Washington is a city that loves euphemisms. The Department of Defense is the master of speaking in code words. The worst of the lot is the term “accepting risk.” Accepting risk is a legitimate term taken from the field of risk management. However, the phrase accepting risk is employed by civilian defense officials and uniformed military leaders to characterize their response to the widening gap between what the U.S. military is being asked to do and the capabilities and forces that can be sustained given current defense budgets. Accepting risk allows the White House and DoD to avoid having to make truly painful choices, such as giving up our military presence in a major region of the world and abandoning long standing allies and the Congress to pretend that we do not have to spend more to maintain an adequate military. We need to stop lying to ourselves and the American people. The decision to no longer blindly accept risk means, among other things, the reversal of the force structure cuts of the past several years, increased funding for modernization, particularly in the Army, and more resources for maintenance, repair and overhaul. I have written about the dangers of continuing to accept risk here.
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