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Historically, the U. S. Army has suffered more losses to accidents (including fratricide) than to enemy action while deployed in combat theaters. Typically, these accidents are the same types experienced in peacetime during exercises at home station and at combat training centers (CTCs). A battle-focused training program can identify and correct the reasons for these accidents and protect the force. Effective force protection provides the commander a full measure of combat power for use at the decisive point and time.

Combat power is generated by men and machines performing battlefield operating system (BOS) functions in the operational environment. The seven BOS functions are maneuver, fire support, air defense, battle command, intelligence, mobility and survivability and combat service support. Accidents occur when performance of these functions is below standard due to human error, materiel failure or inadequate precautions for environmental factors. As in any after-action review, identifying below-standard performance tells what happened, but is only the first step to improvement. The second step is to identify the reasons why it happened. These reasons are found in factors that affect the ability of BOS functions to protect the force.

U. S. Army experience reveals five such factors that are sources of accidents. The first factor is support which functions to meet operational requirements for equipment, supplies, personnel, facilities, maintenance and services, e.g., medical. The second factor is standards which are procedures with performance criteria that exist for each task and are clear and practical. The third is training which provides the skills and knowledge necessary for performance to standard. The fourth is the leader who ensures performance to standard through guidance, teaching, oversight and enforcement. The last is the individual who is responsible for self-disciplined performance and conduct. Given adequate support, standards, training and leadership, the individual is expected to perform tasks to standard in operational conditions.

BOS functions that are in a below-standard status are hazards because this condition leads to human error, materiel failure and inadequate precautions for environmental factors that cause accidents. The final step to improved force protection is to identify what to do to control these hazards and thus reduce the risk of accidents. The U. S. Army's doctrinal process for identifying and controlling hazards is risk management. The process has five steps: (1) Identify Hazards, (2) Assess Risk of Each Hazard, (3) Make Risk Decisions and Develop Controls, (4) Implement Controls, and (5) Supervise. (These steps are fully explained in Chapter 4 and Appendices F and N of FM 101-5, Staff Organizations and Operations, Final Draft, Aug 93; and Chapter 3, FM 25-101, Battle-Focused Training, Sep 90).

The successful commander will use risk management first as a means of establishing and sustaining the performance of BOS functions to standard, i.e., minimizing human error, materiel failure and the effects of environmental factors and second as a means to continuously improve his unit's training and operational capabilities by creating new standards. To do this, he will:

1. Identify opportunities to increase training realism for current operational capabilities and identify opportunities to enhance operational capabilities.

2. Identify and assess hazards that form the safety basis for existing training and operational standards.

3. For these hazards, eliminate/substitute/modify existing controls for training and identify creative/new technology controls for operational capabilities.

4. Use these control options to create an optimal mix of the following benefits:
  • Conduct more realistic training.
  • Increase operational capability.
  • Reduce risk to the force.

Vignette - Unrehearsed Night Occupation of a Lodgement Area

Risk Management Integration--Summary

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One Billion Americans: The Case for Thinking Bigger - by Matthew Yglesias