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Mission Command Analysis Of Battle Of Shenandoah

Battle Of Shenandoah

Sharpe and Creviston explain that mission command a philosophy combining intentions of army commanders, their mission, and subordinate initiative to win through application of united operations in the land. The doctrine guiding the commanders advocates for a shared understanding of commanders intention through trust from junior leaders1. According to Myers, leaders such as Field Marshal Erwin Rommel and Major general Thomas J. “stonewall” Jackson made use of similar concepts. The army commanders applied various principles to succeed in the war. They include building cohesive teams through mutual trust, providing a clear commander’s intent, exercising discipline initiative, and using mission orders. Integration of the identified techniques contributed varying levels of success during the campaigns 88.

The Shenandoah Valley campaign, 1862

Major general Thomas J. “stonewall” Jackson was the appointed commander of the valley district in Northern Virginia district in 1861, October. Mahle asserts that he was a direct subordinate staff to General Joseph E. Johnston, who was the overall Confederate field commander in chief in Northern Virginia. Jackson secured Shenandoah Valley against armies that were larger in Federal government. He was responsible of preventing them from strengthening union columns that were operating against Richmond. Jackson crisscrossed the valley in 1862 March to June and thwarted several operations of the union. He used his force to achieve strategic victories1-5.

Jackson applied the principles of building cohesive teams through mutual trust, exercising disciplined initiative and providing a clear commanders intent. The U.S Army and Confederate Army lacked formal guidance and doctrine to outline the leadership and management of its formations in the battlefield. It was during the civil war period7.

Army commanders established their own leadership styles from observations of other officers and applied their personal experience. Rommel spent a larger part of his career training his soldiers and leading them in German Reichswehr. The institution built on quality leadership advocated for decentralized decision-making. It was also empowering its leaders through Auftrastaktik. The German military had developed and published modern doctrinal manuals responding to various war lessons. The published documents stressed on benefits of the tank to modern battlefield. They advocated for use, and maneuvering of firepower to gain rapid success8-10.         

Many commissioned officers participated in the civil war because of the great necessity although only a small proportion had experience in the pre-war U.S. Army. As a result, military staffs influenced leadership styles. Jackson chose officers from able-bodied men in the staff according to their expertise and efficiency level. Example, Jedediah Hotchkiss had great expertise in cartography and reported to Jackson who immediately assigned him as one of his officer. Hotchkiss assigned the role of mapping; provided situational awareness and reports on reconnaissance throughout his campaign. Most of Jackson’s staff demonstrated proficiency in organizational duties and staff work. Rommel and Jackson were operational commanders held responsible of combining strategic goals with tactical actions. They autonomously operated to achieve success 15-20.

Jackson applied techniques in tactical manuals to offer him guidance of various actions in the battlefield. The manuals helped train tactics applied in basic weapons. Jackson applied a strict disciplinary and controlled leadership in the army. He was dedicated to discipline and order, which contributed, to his success. The seniors facilitated the process of following rules and regulations. The seniors executed orders to subordinates without explanation in the battlefield23.

Religious and leadership approaches

Captain Taylor influenced Jackson to live a Christian life. Jackson introduced his subordination to a religious life in the military and among leaders. Jackson watched Taylor’s leadership style for long, which strengthened his faith of following strict orders and subordination to the authority. Jackson leadership style demanded no need for social interaction. His orders were clear preventing closeness to subordinate leaders in the campaign. Many disliked his leadership since it was harsh and inflexible. He required the army to strictly follow regulations25-30. Jackson used mission orders with the help of a number of cadets and VMI faculty to control recruits scores who had joined the army without instructions. Advice to the new recruits included maintaining discipline and control in all military operations. Solutions to major confusions in the battle involved control of tactic movements and batteries from generals. Jackson directly controlled his regiments through shifting the brigade from given directions. Jackson gathered artillery batteries personally positioning them to appear having increased confederate strength. He maintained direct control of the units and advanced with them to overcome chaos. He thrust forward his brigade, which ended in success of capturing federal batteries (Floyd 10).

Direct control and discipline action solidified the dedication Jackson had to succeed. Subordination to authority principle guided Jackson in his valley campaign. Jackson used the principle of building cohesive teams through mutual trust after assigning. Stonewall Brigade. Jackson trusted in the unique capabilities of the group, which was naturally defensive. Jackson had a special urge to follow discipline. He identified its related problems that acted as obstacles to effective control and command. Jackson never explained his strict command. He introduced confident subordinates and complex situations in the battlefield, which led to a continuation of a strict and inflexible approach33-40.

The mission orders were applicable in the battle of Battle of Shenandoah where Major Jackson commanded for a clarification of the reporting channels. Upon arrival in the valley, Jackson found that reporting channels had no clear specifications. He commanded the valley district of Northern Virginia, an independent command that was directly subordinate to Johnston, to have all orders and guidance to have Johnston approve them. However, Johnston did not submit to Jackson’s request since he was attending other important issues. Commands from Jackson’s received dispatches from officials of the government directly. As a routine, the federal government responded to Jackson’s requests directly42-44.

Jackson combined with Ewell in the battle and had 17,000 men. Their mutual trust ended in a success that captured 700 prisoners in a short battle with two rifled artillery pieces. The solidified trust in the front Royal and cohesion between commanders and their forces brought success in the army. The continued trust built between Front Royal, Ewell and Jackson built a cohesive team that was rooted in mutual trust. The army had interpreted the intentions of Johnston and were now planning to throw the first blow at banks45.

Mutual trust in the battlefield ensured that orders were followed between Jackson and Ewell. Jackson gave orders to Ewel one early morning, which encouraged him and demonstrated his trust in him. The trust approved the trust that existed between them the orders were contained in a detailed map of Winchester directing him to attack at daylight. Ewell and Jackson gained success from fog of war, which they executed with skill and spirit. Jackson’s success at Winchster owed to Ewell initiative and his abilities as a commander. Jackson had moved Ewell from the upper valley. Jackson feared less at cross keys since he delegated the battle towards his trusted subordinates and was confident while exercising his disciplined initiative. Ewell had secured a good defensive position with wooded areas, which had greater command in the ground62-70. Final clarifications came from Jackson. Example brief disagreements with one Brigade commanders, Ewell referred him to Jackson to obtain final clarification. Jackson trusted Ewell and assumed a direct, inflexible, and clear leadership 71-79.

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