Over the last couple of years, I have been digging into Mission Command and Maneuver Warfare quite a bit (hat tip Don Vandergriff, Jörg Muth and others). I guess my reasoning is that I am constantly seeking new ideas on how to build a better private military and security company or PMSC. My simple question is ‘would this work for a PMSC?’ or ‘can some aspect of this be applicable?’.

The simple answer for this latest information brought to you by Chet Richards is yes, I think it is absolutely applicable. My industry is composed of companies that operate mostly in war zones, and their head sheds are usually thousands of miles away. Good organizational climate is vital if the company wants it’s various contracts located all over the world to run efficiently and be contract compliant. Especially since a PM cannot be everywhere at once. A PM has to trust that things are being run well out there, and those contractors need to be set up for success and operate on their own. The leaders of these various contracts need to be good leaders and make life and death/contract saving decisions on their own, and at any time. A system or culture needs to be in place that sets up that contract for success and promotes initiative and harmony.

That, and this industry is inching closer and closer to more of a war fighting industry. Companies need to have an operating system or culture that supports contracts for the defense as well as for the offense.

With that said, Chet’s presentation covers what Mission Command and  Maneuver Warfare is all about and what companies can learn from the practitioners of MC. Most importantly he talks about why this is important and why these concepts are so powerful.

He specifically gets into EBFAS, which is the German acronym that John Boyd used to summarize his ideal organizational climate for a group–Einheit, Behendigkeit, Fingerspitzengefühl, Auftragstaktik, and Schwerpunkt. The reason why it is in German is because the concepts were derived from the German Wehrmacht way of war during World War 2 and 1 (and throughout their early Prussian history), and the German words have a wide variety of meanings. Here is a quote from Chet about EBFAS.

“EBFAS” was Boyd’s German acronym from the elements of his organizational climate. I’m very glad to learn that we have visitors who aren’t familiar with it. Certain to Win has a chapter on a simplified version, “EFAS,” in Certain to Win, and there’s a description of the complete version in the presentation Boyd’s Big Ideas, which you can download from the Articles page, beginning on chart 66. The simplification, incidentally, was Boyd’s suggestion. Certain to Win is available from Amazon and other online book sellers.

Briefly, the idea is that successful organizations fire up the creativity and initiative of all their members and then harmonize this power to accomplish the purposes of the organization. In a competitive environment, successful organizations do this better than their competitors.

So my first recommendation to leaders in a turnaround is to get the culture healthy, get the engine firing again. If you know what you’re doing, it doesn’t have to take long. Dean Lenane tells how he did it in The Turnaround, also available from our Articles page.

Why EBFAS? Well, back in the seventies and eighties, Boyd and company were studying ways of defeating the Russians during the Cold War. They stumbled upon some excellent ideas coming from the history of war fighting and specifically, from WW 2. Namely what the Germans did to prepare for their wars.

They also figured out how the Germans were able to defeat Russian forces much larger than themselves in battle, and a big part of that was the way they were organized and their command culture. Boyd was inspired by Germans like General Hermann Balck and after my own studies, it is easy to see where EBFAS came from and why Boyd and his guys were so inspired. (I highly recommend reading Balck’s book)

Back to my focus on this stuff. I am constantly looking for ideas on how to create the ultimate PMSC culture, and I believe EBFAS is the secret sauce. Or call it the optimum operating system, in computer speak. The military has Mission Command–this industry can call it Contract Command. lol

You can also use EBFAS to rate companies and see where they are strong and where they are deficient. Once you embrace the ideas presented, you cannot help but to view companies and units with an EBFAS filter, or rate leaders of companies on how well they support einheit and EBFAS.

On facebook I actually created an album dedicated to EBFAS and I recommend folks to check that out if they can. It is a living document of sorts because I am constantly adding to it, and it gets comments that build upon the ideas presented.

So without further delay, here is the video to watch and I have included the pdf as well. It explains completely what EBFAS is and why it is important to companies and military units. Enjoy. –Matt

All By Ourselves, by Chet Richards paper here.


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From Certain to Win, by Chet Richards