Tough, realistic training conducted to standard is the cornerstone of Army warfighting skills. An intense training environment stresses both soldiers and equipment, creating a high potential for accidents. The potential for accidents increases as training realism increases. Thus realistic training can pose a serious drain on warfighting assets. Commanders must find ways to protect individuals, crews, teams, and equipment from accidents during realistic training to prepare for war. An accidental loss in war is no different in its effects from a combat loss; the asset is gone. How well commanders do this could be the decisive factor in winning or losing. Commanders and staffs should use this chapter as a guide for developing SOPs and managing risk as it applies to their organization and mission.


Risk management is a tool leaders should use to make smart risk decisions in tactical operations. It allows leaders to execute more realistic training not otherwise practical because of the high probability of accidents. Risk management is a commonsense way of accomplishing the mission with the least risk possible. It is a method of getting the job done by identifying the areas that present the highest risk and taking action to eliminate, reduce, or control the risk. Risk management is a judgmental process, not a form to fill out. It is a how-to-think process, not a what to do. It is a continuous process, not just an element of mission planning. Risk management thereby becomes a fully integrated part of mission planning and execution.


Risk management is not complex, technical, or difficult. It is a comparatively simple decision-making process--a way of thinking through a mission to balance mission demands against risks. Once understood, risk management is a way to put more realism into training without paying a price in deaths, injuries, damaged equipment, or all three. Risk management is not limited to situational training exercises. It is performed during actual combat as well as in peacetime. Leaders must learn to assess risks during training events and apply the same techniques during combat actions. During combat, risks may be taken but only after they are evaluated and weighed as they are during training.

a. Leaders. Management of risk is a leadership responsibility. To meet this responsibility, leaders--

(1) Do not accept any unnecessary risk. If a risk can be eliminated or reduced and the mission still be accomplished, the risk is unnecessary and must not be accepted.

(2) Seek optimum, not just adequate, performance.

(3) Make risk decisions at the appropriate level. The leader who will answer for the risk's effect on the mission is the one who should make the decision.

(4) Accept or reject residual risks based on the benefit to be derived. Do not gamble with a risk. The benefits of accepting a risk must clearly outweigh the potential cost.

(5) Train and motivate subordinates to understand, internalize, and effectively use the risk management process.

(6) Integrate risk management into the planning stage of all operations. Leaders must integrate safety risk management into the training management cycle and the mission operational analysis. Commanders must issue specific safety guidance that clearly states their goals, objectives, and priorities. Safety risk management is not an addition to the training management cycle, the operational analysis, or the tactical decision-making process. It is a normal by-product and provides an operational thought process that commanders can use to protect their forces from accidental losses. Risk management is most valuable if risk management procedures are integrated when the mission is received. Commanders must ensure that their staffs and individual soldiers are well trained in the concept and application of risk management. Only through training can soldiers become proficient in the application of risk management as a decision-making process. Tasks that are well learned and repeatedly trained to standard are more likely to produce the desired effect.

b. Staff. The staff--

(1) Assists the commander in assessing risks and developing risk reduction options.

(2) Integrates risk controls into plans and orders.

(3) Eliminates unnecessary safety restrictions that diminish training effectiveness.

(4) Identifies and evaluates risks associated with the various actions during training events and on the battlefield.

(5) Develops controls to reduce risks associated with the various actions during training and on the battlefield. Risks associated with training events normally revolve only around the loss of personnel and equipment. However, risks associated with combat operations include the loss of personnel and equipment and the risk to the mission or the risk of choosing an unsuccessful course of action.

(6) Assesses operational risk.

(a) Using the factors of METT-T to identify the risk to mission accomplishment, the staff begins to assess operational risk. The most important consideration is the outcome of the operation for the unit, higher headquarters, and adjacent and supporting units. Risk analysis is formulated using a course of action that is developed along the spectrum of frequent to unlikely. As necessary, the staff reviews and expands the list of risks and critical events during the war game. It then evaluates the possible consequences of those risks from catastrophic to negligible. This procedure helps the staff detect specific risks associated with specified and implied tasks.

(b) The staff also identifies information that the commander must have to assume an operational risk and takes the necessary action to focus the collective efforts. This information includes enemy, friendly, and technical information. The focus of the information is on the enemy's capability to respond to the decision to assume the risk and its capability to exploit any friendly failures. Critical elements of information include the unit's ability to exploit its own success and react to a failure if the risk to the unit or mission is realized.

