Leadership: Risk Management for Sergeants


April 1, 2006: American troops have been armed with math tools, like Risk Management" that give them a battlefield edge. It's something that began during World War II, and has quietly continued, and grown, over the decades. The current favorite is "Risk Management," which is something usually associated with MBAs and similar professionals who are comfortable with math and lots of information. But the U.S. Army has managed to come up with a version that any G.I. can use. It's basically a series of check lists. The sergeant or junior officer getting ready for a mission merely uses a series of matrices, each containing a different item that has to be gone over before mission. For example, how well trained are the troops going out on this mission? This could range from "nothing beyond basic" to the latest high intensity combat drills. The other side of the chart lists the three levels of enemy competence expected. Well trained troops versus a so-so enemy gets you one point. Poorly trained troops going after a tough foe gets you five points. Other matrices cover stuff like your equipment, intel, how much sleep your people have had and so on. Go through a dozen or so matrices and add up your score. This will show you what degree of risk you face today, and you can adjust your operations accordingly. This sort of thing has been particularly useful for NCOs and junior officers getting ready to move out with a convoy in Iraq.

Now an experienced NCO or officer could do all this in their head. But how do you get all that experience without getting a lot of people killed in the process? You do it with risk management tools like this. Thus the risk management drill becomes both a training exercise, as well as a battlefield tool. It's stuff like this that gives well trained troops the edge. The more successful terrorists use similar skills and tools.




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