On risk: risk and decision making in military combat and training environments
Myer, Matthew R.
Lojka, Jason R.
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All decisions involve risk; yet the subject is poorly understood and difficult to define. Understanding risk is vital for military leaders that prepare their forces to operate in risky environments against adversaries that seek to impose risk upon their enemies. Furthermore, the decisions of military leaders affect those subordinates under their command and ultimately the will of the nation that has sent them abroad. It is paramount, therefore, that we utilize a decision process to reveal how emotions can affect our judgment. Frequently, cultural forces in the military can result in ill-informed and emotionally biased decisions that are an irresponsible execution of duty. We address this problem by defining the objective components of risk using mathematical concepts then characterizing the nature of risk in different military environments using those concepts. Our approach uses economic principles, game theory, and decision theory to illustrate how calculations of risk should influence decision-making. Objectively defining risk will aid in revealing the subjective components of risk, where the mathematical principles explain both how decisions are effectively made and how to make decisions effectively. Risk in training and risk in combat pose two very different problems; but to be fully understood both environments must be viewed together. This detailed analysis and research aims to create a more informed decision making process and a more sophisticated decision maker.
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