(c) The final assessment of risk is made after all other factors have been considered. To assess operational risks, commanders must possess intuitive skills and be able to make sound judgments. Simply stated, a course of action becomes an operational risk when the entire mission or a portion of the mission cannot be accomplished.

(7) Considers losses of personnel, fratricide, and the positioning of the force for future operations at the end state. The staff assesses risk to the force the way they assess operational risk.

(8) Identifies the elements of risk and the command and control and/or procedural and positive controls to apply to reduce the risk. This allows the commander to check for residual effects before implementing a particular risk-reduction option. As the staff assesses hazards and identifies risks, command and control and procedural and positive controls are identified in the war game.

c. Safety Officer. The safety officer--

(1) Advises the commander on all safety issues regarding the assessment of risk. He also advises the commander on mission planning, coordination, and development of plans and orders to conserve warfighting resources.

(2) Prepares assessments of risks during the planning process that address potential accidental losses during training and tactical operations.

(3) Plans and supervises safety assessments of training and tactical operations and recommends risk-reduction options. As the commander's representative on risk management, the safety officer is most effective if he works directly with the operations officer during the planning phase.

d. Crews.

(1) Mission planning cells. Mission planning cells implement risk management at the earliest stages of mission planning. They also develop risk-reduction options early enough in the planning process to allow leaders to make decisions and implement countermeasures before flight crew briefings are conducted.

(2) Aircrews. During mission planning and execution, aircrews apply the principles of crew coordination as they work together to identify hazards, assess risks, and apply sound countermeasures. They also brief-back unanticipated hazards and any countermeasures that were taken to aid in future mission planning.

e. Individuals. Self-discipline is critical to the individual's role in risk management. Accident data analysis shows that an average of 48 percent of all human-error accidents occur because individuals do not follow standards (self-discipline). Individuals must follow risk-control options unless those options are unrealistic. Many risk-control options are implemented by regulations, FMs, TMs, and SOPs. Individuals must--

(1) Understand, accept, and implement risk reduction guidance.

(2) Maintain a constant awareness of the changing risks associated with the operation.

(3) Use the risk management process to assess risks and take the necessary steps to reduce the ones that can be controlled. Risks that are above individual control level must be passed back up the chain of command for assessment and risk reduction options.

(4) Make leaders immediately aware of any unrealistic risk reduction procedure.


Commanders must conduct risk management training for their units. They also must lead this training to establish their goals, objectives, and priorities. Risk management training should establish a philosophy for unit personnel to follow when they are confronted with risk management decisions while conducting unit training or combat operations.


a. Before a major FTX or CTC rotation, commanders should assess the current tactical training status of the unit. At D-120 days, the commander examines the evaluation of the projected requirements. He then develops a training strategy and focuses resources for the major training event.

b. At D-30 days, the commander conducts a final evaluation of the status of training. To finalize mission requirements, the commander coordinates with the supported ground commander. The commander must avoid the "can-do" attitude and ensure that no unrealistic requirements exist. The ground commander must be advised of any nonstandard procedures or risk control measures to be used during the training exercises. The ground commander must be part of the risk management process and be willing to accept the level of risk associated with his troops and the success of the mission.


a. Step 1: Identify Hazards.

(1) Identify major events of the operational sequence and list them chronologically; then, if necessary, display them in a flow chart. This process helps detect specific hazards associated with all specified and implied tasks. Safety can be built into an operation by first seeing the operation in its entirety. Operations can be broken down into a series of phases, each with special characteristics and considerations. As soon as the commander states the mission and concept, key events usually can be defined. Operations also have a time factor--a beginning-to-ending series of events in which timing is often as important as the events themselves. The operations analysis helps the commander define the flow and time sequencing of events quickly. The objective of the analysis is to show the entire operation from preparatory actions until the operation is completed or the next phase of operations is under way.

