Mormon Fire Staff Ride

Mormon Fire Staff Ride

The Staff Ride concept was developed by the Prussian Army in the nineteenth century.  The U.S. Army War College adopted the technique in 1906.  In the 1970's the U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps turned to Staff Rides with great enthusiasm and now they are considered essential educational techniques for advanced military schools as well as for operational field units.

The intent of a Staff Ride is to put participants in the shoes of the decision makers on a historical incident in order to learn for the future. A well-designed Staff Ride involves three phases:

  1. The 1st Phase is a directed preliminary self-study that engages participants in reading and information gathering about the selected incident;
  2. The 2nd Phase, participants visit the actual site of the incident as a group, accompanied by a cadre of subject matter experts;
  3. The 3rd Phase is an integration session that allows participants an opportunity to share and discuss the insights and lessons they derived from the preliminary study and the site visit.

 A Staff Ride is not be a tactical-fault finding exercise.  Participants are challenged to push past the basic question of "What happened?" and examine the deeper questions of leadership and decision-making: "What would I have done in this person's place?" "How detailed should the guidance from a superior to a subordinate be?" "Can a senior leader make use of a competent but overzealous subordinate?" "What explains repeated organizational success or failure?"  The study of leadership aspects in a Staff Ride transcend time and place.

Mormon FireThe Mormon Fire was ignited by lightning on May 15th, 2016. Seasonal conditions on the Coconino National Forest had been significantly moderated by consistent spring rain and snowfall. This led to decreased fire intensity which provided the opportunity to successfully allow the Mormon Fire to achieve objectives outlined in the 1987 Land and Resource Management Plan.

A Type 3 Incident Management Organization was built to implement management actions when the fire posed potential threat to the identified values at risk.

The following resources were developed for anyone wanting to know more about the Mormon Fire Staff Ride or as a reference for how to conduct your own Staff Ride: