Infantry Drills

FM 3-21.8 – Chapter 4 – Section I – Risk Management and Fratricide Avoidance

Section I – Risk Management and Fratricide Avoidance

4-1.        Risk, or the potential for risk, is always present across full spectrum operations. The primary objective of risk management and fratricide avoidance is not to remove all risk, but to eliminate unnecessary risk. During peacetime leaders conduct tough, realistic training to help units protect their combat power through accident prevention. During combat operations units conduct risk management and fratricide avoidance to enable them to win the battle quickly and decisively with minimal losses. Risk management is an integral part of planning that takes place at all levels of the chain of command during each phase of every operation. This section outlines the process leaders use to identify hazards and implement plans to address each identified hazard. It also includes a detailed discussion of the responsibilities of the platoon’s leaders and individual Soldiers in implementing a sound risk management program. For additional information on risk management, refer to FM 5-19, Composite Risk Management..


4-2.        Risk management is the systematic process that identifies the relative risk of mission and training requirements. It weighs risk against training benefits and eliminates unnecessary risk that can lead to accidents. The platoon leader, his NCOs, and all other platoon Soldiers must know how to use risk management, coupled with fratricide reduction measures, to ensure that the mission is executed in the safest possible environment within mission constraints.

Step 1 – Identify Hazards

4-3.        A hazard is a source of danger. It is any existing or potential condition that can cause injury, illness, or death of personnel; damage to or loss of equipment and property; or some other sort of mission degradation. Tactical and training operations pose many types of hazards. The leader must identify the hazards associated with all aspects and phases of the Infantry platoon’s mission, paying particular attention to the factors of METT-TC. Risk management must never be an afterthought; leaders must begin the process during their TLPs and continue it throughout the operation. Table 4-1 lists possible sources of battlefield hazards the Infantry platoon and squad might face during a typical tactical operation. The list is organized according to the factors of METT-TC.

Table 4-1. Potential hazards.

·      Soldier/leader proficiency.·      Soldier/leader rest situation.·      Degree of acclimatization to environment.·      Impact of new leaders or crewmembers.·      Friendly unit situation.·      NATO or multinational military actions combined with U.S. forces.

Time Available·      Time available for TLP and rehearsals by subordinates.

·      Time available for precombat checks and inspections.

Civil Considerations·      Applicable ROE or ROI.

·      Potential operations that involve contact with civilians.

·      Potential for media contact and inquiries.

·      Interaction with host nation or other participating nation support.

Step 2 – Assess Hazards To Determine Risks

4-4.        Hazard assessment is the process of determining the direct impact of each hazard on a training or operational mission. The following steps should be used when assessing hazards:

– Determine the hazards that can be eliminated or avoided.

– Assess each hazard that cannot be eliminated or avoided to determine the probability that the hazard will occur. A primary consideration is how likely the hazard is to cause injury, illness, loss, or damage.

– Assess the severity of hazards that cannot be eliminated or avoided. Severity is the result or outcome of a hazardous incident that is expressed by the degree of injury or illness (including death), loss of or damage to equipment or property, environmental damage, or other mission-impairing factors such as unfavorable publicity or loss of combat power.

– Accounting for both the probability and severity of a hazard, determine the associated risk level (extremely high, high, moderate, or low). Normally, the highest-level individual risk assessed is also the overall risk. Table 4-2 summarizes the four risk levels.

– Based on the factors of hazard assessment (probability, severity, and risk level, as well as the operational factors unique to the situation), complete the risk management worksheet. Figure 4-1 shows an example of a completed risk management worksheet.

Table 4-2. Risk levels and impact on mission execution.