(2) Complete a preliminary hazard analysis of operational events. The preliminary hazard analysis is the initial examination and shows the implications of operational hazards. This analysis normally is based on the mission analysis and data-base review. It is completed before the details of an operation are completely defined. The objective of the preliminary hazard analysis is to define expected hazards as early as possible in the operational life cycle. Early definition means that these hazards can be addressed when the operation is still being planned. This also allows the greatest flexibility in the use of risk reduction measures. Hazard identification and analysis does not end with mission planning. Leaders and crews must continually search for and analyze hazards that may affect mission completion.

b. Step 2: Assess Risks. Determine the magnitude of the risks associated with each hazard. Assess each event, determine if it is routine, and make an initial risk assessment in terms of effect and probability. Ensure that standards for routine events are adequate to provide an acceptable level of risk.

(1) Consider the value of a risk matrix or decision guide for all or part of the operation. Risk matrices provide a quick and ready method of breaking down an operation into its major operational aspects and eliminating or controlling the risks associated with it. Like other risk assessment tools, risk matrices can be used alone or with other risk analysis techniques to provide a quick overview of the risk situation. Risk matrices are simple enough to be used routinely by tactical leaders in operational planning. They are nearly always more effective than intuitive methods in identifying the extent of risk. When using risk matrices, the risk assessor should--

(a) Review each situation to ensure that all significant areas of concern are evaluated, even if they are not included in the matrices.

(b) Use the matrices to analyze the risk and target areas of concern for risk-reducing action.

(c) Review the individual areas of concern before recommending an option.

(2) Consider using the factors of METT-T as another means to assess risks. Leaders can subjectively determine the likelihood and extent of accidental loss based on this type of analysis. When using the factors of METT-T, the risk assessor should--

(a) Determine mission complexity and difficulty.

(b) Assess the enemy situation, and identify specific hazards. Also determine the availability of equipment. Consider your own equipment as an additional "E." What condition is your equipment in, how old is it, and how well maintained is it?

(c) Consider all aspects of the terrain as well as weather and visibility.

(d) Determine the supervision required; and evaluate the experience, training, morale, and endurance of troops.

(e) Determine the time available for planning and executing the mission.

(3) Rank hazards based on their level of assessed risk. Act to reduce higher levels of risk first and work down to lower risk hazards.

c. Step 3: Make Decisions and Develop Controls. Make risk acceptance decisions by balancing the benefit of taking the risk against risk assessments, then eliminate unnecessary risks. Reduce the magnitude of mission-essential risks by applying controls; controls range from hazard awareness to detailed operational procedures. Focus on high-hazard events and events not covered by a good set of standards.

(1) Based on the risk assessment and products of analytical aids, develop a roster of options for eliminating or controlling risks. Select or offer options for command decision. When risks are identified and measured as accurately as possible, leaders must act to eliminate or control them. The controls must not interfere with training objectives. Doctrinal publications relevant to the operation frequently offer the best options for proper hazard control procedures. A simple review of the analysis and assessment often presents hazard control options. Some options will be more effective than others. AR 385-10 contains a list of actions that commanders can use to help rank hazard control options. In order of priority, commanders should--

(a) Eliminate the hazard totally, if possible. This may be as simple as changing the route or time of a mission or as complex as engineering out the hazard, designing equipment to eliminate the hazard, or incorporating fail-safe devices.

(b) Guard or control the hazard. Use automatic monitoring or alarming devices. Provide containment or barriers.

(c) Change operational procedures to limit exposure. Modify operational procedures to minimize exposure (numbers and duration) consistent with mission needs.

(d) Train and educate personnel in hazard recognition and avoidance.

(e) Provide protective clothing or equipment that will minimize injury and damage potential.

(f) Use color coding and signs to alert personnel to hazards. Motivate personnel to use hazard avoidance actions.

(2) Leaders can detect and eliminate unnecessary safety restrictions that impede the realism or effectiveness of training. With proper controls, these restrictions can be eliminated or scaled back. Check for residual effects before implementing risk reduction options. Visualize what will happen once the option has been implemented. Sometimes reducing one risk only introduces others.

(3) Ensure that risk decisions are made by the appropriate authority. Ask the basic question, "Who must accept responsibility if the decision is wrong?"

d. Step 4: Implement Controls. Integrate specific controls into plans, OPORDs, SOPs, training performance standards, and rehearsals. Knowledge of risk controls, down to the individual soldier, is essential for the successful implementation and execution of these controls.

e. Step 5: Supervise. Determine the effectiveness of standards in controlling risk.

