This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by professional essay writers.

Risk Aversion in The Military and The Effects of "Zero Defect" Culture on Operations

downloadDownload printPrint

Pssst… we can write an original essay just for you.

Any subject. Any type of essay. We’ll even meet a 3-hour deadline.

Get your price

121 writers online

Download PDF

This paper examines the trend towards risk aversion in contemporary Army, lack of trust in decentralized decision-making ability of the operatives on the ground, and the cumbersome, time inefficient centralized approvals process that tends to hinder time sensitive military operations. As the Army again enters a “zero defect” era brought on by the general wind-down of large scale combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, the ripple effects of this mentality can be felt throughout the special operations forces.

Fortune Favors the Bold

“Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat” is a Latin phrase that stands for “Fortune favors the bold,” attributed to a Roman playwright Publius Terentius Afer, known as Terence. This phrase is the guiding principle for many of the world’s militaries, and United States is no exception. To this day, a number of military units use this phrase as a motto. But as the United States military enters a new phase in the War on Terror, one fought largely by special operations forces, these words are increasingly ignored. Risk aversion has permeated all levels of decision making, and lack of failure is regarded on the same level as mission success. Increasingly, tactical level decision authority is being taken away from the operational elements, and now rests at the levels of higher command. The effects of this are felt throughout the special operations spectrum, as now even the simplest operations require approvals from task force or higher levels.

Zero defect

As the downsizing in the military continues, mistakes become less and less forgiving, regardless of the level at which they were committed. In 2015 the Army moved away from a two decade old policy of masking junior officer evaluation reports to future promotion boards once they reached the level of captain or chief warrant officer three, Tice (2015). This is bound to have a profoundly chilling effect on junior leader initiative, as the consequences from even a relatively insignificant failure can be potentially catastrophic for one’s future prospects. As stated by Kissel (1999), “the subordinate, realizing or perceiving a cost (penalty) for making a mistake avoids risk taking by either doing nothing or deliberately abdicating the majority of his decisions to his superior”.

Generational divide

It can be argued that some of the propensity for risk aversion also lies in the generational attributes of the leadership involved in the decision making. In the peacetime years prior to 9/11, the military moved towards standardizing, and by that virtue rewarded leaders that employed the “sensing-judging” personality style over those with the “intuitive-thinking” style, former being one that favored maintaining tight control over the situation and minimized risk taking situations, Moyardec, (2009). Those junior leaders of the end of the 20th century are now high ranking officers in charge of task force level commands, and still favor micro-managing rather than decentralizing their command and delegating decision making. On the other side of the spectrum are the current junior leaders, largely of the millennial generation, described as those born between 1980 and 2000. According to Breckenridge (2017), studies have shown that many of the millennials are uncomfortable taking initiative and making decisions. This is sometimes attributed to “helicopter parenting” often experienced by the by this generation, and the overbearing and micro-managing style of command provided by the “sensing-judging” senior commanders only exacerbates the problem. Recent survey of demographics of the military shows that 57 percent of officers and 86 percent of enlisted fall into the millennial category, DoD (2014), presenting significant concern to independent decision making and taking calculated risks.

Remember: This is just a sample from a fellow student.

Your time is important. Let us write you an essay from scratch

experts 450+ experts on 30 subjects ready to help you just now

delivery Starting from 3 hours delivery

Find Free Essays

We provide you with original essay samples, perfect formatting and styling

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Risk Aversion in the Military and the effects of “zero defect” culture on operations. (2019, April 10). GradesFixer. Retrieved October 20, 2021, from
“Risk Aversion in the Military and the effects of “zero defect” culture on operations.” GradesFixer, 10 Apr. 2019,
Risk Aversion in the Military and the effects of “zero defect” culture on operations. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 20 Oct. 2021].
Risk Aversion in the Military and the effects of “zero defect” culture on operations [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Apr 10 [cited 2021 Oct 20]. Available from:
copy to clipboard

Sorry, copying is not allowed on our website. If you’d like this or any other sample, we’ll happily email it to you.

    By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.


    Attention! This essay is not unique. You can get a 100% Plagiarism-FREE one in 30 sec

    Receive a 100% plagiarism-free essay on your email just for $4.99
    get unique paper
    *Public papers are open and may contain not unique content
    download public sample

    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Please check your inbox.

    Want us to write one just for you? We can custom edit this essay into an original, 100% plagiarism free essay.

    thanks-icon Order now

    Hi there!

    Are you interested in getting a customized paper?

    Check it out!
    Having trouble finding the perfect essay? We’ve got you covered. Hire a writer

    Haven't found the right essay?

    Get an expert to write you the one you need!


    Professional writers and researchers


    Sources and citation are provided


    3 hour delivery