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Mission Command in the Israel Defense Forces

por Gideon Avidor (Editor)

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This volume is a series of essays edited by retired Israel Defense Forces Brigadier General Gideon Avidor, a veteran of several decades service through multiple conflicts. There are a total of 26 essays stretching through five parts. These essays are written mostly by IDF officers, although even the two academic authors have military experience in the IDF by virtue of Israel's mandatory national service requirement for all citizens.

The essays range in length from less than a page to more than 40 pages. The book is divided into five parts, each with its own theme. General Avidor begins the book with an introduction. Part One, "Theory", discusses mission command theory, which has its origin in the Prussian Army and appeared with some success as Auftragstaktik in the German armies of the two World Wars. Mission command is the delegation of the accomplishment of military objectives to the lowest command level consistent with military competence. A more senior commander merely indicates the objective; the subordinate is allowed to determine the means of achieving that objective.

Part Two, "An Army is Born", outlines the establishment of mission command as an essential practice from the earliest days of the IDF. Given that the IDF was "born in battle" during Israel's War of Independence in 1948, mission command was an essential characteristic of the early days of the IDF without which victory may not have been possible. Part Three, "Leaders Talk", contains ten essays on leadership and mission command from various IDF officers whose service spans the history of the IDF, ranging from one of the IDF's founding fathers, LTG Haim Laskove, to a very junior Lieutenant Yosef Ginsberg.

Part Four, "Mission Command Put to the Test", contains eight battle experiences with mission command spanning from the Yom Kippur War of 1973 to the Second Lebanon War of 2006. Part Five, "Mission Command Over the Horizon", looks at the future of mission command as the Information Age matures through two essays written by General Avidor. The book is completed by two appendices, A and B, for terminology and acronyms.

This book was published under the aegis of the Association of the United States Army to enhance the professional knowledge of the U.S. Army officer corps. I looked forward to this read because my previous experience with IDF histories trended towards the more popular accounts of the conflicts rather than true scholarly studies of them. Getting a take on the issues from serving IDF officers was a bonus. My feelings after reading the book are mixed.

There were several problems with this essay collection. First, the editor did not source the essays consistently. While several essays had appeared in the IDF's professional journal, "Ma'arachot" and were so noted, several essays were not. The book has no bibliography, so the reader has no idea where these uncredited essays came from nor their actual date of authorship, both required to understand the context of the writing.

Second, all of the essays, with the possible exception of Dr. Glazer's essay in Part Two, appear to have been translated from the original Hebrew. Whoever did that translation may not have been familiar with IDF military terms as the English language in the essays is imprecise and awkward in several of the essays. This imprecision leads to reader confusion as to the authors' meaning.

Third, the essays suffer from the IDF's notorious operational security practices. I am sure most, if not all, of the pieces in this collection had to undergo some sort of prepublication review by the IDF or the Ministry of Defense. That review purged the details that would have been most helpful in analyzing this complex topic. Even historical information from conflicts decades ago have been sanitized to the point that readers familiar with these conflicts from other works cannot recognize their appearance in this collection. This sanitization effort is even more apparent in the last part of the book, where General Avidor speaks to improvements needed in current command and control systems to meet the challenged of the future. As he does not detail any information about current systems, it is difficult for the reader to judge the author strong feelings about the subject. What is evident is that the conflicts in which the IDF has participated in the 21st century are deemed unsatisfactory to senior IDF leadership. Without a clear picture of the role and capabilities of the current stable of command and control/battle management systems, General Avidor's recommendations for improvement are almost impossible to evaluate without the appropriate Israeli security clearance.

In reading this book, I am certainly more informed about IDF leadership theory. However the language and security sanitization found in the essays makes it difficult to determine the effectiveness of the theory when actually practiced in the IDF. This collection certainly had a lot of potential; it just didn't live up to all of it. ( )
  Adakian | Feb 20, 2021 |
Esta reseña ha sido escrita por los Primeros Reseñadores de LibraryThingSUB2>.
One of the most effective but lesser known military forces are the Israeli Defense forces. As a result, this is a interesting and worthwhile volume about mission command. Much of the actual work of the defense forces are shrouded in mystery so this is a welcome addition to the literature.

Mission command, also referred to as mission-type tactics, is a style of military command, derived from the Prussian-pioneered mission-type tactics doctrine, which combines centralized intent with decentralized execution subsidiarity and promotes freedom and speed of action, and initiative, within defined constraints. Subordinates, understanding the commander's intentions, their own missions and the context of those missions, are told what effect they are to achieve and the reason why it needs to be achieved. They then decide within their delegated freedom of action how best to achieve their missions. Orders focus on providing intent, control measures, and objectives, allowing for greater freedom of action by subordinate commanders. Mission command is closely related to civilian management concept of workplace empowerment and its use in business has been explored by writers such as Bungay and Tozer. It is advocated, but not always used, by the militaries of the United States,Canada, Netherlands, Australia and the United Kingdom. Mission command is compatible with modern military net-centric concepts, and less centralized approaches to command and control (C2) in general. The Israeli military has stood out as a non-Arab and western style of kinetic force.
  gmicksmith | Jan 3, 2021 |
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