Colonel John Boyd was a U.S. Air Force pilot and is one of the most important military strategists in recent history. Originally enlisting the US Army Air Corps in 1944, Boyd left the service in 1948 to pursue a degree at the University of Iowa. After graduating, He commissioned back into what was then the U.S Air Force, serving from 1951 to 1975. In that time, Boyd flew 22 missions as an F-86 Sabre pilot in the Korean War. He returned back to the states where he was assigned to the USAF Weapons School and ended up writing the tactics manual for that school. During his pilot years, he earned the nickname "Forty Second Boyd" due to his ability to begin at a disadvantage in aerial combat training and defeat the opposing pilot in less that 40 seconds. How he was able to accomplish that is exactly what this article is about so buckle up and put on your thinking caps. Class is in session.
The way of making decisions and acting developed by Col. Boyd was coined the OODA Loop. It is a simple four step process that can effectively be completed in seconds in an applicable situation. The steps are as follows:
Observe - You should always be doing this step. It could be scanning the surrounding area and looking for potential threats. An important part of this step, putting away the phone and being aware. You're welcome.
Orient - This is also something done constantly. It means knowing where you are in relation to possible weapons or exits. How many people are around you or what route could you take to put distance between you and a potential threat. This is all part of the orient step, it's just knowing where you are and what is around you and where those things are.
Decide - You will go to this step after you have recognized a threat or issue and have oriented yourself and know where you are and what's around you. With the information gathered in the previous two steps, you can make a logical decision about what you should do.
Act - The last step is to act upon your logical decision that was made with information gathered by observing and orienting.
Let's delve into each step a little more to hopefully answer any questions you may be having by now.
We see it all the time. People walking with their faces buried in their phones and they end up running into someone or something. Or people standing in line in a busy area that pull out their phones and proceed to shut out what's around them. Even those that walk around populated areas with earphones in their ears. All these folks are only putting themselves in danger if anything bad were to happen. In order to increase your chances of surviving a terrorist attack or a mass murder by an insane bad guy with a gun, you must have full use of all your senses assuming you are fortunate enough to have all 5. Just like how a gazelle can either see or smell a cheetah before they get jumped, we also have senses that enable us to take knowledge of things before they even make themselves known to the other senses. Just as you hear some things before you see them, you may hear a bolt on a gun close or smell the strange odor emitted by a bomb before you see anything. This is the essence of the OBSERVE step. Being aware and using your senses and instinct/gut feeling to recognize a threat to your life or to others.
While observing, we are able to gather information that will constantly allow us to ORIENT ourselves. To orient oneself is to know what space you occupy and know what is around you. It also evolves into placing yourself in a position to act if the necessity arises. Some things that one could do to orient themselves is to scope out possible exits and means of escaping should something happen. If you are actively observing, the orient step is merely taking note of what you see and keeping it in your short term memory should you need to recall it.
So you have been observing and continuously orienting yourself. You have noticed all the exits and you have spotted an emergency exit or a small fence you could jump should the exits get clogged with people. You noticed how many people are around you and determined that you are in a densely populated location. You have tabs on your family and/or friends if you are with them. You continue these steps until you notice something out of the ordinary. (If you observe long enough, it becomes easier to spot something out of the norm.) What you lock onto is a man wearing a large jacket even though it is almost 85 degrees out. You run that through your head and come to the conclusion that the jacket alone isn't enough to determine a threat but still you keep observing him. By looking closer, you see that he seems distraught or nervous and is looking around a lot, kind of frantically. He seems to have a freshly shaven face and you can tell he recently had a beard as soon as that morning. You see him sweating, yet not taking off his large jacket. He has his hands in his pockets and you can see the outline of a fist, as if he was holding onto something. Your observation of this man has turned up multiple risk factors and he is now upgraded to a possible threat by displaying attributes of a suicide bomber. Once a threat has been confirmed, you now must DECIDE on how to act based on the information you got while observing and orienting. You have taken note of possible exits already and you know where your family is, yet you also have your legal concealed carry weapon. What decision do you make? Based on the information you have, there is not enough to justify shooting a possibly innocent man, even though he looked like a threat so you decide to gather your family and leave the area.
Once you decide what to do, you must complete the last step and ACT on it. After rounding up your loved ones, you make your way to the nearest exit in order to get away from what could be a threat. You may have noticed a security guard or law enforcement officer earlier while observing and tip him off to the man while you leave. Upon exiting the area, you hop in your vehicle and make distance between yourself and the threat area. It doesn't mean you have to go home, it just means to leave the area that would be rocked with a potential bomb vest detonation. After taking a vote, you take your crew to lunch. While eating, the local news comes on the TV with a breaking story about how a potential bomber was apprehended by police due to an anonymous tip. This is a great time to talk with those you are with about the reasoning behind leaving the place you were at, even using the news story to drive your point home.
Just like that, a correct execution of the OODA loop and a logical decision not only protected you and your family but hundreds of other people at the location of the threat. It's important to notice that either you were the only one performing the OODA loop and being observant of your surroundings, or you were the only one who completed the final steps while others may have worried about being prejudice against a man who turned out to be middle-eastern. Because your OODA loop was logical and efficient, not clouded by emotions or political correctness, many lives were saved. It is important to have discretion but do not fear being prejudice, especially in today's world. Lack of action due to fear of being labeled a racist is sometimes fatal and is not a chance you can take.
With so many people engrossed in their electronic devices that they even run into solid objects, it is up to us more than ever to step up and be the eyes and ears in a world of lemmings. Using the simple OODA loop, anyone can make a logical decision using information gathered by keeping their eyes up. Who knows, maybe the decision you make and acting on that decision could stop the next act of terrorism. So bookmark this page, share it, get the word out and together we can spot tragic events and act before they happen. This is our best defense against terrorism, watching each other's backs. Please stay safe and vigilant and like always, send us an email or comment if you have anything to contribute! Until next time!