Risk remains a concern for all commanders at all levels of war and risk to the individual service member is of such high concern for the operational commander that individuals can become strategically important. The lack of specific doctrine relating to risk allows ambiguity and interpretation when balancing risk with mission success. Strategic actors, introduced in this study, apply pressures to the commander's risk balance that forces their consideration while the commander arranges tactical actions in time, space, and purpose to achieve strategic aims. This research develops a model for balancing risk between mission success and individual service member wellbeing. Applying this model to a series of case studies from the war in Iraq determined the model was indeed plausible and that individuals in modern warfare are increasingly important strategically, mainly because the lack of clear doctrine allows them to be so. This shortcoming in doctrine ill prepares commanders and staffs to mitigate risks through application of operational art when external actors play such a critical role in applying pressure in the risk equation.