In a high-stress situation, training takes over

We really know only a percentage of the complexity of the human brain.


   Boyd theorized that a pilot who cycled the OODA Loop in the shortest time would always win because his opponent is caught up in situations that have already changed. Besides Sun Tzu's "Art of War" strategies, it is the only formula that is appropriate for large unit maneuvers down to individual tactics.

   For the individual officer, the changing environment has several other time detractors that put an officer at a tactical disadvantage. First, there are legal areas that stifle the decision process. That is, an officer cannot preempt behavior. Second, the decide/act area is limited by the intensity of the action because the officer must use an appropriate level of force.

Point gun, apologize later

   How can an officer use the brain to prevail in combat? Train it.

   First, trainers should expose officers to force decision making in training scenarios which include when to shoot, what to shoot and appropriate force.

   The more exposure officers have to force decision making, the faster their response (observe/orient) to the presented scenario will be. It is well known that shooters presented with other stimuli respond better when presented with force scenarios. A practical application is the fact that Gunsite Option Target was designed to cause shooters to discern the threat from a similar background. Using non-standard targets and oblique angles is an inexpensive way for agencies to train officers for force decisions.

   Scenarios can be randomly interspersed with "no shoot" targets and "no shoot" outcomes. Not only is this excellent training strategy, it is legally defensible.

   An agency's administration can also speed up the orient cycle simply by policy. First, gun handling with an emphasis on firearm safety should be ingrained. Second, agencies should recognize by policy that officer safety overrides politics anywhere. This sounds like a silly statement, but it isn't. In more concrete terms, "point gun, apologize later" should be acceptable conduct in an agency if the tactical situation merits or is not fully developed.

Slicing the pie

   Officers should have strategies in creating disturbances in a suspect's orient/decide cycle. These strategies include drawing while moving, striking while drawing and shooting that moving. When using cover, officers should practice strategies which present the smallest possible target.

   Strategies affecting the decide/act cycle should include an officer's knowledge of structures and the capabilities of his or her firearm. For example, if the officer is fully aware of the suspect, background and building composition, (and policy) can he or she engage the suspect through building material?

   Officers already have some response templates that are fine examples of the OODA Loop in practice. We are trained to shoot the greatest threat first. We train to quickly discern between the greatest and the closest threat.

   Officers should have strategies for keeping the suspect's observe/orient cycle in flux. These include slicing the pie, concealment techniques, taking advantage of politeness and conventions and using focus or distraction techniques. Slicing the pie or "pie-ing" to an area allows an officer to see the suspect before the suspect sees the officer.

   Using politeness and conventions (Boyd called this area cultural traditions and genetic heritage) depends on the psychology of the moment. This type of behavior works for predatory criminals and occasionally can be used to disorient a suspect. Simple ruses include asking "What time is it?" or saying "Your shoe's untied" and are only limited by the officer's imagination. Many agencies have anecdotes of certain catch phrases that have worked in situations.

Shooting in OODA

   Is there a shooting drill for OODA Loop training?

   The types of shooting drills appropriate for OODA Loop training must include decision making. Most agencies have force decision-making skills as part of their general training strategy. Systems like the MILO Range Pro from IES Interactive Training use advanced branching to present flowing scenarios in high-def video.

   For the agency's live fire training day, nothing could be easier or less expensive than the Rock, Paper, Scissors drill. It is played like the decision-making game, except using bullets and competition. (Instructions for the game are included in the sidebar, Page 38.)

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