Centralized Control and Decentralized Execution: A Catchphrase in Crisis?
AIR UNIV MAXWELL AFB AL AIR FORCE RESEARCH INST
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When Lt. Colonel Clint Hinote examined recent combat operations in Afghanistan and Iraq in terms of the operational intersection of air and ground forces, he discovered a continuing dialog about one of the Air Forces major tenets -- centralized control, decentralized execution. He suggests that all parties, both ground and air advocates, may need to reexamine the purpose and application of this doctrinal point. All services since World War II have been interested in this issue everyone is seeking to make air-ground operations both effective and efficient. He points out that the issue between centralization and decentralization has an enduring quality, too, one that goes beyond air-ground operations, and he employs the famous theoretician, B. H. Liddell Hart, to suggest that centralizationdecentralization is always a compromise in combat. Hinote calls on Airmen to examine this issue because they need to communicate better its application in operations. Hinotes primary premise is that Airmen need to understand that there is an inherent need for balance between centralization and decentralization. He again uses Hart to underline the message that there is a service proclivity to seek service points of view which preclude balance. This monograph concludes with three recommendations that will help clarify the tenet and reclaim its original intent. First, we should examine potential changes to the language we choose to summarize the tenet. Second, we should create doctrine that teaches airmen how to apply the tenet with the flexibility that is inherent in airpower itself. Third, we should apply this updated doctrine and adopt a more flexible approach to our command and control arrangements in ongoing operations.
- Humanities and History
- Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
- Command, Control and Communications Systems