Accession Number:



Risk Perception in Multi-Domain Operations

Descriptive Note:

[Technical Report, Monograph]

Corporate Author:

US Army School for Advanced Military Studies

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Report Date:


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The cognitive demands on commanders are increasing. Due to the speed of innovation and change, commanders ability to make good risk decisions are challenged. Future warfare is unlikely to resemble previous conflicts or training exercises that focus on a conventional fight. US adversaries avoid using set doctrine in order to present unforeseen hazards which are difficult to anticipate or mitigate. Given that a commander must not merely avoid risk, but accept it to gain and maintain the initiative in war, commanders and their staffs should consider whether the Armys risk doctrine and the doctrinal risk gradient method at the center of Army risk management are sufficient for future warfare as described in the concept of multi-domain operations. From the study of cognition, the concept of risk perception offers insight into how risk management personnel usually the staff or subject matter experts and risk decision-makers often commanders can evaluate risk analysis methods. Risk perception, the subjective judgement of risk levels, is an idea in stark contrast to the idea that presenting facts and data is necessarily convincing. Risk perception studies have demonstrated the importance of context, narrative, and simplicity in the communication of risk. In the risk decision-maker, unfamiliarity, innumeracy, and deeply held biases or fears can result in a perceived level of risk far from that of experts. Three additional methods of risk analysis are compared to the Army doctrinal risk gradient. Derived from civilian methods, these tools are used in project management, engineering, and other risk and foresight related fields. They are fault trees, scenarios, and risk triplets. Although they all have some quantitative elements, they offer just as much if not more room for risk management personnel to apply critical thinking and share context such as uncertainty in forecasting or linkages to the planned operation.

Subject Categories:

  • Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
  • Administration and Management
  • Psychology

Distribution Statement:

[A, Approved For Public Release]