19 December 2009

Operational Risk: Where Men Win Glory...

As the blizzard of snow descends on the Nations Capital of the United States today, almost everything has come to a halt. The quiet calm of +16" of white fluffy snow a week before Christmas puts Emergency Operation Commands into action and "All Hands" are on deck.

Three people have died in Virginia as a major snowstorm slams the East Coast on the weekend before Christmas, said Virginia's emergency management department.

One person died late Friday and two others died Saturday in a pounding storm. More heavy snow was expected in the state.

The foul weather prompted an emergency declaration in the nation's capital, stranded hundreds of motorists, brought havoc at airports, caused power outages, and threatened to keep hordes of Christmas shoppers indoors.

The storm is blanketing the mid-Atlantic region and the heavily populated Interstate 95 corridor, and 10 to 20 inches of snow were predicted for swaths of the region.

The National Weather Service issued a blizzard warning for the D.C. area. Snowfall accumulations from 12 and 22 inches along with 40-mph wind gusts were "expected to create whiteout conditions later this afternoon."

Simultaneously, the mechanism of defending the country and our most valued democratic nations states is in full swing with the logistics of war. Men and women, Moms and Dads, Brothers and Sisters, or Sons and Daughters are being deployed to Afghanistan. Their Christmas will not be with their family, but with their fellow patriots.

"Who among mortal men are you, good friend? Since never before have I seen you in the fighting where men win glory, yet now you have come striding far out in front of all others in your great heart..."
--Homer, The Iliad

The September 11, 2006 issue of Sports Illustrated has a young soldier sitting in the base of a tree on a hillside on the Afghanistan-Pakistan border. Remember His Name is the cover story. Pat Tillman walked away from his $3.6M contract in the National Football League (NFL) in May of 2002 to join the US Army. On April 22, 2004 Pat lost his life to friendly fire, as a result of a complete failure of Operational Risk Management.

Jon Krakauer's book "Where Men Win Glory" The Odyssey of Pat Tillman was published in 2009.

This time around we can only pray that "Operational Risk Management" (ORM) is being practiced and with diligence. The SOCOM operator under extreme stress requires controls and training in order to perform effectively. ORM is all about loss events and the pursuit of reducing or eliminating those events whether they be measured in dollars or human lives.

As 2010 approaches, Operational Risk Management will be ever so more important to our commanders in Afghanistan, corporate CEO's and our Public Safety officials. Each has a role in mitigating the risk to people, vital assets and our national security. And maybe more importantly, they should remember Pat Tillman.

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