Decision Making in Armored Platoon Command
Interim rept. Jan 1986-Apr 1987
KLEIN ASSOCIATES INC YELLOW SPRINGS OH
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This research studied command decisions during armored platoon leader training exercises. The Critical Decision method was employed to identify command decisions and the environmental features of decision situations offering a command challenge to the students. The student platoon leader, the trainer evaluating his performance, and one researcher all rode the platoon leaders tank and observed the events from the same perspective. A total of 57 decision points were identified and probed. The interviews collected direct contrasts between the more experienced trainer and the new student for the analysis of decision situations and factors affecting decision making. The students deliberated during option selection in approximately half of the decisions. The students also reported relying on analogues to select their choice of options in close to half of the decisions, but the use of analogues ranged from helpful to disruptive in resolving decision situations. Option deliberation and analogue use as strategies in decision making by the novices were more frequent than in previous work with more experienced decision makers. Poor performance by the students was consistent with their inability to imagine hypothetical situations, such as enemy actions and the relationship between friendly and enemy tactics. The findings suggest that performance errors were due not to a limited ability to monitor situational cues but to the misinterpretation of the cues. The results were contrasted to traditional decision-making literature. Training methods were recommended that would incorporate the implications of the study findings.
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