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When Team Processes Make the Difference Between Life And Death

This incident involves a friendly fire incident that took place in Arghandab District, Afghanistan. The error was in large part due to faulty team processes between the air and ground, within elements of the SF, and a lack of oversight from the SF Operations Centre. It is the team interactions between these components that makes up the focal point for this case study.

In June 2014, A USAF B1-B Lancer bomber providing Close Air Support to a US Special Forces unit and Afghan National Army partner force dropped two guided bombs on their own position, killing six soldiers instantly. The airstrike was directed by a Joint Terminal Attack Controller (JTAC) attached to the SF unit.

Our main objective is to show how the character of the interactions between team members gave a good indication of the likelihood that the air strike would end in disaster. This is extremely useful if our aim is to prevent catastrophic outcomes. An objective evaluation of the team processes that were taking place would have provided advance warning that the risk of error was now extremely high, in sufficient time to influence the final result.

The key point is this –


The case study will demonstrate this. Here we want our readers to gain some familiarity with the Team Processes Framework that forms the basis for the T3 Tactical Team Training Program, and its inter-relation to the broader HCD Framework. In the document are extracts from the official Investigation Report into the Arghandab incident, set against relevant elements of the two frameworks. They show how these can be used to pick up the warning signs that events are not proceeding as intended, where the problems lie, and therefore what needs to be done before anything bad happens.

The Team Processes and HCD Frameworks can be applied by those directly involved in making decisions that have potentially catastrophic outcomes, or else by a third party, a PROCESS GUARDIAN, serving in an oversight function, a role open to anyone with real time access to the team interactions that are taking place. More on this to come.

The Arghandab case study is available from Avoiding Catastrophe, simply contact You might also want to look at our sister site,

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