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Commanders are responsible for effectively managing risk. They must--

  • Willingly determine the proper balance that will achieve optimum performance from their command.
  • Select the best risk-reduction options from those that the staff provides.
  • Accept or reject residual risk, based on perceived benefits.


a. Executive Officer.

The executive officer (XO), as director of the staff, ensures integration of risk management in all aspects of staff planning, directing, coordinating, and controlling to support force protection.

b. Staff Officer. In the risk management process, each staff officer must--

  • Recommend appropriate control measures.
  • Use risk management to assess his or her functional area.
  • Recommend appropriate control measures to reduce or eliminate risk.
  • Integrate selected risk control into plans and orders.

c. Troop Leaders. Troop leaders must--

  • Review control measures for feasibility.
  • Report risk issues beyond their control or authority to their seniors for resolution.
  • Recommend changes to improve synchronization of their operations in support of the higher commander's plan.
  • Use the risk management process to identify, assess, and control hazards for their mission.


a. First Three Steps. During the planning of risk management procedures, include the first three steps of the five-step risk management process. These steps are as follows:

(1) Step 1. Identify the major events that are expected to occur during the operation and the hazards associated with all specified and implied tasks. The staff reviews and expands, as appropriate, the list of hazards and major events during the wargame. This procedure helps to ensure that all significant hazards have been identified, and the staff can determine the appropriate force protection measures.

(2) Step 2. Assess hazards. By assessing hazards and evaluating battlefield-framework synchronization, the staff can--

  • Figure out the level of risk associated with a given hazard.
  • Decide where and when control measures are appropriate to protect the force.

(3) Step 3. Develop controls, and balance a course of action's (COA's) benefits with its potential risks. The staff must--

  • Identify hazards and assess risk.
  • Focus on critical events first.
  • Eliminate unnecessary risks.
  • Reduce the amount of mission-essential and prudent risks by applying controls.
  • Develop control options that synchronize the operation that eliminate or reduce risks.
  • Recommend options for the commander's decision.

Note: In order of priority, options are to eliminate risks through controls or materiel solutions. Leaders should check for residual effects before carrying out risk-reduction options, visualizing what will happen once they implement the option. Often, reducing one risk can create another which, in turn, could introduce other risks or inhibit the execution of Army operations.

b. Risk-Assessment Matrices. Risk-assessment matrices provide a simple analysis method of subdividing an operation into its major operational events to discover areas where the staff might eliminate or reduce risk. The matrix is nearly always more effective than intuitive methods in identifying the extent of risk.

(1) Unit commanders should use the four-level matrix that results in a mission risk assessment of low, medium, high, or extremely high. Other risk management tools that are used to assess hazards should be converted to the four-level matrix to ensure that the resultant hazard assessment product is compatible with risk decision guidance and risk-acceptance approval authority. Units can use the risk-assessment matrix alone or with other analysis techniques.

(2) When using a risk-assessment matrix, the risk assessor must--

  • Review each situation to ensure he has evaluated all significant areas of concern, even if the matrix does not include them.
  • Use the matrix to analyze risk and target areas of concern for risk-reducing techniques.
  • Review individual areas of concern before recommending options.

c. METT-T Risk Assessment. Another technique the risk assessor can use is the mission, enemy, terrain, troops, and time available (METT-T) risk-assessment procedure. Leaders can subjectively decide the likelihood and extent of accidental loss based on this type of analysis. When using the METT-T format, the risk assessor must--

  • Determine the mission's complexity and difficulty.
  • Assess the enemy situation and identify specific hazards.
  • Consider all aspects of the terrain as well as weather and visibility.
  • Determine the supervision required and evaluate the experience, training, morale, and endurance of units and their equipment.
  • Determine the time available for planning and executing the mission.

d. Fratricide Countermeasures. The commander's decision and supervision of fratricide countermeasures occur later in tactical decisionmaking (after completing the COA analysis). These important points are the means by which the commander benefits from his staff's work. Steps 4 and 5 are included here to preclude oversight:

(1) Step 4. Decide, implement controls, and integrate specific controls into plans, operation orders (OPORDs), standing operating procedures (SOPs), and rehearsals. Knowledge of controls, from the commander to the individual soldier, is essential for successfully implementing and executing controls.

(2) Step 5. Supervise. The commander must enforce controls. Leaders monitor, follow-up, verify, and correct or modify, as appropriate, controls that the commander imposes on his subordinates. When monitoring operational activities, leaders must--

  • Avoid administrative intrusions on their subordinates' time.
  • Go where the risks are and spend time at the heart of the action.
  • Analyze and think through issues, not just watch.
  • Work with key personnel to improve operational procedures after the action. (Leaders must not hesitate to assess imminent danger issues on the spot.)
  • Fix systemic problems that are hindering combat effectiveness.
  • Capture and distribute lessons learned from mishaps and near misses for future use.


Leaders also must balance the cost of risks with the value of the desired outcome. They must consider and manage risks in making such decisions using the following four general rules:

a. Never accept an unnecessary risk. The leader who has the authority to accept or reject a risk is responsible for protecting his soldiers from unnecessary risks. If he can eliminate or reduce a risk and still accomplish the mission, the risk is unnecessary.

b. Make risk decisions at the appropriate level. The leader who must answer for an accident is the person who should make the decision to accept or reject the risk. In most cases, he will be a senior officer, but small-unit commanders and first-line leaders might also have to make risk decisions during combat. Therefore, they should learn to make risk decisions during training.

c. Ensure that the benefits of a prudent risk outweigh the possible cost of the risk. Leaders must understand the possible risk and have a clear picture of the benefits to be gained from taking that risk.

d. Integrate protection into planning. Leaders must bring protection into the planning process. If there are means available to protect soldiers from known and possible hazards of a given mission, leaders need to plan for and use them.

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