Best Defense

Scary quote of the day: Are Navy officers are being trained to sidestep taking risks?

The sea is a hostile environment where everybody makes mistakes. The key is to learn how to recognize a mistake and recover from it without multiplying it.

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From an article in the December issue of Proceedings, by a Navy lieutenant: “Where officers once learned to manage risk, they now are encouraged to avoid it.” I know this is the nature of peacetime militaries (and I would argue that the Navy is now at peace, with the exception of its Special Operators, and perhaps the 5th Fleet), but surely this trend is damaging.

It worries me especially in the Navy. The sea is a hostile environment where everybody makes mistakes. The key is to learn how to recognize a mistake and recover from it without multiplying it.

As Sir Hew Strachan wrote the other day in this blog, “We shall not master risk if we do not also embrace it.”

Photo credit: W.H. Case/Library of Congress

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com.

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