– Thoroughly briefing all aspects of the mission, including related hazards and controls.- Conducting thorough precombat checks and inspections.- Allowing adequate time for rehearsals at all levels.- Drinking plenty of water, eating well, and getting as much sleep as possible (at least 4 hours in any 24-hour period).- Using buddy teams.- Enforcing speed limits, using of seat belts, and driver safety.- Establishing recognizable visual signals and markers to distinguish maneuvering units.- Enforcing the use of ground guides in assembly areas and on dangerous terrain.- Establishing marked and protected sleeping areas in assembly areas.- Limiting single-vehicle movement.- Establishing SOPs for the integration of new personnel.Step 5 – Supervise And Evaluate4-9.        During mission execution, leaders must ensure that risk management controls are properly understood and executed. Leaders must continuously evaluate the unit’s effectiveness in managing risks to gain insight into areas that need improvement.Supervise4-10.     Leadership and unit discipline are the keys to ensuring that effective risk management controls are implemented. All leaders are responsible for supervising mission rehearsals and execution to ensure standards and controls are enforced. Effective supervision assures sustained effectiveness of risk controls.  NCOs must enforce established safety policies as well as controls developed for a specific operation or task. Techniques include spot checks, inspections, SITREPs, confirmation briefs, buddy checks, and close supervision.4-11.     During mission execution, leaders must continuously monitor risk management controls to determine whether they are effective and to modify them as necessary. Leaders must also anticipate, identify, and assess new hazards. They ensure that imminent danger issues are addressed on the spot and that ongoing planning and execution reflect changes in hazard conditions.Evaluate4-12.     Whenever possible, the risk management process should include an AAR to assess unit performance in identifying risks and preventing hazardous situations. During an AAR, leaders should assess whether the implemented controls were effective by specifically providing feedback on the effectiveness of risk controls. Following the AAR, leaders should incorporate lessons learned from the process into the Infantry platoon’s SOPs and plans for future missions.IMPLEMENTATION RESPONSIBILITIES4-13.     Leaders and individuals at all levels are responsible and accountable for managing risk. They must ensure that hazards and associated risks are identified and controlled during planning, preparation, and execution of operations. The platoon leader and his senior NCOs must look at both tactical risks and accident risks. The same risk management process is used to manage both types. In the Infantry platoon, the platoon leader alone determines how and where he is willing to take tactical risks. The platoon leader manages accident risks with the assistance of his PSG, NCOs, and individual Soldiers.Breakdown of the risk management process4-14.     If higher headquarters is not notified of a risk taken or about to be taken, the risk management process may break down. Such a failure can be the result of several reasons, but is usually one or more of the following factors:- The risk denial syndrome in which leaders do not want to know about the risk.- A Soldier who believes that the risk decision is part of his job and does not want to bother his leader.- Outright failure to recognize a hazard or the level of risk involved.- Overconfidence on the part of an individual or the unit in being able to avoid or recover from a hazardous incident.- Subordinates who do not fully understand the higher commander’s guidance regarding risk decisions. FRATRICIDE AVOIDANCE4-15.     Fratricide is defined as the employment of friendly weapons with the intent of killing the enemy or destroying his equipment that results in the unforeseen and unintentional death or injury of friendly personnel. Fratricide prevention is the platoon leader’s responsibility. Leaders across all WFF assist the platoon leader in accomplishing this mission. The following paragraphs focus on actions the platoon leader and his subordinate leaders can take with current resources to reduce the risk of fratricide.4-16.     In any tactical situation, it is critical that every Infantry platoon member know where he is and where other friendly elements are operating. With this knowledge, he must anticipate dangerous conditions and take steps to either to avoid or mitigate them.  He must also ensure that all squad and team positions are constantly reported to higher headquarters so all other friendly elements are aware of where they are and what they are doing. When the platoon leader perceives a potential fratricide situation, he must personally use the higher net to coordinate directly with the friendly element involved.Effects4-17.     The effects of fratricide within a unit can be devastating to morale, good order, and discipline. Fratricide causes unacceptable losses and increases the risk of mission failure. It almost always affects the unit’s ability to survive and function. Units experiencing fratricide suffer the following consequences:- Loss of confidence in the unit’s leadership.- Self-doubt among leaders.- Hesitancy in the employment of supporting combat systems.- Over-supervision of units.- Hesitancy in the conduct of limited visibility operations.- Loss of aggressiveness in maneuver.- Loss of initiative.- Disrupted operations.- General degradation of unit cohesiveness, morale, and combat power.Causes4-18.     The lack of positive target identification and inability to maintain situational awareness during combat operations are major contributing factors to fratricide. The following paragraphs discuss the primary causes of fratricide. Leaders must identify any of the factors that may affect their units and then strive to eliminate or correct them.Failures in the Direct Fire Control Plan4-19.     