COMPILED BY THE KNOWLEDGE STAFF
Today’s Army vehicles provide Soldiers with more protection against enemy threats than ever before. These advancements, however, have come at a price for some crews who’ve had to cope with restricted outside visibility and altered vehicle handling. As the Army continues to field and improve its combat vehicles, the need for effective crew coordination is essential for Soldiers to safely and effectively complete their mission.
Vehicle crews are made up of Soldiers of varying skill levels. All crewmembers should understand the hazards associated with operating the vehicle under all conditions and their role in identifying and communicating hazards to other crewmembers. Accident investigators have identified lack of crew coordination and communication as a contributing factor in a number of fatal accidents involving the up-armored HMMWV and MRAP-series vehicles.
Crew coordination defines each crewmember’s basic duties and responsibilities for enhancing overall crew effectiveness. Some examples of these include:
• Communicating positively, ensuring the right message gets through.
• Directing assistance when fellow crewmembers need it.
• Announcing actions, which ensures everyone is aware of what is happening.
• Offering assistance to a crewmember that is especially busy or needs help. This benefits the whole crew and is something all should be prepared to do without being asked.
• Acknowledging actions to ensure everyone knows and understands them. A “Roger” callout may be all that is needed to maintain the crew’s situational awareness.
• Using plain or standardized terms and avoiding slang to ensure everyone understands what you’re saying. Ambiguous words or phrases like “I have it” or “Right” can have more that one meaning and may bring about an incorrect response.
• Providing vehicle control and hazard advisories. All crewmembers should be prepared to assist the driver in avoiding road hazards, traffic, canal edges or other things not clearly seen because of the reduced visibility in up-armored Army motor vehicles and Army combat vehicles.
• Coordinating action sequences and timing so crew actions mesh. Sequencing actions and timing can be critical during weapons engagements, loading of ammunition, turret movements and while maneuvering the vehicle in combat.
Standardized words and phrases, such as those used in radio transmissions, help crews avoid confusion and allow them to react more quickly and efficiently. Using words known by everyone in the crew also prevents them from having to be repeated. If the operators’ manuals have a standard callout or term for a piece of equipment, get in the habit of using it, especially if a new crewmember joins the team. If someone doesn’t understand what you’ve said, try saying it another way or in clearer terms instead of repeating it multiple times or raising your voice. Louder is not always clearer.
To ensure the whole crew maintains situational awareness, keep an open flow of information, especially in areas where the threat is elevated and the terrain is constricted. Conversations should be limited to mission-focused communications during critical times or events. The vehicle’s intercom system is used to enhance crew communication and should be checked before each mission to ensure it works properly. Be sure to clarify if what you said is not understood. Likewise, ask other crewmembers if you don’t know what was said or is happening.
Crew coordination is more than open discussion while operating the equipment. Good, effective crews constantly work on improving their coordination and use after-action reviews as a forum for future crew improvement. The entire crew acts as a team during mission planning, execution and AARs. These combat-proven techniques can help you better accomplish your missions and prevent accidents.