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Recon Pull is a style of controlling military maneuver favoring decentralized control.
Recon Pull is often likened to (or even considered equivalent to) the German term Auftragstaktik: mission orders: the orders say "what to do, and why it has to be done". The assumption is that the order-receiver is best-placed to decide how to do the job, but needs to understand the bigger picture. The order-receiver puts their effort into describing how the sub-units fit into the bigger plan. This takes advantage of the subordinate force's proximity to the actual situation, and more thorough knowledge of its own capabilities than is usually enjoyed by the central authority.
For Recon Pull to work, the subordinate units need to be intelligent and well-informed (which may require communication of battlefield intelligence from other units within the theater, hence the "Recon" in "Recon Pull"). Also, at least as important, the central authority needs to be willing to "let go" and trust its subordinates to do the right thing, providing only critical mission information such as the ultimate goal of the theater and the time of convergence (q.v. AI Plans).
When Recon Pull works well, knowledge of the opposing force's weaknesses acts like a funnel pulling water, with the friendly forces travelling the path of least resistance to converge upon the theater goal.
Recon Pull is contrasted with Command Push.
In the context of FreeCiv, the AI players (as of the time of this writing -- FreeCiv v2.0.2) largely operate according to Recon Pull -- with some exceptions, each unit chooses its own actions, pulling information from outside sources as needed. This is interesting from an academic perspective in that many of the potential pitfalls of Recon Pull are demonstrated in the AI players' behaviors (perhaps unavoidably, as there is not much per-unit or per-terrain complexity in FreeCiv, nor are the individual units highly intelligent).