The Implementation of Mission Command Principles in the Baltic Battalion


  • Argo Sibul
  • Kersti Kõiv
  • Eero Aija




The objective of this research is to make proposals for the additional implementation of mission command principles at the battalion level based on an analysis of the mission command directives implemented by the Baltic Battalion The survey makes use of a combined research strategy wherein the methods of data collection are a survey questionnaire and document analysis. The documents analyzed were the operational orders of the Baltic Battalion. The survey was conducted during the Baltic Battalion’s three military exercises: Gungnir, and Sabre Strike, which were both carried out in the Republic of Latvia, and Trident Juncture, which was conducted in the Kingdom of Spain from April 2015 to November 2015. It was a longitudinal survey, and the principal component method was used for data analysis. In addition to the analysis of the principal components, the data from different stages of the survey was also compared using a t-test. The purpose of the t-test was to determine whether any of the changes were statistically relevant over time and to analyze the reasons for the changes as well. Document analysis of the Baltic Battalion’s operational orders was used to detect the presence of the characteristic components and distinctive features of mission command orders. From the results of the research it is evident that the Baltic Battalion experienced an overall decline in team trust. This was attributable to the fact that during the interim between exercises, some new, and relatively inexperienced soldiers joined the third maneuver company (50.5% of this group had held their position for less than three months). The newly arrived group had not taken part in the larger, previous exercises with the company and were not yet fully assimilated into their new environment. Therefore mutual trust between the team members had not developed to its fullest extent. Comparisons between the first and third exercises of the Baltic Battalion also show that leadership trust declined as well. This was ascribed to the arrival of five new section leaders during the second exercise. Three of the platoon leaders, a company sergeant major and an officer second in command, had just recently joined the third maneuver company. It can be concluded that the new leaders had not gained the team’s confidence yet. Based on the survey results it is clear that those in the second maneuver company who had been deployed together in the first exercise appreciated the commander’s risk-taking and innovativeness more than those who had not been in the company during the first exercise. The operational orders of the Baltic Battalion generally conformed to the format of mission command orders and no grave shortcomings were discernible. Considering the results of the present study, the authors would make the following proposals. First, when a new team is formed, or new team members are added, the leader should have more influence on the choice of the new members, and if possible ensure that they possess the necessary training. Leadership trust increases if these new members have extensive tactical knowledge and the skills to implement it. This is further augmented if they make the right decisions and are able to cope with stress during both training and combat. Second, there is a need to increase the mutual trust between leaders and subordinates in the second maneuver company. Trust makes possible the exchange of ideas, which is the foundation for innovativeness. In addition, the confidence gained by soldiers during peacetime extends to combat situations and does not change significantly over time. Third, when allocating command authority to various units, subordinates should be given enough freedom of action to fulfill the mission command requirements. Mission command doctrine stipulates that the wording of the mission of the operational order must be effect based.


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