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Chapter 3


Battle command is the art and science of battlefield decision making and leading soldiers and units to successfully accomplish the mission. The battle command basic elements are decision making, leading, and controlling. The battle command system at brigade level enables commanders to lead, prioritize, and allocate assets required to employ and sustain combat power. The brigade commander must see further, process information faster and strike more precisely and quicker. If information is the medium of the battle command process, the battle command system must provide the commander with timely and accurate information on which to base the commander's decision.


Information products and the interpretation result in decision and directives. Battle command involves acquiring and displaying this information. All units continually acquire information about the mission, enemy terrain and weather, troops available and time (METT-T) through a variety of means. This information is sent and received; the means of communicating the information is managed; and the information is filtered and maintained in a form convenient to the decision-making process. The brigade commander's decisions are recorded as plans and orders that serve as input to the battle command process at the next lower echelon. Feedback from subordinate units provides input back to the brigade's battle command process; thus an ongoing cycle (Figure 3-1).


Battle command involves a continuous process of estimates, decisions, assigning tasks and missions, executing tasks and missions, and acquiring feedback. This process includes deriving missions, formulating concepts and successfully communicating the commander's intent. Courses of action are developed and analyzed. A single course of action is selected or modified based on the most accurate available information. Because control is executed through feedback from units, control of any mission is accomplished through subsequent iterations of the battle command cycle (Figure 3-2).


The brigade commander's leadership provides both purpose and direction to soldiers and units. Commanders motivate soldiers as well as the staff to accomplish difficult tasks under dangerous trying circumstances of combat and obscurities of operations other than war. The commander's leadership is central to the success of the division and the effects his actions has far-reaching implications. Commanders inspire and mentor subordinates through face-to-face communications. Commanders position the brigades where the battlefield can be seen by the commanders and the soldiers. Commanders establish interpersonal relationships with the staff and subordinate commanders. Commanders are the professionals that all members of the organization look to for timely decisions and informal feedback (Figure 3-3). The brigade commander transforms potential combat capabilities within the brigade into combat power using the brigade's battle command system. The battle command system--

  • Allows the brigade commander to lead his forces.
  • Is flexible, redundant, and survivable in order to synchronize the brigade's combat operations and requirements for CS an CSS.
  • Allows the commander to clearly sense the total battle, then transmit orders to adjust quickly and take advantage of battlefield opportunity.
  • Is responsive throughout the brigade's area of operations, controlling units in deep, close, and rear areas at the same time.
  • Provides the commander with the ability to move and mass the effects of combat power from anywhere on the battlefield.

a. Brigade commanders teach, coach, and encourage. Commanders care, are technically and tactically competent, and train subordinate units and soldiers the same way. Commanders set and demand adherence to tough, clear, achievable, and meaningful standards. Commanders take responsibility for the good the bad, and the ugly within the organization. Senior commanders develop excellence in the soldiers and the units of the brigade.

b. The brigade commanders set into motion forces on the battlefield to win in battle. The commanders decision on where and when to place forces and concentrate combat power is based on the assigned mission from the division or joint task force commander. The brigade commander develops the concept of operation in consonance with the higher commander's concept and intent.

c. The brigade commander starts with a vision--a mental image of successful accomplishment. The commander's vision is the personal concept of what the brigade must do and be able to do at some future point. The vision provides the brigade with a common, understood end state in which all activities are planned and executed. The commander's vision is essential to developing combat power. For military operations, the commander's vision is expressed as a part of the plans and orders. Commanders articulate the vision with the commander's intent and concept of the operation (Figure 3-4). (See FM 101-5 for a complete discussion of intent and concept of operation.)

d. Within the brigade, coordinating staff officers are the principal staff to the commander. Each is responsible for abroad category of assistance and support. The staff ensures that all activities of subordinate staff sections and supporting and augmenting units are integrated and coordinated within the unit's particular staff area. Coordination is affected among the staff at brigade, vertically with maneuver battalion staffs, and with the senior headquarters to which assigned. The more austere the brigade's staff, the more reliance on higher headquarters for many types of support. (See FM 101-5 for a complete discussion of staff functions.)

e. The brigade commander trains the staff to assist the commander in translating the intent and decisions into coordinated and supported operations. A well-trained smooth functioning staff requires that the commander develop, train guide, and demand high standards of performance from all members of the staff in peacetime to ensure proper preparations for war and operations other than war. Through demanding realistic, difficult training exercises, the staff begins to think like the commander. A staff that is in concert with the commander and on their on initiative--

  • Accurately determines the current situation.
  • Anticipates what needs to be done.
  • Develops courses of action.
  • Assesses courses of action.
  • Issues the necessary orders and instructions.
  • Monitors how well the orders and instructions are being executed.
  • Alters the plan as required IAW feedback, commander's guidance and intent.
  • Plans future operations.

f. The staff must discriminate, from the flood of information available, that information essential to the commander's decision making. The staff is expected to operate with a great deal of freedom and responsibility to ensure that the entire brigade effort is fully coordinated to support the commander's decision and concept of operation. The staff develops orders and conducts necessary coordination between subordinate units and higher headquarters to execute the commander's decision and intent. (See Appendix I for a discussion of the staff's role in the decision-making process.)

The commander, however, still decides, monitors, and drives the operation.


Command is the art of assigning missions, prioritizing resources, guiding and directing subordinates, and focusing the entire brigade'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. Command has two vital components: decision making and leadership (Figure 3-5). Decision making is discussed in Appendix I.


Leading is the process of making others accomplish your will. The tactical leader relies primarily on the estimate process as his decision-making tool. He must also possess an intuitive sense that allows him to see battlefield opportunity, to predict a possible crisis, and to do something about it. The leader develops this sense by experience. The leader must be morally strong. Leading involves consistently choosing the harder right over the easier wrong. History is complete with examples of lives that were saved, because commanders ordered their soldiers to dig in or pull security in adverse situations. The leader gains credibility by sharing dangers and hardships with his soldiers but he must always remember that he best serves his men by being in a position to make effective decisions, communicate guidance, and provide command and control. Sometimes this will be far forward. The tactical leader must also have tactical and technical competence to know how best to employ his forces.


Critical information directly affects the successful execution of operational or tactical operations. The commander's critical information requirements (CCIR) are previously unknown but needed information of such critical importance to a commander's decision-making process that they directly affect the successful execution of operations. They are further characterized as follows:

  • Situationally dependent predictable information.
  • Specified by the commander for each separate operation or implicitly recognized by the staff members as such based on their understanding of the commander's mission and intent.
  • Generally, time-sensitive terms of formalizing decisions at specified decision points.
  • Applicable only to the commander who specifies them.
  • Normally, published in an OPORD (paragraph 3d) or OPLAN and updated as the situation changes.
  • Normally, transmitted over predetermined channels specified in the SOP or directly accessed by the commander during fact-to-face communication with subordinate commanders, staffs, and units.
  • A link between current and future operations.

a. The CCIR enable the commander to reduce the abundant information found in combat and the confounding effect of information overload by thinking through what is important and what is urgent but not important to mission accomplishment. They allow the commander to define his information needs and, in turn focus the efforts of subordinates in acquiring, processing, and filtering information. The CCIR communicate previously unknown information that the commander needs and considers critical to determine a COA and then to continually validate the COA that has been selected. The CCIR ensure that information is transmitted to the commander, is meaningful, and readily recognized as critical to his visualization of the situation. The commander decides what information he deems to be critical, based on the mission and his experience. The commander, not his staff officer, develops the CCIR. The staff may recommend the CCIR to the commander as follows:

  • Priority intelligence requirements (PIR) (how I see the enemy) to determine what the commander wants or needs to know about the enemy, his purpose and or terrain.
  • Friendly forces information requirements (FFIR) (how I see myself) to allow the commander to determine the combat capabilities of his or adjacent units.
  • Essential elements of friendly information (EEFI) (how I can prevent the enemy from seeing me) to allow the commander to determine how he must protect the force from the enemy's information gathering systems.

b. The CCIR depend on the concept of the operation the key decisions the commander is likely to have to make, and the type of information required to support each key decision. Once the CCIR are identified, responsibility for providing that information to the commander, wherever he is on the battlefield can be established. Information management ensures the battle command system delivers information for the few key decisions that the commander will make at the right place, at the right time, about right. The commander must designate an information manager. It may be the executive officer. The information manager outlines and monitors the performance and responsibilities of the staff in processing information to support the operation and flow that feeds the commander's requirements. The CCIR are directly linked to present and future tactical situations and to previously identified decisions. The information manager collects, tasks, analyzes, and presents the CCIR in a timely and accurate manner. Information managers, within the commander's intent and commanders must adjust the CCIR as the situation changes. Based on the factors of METT-T, the CCIR are dynamic. Even though some CCIR may be standard the commander must review them for each operation. Two tangible forms for deriving the CCIR are war gaming and production of the DST as part of the IPB process. War gaming forces the commander and staff to anticipate likely decision points for each COA. The DST is an estimate of where and when the commander must make a decision to synchronize critical events or to execute an option in an operation. (See Figure 3-6.)

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