Javascript isn't enabled on your computer.
U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command (TRADOC) Skip Navigation Links TRADOC Home Page Skip Navigation LinksTRADOC Home Page Army Logo Army Home PageSkip Navigation Links
Army publishes new personnel-recovery doctrine

By Tisha Johnson/Fort Leavenworth Lamp

FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (TRADOC News Service, Sept. 20, 2005) – The phrase “I will never leave a fallen comrade” is part of the Warrior Ethos listed in the Soldier’s Creed.

The publishing of Army Field Manual 3-50.1, “Army Personnel Recovery,” makes the phrase more than just philosophy – it makes it doctrine.

The manual was approved by the Army and published on the Army Knowledge On-line Website Aug. 10. Hardcopy manuals are currently being published and should be available soon.

What the doctrine was

Before August, the Army didn’t have a set doctrine governing personnel recovery, said Lt. Col. John Horton, doctrine author at Fort Leavenworth’s Combined Arms Doctrine Directorate.

“It was a combination of a couple of Army regulations that dealt primarily with SERE (survival, evasion, resistance and escape) and Joint publications that talked about CSAR (combat search and rescue),” Horton said.

Contractors from Tate Incorporated and CADD personnel began working on the manual in September 2004. The manual was released as an initial draft in February, and the comments coming back from the field were extremely positive, Horton said. Combined Arms Center commander Lt. Gen. William S. Wallace decided to go final with the manual.

What the doctrine is now

The new manual outlines personnel recovery as the effort to recover personnel who are “isolated, missing, detained or captured in an operation environment.” Recovery operations can include not only military personnel but also Defense Department civilians and contractors. Multinational partners, American civilians and the citizens of other nations may be included in personnel-recovery efforts when directed by the secretary of defense.

The major change in doctrine is where the manual states: “Every Soldier and every sensor on the battlefield is woven into a seamless system as a part of our everyday operations and enables the immediate recovery of any personnel who are isolated, missing, detained or captured.”

The inclusion of every Soldier in personnel recovery is not a rewording of established publications and policies – it is a significant change, Horton said.

“The reason it is a significant change,” he said, “(is that) if we do have a problem, we now have a system in place that is understood from the individual level all the way to the commander level.”

In the past, personnel recovery was relegated to a dedicated force.

“Someone would have to say, ‘Hey, we have somebody who is still out there. Go get them,’ and that dedicated force would go do it,” Horton said.

The new procedure energizes the personnel-recovery system as soon as an isolating event is detected, enabling immediate recovery and fewer problems, Horton said.

Why the change

A quote from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker in the FM’s first chapter overview sets the tone for the rest of the publication: “We need to focus on Soldiers being able to take care of themselves, then able to take care of their buddies, then able to take care of their larger team. … It’s all part of the Warrior Ethos: place the mission first, never accept defeat, never quit, and never leave a fallen comrade.”

“Our Soldiers need to know that we’re not going to leave them out there, that we are coming for them,” Horton said.

During a personnel-recovery conference, former prisoner of war Sgt. James Riley spoke about the ambush on 507th Maintenance Company March 23, 2003, in Iraq.

“One of the things he said was that he didn’t think anyone was coming for him,” Horton said. “And here we are, America’s Army and a young NCO didn’t think anyone was coming for him.”

Horton said that everyone’s taking a sharper view of Warrior Ethos.

“You’re going to see it with reintegration as well. Just because we recover a Soldier, it doesn’t stop there; when that Soldier comes home and goes through his rear detachment, the personnel-recovery mechanism is still doing a bunch of things to help reintegrate that Soldier,” Horton said, “to make sure he’s taken care of.”

Some of the current manuals don’t address reintegration, Horton said.

“The Army is becoming smarter about it, and education and training will help drive these things home,” he said, “(and) continue to bring the Warrior Ethos ideas to a solid end.”

How it’s being implemented

Horton said CAC is currently working on the education and training for personnel recovery.

“The training will start with the individual Soldier at all [initial military] training,” he said. “That’s for officers and enlisted personnel.”

The chain-teaching program is slated to begin in November, and the IMT will start in January 2006, Horton said. The instruction is synchronized so new Soldiers will be trained at the same time as the leadership.

Horton said the training is not limited to Soldiers.

“The Army has the responsibility to recover contractors and civilians, so we’re having to develop the same types of programs for them as well,” he said. “You’re going to see a tightening of requirements as we go along. Contractors will have to maintain certain training before their folks are allowed in theater.”

The process will continue to evolve as personnel recovery continues to evolve, Horton said. And the training will not stop at initial entry; it will continue throughout an individual’s career. Also, a dedicated personnel-recovery officer will be in every unit down to the brigade level to oversee the execution and upkeep of training.

“Some units have taken it down to the battalion level; that’s how critical they see it,” Horton said.

As important as the training is, the doctrine had to come first, Horton reminded.

“Without (the doctrine), we wouldn’t be able to do anything,” he said.