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A psychological guide for leaders across the deployment cycle.

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Human Factors and Medicine

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deployment cycle, leaders, leadership, mental health, psychiatry, Psychological, psychology


NATO Task Group HFM 081/RTG on “Stress and Psychological Support in Modern Military Operations” was formed in 2002 with the direction that it was to run for a period of 4 years. HFM 081/RTG consisted of over 30 professionals, representing 19 different NATO and PfP nations, including a variety of military and civilian defence professionals from the field of military psychological support. The professionals represented a range of disciplines, including psychology, psychiatry, social work and sociology. The final product of the Task Group was to produce a series of guidelines for psychological support in military operations, in the form of a Military Leaders Guide (AMedP 8.10). This guide proved to be one of the most popular products of an RTG in our generation as in many nations it was incorporated into officer and senior NCM training. When this guide was last updated in 2017, a literature search was deemed acceptable, but it has since been recognized by the NATO MMHP that a full RTG will be required for future updates due to advances in the field. Much of the evidence used in the current version dates to the pre-Afghanistan and Iraq eras, and our knowledge and practice has significantly advanced and changed.


To review the current evidence and best practice to update and produce a new psychological guide for leaders across the deployment cycle. Once this evidence has been reviewed, there will likely be a requirement to undertake further international collaborative research to better understand the requirements, improve the evidence for the recommendations and develop new guidelines. Hence the need most likely for a fresh RTG that would help develop a product with greater breadth and depth. It is intended to hold focus groups with leaders across the NATO nations, and also include case studies throughout the document to increase its relevance and utility.


1) Reviewing the importance of psychological fitness in today’s battlefield. 2) Military leaders’ role in psychological readiness. 3) What unit members and leaders expect. 4) Individual psychological fitness. 5) Morale and unit effectiveness. 6) Military family readiness. 7) Helping leaders and soldiers respond effectively to potentially traumatizing events (PTE). 8) Collaboration between leaders and mental health professionals.

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