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DCJS Instructor
July 18, 2008, 09:49 PM
OODA Loop & Combat Mindset

By Tom Perroni

The OODA Loop model was developed by Col. John Boyd, USAF (Ret). When Colonel John Boyd first introduced the OODA (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) loop concept during the Korean War, he was referring to the ability possessed by fighter pilots that allowed them to succeed in combat. It is now used by many other Combat oriented organizations.

I believe that in order to use the OODA Loop it must be used in conjunction with the Combat Mindset for it to be effective in a Gunfight.

What is Combat Mindset? For the fighter, mindset is the conscious or subconscious willingness to commit harm (lethal or non-lethal) against another. When engaging in combat, mindset, more often than not, will be the determining factor as to your success or failure, regardless of technical proficiency. Anybody can train in a martial skill, but few have the mind and will to use their skills for killing or serious injury. Mindset's partner is 'mental trigger,' and this trigger is the defining moment that forces you to engage your opponent with the goal of injury or death.

So how do you train in Mindset? Here is how we begin the Mindset portion of our training. Keeping in mind that Mindset is just one of the 3 main principals taught at Perroni’s Tactical Training Academy. Mindset, Skills Training and Tactics. Here is how we teach Mindset:

Since 9/11 everyone is familiar with the “Color Code” used by the government (Dept. of Homeland Security) to indicate the terrorist threat level. However I was taught that the originator of the “Color Code” was Jeff Cooper. Upon it’s inception it had absolutely nothing to do with tactical situations or alertness levels. It had everything to do with the state of mind of the sheepdog. As it was taught to me by an instructor who got it straight form Mr. Cooper, it relates to the degree of danger you are willing to do something about and which allows you move from one level of mindset to another to enable you to properly handle any given situation as it progresses. In this ‘Color Code” we have 4 colors that represent 4 mental states. The colors are White, Yellow, Orange, and Red. I have listed them with a definition of each:


White - Relaxed, unaware, and unprepared. If attacked in this state the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy and ineptitude of your attacker. When confronted by something nasty your reaction will probably be, 'Oh my God! This can't be happening to me.' (Sheep)

Yellow - Relaxed alertness. No specific threat situation. Your mindset is that 'today could be the day I may have to defend myself.' There is no specific threat but you are aware that the world is an unfriendly place and that you are prepared to do something if necessary. You use your eyes and ears, and your carriage says 'I am alert.' You don't have to be armed in this state but if you are armed you must be in yellow. When confronted by something nasty your reaction will probably be, 'I thought this might happen some day.' You can live in this state indefinitely.

Orange - Specific alert. Something not quite right has gotten your attention and you shift your primary focus to that thing. Something is 'wrong' with a person or object. Something may happen. Your mindset is that 'I may have to shoot that person.' Your pistol is usually holstered in this state. You can maintain this state for several hours with ease, or a day or so with effort.

Red - Fight trigger. This is your mental trigger. 'If that person does 'x' I will shoot them.' Your pistol may, but not necessarily, be in your hand.

Black – complete mental shutdown.

I teach my students to always be in condition Yellow! And once you move to condition Orange this is when I believe the OODA Loop occurs. Please also note that one of the most frequently asked questions in my training class is: Should I shoot with one eye open or two eyes open?

This is where I tell my students that in a gunfight you will not have the ability to shut off one eye, because your brain is in Observation mode and you need to be able to take in any and all information. Using your dominate eye will be for precision or long range accurate shots only. You will most likely be shooting from the hip or “Zippering” your shots in this situation.

But before any of this happens in a split second you will have gone through the first of literally hundreds of OODA Loops in any given confrontation. The reason they are called loops is because you will continue to take in information and make decisions based on that info throughout the confrontation.

Experimenting with OODA Loops is a form of training, meaning; test your actions based on your decisions to see their outcome. Bad decisions do not negate or interrupt your opponents OODA Loop they actually enhance your opponents OODA Loop. Three basic outcomes in interrupting or disrupting your opponents OODA Loop are; they’ll either become disoriented in attempting to make a decision, they’ll make a bad decision or they will make a satisfactory decision only too late. Good training that makes you think “outside of the box”, adding more and more situational awareness is the key to really utilizing Boyd’s Loop.

