Unity of command

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Unity of command is ensuring unity of effort under one responsible person (or commander) for completing a task.

American Military Principles[edit]

This unity of command is one of the twelve principles of joint operations, and is defined as:[1]

Unity of command means that all forces operate under a single commander with the requisite authority to direct all forces employed in pursuit of a common purpose. During multinational operations and interagency coordination, unity of command may not be possible, but the requirement for unity of effort becomes paramount. Unity of effort—the coordination and cooperation toward common objectives, even if the participants are not necessarily part of the same command or organization—is the product of successful unified action.

Military Problems[edit]

When this unity of command principle is violated problems quickly develop. A recent example involves the unprecedented departure of this principle in Afghanistan in 2006 when Combined Forces Command-Afghanistan passed control of the ground fight to the International Security Assistance Force. This caused the operations to split between several unified commanders in charge of U.S. Central Command, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and the U.S. Special Operations Command, which caused significant operational problems.[2]


  1. ^ Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff (11 August 2011). "Joint Operations (Joint Publication 3-0)" (PDF). Washington, DC. p. A-2. Retrieved 23 September 2015.
  2. ^ Hope, Ian (November 2008). "Unity of Command in Afghanistan: A Forsaken Principle of War". Carlisle Barracks, PA: Strategic Studies Institute. Retrieved 23 September 2015.