Be Ready For Anything - The OODA Loop

Dear Brendan,

To quickly recap-- we have established a baseline and developed a strong foundation to build upon.  This is key.  

Now, let’s continue to move forward together on this journey to secure the high ground of protection; self-protection and the protection of those we are responsible for.

My last notes to you covered down on the differences between working out and training and the importance of strength.  Remember there is no one size fits all solution.  I’m not giving you or anyone else a cookie cutter approach to anything.  You need to continue to refine and customize all that we do here.  We all have our own strengths and weaknesses.  Nobody knows you or your capabilities, etc. better than you do.  I challenge you to think for yourself and never relent.  Trust me and the information I provide you, but verify everything I say and tailor it all to your own needs.  I’m providing you tools, resources, skill sets, tradecraft, and more.  Now, you must develop them to best fit you, your life and family.

I’ll do everything I can to keep these letters to a manageable length and workable framework. The only downside to that is that all of these tools, skill sets, tradecraft and training I cover will require quite a bit more time, discussion, and training to gain a full understanding and acquire the skill.  In order to take everything to the next level will require that we use other platforms and have more one-on-one periods of time together to reinforce all to a higher level of proficiency.  

 The following two sayings will help drive home the point I’m trying to make.  

“Amateurs train until they get it right.  Professionals train until they can’t get it wrong.”    

“We are what we repeatedly do.  Therefore, excellence is not an act.  It is a habit.” 

Let’s keep moving forward. Today I’m introducing a new concept. It’s called Situational Awareness, or SA.

Before I start, I’ll say again to please take this upon yourself to research and study.  

Developing your SA is not only about preventing or surviving an attack.  Although having good SA will help make you a hard target in a potential confrontation, it’s also about honing your skills  of observation in all areas of your life.  SA is something you cultivate over time. It should become part of your everyday life.  SA should become second nature so when it’s deployed it is done naturally without having to think about it, like blinking and breathing. You do these things without conscious thought.   

There are a lot of resources out there about SA and how to improve your attentiveness about your surroundings or operational environment.  A lot of SA is simply watching your six, or your back.  

You may hear people say it’s like keeping your head on a swivel, which means you are always scanning, scanning, scanning, looking carefully around you. The trick, though, is to do this without being obvious about it. Doing this is part of developing eyes in the back of your head, so to speak.  It can be as simple as where you sit inside a restaurant.  You may want to position yourself with your back against the wall.  And remember not to draw attention to yourself.   

There is a system called Observe-Orient-Decide-Act (OODA) loop.  I could write an entire piece just on the OODA loop.  Observe and Orient is basically SA.  Put yourself in a position to observe all.  You want to have a clear field of vision.  Establish a baseline of behavior for where you are.  What is normal or not normal for your environment?  I’ll discuss nonverbal body language and behavior in a separate note to you.  

Do you have an action plan if things go sideways?   

Example:  Man walks into a café with a gun.  

 I’d suggest you take the time to look closer at the OODA loop and everything discussed in more detail on your own.  Please reach out to me if you have any questions or thoughts on this.   

I’ll close by telling you about an SA game I play with my daughters.  It’s called, Keep In Mind Skills, (KIMS) game.  This helps me and my daughters hone our SA skills.  This is how it works.  

Anytime we go to Starbucks for a daddy-daughter date we automatically start making mental notes about the environment.  This includes the number of employees behind the counter, the number of customers, what people are wearing, how many men, how many women are there, how many exits/entrances, and so on.  After we leave and are back in the car, I’ll ask them questions such as how many people were working behind the counter?  How many customers were there?  How many were men and how many were women?  What was the color of the shirt the guy had on next to us?  How many exits/entrances did you count?  It can be fun to play and the great thing is you are training your kids and yourself to have better SA.           

Like anything else here it comes back to training.  Perfect practice makes perfect.

“We do not rise to the occasion.  We fall to our level of training.”

Train, Train, Train

Be Aware & Be Safe,

-Travis

PS:  USAF COL John Boyd developed the OODA loop.  You can perform a simple online Google search that will pull up numerous materials about the OODA loop. I recommend you do so.