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Old December 24, 2001, 12:24 AM   #1
Join Date: November 4, 2001
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Situational Awareness

I am intrigued by the OODA cycle and the situational awareness levels of condition white, condition yellow, and so on. These techniques, in a roundabout way, have helped me become tremendously more observant of my surroundings. I continuously ask myself a multitude of questions. Where is the nearest cover? What are my escape routes? Does anything look out of place? (I.E. a person who is wearing an un-tucked or bulky shirt on a hot day, etc.) These are but a few of the questions I ask myself daily, hourly, and by the minute. Which leads me to the following questions. What do you folks look for or ask yourselves about your environment? (A mental checklist if you will) What are some of the other methods and techniques you use for situational awareness? I know this isn’t a specific scenario, but please give me your thoughts.

Last edited by knowledgegreen; December 24, 2001 at 01:18 AM.
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Old December 24, 2001, 01:48 AM   #2
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Nice post.

As for me personally, I don't ask myself any questions as such. I guess it's just years of subconscious practice.

I guess I can outline the process as follows:

1. Calibrate your alarm system by getting a feel for the environment. Your level of alertness should vary under different conditions: moving around a night club is very different from your nephew's birthday party.

2. Be aware of your immediate surroundings. Listen with your ears and smell with your nose. When there is someone really close by, most people can feel the presence without seeing.

3. Scan the environment ahead. Don't look at people, but look past them. By looking past them, I can observe an individual without looking suspicious. Glance, rather than stare. Glance far ahead at several points, and then glance at the ground in front (aware of obstacles). Use of peripheral vision is important.

When you're in an unfamiliar location, try to look like your looking for something (don't exaggerate!). This eases suspicion from passers-by, and makes you look natural.
Tips: move head rather than just eyes. Enjoy the scenary.

When you're in a familiar location, try looking executive, and walk strongly with purpose.
Tips: move eyes rather than head. You're going somewhere, so people had better move out of the way!

My 2 cents.
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Old December 24, 2001, 07:11 AM   #3
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See my note on the thread - 'furtive movements on board'.
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Old December 24, 2001, 12:29 PM   #4
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Here is link to the thread with the Scotsman Oakleaf's excellant comments.

Sam......"Stand Fast"
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Old December 24, 2001, 01:55 PM   #5
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A technique that's taught to pilots early on is the visual scan. Take small 10 degree sections of your environment and allow your eyes to focus on each sector, then move on to the next. The stop and focus allows you to understand and respond to a threat or object.

If you watch a pro pilot do this, you'd swear he or she is just looking. The head movements gradually follow eye movements, and it looks very natural.

It's served me well in the air, on a motorcycle or in a car, and while waiting for a train--condition yellow, all.

Oakleaf's #7 is a good one. Comes with training and conditioning.
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Old December 24, 2001, 05:33 PM   #6
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I consider myself somewhat of a novice compared to a lot of the great guys and gals here, but I would like share some of my experiences.

When I was in college, I used to frequent a very rough bar. The bouncers had taped fist and often frisked people before letting them in. They had a no guns, knifes, or any other concievable weapon policy, but you know how that goes. I don't recall ever seeing a LEO in the parking lot much less inside the bar(apparantly because it was outside of any city limits). People(and in this case I us the term lightly) from just about every walk of life were there for the $5 cover and free beer all night. Yes I know I shouldn't have been there at all, but try telling that to an "invincible" teenager drinkin free beer on a fake ID and chasing members of the fairer sex. Anyway, here are some of the reasons I believe that I am still looking at the green side of the grass.

First off, I tried to be as polite and friendly as was possible. The place had quite a few mirrors and I found that you could see a bunch of things while "checking your hair." It amazed me how people didn't realize you could see them with your back turned even though there was a mirror right in front of you. Try looking in a mirror while messing with your hair or what ever and just see what all you can see without looking right at it.

Well crap, didn't realize the time. Gotta run and do the Christmas stuff.
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Old December 24, 2001, 06:25 PM   #7
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I have been practicing this for years, via my karate training. What we as firearms enthusiasts term situational awareness was called something a little different when I learned it. It's all the same thing, and once you get it ingrained into you, it's automatic.

As soon as you walk into any placeyou always find the entances and exits, restroom, quickly scan the room for anyone or thing that seems odd or out of place. Never sit with your back to an open full room of people, etc.....

It's good practice regardless of where, what or whom you are.

Always watch your 6!

Your suffering will be legendary, even in HELL!!
--- PinHead, HellRaiser 2
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Old December 24, 2001, 07:34 PM   #8
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To add a bit to Coati's post.
When scanning, if your eyes are moving you don't see much. If you pause the eye movement briefly you see what is there and then can move on. Many small movements. Seems jerky till you try it. Works.

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Old December 25, 2001, 09:13 AM   #9
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Good info here. I would also suggest that reading newspaper crime reports will give you a knowledge of the environments, times and situations in which criminals choose to act. Street criminals, being stupid and probably drug-addled, don't have a lot of imagination or planning skills. They do the same stuff over and over till they get caught.

When out and about, I watch for people who are "loitering without purpose". I know that such people are more likely to be a problem in certain parking lots, after dark, away from the store lights. I've formed the habit of walking wide of my truck till I can verify there's no lurkers.

IMHO you're less likely to be the target of a direct assault than you are to get caught up in a business robbery, and there are signs for these too. One that's been mentioned on TFL before is the C-store customer who browses aimlessly till all the other customers leave. Another is when two or three people enter a business separately, as if they don't know each other, but keep exchanging glances and nods as they move to opposite corners so they can cover everyone. Sunglasses, hoods, hats and physical posture/movement being employed to mask the face from security cameras are a telltale. And I won't even enter a store if I see a car backed into a parking space, with a driver at the wheel and the engine idling.

The price of freedom -- including freedom from fear of crime -- is eternal vigilance.
"As I looked at my two young sons, each with his gun, and considered how much the safety of the party depended on these little fellows, I felt grateful to you, dear husband, for having acquainted them in childhood with the use of firearms."

-- Elisabeth Robinson, in The Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss
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