Failures in the direct fire control plan occur when units do not develop effective fire control plans, particularly in the offense. Units may fail to designate engagement areas, adhere to the direct fire plan, fail to understand surface danger areas, or position their weapons incorrectly. Under such conditions, fire discipline often breaks down upon contact. An area of particular concern is the additional planning that must go into operations requiring close coordination between mounted elements and dismounted elements.Land Navigation Failures4-20.     Friendly units may stray out of assigned sectors, report wrong locations, and become disoriented. Much less frequently, they employ fire support weapons in the wrong location. In either type of situation, units that unexpectedly encounter another unit may fire their weapons at the friendly force.Failures in Combat Identification4-21.     Vehicle commanders and machine gun crews cannot accurately identify the enemy near the maximum range of their weapons systems. During limited visibility, friendly units within that range may mistake each other as the enemy.Inadequate Control Measures4-22.     Units may fail to disseminate the minimum necessary maneuver control measures and direct fire control measures. They may also fail to tie control measures to recognizable terrain or events.Failures in Reporting and Communications4-23.     Units at all levels may fail to generate timely, accurate, and complete reports as locations and tactical situations change. This distorts the operating picture at all levels and can lead to erroneous clearance of fires.Individual and Weapons Errors4-24.     Lapses in individual discipline can result in fratricide. Incidents such as these include negligent weapons discharges and mistakes with explosives and hand grenades.Battlefield Hazards4-25.     A variety of explosive devices and materiel—unexploded ordnance, booby traps, and unmarked or unrecorded minefields, including scatterable mines—may create danger on the battlefield. Failures to mark, record, remove, or otherwise anticipate these threats lead to casualties.Reliance on Instruments4-26.     A unit that relies too heavily on systems such as GPS devices, Force XXI Battle Command Brigade and Below System (FBCB2), or Land Warrior will find its capabilities severely degraded if these systems fail. The unit will be unable to maintain complete situational understanding because it will not have a common operations picture. To prevent potential dangers when system failure occurs, the platoon leader must ensure that he and his platoon balance technology with traditional basic Soldier skills in observation, navigation, and other critical activities.PREVENTION4-27.     These guidelines are not intended to restrict initiative. Leaders must learn to apply them, as appropriate, based on the specific situation and the factors of METT-TC.Principles4-28.     At the heart of fratricide prevention are the following five key principles.1 – Identify and Assess Potential Fratricide Risks During the TLP4-29.     Incorporate risk reduction control measures in WARNOs, the OPORD, and applicable FRAGOs.2 – Maintain Situational Understanding4-30.     Focus on areas such as current intelligence, unit locations and dispositions, obstacles, CBRN contamination, SITREPs, and the factors of METT-TC. Leaders must accurately know their own location (and orientation) as well as the location of friendly, enemy, neutrals, and noncombatants.3 – Ensure Positive Target Identification4-31.     Review vehicle and weapons ID cards. Become familiar with the characteristics of potential friendly and enemy vehicles, including their silhouettes and thermal signatures, combat identification panels, and thermal panels. This knowledge should include the conditions, including distance (range) and weather in which positive identification of various vehicles and weapons is possible. Enforce the use of challenge and password, especially during dismounted operations.4 – Maintain Effective Fire Control4-32.     Ensure fire commands are accurate, concise, and clearly stated. Make it mandatory for Soldiers to ask for clarification of any portion of the fire command that they do not understand completely. Stress the importance of the chain of command in the fire control process and ensure Soldiers get in the habit of obtaining target confirmation and permission to fire from their leaders before engaging targets. Know who will be in and around the AO.5 – Establish a Command Climate That Emphasizes Fratricide Prevention4-33.     Enforce fratricide prevention measures, placing special emphasis on the use of doctrinally-sound techniques and procedures. Ensure constant supervision in the execution of orders and in the performance of all tasks and missions to standard.Guidelines and Considerations4-34.     Additional guidelines and considerations for fratricide reduction and prevention include the following:- Recognize the signs of battlefield stress. Maintain unit cohesion by taking quick, effective action to alleviate stress.- Conduct individual, leader, and collective (unit) training covering fratricide awareness, target identification and recognition, and fire discipline.- Develop a simple, executable plan.- Give complete and concise orders. Include all appropriate recognition signals in paragraph 5 of the OPORD.- To simplify OPORDs, use SOPs that are consistent with doctrine. Periodically review and update SOPs as needed.- Strive to provide maximum planning time for leaders and subordinates.- Use common language (vocabulary) and doctrinally-correct standard terminology and control measures.- Ensure thorough coordination is conducted at all levels.- Plan for and establish effective communications.- Plan for collocation of command posts whenever it is appropriate to the mission such as during a passage of lines, or relief in place.- Make sure ROE and ROI are clear.- Conduct rehearsals whenever the situation allows adequate time to do so. Always conduct a rehearsal of actions on the objective.- Be in the right place at the right time. Use position location and navigation devices (GPS or position navigation [POSNAV]), know your location and the locations of adjacent units (left, right, leading, and follow-on), and synchronize tactical movement. If the platoon or any element becomes lost, its leader must know how to contact higher headquarters immediately for instructions and assistance.- Establish, execute, and enforce strict sleep and rest plans.

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