--Mission Command


4-20. Stability tasks tend to be decentralized in nature, over extended distances. As such, Infantry unit activities will consist largely of unrelated small-unit operations conducted across an assigned area of operation. Units must conduct these operations with consistency, impartiality, and discipline to encourage cooperation from unified action partners for a cohesive effort.

4-21. Stability tasks, more so than offensive and defensive tasks, present a unique challenge. Where offense and defense typically focuses on the defeat of an enemy force, stability focuses on the people. In setting the tone for planning, the Infantry leader provides─

  • Understanding.
  • The intent and planning guidance.
  • Concept of operation.

4-22. The platoon leader must clearly understand mission, situation, commander’s intent and he must ensure his subordinate units understand as well. He must plan for continuous operations, and, as with offense and defense, planning and preparation time is often limited. The plan must facilitate adjustment based upon changes in the situation. Additional considerations and activities include—

  • Civil-military operations (CMO).
  • Civil affairs operations.
  • Military information support operations (MISO).
  • Rules of engagement. (See chapter 1, section I of this publication for more information.)
  • Rules of interaction, which includes:
    • persuasion
    • negotiation
    • communication skills
  • Task organization.
    • Augmentation. Required individual augmentees and augmentation cells to support force-tailoring requirements and personnel shortfalls. Augmentation supports coordination with the media, government agencies, nongovernmental organizations, international organizations, other multinational forces, and civil-military elements. Analyses of METT-TC drive augmentation.
    • Liaison. Task-organized small liaison teams to deal with situations that develop with the local population. Depending the situation requirements, unit ministry, engineers, MISO, civil affairs, counterintelligence , linguistics, and logistics personnel may be task-organized to make up these liaison teams. These teams can free up maneuver elements (may require security from platoon) and facilitate negotiation. Negotiation teams must have linguists and the personnel who have the authority to negotiate.
    • Operations with outside agencies. Includes other U.S. armed services or government agencies as well as international organizations (including nongovernmental organizations, coalition, and United Nation military forces or agencies). Coordination and integration of civilian and military activities must take place at every level. Coordinating centers such as the civil-military operations center are designed to accomplish this task. These operations centers should include representatives from as many agencies as required.
  • Media. Soldiers must be aware of current media reports from about the area and be willing to work with journalists in efforts to promote good relationship and combat false information. Involvement with media should be coordinated under public affairs guidance.


4-23. Soldiers derive their effectiveness from their ability to understand and work with foreign counterparts from another culture. They need to understand enough of their own culture and their counterpart’s culture to accurately convey ideas, concepts, and purpose without causing counterproductive consequences. Soldiers need to be aware of aspects of the local culture and history that influence behavior in their operational environment. Soldiers need to understand the reasons and motivations underlying personal interaction and practice patience when working with their counterparts. Group norms guide individual behavior, and Soldiers need to understand how individuals in a society tend to interact as members of a group, whether a race, ethnic, or kinship group. Cultural understanding is not derived from demographic information provided to the military through country briefs prior to deployment. It is gained from studying, interacting, and understanding the people, religion, history, customs, and social and political structures within an area. For true understanding, it is necessary to live among the people, gradually understanding the subtleties and nuances of their culture. Leaders in the Infantry company ensure that Soldiers understand that the actions of one can have a positive or negative effect in the way that the entire unit is viewed by the local population. (Refer to ATP 3-07.10 for more information.)


4-24. Leaders use their own themes and messages to support their narratives. Narratives are tied to actions in their operational environments and area of operations. A narrative is a brief description of a leader’s story used to visualize effects the leader wants to achieve in the information environment to support and shape their operational environments. An effective leader’s theme supports overarching U.S. Government and higher headquarters themes, has details, and is tailored to environmental conditions in their area of operations.

4-25. Themes are planning tools that guide development of the narrative, messages, and other information products (talking points, MISO objectives, and public affairs guidance). Themes represent broad ideas the leader wants to convey to selected audiences. Themes are not communicated to selected audiences, messages are. Themes are broad and enduring, and as such, they do not change frequently.

4-26. They can be verbal, written, gestured, or electronic communications supporting a theme focused on an audience. They support a specific action or objective. Messages are tailored to specific audiences. Leaders use messages to communicate clear information and, if necessary, elicit a response or change in behavior. Messages are situation and mission dependent. Command information messages convey local leaders’ policies and intent to their subordinates.

4-27. The public affairs officer develops command information and public information messages. Army public information is information of a military nature, the dissemination of which is consistent with security and the DOD principles of information. Command information is communication from the commander to help members of the command understand organizational goals, operations, and significant developments. (Refer to FM 3-61 for more information.)

4-28. Psychological messages convey specific information to selected foreign audiences to influence their perceptions, attitudes, beliefs, and behavior. The military information support planner or unit develops these messages. MISO messages and actions support themes established in the approved MISO program for that particular mission. (Refer to JP 3-13.2 and ADRP 3-05 for detailed information on MISO.)

Actions Reinforce Messages

4-29. Leaders consider perceptions and ramifications of their actions to gain and maintain support of populations in conflict areas. Leaders first understand host-nation laws and cultures, enabling them to operate effectively in the information environment. Second, leaders determine how to inform audiences at home, gain support abroad, and generate support or empathy for missions in their area of operations.

4-30. Leaders use information to marginalize or defeat adversary or enemy information efforts by shaping attitudes and behaviors of foreign audiences residing in area of operations. Synchronized themes, messages, and actions support the leader’s operational goals by integrating words, images, and deeds to avoid confusion or information fratricide.


4-31. All activities in the information environment communicate in some way. They serve to make an impression on minds of those that observe or hear those communications. Leaders and staffs distinguish the two lines of effort by intention of the communicator and the message. Sometimes, a communication intended merely to inform might eventually lead to a changed opinion or behavior. A communication designed to influence may not achieve the desired outcome. (Refer to FM 3-13 for more information.)