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vox rationis
January 31, 2010, 12:05 AM
So a few threads running now about people being ambushed by criminals have reminded me of Boyd's "OODA" loop, and I thought I'd post some thoughts on it.

But more importantly, maybe some may even relate some situations that they were in where they used the OODA loop (even if they didn't realize that they were doing it) or during which they wished they had used, or known about, the OODA loop.

So here are some thoughts on Boyd's OODA loop (Observe, Orient, Decide, Act).

Observe - well I catch myself daydreaming more often than I like to admit, but this is the most important part of the whole thing isn't it..if we aren't scanning our surroundings to observe for a threat, the bad guy will get the drop on us and he will be inside our OODA loop, with us reacting to the bad guy's actions: not a good thing

Orient - once we've observed the potential threat, we should be immediately moving and maneuvering for a position of tactical superiority, either moving to escape, or if absolutely necessary, to fight from a position of tactical superiority; e.g. once we see a stranger(s) moving toward us, the idea is to not just stand there and let them come into contact range 'cause we don't wanna seem weird or impolite, but rather move, maneuver, do something to orient ourselves into a position of escape or tactical superiority; nothing says that while pumping gas for example we must remain next to our car as a stranger approaches us (the car ought to be locked anyway), or if someone approaches us in the store parking lot we just stand there like a deer in the headlights and let them get close; come think of it nothing says that we have to remain rooted next to the car like a bloody mannequin while the gas pump is running period, as a matter of fact the next time the pump is going, I may take a relaxed little stroll toward the side of the convenience store while I'm scanning the area; anyway the point is that once we Observe the potential thread, we immediately start Orienting ourselves, maneuvering ourselves, into a position of advantage/escape. The longer we wait to start Orienting, the more we expose ourselves to potential danger, and the more power of advantage we let slip away that can be exploited against us.

Decide - once we have oriented ourselves into a position of tactical superiority or escape, then we decide if we need to flee or fight

Act - And once that decision has been made, we need to act, and act with measured and calculated alacrity

So easier said then done, but I just thought I'd throw this out there.

45Gunner
January 31, 2010, 12:32 AM
I used OODA as a means of survival in Vietnam, long before I really knew it. Back then we used to get drilled into us, "Don't let Charlie catch you napping."

Fast forward a bunch of years and I went to work for a Govt. Agency and retired and then got recruited for another and have since retired from it. OODA was life. You snooze, you lose.

I would venture a guess that a good percentage of us that routinely carry, live by OODA. I can't conceive that many of us would be asleep at the wheel. It is because we are so aware that we do carry on a regular basis. Scary, isn't it?

pacerdude
January 31, 2010, 12:57 AM
I will admit that I am only in my 20's, and probably one of the younger posters on the board, but I have never heard until, I opened this thread about the OODA, type of situational awareness.

I am very glad you brought it up, and shed some light unto my ignorance of that particular phraseology. I will definitely put more effort into keep the OODA approach in mind, and applying it on everything from walking across the UGA campus, to pumping gas or visiting my family in Atlanta.

It seems that with the times remaining difficult for many people, that we are hearing of more desperate actions by criminals.

Thanks, for the post and God bless!

Doc Intrepid
January 31, 2010, 01:36 AM
For young dudes who may not know a great deal about Col. Boyd and his teachings, the following links may prove interesting:

http://www.fastcompany.com/magazine/59/pilot.html?page=0%2C0

http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/815334/posts

Boyd was a USAF fighter pilot during the Korean War. His OODA loop became standard debate fare for military strategists, and was introduced to USMC 2nd Lieutenants when I went through the Basic School in the 1970s. Boyd the man could be difficult to deal with...he fell into the category of brilliant eccentric. He ****** off the USAF more than any other officer in living memory, and made more enemies at the Pentagon than nearly any guy in any service since World War II.

I can't say much about the USAF, but Boyd's thinking and work had a huge influence on the US Marine Corps. When Boyd died he was buried in Arlington National Cemetary. The USAF sent exactly one formal representative - a single general. Dozens and dozens of Marines attended:

"At Boyd's funeral, a sizable contingent of Marines dwarfed the Air Force representation. At graveside, a senior Marine Colonel placed the globe-and-anchor insignia beside the urn of ashes; it is the highest posthumous honor the Corps can bestow. In retirement, Boyd developed a fighting system that transformed the Marines. He did so through endless reading — 323 books plus — and ultramarathon telephone calls to the few he trusted, his Pentagon protégés known as the "Acolytes." " From this citation:

http://www.arlingtoncemetery.net/jrboyd.htm

Boyd was an extraordinary man, who made a substantial contribution to tactical thinking on many different levels. He's a good guy to know about.

Regards,

Doc

pacerdude
January 31, 2010, 01:10 PM
Thanks for the links Doc!

