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The Principles of War - Lessons from Military History on Strategy, Tactics and Leadership.


Feb 13, 2019

Our guest on the podast today is BRIG Ulf Henricsson from the Swedish Army.  He was the commander of Nordbat 2, which was recognised as one of the most successful units that where committed to UNPROFOR for the peacekeeing effort in Bosnia. 

I first read about Nordbat 2 in an Article on Strategy Bridge.

We start with the discussion about how Mission Command has been used in the Swedish Army, and how it is taught within the Swedish Army, including the way that Mission Command is used in barracks. 

We discuss the composition of Nordbat 2.  The composition is the start of the success of Nordbat 2 and the composition was driven by the Mision Analysis that was conducted.

Of the 1,300 members of Nordbat 2, around 1,000 were reservists who had volunteered for service in Bosnia. 

The Mission is a critical part of Mission Command, including the intent, so we look at explicit and implied tasks in the mission that was given.  He found that within Bosnia, the discussion about the mission was a lot easier than the discussions between countries.

This leads to a discussion about the Rules of Engagement and how they were used.  BRIG Henricsson has a relatively free interpretation of the rules of engagement with that interpretation devolved down the chain of command.

We discuss some of the examples of Mission Command that lead to the success of Nordbat 2, including the incident at Stupni Do.  

The use of Mission Command and robust peacekeeping lead to a reputation that assisted Nordbat 2 in the accomplishment of their mission.

We look at Mission Analysis and how it lead to a composition for Nordbat 2 that set some of the conditions for success.  Another component was the rules of engagement that were provided by nations providing troops to UNPROFOR.  The RoE and the interpretation of the RoE was often manipulated by warring forces and lead to some units being ineffective in their role.

BRIG Henriccson discusses support he received from his Commander in Bosnia, and he also discusses the risks that he ran with the use of Mission Command. 

We finish with a look at some of the reasons that Mission Command is difficult to practice and what some of the conditions are required for the successful use of Mission Command.

He finishes off with his advice for commanders today on how to use Mission Command to enhance your chances of mission success.

Some questions that are raised are:

Are some societies better placed to enact Mission Command?

How often is there a clear intent in orders that you receive?

Is their a difference between the employment of Mission Command in barracks vs on Operation or Exercise?