Red, Amber, Green Cycle in the Military

To succeed as a leader, you must competently manage your resources—people, materials, and information. But perhaps the most precious resource you must manage is time. You can’t replace time once it’s gone!  Time management allows us to achieve and sustain technical and tactical competence and maintain training proficiency at an acceptable level. Time management systems identify, focus and protect prime time training periods and the resources to support the training. Well, what system is in place that allows us to do that?  Very simply put, we utilize three phases in a time management cycle which are red, amber and green  Here is a simplified explanation of each phase:

Red: The red period, or support period allows leaders to take advantage of all training opportunities to conduct individual Soldier, leader and crew training.  Typically, routine medical, dental and administrative tasks are taken care of during this period.  Self-development is the key focus during the red period time-frame.  Part of this may actually include being an evaluator or support OPFOR for others that are in their green phase of training.

Amber: Amber, or mission training, focuses on the lowest level of combat power.  Essentially, this means platoons, squads and crews take part in educational and other training.  Scheduled maintenance and other critical readiness training tasks take place during this phase.  Apart from Green training, Amber focuses on more individual with limited collective training opportunities (although sometimes collective training can occur).  The focus during the amber phase is on proficiency at the platoon, squad and crew level!

Green: Green phase is what we call “prime-time training”, or training which focuses primarily on the Soldier and leaders.  This type of training often includes collective tasks that integrated through multi-echelon training.  Green training always supports the Mission Essential Task List (METL) objective and all administrative and other activities are eliminated to ensure all Soldiers are participating in the training.  Green training periods coincide with the availability of major training resources and key training facilities and devices.

FINAL THOUGHTS: The Red, Amber, Green time management cycle provides us as leaders with a macroscopic “intent” (for lack of a better word) to help us better utilize our time to achieve particular training intents: i.e. training the individual Soldier; the Platoon, Squad and Crews; and finally collective training.  A critical aspect of taking full advantage of this system is first, understanding it, and secondly knowing what your Commander and your own intent is for each time period.

If you have any questions about the red, amber and green cycles, just contact us, and we will try to provide an answer for you.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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1 thought on “Red, Amber, Green Cycle in the Military”

  1. Candace Ginestar

    Justin, great article! Thanks for sharing this important information. Time management is crucial to any mission, and it’s our job as leaders to ensure that our subordinates have maximum time to plan and train.

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