The Importance of Dynamic Risk Management
Directorate of Assessments and Prevention
U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center
Fort Rucker, Alabama
Risk management (RM) is the five-step process leaders implement to reduce the effect of hazards to Army operations and activities. It enables leaders to identify, assess and control hazards by implementing and supervising control measures and evaluating their effectiveness. The RM process is a holistic approach designed to be integrated into troop-leading procedures and the military decision-making process.
The introduction to Army Training Publication 5-19, Risk Management, states, “RM must be embedded in Army culture. Integrating RM into how we think is crucial to maintaining combat power and ensuring efficient mission accomplishment.” In maintaining mission accomplishment, leaders must continually manage risk throughout the mission. This type of continual, fluid process often requires leaders to perform dynamic or real-time RM. That is to say, leaders need to be thinking about the dynamic nature of the operation and make viable and timely RM decisions with the time available. What is dynamic RM?
Leaders understand that the mission often changes and they need to use the time available to develop risk control measures, make decisions and implement the controls. The dynamic or changing nature of the mission or the environment may require leaders to make immediate risk decisions. Dynamic or real-time RM is the process used by leaders to make risk decisions when there is inadequate planning time or when mission or environmental changes demand immediate decisions by leaders executing the mission. There may not be time to make a deliberate application of the RM process; instead, leaders will implement real-time or dynamic risk assessments. The vital information and control measures must then be communicated to the Soldiers performing the operation.
Dynamic RM should not eliminate steps of the RM process, but may require that steps be conducted rapidly and to a lesser depth than the deliberate RM process. Real-time risk assessments will require leaders to mentally work through the steps of the process listed below:
- Step 1 – Identify the hazards
- Step 2 – Assess the hazards
- Step 3 – Develop controls and make risk decisions
- Step 4 – Implement controls
- Step 5 – Supervise and evaluate
Dynamic RM requires Army leaders to make risk decisions weighing the value of mission accomplishment against the cost of risk accepted. Although dynamic RM may force leaders and Soldiers to perform the steps mentally with limited time available, the principles of RM must continue to be followed: integrate RM into all phases of missions and operations; make risk decisions at the appropriate level; accept no unnecessary risk; and apply RM cyclically and continuously. Control measures and how they will be implemented may be transmitted verbally or by written fragmentary order, or FRAGO. In real-time risk assessments, it is essential all Soldiers understand how to exercise the five-step process for risk reduction and mission accomplishment. It is the responsibility of Army leaders to ensure all personnel are trained and competent in RM integration. Why is dynamic RM important?
The importance of dynamic RM can be seen in a tactical vehicle mishap that occurred on an Army range complex. A convoy departed the range at night en route to the company motor pool. Along the way, the unit encountered dusty conditions, decreasing visibility. Unfortunately, there was not a risk decision to slow the convoy’s speed if adverse environmental conditions occurred. One driver lost visual contact with the vehicle immediately ahead, which had stopped. The driver struck the halted vehicle at 45 mph, resulting in the death of two Soldiers, injuries to several others and extensive damage to both vehicles. Although there were many factors involved in this mishap, including a lack of a convoy briefing and pre-combat checks, the application of dynamic RM by implementing a control measure to slow vehicle speeds when the dusty conditions were encountered may have reduced the severity. Perhaps there would have been no mishap at all.
Because new risks will arise in dynamic Army operations and missions, leaders must be able to assess risks and manage hazards as they are identified. The need for intuitive decision-making when time is limited is essential. For this reason, leaders must be competent in the RM process and thoroughly understand the principles and steps of RM to accomplish the mission successfully. To assist leaders with this process, the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center (USACRC) developed the Joint Risk Assessment Tool (JRAT), an interactive, automated online system created to augment RM planning and decision-making for ground operations. To access JRAT, visit the USACRC website at https://jrat.safety.army.mil/login.aspx.