OODA Loop defined:

Observation - Scan the environment and gather information from it.

Orientation - Use the information to form a mental image of the circumstances. That is, synthesize the data into information. As more information is received, you 'deconstruct' old images and then 'create' new images. Note that different people require different levels of details to perceive an event. Often, we imply that the reason people cannot make good decisions, is that people are bad decisions makers -- sort of like saying that the reason some people cannot drive is that they are bad drivers. However, the real reason most people make bad decisions is that they often fail to place the information that we do have into its proper context. This is where 'Orientation' comes in. Orientation emphasizes the context in which events occur, so that we may facilitate our decisions and actions. That it, orientation helps to turn information into knowledge. And knowledge, not information, is the real predictor of making good decisions.

Decision - Consider options and select a subsequent course of action.

Action - Carry out the conceived decision. Once the result of the action is observed, you start over. Note that in combat (or competing against the competition), you want to cycle through the four steps faster and better than the enemy, hence, it is a loop.

This is the component that enables us to make the ‘Fight or Flight” decision. Will I stand and fight or will I tactically re-locate.

Here is a few Tactical Guidelines I teach my students:
You will not rise to the occasion……. you will default to the level of training you have mastered.
Maximize you distance from danger.
Observe hands.
Shoot until the problem is solved.
Scan before re-holstering.
Do NOT give up if hit with a handgun round most people survive being hit with a handgun round.
'Conflict is inevitable; Combat is an option'.
When you’re doing OODA “loops” correctly; accuracy and speed improve together; they don’t trade off.

Chris Pick Adjunct Instructor for Perroni’s Tactical Training Academy also contributed to this article.

Some of the information in this article came from John Boyd, Donald Clark, and anonymous sources on the internet

Scattergun Bob
July 18, 2008, 11:27 PM
Tom,

I usually just pass by your posts, however this one bugged me.

“You will most likely be shooting from the hip or “Zippering” your shots in this situation.” That is one possible outcome, there is many others, most likely is overstated. Since there is no real data what is your basis?

“However I was taught that the originator of the “Color Code” was Jeff Cooper. Upon it’s inception it had absolutely nothing to do with tactical situations or alertness levels. It had everything to do with the state of mind of the sheepdog. As it was taught to me by an instructor who got it straight form Mr. Cooper, it relates to the degree of danger you are willing to do something about and which allows you move from one level of mindset to another to enable you to properly handle any given situation as it progresses.”

I was present for one of these discussions by the originator, as always some of the key ideas are missing from your thoughts. The color code was expressly generated to complement the powerful “principals of personal defense” a presentation developed by Mr. Cooper while working in Latin America. It is difficult to separate the two.

“Here is a few Tactical Guidelines I teach my students:
You will not rise to the occasion……. you will default to the level of training you have mastered. (Clint Smith – 1980s)
Maximize you distance from danger. (the M&Ms, Clint Smith – 1970s)
Observe hands. (Vic Cortez – 1980 Training to win, ACSO)
Shoot until the problem is solved. (Louis Awerbuck, Burn-um till they drop, 1989)Scan before re-holstering. (Street Survival, Adams / McTernan, 1980)
Do NOT give up if hit with a handgun round most people survive being hit with a handgun round. (Massad F. Ayoob – Stressfire)
'Conflict is inevitable; Combat is an option'.
When you’re doing OODA “loops” correctly; accuracy and speed improve together; they don’t trade off.”

Louie once pointed out that there is nothing in the view of “battle training” that is new, everything is a rehash of the past. This is called revitalization and is the combining of an old idea with a new technology. I just wish folks would give credit where it is due! I see nothing new HERE.

Oh, by the way, please stop sending me billing for a DVD that hit the trash before it was viewed.

DCJS Instructor
July 19, 2008, 07:12 AM
Bob,

You said:

"I usually just pass by your posts"

So I say:

Then just keep on going!

Obviously not everyone has taken as much training with the masters as you.....

If I know who said it I give credit.....But since I don't know I don't make stuff up.....

I don't even know why I bother.....

More people hate me than even know who you are! (James Yeager)

Have a NICE day!

