With the objective being to attack the adversary's will to fight and cohesion, activities and their effects should be planned against vulnerabilities, vice strengths. Plans should focus on exploiting the adversary's vulnerabilities and not on seizing and holding the ground. The purist application of manoeuvre warfare is to disarm or neutralize an adversary before the fight. Vulnerabilities must be identified and attacked on the psychological plane as well, mainly through aggressive Info Ops, in order to sow seeds of doubt and discord amongst the adversary and his supporters.
Mission type orders focus on the effects to be achieved. This involves de-centralizing decision-making and letting decisions be taken at the lowest possible level. It is essential that commanders know and fully understand their commander's intent two levels up. Subordinates must understand what is on their commander's mind, his vision of the battlefield, and what end state is desired. Mission orders allow commanders, at all levels, to react to situations and to capitalize on opportunities as they arise. The commander directs and controls his operation through clear intent, tasks and desired effects, rather than detailed supervision and control measures or restrictions.
Agility enables a commander to seize the initiative and dictate the course of operations that is acting quicker than the adversary can react. Eventually, the adversary is overcome by events, and his cohesion and ability to influence the situation are destroyed. Agility is the liability of the commander to change faster than the adversary can anticipate. Quickness and intellectual acuity are the keys to effective agility. Commanders must be quick to make good decisions and to exploit developments on both the physical and psychological planes. Commanders and units must be able to respond quickly to physical and psychological developments. Just as a unit will move to exploit a sudden gap on the battlefield before the adversary can reposition to close it, a commander must be quick to exploit through Info Ops a public relations error made by an insurgent force. Getting inside the adversary's decision cycle is the essence of tempo. Well-rehearsed battle drills and standing operating procedures enhance the agility of a formation. Agility also allows a commander to quickly counter the adversary's Info Ops and his attempts to undermine the legitimacy of, and support for, the campaign.
The main effort focuses combat power and resources on the vital element of the plan and allows subordinates to make decisions that will support the commander's intent without constantly seeking advice. This way, the commander is successful in achieving his goal and each subordinate ensures his actions support the main effort. It is the focus of all, generally expressed in terms of a particular friendly unit, activity or effect. While each unit is granted the freedom to operate independently, everyone serves the ultimate goal, which unifies their efforts. In certain campaigns, the main effort may be focused on influence activities in the psychological plane, while activities on the physical plane are supporting and may seek only to maintain a secure environment for other elements and forces.
Commanders continually assess the situation (mission analysis) and then exercise the necessary freedom of action to be able to react to changes more quickly than the adversary. Reserves are created, correctly positioned and grouped to exploit situations that have been formed by shaping the battle to conform to friendly concepts of operations.
Commanders at all levels should be able to deal with uncertainty and act with audacity, initiative, and inventiveness in order to seize fleeting opportunities within their higher commanders' intent. They not only accept confusion and disorder, they generate it for the adversary. Failure to make a decision surrenders the initiative to the adversary. Risk is calculated, understood and accepted. In doing so, commanders must keep in the foremost of their minds the overall objective. It must be remembered that at times tactical success may have to be sacrificed in order to meet or maintain the overarching operational objective.
Command from a Position to Influence the Main Effort
Commanders place themselves where they can influence the main effort and ensure that the desired effects are created to realize the desired objectives. If the main effort of a campaign rests with influence activities that seek to engender security and support from a populace, then the commander must position himself to influence the unity of effort between all the available elements of power and within the local populace.