Deaf Smith
January 31, 2010, 07:11 PM
I used OODA as a means of survival in Vietnam, long before I really knew it. Back then we used to get drilled into us, "Don't let Charlie catch you napping."

Back then such as the LRPs had reaction drills for different ambushes, like 'L' or 'V' or 'X' ambushes. If hit they would charge right or left or peel off in reverse while firing. The drills were, in a way, using OODA to confound the enemy’s ambush.

And it was these instant action drills that messed up Charlie many times. But those units that didn't practice these usually got caught half-stepping, with grievous losses.

vox rationis
February 1, 2010, 12:04 AM
Doc, thanks for providing those links, I couldn't find any concise ones to post as reference.

Also very interesting comments about Vietnam, ambushes, and immediate action drills.

Applying this sort of thing to civilians and CC, obviously the best is to avoid the ambush by good observation, but if that fails I suppose it might be a very useful thing to perhaps work out some "escape and evasion", "confuse the bad guy" sort of immediate action drills, that's in addition to the typical reactionary weapon presentation (+/- moving of the X, +/- engaging the target) drills. I'll leave it to everyone's imagination what some of these drills may be like, and if it would be realistic to try any of them. For example, I remember reading about a situation during which a man feigned a heart attack which enabled him to, momentarily confuse his would be attacker, which then enabled him to draw his weapon and shoot two assailants that had invaded his apartment, one of which was holding him at gun point.

But in the case of the Dallas woman with the 'spensive jewelry, looking at that security footage demonstrates that she failed miserably in the Observe and Orient phases.

Observation Zero:

- she walked to her car in a totally oblivious state, not to mention she was probably oblivious to the fact that she was being stalked, possibly even while shopping
- she totally was oblivious that that car slowly pulled up behind her
- she was totally oblivious to the fact that a stranger got out and circled suspiciously around an adjacent car to position himself for the attack

Total Orientation Failure:

- Once she observed him, instead of retreating rapidly, she actually went closer to him, no doubt as a response to an interview type question he gave her (what time is it, can I ask you something, do you have change for a dollar, etc); I'm sure she wanted to be polite, so you can see in the video as she actually went exactly to the position where he was located, you know to have a civilized conversation and interaction with the guy..

- Once she realizes that she is prey, and he might have said "give me your money and jewelry b*%&" or something equally charming, she starts to back up, but not nearly enough, and then he charges her, rolls her, and she's lucky to be alive actually; but she had a few really good seconds as she actually had time to back up what seemed to be a good 6 feet at least before he charges in, and in those few seconds I think that she could have produced a weapon, if she had one, or just turned and ran like her life depended on it back toward the entrance, screaming a blood curdling "FIRE FIRE FIRE" all the meanwhile, as it didn't appear that he had a weapon; I'm thinking that screaming "help me" would only result in people running away from her or ignoring her, unfortunately, but hey everyone wants to see where the fire is right? Another thought is that the equation of: Woman alone in parking lot + high heels = decreased ability to maneuver, escape, fight.

- Of course if she had been observing and seen the car and the man getting out toward her, she could have immediately shut her car door and started orienting and maneuvering to a position of safety or tactical advantage, of course at the expense of her seeming paranoid..but the alternative was to remain in a risky position, and we know how that turned out.

Anyway, hindsight is 20/20, but it is interesting to analyze these occurrences within the O O D A framework in order to possibly learn something from mistakes made.

KenpoTex
February 1, 2010, 06:26 AM
Good topic...

I think an understanding of the OODA-loop is extremely important. However, I also feel that before one gets too worried/involved with the application, it is essential to understand the OODA-loop at its most basic level...that is, as a model of the decision making cycle.
It is very easy to get lost in the application if one does not grasp the underlying theory. The OODA-loop is simply a constant process we go through any/every time we perceive a stimulus. It doesn't matter whether we're driving in traffic, about to open a door, or dealing with a violent attack. We are constantly operating in some part of the loop.
What do I mean when I say people sometimes "get lost" with this stuff? For one thing, it's easy to confuse the OODA-loop with something like the "Cooper Color Codes" (http://www.teddytactical.com/SharpenBladeArticle/4_States%20of%20Awareness.htm). While the OODA-loop is inherent in the progression from say, yellow to red, the progression itself is not the OODA-loop. Nor do the stages in the progression from "situationaly aware but not feeling threatened" to "front sight press" have any direct correlation to the specific parts of the OODA-loop. You actually go through the loop at each stage (probably multiple times).