(1) The commander must enforce controls and standards. This is key to loss control. The commander may have approved a number of risk reduction procedures, but approval does not mean that the procedures are carried out. Leaders must monitor the situation to ensure that action is actually taken. The prudent leader then follows up to see that the doers understand and accept the guidance. Leaders should also monitor the effect of risk reduction procedures to verify that they really are good ideas. This is especially true for new and untested procedures.

(2) Leaders must always monitor the operational activities of subordinate elements. Only by seeing the character of operations can leaders fully appreciate risk implications. When monitoring operational activities, leaders should--

(a) Avoid administrative intrusions and not get in the way.

(b) Go where the risks are and spend time at the heart of the action.

(c) Analyze and think through issues, not just watch.

(d) Work with key personnel to improve operational procedures after the action and not hesitate to address imminent danger issues on the spot.

(e) Fix systemic problems that hinder operational effectiveness.


The use of risk assessment tools, such as matrices and diagrams, are valuable during the planning stage of a mission. These tools do not internalize the entire risk management process into unit operations, but they do provide a systematic and tangible representation of the risk. However, do not allow the tools to become the overriding concern of the risk management process.

a. The Army standard risk assessment gauge includes four levels of risk: low, medium, high, and extremely high. Figure 5-1 shows an example of a standard risk assessment gauge.

b. Figures 5-2 and 5-3 (pages 5-10 through 5-12) are examples of suggested formats of risk assessment matrices that can be modified for use during aviation mission planning. They are not intended to be the standard. No matrix can include all of the hazards of every mission, nor does a single matrix apply to all units. Commanders must determine the usefulness and content of any risk assessment tool. Commanders must consider a number of basic principles when they use risk assessment matrices.

(1) Simply adding the numbers up and finding the right level of command to accept the risk is not risk management.

(2) The risk assessment matrix is most valuable if it if used during mission planning.

(3) Each element of the matrix represents a specific hazard which in the assessment process is translated into a risk. Use caution. One element of the risk matrix may be assessed at a high value then diluted or overlooked if the overall mission assessment is a lower value. For example, using Figure 5-2 to assess a mission, the overall risk value totals 21. Apparently, this is a medium-risk mission. If, however, block 3 indicates the PC has less than 25 hours in the area of operation and less than 500 hours of total time (a value of 6), the mission may be high risk. The commander must elevate the overall mission to high risk until he selects a risk reduction control measure. In this case, the commander can add a highly experienced PI as an appropriate control measure.


CATASTROPHIC--Death or permanent total disability, system loss, major property damage.

CRITICAL--Permanent partial disability, temporary total disability in excess of three months, major system, damage, significant property damage.

MODERATE--Minor injury, lost workday accident, compensable injury or illness, minor property damage.

NEGLIGIBLE--First aid or minor supportive medical treatment, minor system impairment.


FREQUENT--Individual soldier/item Occurs often in career/equipment service life.

All soldiers or item inventory exposed. Continuously experienced.

LIKELY--Individual soldier/item Occurs several times in career/equipment service life.

All soldiers or item inventory exposed. Occurs frequently.

OCCASIONAL--Individual soldier/item Occurs sometime in career/equipment service life.

All soldiers or item inventory exposed. Occurs sporadically or several times in inventory service life.

SELDOM--Individual soldier/item Possibility of occurrence in career/equipment service life.

All soldiers or item inventory exposed. Remote chances of occurrence; expected to occur sometime in inventory service life.

UNLIKELY--Individual soldier/item Assume no occurrence in career/equipment service life.

All soldiers or item inventory exposed. Possible, but improbable; occurs very rarely.


Extremely High--Loss of ability to accomplish mission.

High Risk--Significantly degrades mission capabilities in terms of the required mission standards.

Medium Risk--Degrades mission capabilities in terms of the required mission.

Low Risk--Little or no impact on mission accomplishment.

Figure 5-1. Standard risk assessment gauge

Figure 5-2. Example of a suggested format for a rotary-wing risk assessment matrix

Figure 5-2. Example of a suggested format for a rotary-wing risk assessment matrix (continued)

Figure 5-3. Example of a suggested format for a fixed-wing risk assessment matrix

(4) As they develop their risk assessment matrices, commanders should review the unit METL. Then they can decide on which of the tasks or task elements they personally want to initiate risk reduction action and approval. They should assess each METL task from the highest risk to the lowest risk. Their matrices should clearly show these critical elements. Block 7 of Figure 5-2 shows an example of a critical element.

(5) Commanders should include some additional items in the development of the risk assessment matrix. Accident data shows that a number of critical elements, called crew-error accelerator profiles, play a major role in the risk management process. An example of a high-risk mission is a tactical NOE mission flown at night using NVG with less than 23 percent and 30 degrees of illumination and restricted visibility caused by fog. If the mission results in an accident, the probable cause will be an en route scan error due to PC overconfidence. The accelerator factors that play the biggest role in this example are lack of illumination and the restriction to visibility. Commanders may wish to refer these types of mission elements to the battalion or brigade for risk reduction or acceptance.

(6) The synergistic effect of these accelerator factors greatly increases mission risk. Adding only one of these factors will increase mission risk by more than one. It could double or triple mission risk. The battalion or brigade commander may retain risk reduction or acceptance for certain accelerator factors; for example, when illumination is less than 23 percent and 30 degrees, visibility is obscured, total flight time of the crew is less than 500 or more than 2,500 hours, or the crew duty day is longer than 12 hours with 4 hours of flight time.


One of the most fundamental concepts in both FM 25-100 and FM 25-101 is to "train as we will fight." In fact, FM 25-101 is entitled, "Battle Focused Training." However, to train as we will fight is not always possible for a number of reasons.

a. Training never fully duplicates actual combat because no hostile force fires back with real weapons. Some combat action can be simulated but, as effective as simulation sometimes is, it can never duplicate combat exactly.

b. Resource constraints also restrict realism. Normally, ammunition, fuel, OPFOR, time, and training land are not available to duplicate the combat environment.

c. Safety-related restrictions also must be considered. Many risks that are reasonable in combat are not supportable in training. The benefits of accepting some risks in training are not as great as the benefits of accepting the same risk in combat. Therefore, commanders do not accept all the risks during training that they would during combat.

d. Although combat will never be totally duplicated during training, a safety risk management procedure helps commanders come close. This procedure is called the training realism assessment. The TRA enables commanders to systematically ensure that all risk controls they establish have at least one of two characteristics. Each risk control either has full application in combat, or it has been demonstrated to be essential for controlling risk in training. After applying TRA, commanders can be assured that the training is as realistic as it can and should be in a training environment.


a. Safety risk management using the TRA process (Figure 5-4) offers the Army a tool to increase the realism of combat training without increasing the risk. The result is lower overall risk for the soldier who enters combat better trained.

b. For new operations, the TRA procedure begins when commanders complete their initial selections of risk controls. However, commanders can and should apply the TRA procedure to existing training. Using the steps in the following paragraphs, commanders can test each existing or proposed risk control.

(1) Determine if the risk control is consistent with the procedures commanders intend to use to fight. If it is not, list all of the differences.

(2) Determine which differences are due to safety restrictions and which ones are not. Those that are not still must be evaluated. They may cause safety risks by increasing unrealistic conditions.

NOTE: If there are no differences, all of the training risk controls are compatible with the procedures commanders intend to use when they fight.

(3) Identify those differences that are believed to be due to safety risk controls as well as those that actually are due to safety risk controls. Start with the right branch of Figure 5-4.

(4) Determine if there are other reasons for the restriction; for example, resource constraints and tradition. Then determine if the reason for the restriction is legitimate. If it is, leave it. Make sure, however, that all personnel involved in training understand that the restriction has nothing to do with safety and that it will not be used in actual combat. If the alleged risk control has no legitimate reason, delete it.

(5) The last section of the diagram determines the impact the risk control measure has on the mission. If the risk control has an undesired impact, determine if there is a way to modify the control so that it can be used effectively in combat. Commanders may find that some risk controls that are needed cannot be modified to reduce their adverse impact on realism. In this case, they can explain to their leaders and soldiers that the risk control is used only for training.

c. If TRA procedures are followed carefully--

• Most risk controls will be fully useful in combat.

• Those controls that are not useful in combat will be essential and have been designed to have minimum adverse impact on realism.

• Those controls that are essential but unrealistic will have been identified to leaders and soldiers as "training only."

Figure 5-4. Training realism assessment process