Tom Perroni

Everything in this one post was written by me except the quote by you and the one by James Yeager!

jabineer
July 19, 2008, 05:29 PM
Very well presented and informative. Thank you for sharing.

tirvin73
July 19, 2008, 08:10 PM
There is a possibility that there may be someone in this forum that just found out that the world they live in is different now than yesterday. A first time handgun buyer, a lady who was approached in the parking lot, or someone who was robbed at gun point.

Could be they joined this forum because they had no idea who could advise them without ridicule.

Everyone has an opionion on what to carry, specific ammunition choices, and who will give the best training.

I am the first one to say keep an open mind! Yes, there probably isn't much new under the "tactical" sun. There could be some one here that this is hearing this for the first time.

You can't learn too much, listen to the folks that are willing to teach. Take what YOU need, filter out the fluff,and maybe you will learn something "new".

shooter_john
July 19, 2008, 08:25 PM
Also covered extensively in Paul Howe's Leadership and Training for the Fight.

Shawn Dodson
July 19, 2008, 08:41 PM
Tools of Tactics
- by Shawn Dodson (http://www.firearmstactical.com/profiles.htm)

I have a habit of boiling down ideas and processes into a basic outline; a “cheat sheet." I get rid of superfluous stuff, which helps me to focus my thoughts on key elements of a concept. Among these ideas are John Boyd’s tools of tactics, which are comprised of a handful of intangible mechanisms used to disrupt an adversary’s intuitive sense (gut feeling) of a developing situation.

Tools of tactics are used to manipulate an adversary’s OODA Loop, to gain a time competitive advantage over him by forcing him to mentally labor to comprehend what’s going on. Each mechanism can be used to affect an adversary’s ability to observe and orient to the circumstances he faces; in essence they impair his ability to intuitively “read the situation” and react quickly to it. The time advantage gained might be mental (affecting an adversary’s ability to make an effective decision in time) or physical (he does not have time to get himself in position to effectively counteract your move).

For those who’re unfamiliar with Boyd’s OODA Loop and how his tools of tactics are used to manipulate an adversary’s decision-making process, my Tools of Tactics cheat sheet provides links and references to pertinent information resources that explain the OODA Loop in detail.

Training and experience help develop the skills to intuitively and quickly cycle through the OODA Loop, as demonstrated in Chet Richard’s animated Microsoft PowerPoint presentation “Boyd’s OODA Loop.” Those who lack training and experience suffer a time competitive disadvantage because they must progress through the OODA Loop in linear manner (Observe to Orient to Decide to Act), as they’re forced to use conscious, deliberate, analytical decision-making processes.

The tools presented in my Tools of Tactics cheat sheet are not listed in any particular order of importance. They are, however, listed in a manner to facilitate ease of remembering them. Tools of Tactics is a compilation of Boydian concepts and my own thoughts and interpretations.


Tools of Tactics (http://www.firearmstactical.com/pdf/tools_of_tactics.pdf)

Boyd's OODA Loop (http://www.d-n-i.net/boyd/boyds_ooda_loop.ppt)

doc540
July 19, 2008, 11:26 PM
Thanks

I'm reading and learning here.

Erik
July 20, 2008, 09:33 PM
A pretty good article.

Two minor points before the one prompting me to type:

Black... I'd leave out black. Cooper didn't come up with it, reputably didn't care for its inclusion, and it is color number 5 in a 4 color code concept; which can be confusing.

I disagree with: "You will most likely be shooting from the hip or “Zippering” your shots in this situation." Maybe, maybe not, for the usual reasons. Doctrinally if that's where you're coming from though, fine, and it is neutral to the articles intent, either way.

Which brings me to the thing that grabbed me the most:

"But before any of this happens in a split second you will have gone through the first of literally hundreds of OODA Loops in any given confrontation."

Hundreds? I submit that hundreds is too high a figure in that high OODA loop counts require, by definition, the cycle to occur which takes time. Assigning an arbitrary OODA loop time of .25 seconds, a hundred of them would be 25 seconds. That's time simply not available in "any given confrontation."

Again, good article.

Threefeathers
July 21, 2008, 09:59 AM
As a Civic's teacher at a large High School 20 miles from the border I took 2 days and taught the OODA Loop to my students. We've had car jackings, rape, and the death of a parent by a car jacker. I also have a nephew who is in prison for 12 years for 52 car jackings. He wrote me and told me exactly what he would look for. MALLS, and teenagers like Malls.