For example: In the first post of this thread the portion outlined under the "Orientation" phase would really be part of the "Act" phase. Why? Because if we are moving to a position of superiority due to the presence of a potential threat, we have already moved through the first three phases of the loop. We observed a person or persons and we then determined that they were a potential threat. This could be due to their appearance, their behavior, a gut-feeling, or whatever. The point is that based on our experience and the information available, we classified them as a potential hazard (orientation phase). We then decided to move ourselves into a position of superiority (cover, concealment, etc.). As soon as we begin that movement, we are in the act phase.
What do we do once we reach our position of superiority? We are constantly observing the events unfold so that we can orient, decide, and act again in response to the changing situation.

Again, the OODA-loop is just a description of our decision making cycle. Whether the decisions we make are "right" or "wrong" based on the context of the situation is irrelevant, we went through the loop (or at least part of it) either way.

Here are a few links that give a decent overview of the cycle and a representation of the model (and thanks to Doc for the other links, I hadn't seen one of those articles).

This one is a simple explanation with a few different examples of how the loop applies in combat/fighting
http://www.spartancops.com/ooda-loop-simple-concept-modern-combat-strategy/

This one is a brief description but has a good "picture" of the loop
http://www.valuebasedmanagement.net/methods_boyd_ooda_loop.html

The Wiki page...another picture and some more description and examples
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_loop

vox rationis
February 2, 2010, 12:30 AM
For example: In the first post of this thread the portion outlined under the "Orientation" phase would really be part of the "Act" phase. Why? Because if we are moving to a position of superiority due to the presence of a potential threat, we have already moved through the first three phases of the loop. We observed a person or persons and we then determined that they were a potential threat. This could be due to their appearance, their behavior, a gut-feeling, or whatever. The point is that based on our experience and the information available, we classified them as a potential hazard (orientation phase). We then decided to move ourselves into a position of superiority (cover, concealment, etc.). As soon as we begin that movement, we are in the act phase.
What do we do once we reach our position of superiority? We are constantly observing the events unfold so that we can orient, decide, and act again in response to the changing situation.

Again, the OODA-loop is just a description of our decision making cycle. Whether the decisions we make are "right" or "wrong" based on the context of the situation is irrelevant, we went through the loop (or at least part of it) either way.

Here are a few links that give a decent overview of the cycle and a representation of the model (and thanks to Doc for the other links, I hadn't seen one of those articles).

This one is a simple explanation with a few different examples of how the loop applies in combat/fighting
http://www.spartancops.com/ooda-loop...mbat-strategy/

This one is a brief description but has a good "picture" of the loop
http://www.valuebasedmanagement.net/...ooda_loop.html

The Wiki page...another picture and some more description and examples
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OODA_loop

Thanks for the links, explanations and interesting thoughts. I know that some see the OODA loop more along the lines of how you explained it and along the lines of how it is explained in the spartan cops link.

The interpretation I based my comments on however is based on a more direct, and perhaps one can say proactive, interpretation that seems more practical given a martial context. This is how MSG. Paul Howe (ex Delta Force team leader of Blackhawk Down fame) explains the OODA loop. Simplistically it is described as follows:

From "Leadership and Training for the Fight" by MSG Paul R. Howe:
1. "Observe the enemy and their actions"

2. "Orient yourself into a more favorable position... preemptively assume a tactically superior position. In the observation phase, you have already observed and are aware of the threat facing you. You now need to adjust your individual position and maneuver to an offensively superior position". We could amend this here for us civilians to perhaps say; a tactically superior position from where we can best fight or flight.

3. [having attained a superior position] "Decide on your course of action". For example shoot/no shoot, or engage or evade.

4. "Act"; Paul Howe then describes that this is the stage where he pulls the trigger (he then goes on to describe how he trains to take that shot in the quickest, most efficient, and effective manner).

I will argue that for us civilians, at this last stage, having observed the threat, having oriented ourselves to a tactically superior posture, and having decided that we need to defend our lives with deadly force for example, we need not forget the fact that we indeed need to commit to the final act of pulling the trigger, or the final act of running away for that matter, as appropriate. In other words, all the earlier preparatory stages comes down to the moment of truth, when we need to..ACT, and not freeze.

No matter what ultimate nuance of the OODA loop concept one uses, I think it is a really useful framework to organize and strategize one's thoughts on many matters, including self defense. I also like the more traditional interpretation like you offered KenpoTex, and to me it seems that that interpretation is more strategic, where the Paul Howe interpretation has a more "direct action drill", martial, type of application.

I hope everyone else isn't being bored stiff :D

By the way, has anyone read "Boyd: The Fighter Pilot that Changed the War"? I've been meaning to pick it up.

Doc Intrepid
February 2, 2010, 01:12 AM
Based on your posts and your interest in the thinking behind the OODA loop, I think you will enjoy that book. It's very in-depth in terms of Boyd's development of his ideas. But it also exposes his flaws. In the end, most of us turn out to be human, no matter what else we may accomplish.

I admire Boyd's brilliance and tenacity, and he did push past the boundaries of established thinking - and that's rare, I think, to find truly original thinking.

