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Casualty Aversion in War

Below is the abstract to an article published in the Air & Space Power Journal by Major Charles K. Hyde of the United States Air Force:

In this article, both a survey of casualty-aversion studies and an analysis of the American casualty-awareness syndrome, Major Hyde argues for a clear recognition of what drives casualty consciousness on the part of political and military decision makers and the civilian populace at large. Involving more than reaction to alarming numbers or pictures, this consciousness is part of a calculation of perceived benefits as portrayed in our democratic process. More importantly, the author addresses the negative implication that unwarranted casualty aversion potentially has on operational planning and execution. In essence, casualty aversion leads to casualty displacement because those who should take on the casualty burden fundamental to their mission and professional ethos shift that obligation to others who have inherited a more vulnerable situation.

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