Army Tactical Command and Control System Experimentation Site, Information Systems Command (ISC), US Army, Europe (USAREUR) and US Army Forces Command (FORSCOM), to name a few.

The general officer steering committee held its first plenary meeting on 8 February 1990. The theme for that meeting was “Focus on the Commander,” in recognition of the reality that leadership and C2 transform potential combat capability into actual combat power. The steering committee identified three priority areas on which the C2 community must focus in order to assist field commanders:

  • See the battlefield.
  • Communicate intent.
  • Synchronize the battle.

These areas are now being addressed by all organizations involved in C2 and leader development. Each organization represented in BCIP strategy has accepted responsibility to work on solutions to improve performance and assist commanders in these three priority areas. The C2IC will monitor progress and provide feedback to the steering committee and commander, CAC.

The Command and General Staff College (CGSC) will concentrate on doctrinal aspects of the problems. Doctrine writers will ensure common terminology and decision-making processes are developed and taught to better allow the communication of commanders’ intentions and will stress synchronization in combat operations.

During the Pre-Command Course for selected battalion and brigade command designees, the focus of the Tactical Commanders Development Course (TCDC) is on teaching commanders to see the battlefield and synchronize all available combat power in time and space to defeat the enemy. TCDC was developed as a part of the BCIP strategy to overcome a deficiency identified at our CTCs.

The BCTP is also emphasizing these areas in their after-action reviews and providing feedback to exercising units during the seminar, WARFIGHTER exercises and in the sustainment package.

The Future Battle Laboratory (FBL), an element of the Combined Arms Combat Developments Activity (CACDA), provides a “test-bed” experimentation capability where requirements and deficiencies in C2 systems can be identified, proposed solutions examined and prototypes evaluated and refined. Activities occur in conjunction with user, combat and materiel developer, industry and national laboratory representatives. FBL will be instrumental in the formulation of doctrinal, training and leader development materials. FBL experts are working on staff aids, identifying a large screen display for tactical use and evaluating potential field reproduction systems. USAREUR and FORSCOM units have been working with the FBL to find acceptable solutions.

The 35th Infantry Division (Mechanized) Headquarters is located at Fort Leavenworth. In coordination with CAC and the Kansas National Guard, a large area in their new headquarters has been set aside to cooperate with the activities in C2 improvement. FBL developed a modular standard command post with mock-ups, SINCGARS (single-channel ground and airborne radio system) radio nets, Maneuver Control System equipment and the other items required to run a full-scale division exercise. The National Simulation Center (a part of the Combined Arms Training Activity [CATA] made the joint Exercise Simulation System available, along with the world-class OPFOR (opposing forces) from BCTP, to enable the 35th Division to execute a division-level command post exercise in the standard command post configuration. The exercise was further supported by CGSC subject matter experts, CECOM, ARI and Fort Leavenworth. These tests, or experiments, to seek solutions to C2 deficiencies will continue; they give evidence of the synergy and strength the BCIP strategy offers when all interested organizations work together to solve a common problem.

The next step will see CECOM establish a technology assessment center for C2 collocated with FBL. This will foster prototype development of emerging C2 systems and allow better integration of materiel and combat developer efforts.

The bottom line is to achieve a focused approach to solving our most important C2 and leader development deficiencies. As the proponent for both, CAC is using the BCIP to provide the strategy to pull together all the many organizations and activities in the Army that have an interest in C2 and leader development. CAC is in a unique location geographically and organizationally to foster the kind of cooperation necessary. CGSC develops and teaches the doctrine that units use to train at home station and at the CTCs; and CATA develops the mission training plan and standards for evolution of combined arms collective training and oversees the observer/controllers at the CTCs. CATA also has access to the CTC data and provides feedback to the field through CALL. CACDA, as the combat developer, represents the users in looking for materiel solutions.

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The bottom line is to achieve a focused approach to solving our most important C2 and leader development deficiencies. As the proponent for both, CAC is using the BCIP to provide the strategy to pull together all the many organizations and activities in the Army that have an interest in C2 and leader development.

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Working through the FBL, CACDA is attempting to focus industry and the AMC laboratories on the most important issues for rapid resolution. Finally, CAC is able to provide rapid feedback to units and to future commanders through the BCTP and instruction in the Pre-Command Course, the Command and General Staff Officer Course and Combined Arms and Services Staff School.

All of the organizations, working together and focusing on the issue field commanders consider their most difficult problems, have the capability to make a difference. BCIP provides the ongoing strategy for achieving that synergy. Through this cooperative effort, C2 and leadership on future battlefields will be as effective as we can collectively make them, for it is leadership and C2 that enable a commander to synchronize his combat power, to achieve his intent and, ultimately, to win on the battlefield. Leadership and effective C2 will remain the keys to success in the next century.

Lieutenant General Leonard P. Wishart III, US Army, Retired, is a private consultant and is conducting a study of the Army National Guard state-area commands for Innovative Logistics Techniques Inc., McClain, Virginia. Before his retirement in 1991, he was the commander, US Army Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He also served as commander, 1st Infantry Division (Mechanized) and Fort Riley, Kansas; deputy commander, US Army Combined Arms Combat Developments Activity, Fort Leavenworth; assistant division commander, 1st Armored Division, Ansbach, Germany; and chief of staff, VII Corps, Stuttgart, Germany. In addition, he served two tours in Vietnam.


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