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An acceptable loss, also known as acceptable damage, is a military euphemism used to indicate casualties or destruction inflicted by an enemy that is considered minor or tolerable.[1] In combat situations leaders have to often choose between options where no one solution is perfect and all choices will lead to casualties or other costs to their unit.[2]

A small scale practical example might be when the advancement of troops is halted by a minefield. In many military operations the speed of advancement is more important than the safety of soldiers. Thus the minefield must be "breached" even if this means some casualties.[3]

On a larger strategic level, there is a limit to how many casualties nation's military or the public are willing to withstand when they go to war. For example, there is an ongoing debate on how the conceptions of acceptable losses affect how The United States conducts its military operations.[4]

The concept of acceptable losses has also been adopted to business use, meaning taking necessary risks[5] and the general costs of doing business, also covered with terms such as waste or shrinkage.[6]

The euphemism is related to the concept of acceptable risk, which is used in many areas such as medicine and politics, to describe a situation where the a course of action is taken because the expected benefits outweigh the potential hazards.[7]

See also[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Spears, Richard (2006). McGraw-Hill's Dictionary of American Idoms and Phrasal Verbs. McGraw Hill Professional. p. 3. ISBN 0071486852. 
  2. Shambach, Stephen A. (2004). Strategic Leadership Primer. Department of Command, Leadership and Management, United States Army War College. p. 37. 
  3. Ghaffari, Manthena, Ghaffari & Hall (October 2004). "Mines and human casualties, a robotics approach toward mine clearing". Digital object identifier:10.1117/12.571260. 
  4. Lacquement, Richard A. Jr. (March 2004). "The Casualty-Aversion Myth". http://www.army.mil/professionalWriting/volumes/volume2/march_2004/3_04_2.html. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  5. McManus, Gerard. "Military Precision". Australian Institute of Management. http://www.aim.com.au/DisplayStory.asp?ID=875. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  6. Greenstone, Richard J. (August 2001). "Acceptable Losses". http://www.rjg.com/acceptablelosses.html. Retrieved 21 June 2013. 
  7. Last, John M. (2007). A Dictionary of Public Health. Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195160901. 

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