In military training environments, critical incidents such as injury, friendly fire, and non-lethal fratricide may occur. Quantitative performance data from training and exercises is often limited, requiring more in-depth case studies to identify and correct the underlying causes of critical incidents. The present study collected Army squad performance, firing, and communication data during a dry-fire battle drill as part of a larger research effort to measure, predict, and enhance Soldier and squad close combat performance. Soldier-worn sensors revealed that some quantitatively rated top-performing squads also committed friendly fire and a fratricide. Therefore, case studies were conducted to determine what contributed to these incidents. This presentation aims to provide insight into squad performance beyond quantitative ratings and to underscore the benefits of more in-depth analyses in the face of critical incidents during training. Squad communication data was particularly valuable in diagnosing incident root causes. For the fratricide incident specifically, the qualitative data revealed a communication breakdown between individual squad members stemming from a non-functioning radio. The specific events leading up to the fratricide incident, and the squad’s response, will be discussed along with squad communication patterns among high and low-performing squads in the context of various critical incidents. We will examine how the conditions surrounding critical incidents and the underlying causes of those incidents can be recreated and manipulated in a simulated training environment, allowing instructors to control the incident onset and provide timely feedback and instruction.
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