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by SFC Vernon Hamaker

With the fast operating tempo of today's Army, risk management has become a very important tool to minimize operational accidents, preserve combat power, and increase combat readiness. The risk management process is applicable for training in garrison and in the field, as well as in wartime and in operations other than war. It can be used both on and off duty. The key to success is to focus on safety and operational risk during mission planning, execution, and assessment. The five steps of the risk management process are:

  • Identify Hazards: Consider all aspects of current and future situations, environment, and known historical problem areas.

  • Assess Hazards: Assess the impact of each hazard in terms of potential loss and cost based on probability and severity.

  • Develop Controls and Make Risk Decisions: Develop control measures that eliminate the hazard or reduce its risk. As control measures are developed, risks are reevaluated until the residual risk is at a level where the benefits outweigh the cost.

  • Implement Controls: Eliminate the hazard or reduce its risk.

  • Supervise and evaluate: Enforce standards and controls. Evaluate the effectiveness of controls and adjust/update as necessary.

THE PROBLEM: Current trends at NTC indicate that units have difficulty developing a detailed risk assessment prior to each mission. This is due to the lack of integration of the risk management process during mission planning, execution, and assessment. Units are often only doing safety risk assessments rather than including operational assessments into their risk management worksheet. Risk management at company, platoon, and squad levels is often weak due to the lack of understanding and training on the process.

TECHNIQUES: The following techniques will assist the company, platoon, and squad in revitalizing their risk management process.


  • Integrate risk management into the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP) for every mission: field and garrison, training, and operations.
  • Make a risk management "Area of Responsibilities" matrix.
  • Conduct semiannual training on the risk management process.

Platoon and Squad

  • Integrate risk management into troop-leading procedures (TLP) for every mission.
  • Sergeants' Time training is the ideal training event for squad leaders to assist the platoon leader in platoon risk management and in conducting the squad's risk management.
  • Make a risk management "Area of Responsibilities" matrix for both the platoon and the squad.
  • Conduct quarterly training on the risk management process.



MISSION: A CO/ XX ENGINEER BATTALION conducts breaching operations in the vicinity of OBJ DALLAS, on or about 120500FEBXX in order to maintain the momentum of TF Houston's attack.

SITUATION: The obstacle is a 200m X 120m surface laid antitank minefield with three rows. A single strand of barbed wire marks the front of the minefield. There is a Motorized Rifle Platoon overwatching the obstacle supported by field artillery.

CONDITIONS: LD for OBJ DALLAS on or about 120330FEBXX with the TF. Breaching operations will begin on order of the TF Commander. The predicted temperature and weather for 12 FEB XX is a high of 65 degrees, a low of 45 degrees, 25% chance of rain, wind 5 knots from the west, illumination will be at 40%, between 2330 and 0333 hours. The terrain is rocky with steep ravines and sandy desert areas. During this time of year it is usually dusty and dry.

FACTS: The safety officer has been in the company for the last ten months. During this time he has attended all unit training and operations. A safety assessment of the unit has been conducted. Based on this he knows:

  • The unit is at 90% strength. The commander rates the unit a "P" due to the fact that 45% of the soldiers arrived at the unit after the last major training exercise.
  • The unit is trained on low-visibility operations and on the use of NVGs, but there are only five pairs of serviceable NVGs per platoon.
  • The soldiers will be performing continuous operations. The OPORD does not cover rest/sleep plans.

(See Sample Risk Management Worksheet below.)


The above observations and techniques revolve around command, communications, leader supervision, and training. Remember the bottom line: Integrating the risk management process during mission planning, execution and assessment (including both safety and operational risk) will preserve combat power and increase combat readiness.

For more information about risk management, go to on the Internet.

Additional Risk Assessment Tools: Leader Training Support Package, Soldier Training Support Package, Small Unit Risk Management Booklet, and Commander and Staff Risk Management Booklet can be found at .

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