FT LEE, VA — Friends and peers of Staff Sergeant Scott Austin, a water purification specialist currently stationed at Fort Lee, VA, have informed Duffel Blog that he is absolutely “scared shitless” of the Army’s new Mission Command philosophy.
Mission Command, derived from the German Auftragstaktik concept, is the United States Army’s newest obsession and a clear shift away from centralized control of subordinates towards decentralized execution, freeing up subordinates to act on their own initiative within the commander’s intent to accomplish the mission.
Austin’s apparent discomfort with this doctrinal concept surprised his co-workers, since he has spent the last thirteen years of his eighteen-year Army career constantly complaining about micromanagement from officers and senior non-commissioned officers, expressing a desire to be left alone so he could do his job.
“Scotty was the first person to complain whenever anyone that outranked him dared to tell him what to do,” reported Master Sergeant Matt Johnson, Austin’s former battle buddy and current supervisor in the 599th CSSB S-3 section. “During OEF V [in 2005], the company commander came by while we were on gate guard and gave us some pointers on ways to effectively search vehicles entering the FOB. Scotty about lost his shit after the CO left, talking about how he was an NCO and had more time in a combat zone than the fucking captain had in the Army.”
But being empowered to act on his own initiative without direction from higher on a minute-by-minute basis seems to frighten the NCO, who is two years from retirement and has been passed over for promotion to sergeant first class three times.
“Now that Mission Command is the way we’re doing things, Austin finds any excuse he can to not be in charge of anything,” said Capt. Christine Furman, the 599th CSSB S-3. “Last week’s M-4 qualification range was planned and executed by NCOs with minimal officer involvement, but Staff Sergeant Austin went to sick call and got 24-hour quarters rather than serve as the range safety officer. I think he might have had a case of Sandy Vagitis.”
When reached for comment, Austin reported that he is in no way scared of Mission Command, but rather the quality of officers and NCOs he works with has steadily declined over the past ten or fifteen years.
“Fucking Captain Nguyen and First Sergeant [Morales] told me I was going to be the range safety officer, but then they started giving me mixed messages about what I was supposed to do,” Austin told reporters. “Do I just orientate people to the range, do I walk the firing line to check for ‘no brass no ammo,’ or do I take the bullhorn and run the frigging range myself like I’ve done five or six times before?”
After pausing briefly to put in a wad of Cherry Skoal, Austin addressed the concept of Mission Command.
“The most important part of Mission Command is for the commander to identify intent and purpose. What was the commander’s intent for me as the RSO? I don’t know because he never told me. There was no rehearsal, no long op order, and no e-mails to tell me what was the purpose of an RSO, either. For all intensive purposes, there was no guidance at all.”