KenpoTex
February 2, 2010, 09:40 AM
The interpretation I based my comments on however is based on a more direct, and perhaps one can say proactive, interpretation that seems more practical given a martial context. This is how MSG. Paul Howe (ex Delta Force team leader of Blackhawk Down fame) explains the OODA loop.


By the way, has anyone read "Boyd: The Fighter Pilot that Changed the War"? I've been meaning to pick it up.

Having read Howe's book, I figured that his "take" on the whole thing influenced your comments.
I think that the "proactive" version is a viable way of doing things. My point was merely that I think we're doing ourselves a disservice if we don't understand the OODA-loop at its fundamental level and stay mindful of the implications of how our decision making cycle works.

Yeah, Boyd: The Fighter Pilot... is a good read.

bigghoss
February 2, 2010, 12:08 PM
http://gasbanditry.com/twg163/pictures/Demotivational%20Posters/ingenuity-rocket-propelled-chainsaw.jpg

I couldn't resist...

Shawn Dodson
February 2, 2010, 12:16 PM
Observe = sensing your environment

Orient = interpreting what you sense and how it affects you (i.e., reading the situation)

Decide = determining a course of action to take in response to how you read the situation

Act = implementing the action you've chosen

Feedback = Observing the results of your action(s) - do the results meet your expectations?

OODA Loop Reset = when your expectations don't match reality.

Intuition = Observing and Acting without the need to Orient and Decide, you observe the unfolding situation and you immediately react to it, usually based on previous experience.

Tactics = The art of manipulating human perception to achieve an advantage.

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

bikerbill
February 3, 2010, 09:59 AM
I read the book a few years ago and it is excellent; before that, I had never heard of the OODA loop. It was revolutionary and saved many lives; while I hadn't heard of it, I certainly operated under its premise, trying to stay alert at all times, always assessing where to go and what to do in case of emergency ... Get a copy, it's a good read ...

Shawn Dodson
February 3, 2010, 10:12 AM
One more...

Getting inside your adversary’s OODA Loop = Sensing cues and indicators that telegraph what your adversary is about to do, or about what he can and cannot do, which provides you the opportunity to counteract his predictable behavior in a manner that does not meet his expectations. In essence, you read his play, predict what he’s going to do before he does it, set him up and beat him to the punch.

The time it takes for him to observe, orient and attempt to adapt to the new situation is time you have to change the situation again so that his decision-making process (OODA Loop) falls farther behind and his reactions become inappropriate to the unfolding new situation. As he attempts to recover you’re in position to outmaneuver and set him up again and again before he has time to react effectively, if ever. His unfocused reactions are one or more steps behind the actions you have already completed.

vox rationis
February 3, 2010, 09:14 PM
Thanks for the great responses everyone.

And I shall get that book.

I also think that it is very fascinating how much Boyd's theories on warfare and tactics influenced the ground fighters such as the Marines.


Here (http://pajamasmedia.com/ejectejecteject/?s=John+Boyd) is a link describing Boyd and some of his theories in a fairly succinct, if not possibly superficial, way, that someone else had posted on TFL a while ago, and I just now re-found it. It does meander into other areas and into some personal editorializing but I think it is a good read overall.

And I had no idea that Boyd influenced the strategy of the first Iraq war; this was definitely not publicized.

Here (http://www.citizenstrategist.com/4the-john-boyd-archive.html) is another link with some Boyd material (the Organic Design for Command and Control link doesn't work, it is gibberish).

Also if anyone has or finds a video presentation of Boyd's "Patterns of Conflict" briefing, I'd love to see it. You can find Boyd's presentation notes here (http://homepage.mac.com/WebObjects/FileSharing.woa/wa/default?user=ace354&templatefn=FileSharing37.html&xmlfn=TKDocument.37.xml&sitefn=TKSite.2.xml&aff=consumer&cty=US%E3%80%88=en), but without him giving the oral briefing the notes are abstract.

I think I just turned this post into a Boyd fest :o

MauiDoc
February 5, 2010, 11:05 PM
Somebody's sig line here had a great alternative OODA:

Observe

Over-react

Destroy

Apologize


In a pinch, you can skip the last step...
Think I'll put this on a t-shirt....

Lee Lapin
February 6, 2010, 05:53 PM
Ah, vr... so sad you're a few months late to the Boyd picnic.

Once there was a great site called DNI- Defense and the National Interest. It was among other things the home of all things Boyd.

But it's gone now. Fortunately some fragments have been preserved- see http://zenpundit.com/?cat=60 for links.

I think John Robb's site at http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/john_boyd/video-john-boyd-presentation-on-conceptual-spiral.html might have the video you're looking for.

hth,

lpl

vox rationis
February 7, 2010, 12:04 AM
Lee

Thanks for the links. It is never too late for another Boyd party :cool: