Command Philosophy

Command Philosophy 2nd Edition

As a start point, we must embrace the notion that ultimately everything we do in the Army is to produce combat forces whose fundamental role is to fight and win. Everything else emanates from this reality, and underpins our inherent versatility to undertake and deliver operational excellence in an extremely broad range of tasks below the threshold of combat. With this as a basis, the essence of my command philosophy is in the following 13 broad focus areas, for which their specific applicability may somewhat vary by nature of military or civilian service, but I expect all in the Army to take to heart.

On Leadership

Leading our soldiers is a privilege. First and foremost I expect leaders at all levels to know and look after their people. They cater for individual strengths, developmental needs, and personal circumstances, and in doing so set subordinates up for success. They must understand and manage tempo, set the example, publically recognize performance and service, and when necessary, hold our people accountable when they falter. Leaders get out and see and are seen, using a variety of means as we have seen during the pandemic. They seize the initiative and create opportunity. They are self-aware and realize the impact of their personality, actions, and decisions on others. They create a command climate of respect, trust, and healthy debate, where all feel psychologically safe and are comfortable in speaking up. They provide forthright yet tactful feedback up and down the chain of command. They exude a positive outlook and avoid engendering morale sapping cynicism. They make the hard decisions, and are loyal to those made by higher authorities. They strive to improve their organizations, their subordinates, and themselves every day. They create predictability and certainty to the degree possible for their subordinates - in other words, to create simplicity and clarity out of chaos. This entails being resilient in the face of surprise and shock, quickly recovering, and leading through the crisis at hand. They accept and turn honest mistakes into learning opportunities. They connect the needs of their subordinates and their families with available resources without fostering a culture of entitlement. They are humble men and women who are grateful for the opportunity to lead and are not burdened with a sense of entitlement for promotion and position. With strong character, they readily take action to do what is right. While doing all of the above, leaders get the job done.

 
On Commitment and Purpose

We serve our nation. For many it is a calling, for others it is a means to an end, but regardless the concept of 'service' is inherent in our role. All in the Army must be invested and believe in the success of our mission. Whether on full or part-time duty, this is not a profession in which one gets rich- it has a transcendent purpose - which is to serve. As such, it requires passion and enthusiasm, and often it demands sacrifice and service before self. It gives us meaning and identity. The rewards are many, and, concurrent with its many challenges, I believe overall service in the Army can be fun.

 

##MCECOPY##On Commitment and Purpose
##MCECOPY##On Commitment and Purpose
On Mission Command

I am a firm believer in mission command - that is, articulating intent (the 'why') and then empowering and resourcing subordinates to get on with it. In many cases, however, the centralized policy and resource environment in which we operate constrains the traditional sense of this philosophy. That said, we will use mission command to not only execute these policies, but moreover to shape and develop them. The scope and complexity of the issues with which we deal means that no one individual is the fount of all answers, and we must leverage wisdom where we find it - which is often at the grassroots level. Furthermore, no one individual can shoulder all decisions, and thus power must be distributed and command exercised collectively. In this era of rapid change, mission command also entails empowering local innovation and sharing broadly those grassroots initiative that work.

 

##MCECOPY##On Mission Command
##MCECOPY##On Mission Command
On Agility and Change.

I define agility as the ability to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances. The pace of technological change, the ability of our enemies to quickly learn, and the globalization of information all contributing to the uncertainty and volatility of our operating environment. We must be swift to adapt or else face irrelevance defeat. Agility is based on a mindset, one that must be instilled throughout all training at all rank levels. We can't be wedded to a plan, a certain way of doing business, or existing structures. We must recognize,  create, and seize opportunities. Challenging the status quo is inherently difficult so we must encourage and empower innovation at every opportunity. Part of agility is disciplined initiative - realize when the situation has changed, identify what needs to be done, and do it while ensuring no surprises for the chain of command. While mindful of the hard lessons earned in blood, we must embrace the necessity of 'change as a constant' into our culture.

 

On Agility and Change.
##MCECOPY##On Agility and Change.
On Teamwork, Respect and Dignity

The Army is a diverse group comprised of Regular, Army Reserve, Ranger, and Civilian components, all reflecting the makeup of Canada. All have a vital part in our mission and together we are 'One Army'. I consider diversity to be a force multiplier that better enables us to address complex issues and thus must be nurtured and protected. Exercising mutual respect is key and I have no time for any member of the Army who does not treat others with dignity, who impedes an inclusive environment, who does not promote a workplace free of harassment, or who otherwise exudes toxicity. We must redouble our efforts to ensure the Army reflects the talent inherent in Canadian society. Be welcoming of, look after, and look out for each other. Likewise, we will be strong team players with all external stakeholders as well, and when there is a clash of views, strive to see things from the other's perspective and assume positive intentions. Higher headquarters is not the enemy - there are enough real enemies striving to do us harm.

 

##MCECOPY##On Teamwork. Respect. and Dignity
##MCECOPY##On Teamwork. Respect. and Dignity
On Discipline and Conduct

For our members in uniform, as part of the sole institution charged with applying collective deadly force on behalf of the nation, we are rightly held to higher standards than the general population. This must be reflected in all of our activities, on and off duty, and including online, where the false cloak of anonymity will eventually fail. Our society is bombarded with conspiracy theories, extremist ideologies, hateful beliefs, and a sexualized culture. They have no place in our Army. For all members, including civilians, we are always perceived as representatives of the institution. We will all reflect and defend the values of the institution, both in word and action. Nothing erodes our credibility faster than divergence between our values and our actions, especially for leaders. Take action when inappropriate behaviour surfaces regardless of its source - to not do so is to be an accessory to it. Self-discipline is vital where one will do the right thing, even in the absence of supervision. Furthermore, I expect leaders at all levels to be vigilant and decisive in enforcing ethical standards - in a leadership vacuum divergent sub-cultures with unwelcome values will invariably and often rapidly emerge.

 

##MCECOPY##On Discipline and Conduct
##MCECOPY##On Discipline and Conduct
On Retaining Talent

Talent management and retention, especially of our mid-level leaders, warrants special mention. The long-term health and professionalism of our Army is predicated on creating the conditions for retaining and employing our members where they are best suited. In conjunction with MilPersCom, we must move from an industrial age career management system to one that is much more personalized. There does not need to be one traditional path for all. We must strive for predictability and honest, transparent communication. Leaders at all levels must be personally invested in retention. We cannot afford to bleed talent.

 

##MCECOPY##On Retaining Talent
##MCECOPY##On Retaining Talent
On Fundamentals

Despite our our best efforts, we will not get our preparations for the next conflict right - but we do need to get them right enough. That demands a solid grounding in the fundamentals of our profession. Many of these fundamentals are age old - all in uniform must be able to shoot, move, communicate, and be physically fit and mentally resilient. Recent operations have highlighted new, henceforth enduring fundamentals that must be part of our baseline, such as C-IED, combat casualty care, and population engagement. Following soldier fundamentals, all must master the core competencies of their trade. Mastery of fundamentals is a sign of true professionalism and requires deliberate effort and allocated time.

 

##MCECOPY##      On Fundamentals
##MCECOPY##      On Fundamentals
On Communication

Internal. The pandemic has reinforced our absolute need for human interaction. Communicate early and often up and down the chain. Keep subordinates informed frequently and through multiple means, especially face to face. Remember the old adage when information arrives: 'what do I need to do with it and who else needs to know'. For reporting up, also remember that bad news does not get better with time and that over communication is a good thing. I expect all to understand critical information requirements, and report appropriately when incidents arise. The overarching principle is 'no surprises'. 

External. We will be proactive and nimble in the public information space. We will own the narrative, be first with the truth, bust myths and toxic falsehoods, and to the degree allowed by law and OPSEC, be transparent. Information vacuums will be filled with speculation and lies. Throughout the Army we will actively engage with the media and increase social media engagement, always in the context of higher intent and within our arcs.

 

##MCECOPY##   On Communication
##MCECOPY##   On Communication
On Stewardship

We face significant resource pressures - but this has been the norm during the history of our Army. Let's view it as a forcing function to find innovative ways to ensure our readiness. As part of this, we must ruthlessly discipline our stewardship of resources, look after our equipment, and create a culture of pride of ownership. Likewise we must be stewards of our data - its timeliness, integrity, and security - as it becomes increasing important in our profession. Finally, commanders at all levels will be personally invested in the business planning and comptroller processes and in getting the 'most bang for the buck'.

 

##MCECOPY##On Stewardship
##MCECOPY##On Stewardship
On Force Protection

Soldiering is inherently risky. That said, nothing we do justifies unnecessary force protection risk. I charge all members of the Army to intervene if you see unsafe activities occurring - common sense must prevail. Be vigilant and be curious . If it doesn't look right - ask and act. Investigate and learn from 'near misses'. Lastly, remember OPSEC and cyber security - our enemies have many ways of gathering intelligence.

 

##MCECOPY##On Force Protection
##MCECOPY##On Force Protection
On Professional Development

History has shown that the most important activities any Army undertakes is developing junior leaders. With the pace of change in the operating environment, we cannot expect our periodic professional military education to be a panacea. I expect all commanders to execute leader development programs, including reading, writing and publishing to contribute to our body of professional knowledge. Our only enduring and meaningful legacy as commanders will be those subordinate leaders we develop who will lead us to success in our next fight. This principle of professional development applies to all - focus on getting better every day as a person and as a professional. A day in the Army when you don’t learn something new is a day wasted.

 

##MCECOPY##On Professional Development
##MCECOPY##On Professional Development
On Total Fitness and Balanced Lives

Fitness across all domains greatly improves not only quality of life, but moreover individual and collective performance, and thus is a key contributor to readiness. We must strive to improve physical performance and cognitive abilities and set conditions for healthy, balanced living, which will be greatly enhanced by numerous efforts:

  1. We will aggressively evolve and implement Mission: Ready as the key driver of Army Total Fitness. This will remain nested under the numerous CAF Total Health and Wellness initiatives, such as the recently published physical performance strategy, Balance. I am a convinced that the powerful combination of daily physical activity, healthy nutrition, sleep hygiene, and injury prevention will stand all in good stead in all aspects of professional and personal lives.
  2. There is more work than we have capacity to accomplish. I expect ruthless prioritization of tasks and clear communication on what will not get done. We have a culture of trying to do everything, with certain tasks falling off by default, not by deliberate decision.
  3. I expect all to maintain an overall work-life balance. In this profession 'service above self' will on average prevail, but there will be certain life events where self and family will come before service. Use your leave - all of it - for its intended purpose. In our connected world, avoid intruding on others' personal time by sending non­ operationally urgent emails after work hours or on weekends. If working remotely, create a clear separation between work and home. Recognize the signs of burnout in yourself and others, and take action - we need you for the long run.
  4. Finally, social balance is vital. The pandemic has clearly highlighted this need. Create and enjoy opportunities to get out and talk, socialize, and build support networks with others. Life in the Army goes beyond just work.
##MCECOPY## On Total Fitness and Balanced Lives.
##MCECOPY## On Total Fitness and Balanced Lives.

In closing, I very much look forward to continuing to soldier with you, and together we will be stewards of our Army's success. I expect commanders at all levels the share this document with all ranks.

Lieutenant-General W.D. Eyre
Commander Canadian Army

 

 
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