More About the OODA Loop

Your understanding of the OODA loop and having the appropriate respect for this theory will allow you to critically build on a solid foundation which will, in turn, allow you to vet ideas based on their merit, not on their popularity.

Pressing towards a tighter or more controlled OODA loops will guide you in selecting appropriate techniques and actions that will give your efforts real power.

While OODA loops are relevant in all three levels of warfare (strategic, operational, and tactical), in this section we will continue or discussion of the OODA loop and how it functions at the tactical level of gunfighting.

As we mentioned in the definition section above, the “decision making process can be seen as a time competitive observation, orientation, decision, action cycle or ‘OODA loop.’ Each party to a conflict begins by observing… To win any conflict, you need to get inside the adversary’s OODA loop (their decision making process). You can either go through the OODA loop cycle faster than your opponent or you can vary your tempos and rhythms so your opponent cannot keep up with you.”

In order to highlight the above concepts and in order to be able to see the accumulative effect one’s actions can have on the situation, let’s pretend we have a god’s eye view of a gunfight developing on a city street.

Because we have this god’s eye view, we know both the players and how this little scenario will play out. The two players are a bad guy and a good guy involved in a life or death struggle that will last exactly 5 seconds from the time the first shot is fired. Person “A” is a common street thug, and person “B” is a good guy who has all the state required training.

The thug starts the gunfight, and because he doesn’t know all that much about how to guarantee his hits, he will have to shoot all of his rounds and he will only get lucky with the last couple of shots fired. The bad guy sees his rounds impacting around the good guy and he begins “walking” his shots into his target.

The good guy was caught in condition white, so he has burnt his first .25 seconds up by reacting to the thug, and he now has 4.75 seconds left.

At this point, the good guy attempts to draw his weapon, but because he is only consciously competent with his presentation, because he is stressed due to the surprise, speed, and the violence of the attack, and because last week he was at the range training with his drop leg holster to impress his buddies, he accidentally reaches for his thigh rig, which is not there now because he is wearing his standard concealed carry. He recovers, fumbles with his concealment garment, establishes a poor grip, and finally, breaks leather at 2.5 seconds.has 2.5 seconds left in this fight.

There are now only 2.5 seconds left in this fight.

As the handgun comes up, the good guy starts to press the trigger and gets his first shot off at exactly 2.75 seconds. He now has 2.25 seconds left.

Because his grip is wrong and he got a piece of his concealment garment in his grip, he not only misses his intended target (if he would have gotten that first hit he would have won the fight because in this case, the adversary is not determined), he also induces a Type 2 weapons malfunction (a simple 1.2 second fix, for someone who can fix one reflexively).

Unfortunately, our good guy doesn’t have his malfunction clearances ingrained reflexively, so it takes him .75 seconds to figure out what type of malfunction he is dealing with, another .25 seconds to recall the proper clearance procedure (1.25 seconds left), and another .75 to actually clear the malfunction.

The good guy is now down to half a second remaining.

The good guy hears a lot of shooting that he knows isn’t his, and he knows that he is behind in the power curve, and at this point, he can feel spalling (pieces of copper, lead, and the surface the rounds are hitting) impacting his face and hands which, adds even more internal pressure…

Because our good guy has had some training, he is behind cover, but because he lacks proper training he does not properly use his cover to his advantage (he didn’t duck behind cover for his malfunction clearances and then come up in another place). Meanwhile, his adversary has been steadily walking his last few rounds in on the area he suspects the good guy will come out of.

As the good guy finally clears the malfunction at 4.5 seconds, he rapidly brings the firearm up to his line of sight, pops out from behind cover in the same place he ducked into it, and while pressing the trigger, he receives the final two rounds from his adversary’s handgun, at the 5 second mark.

While the above scenario is extreme and dramatic, what we would like for you to take away from the above scenario is the understanding that every action you take in a fight has a cumulative effect. This is true if it is individual combat or an encounter where teams are engaged.

In the above scenario (or any scenario where any impromptu or deliberately planned attack is involved), there are already numerous OODA loops that have been planned for you before you are made aware of the attack.

Let’s look at a less dramatic scenario than the one above to flesh out this idea of ongoing OODA loops.

Keeping the scenario simple let’s say that you have decided you are going to go walking down the boardwalk of Atlantic City to gamble at your favorite casino and have a good night out on the town.

Your tentative plan is to leave your room at 7:00 p.m. and you expect to be to the casino no later than 7:30, maybe just a bit later if you decide to stop for a snack along the way.

At the same time that you are showering for your evening out, Joe the bad guy decides he needs cash. Joe has neither the time nor inclination to earn the money instead, he plans on getting his cash the same way he normally does – by taking it from others.

You have made your OODA loops which revolve around a fun filled evening; you have decided what you want to do, where you want to do it, how you are going to get where you want to be, what you are going to do on your way to your chosen venue, what you will do once you get there, and how you will get home.None of

None of your plans involves an evening filled with violence and lethal force encounters.

Joe, on the other hand, has made many OODA loops as well, but his are OODA loops that revolve around violence. He too has decided what he wants to do, where he wants to go to spring his trap (a place that will isolate his victim), how he will get there, and he has decided on a general time of the attack (which just happens to coincide with the time you walk by the alleyway he has selected). He has decided that his intended victim’s life is not as valuable as what is in his intended victim’s wallet, and the second he sees you, he will make his final decision on whether or not you are going to be his target that evening.

Joe’s final determining factors in target selection will be much like an animal selects its prey in the wild; your posture, your gait, your level of alertness, the level of threat he perceives from you, and his perceived level of ultimate success with the least amount of effort put forward. If those factors, among numerous others (such as his mental sobriety and mental condition), make you seem like an easy victim, all of his evening’s plans for targeted violence will quickly come crashing into your plans for a fun-filled evening out.

His OODA loops are of a violent nature… your OODA loops are about a fun filled evening. Joe is keyed up, he is beginning to ramp up his emotions to a pre-combat ‘high’ and performance arousal which are tied directly to his level of competence and confidence his past successful experiences have gained him.

On the other hand, your OODA loops are geared towards a fun evening, and while you may have performance arousal, it’s not the same as Joe’s.

My point here is that your adversary’s decision-making process for the events of the evening has been groomed around violence, probably a lifetime of it, and that by the time he meets up with you, there is already a long series of OODA loops involved even before you see/hear him spring his trap.

Joe is mentally psyched up for the events of the evening (performance arousal), he is been both mentally prepared and conditioned to be the victor in this evening’s events.

You, on the other hand, are already behind in the decision-making process because you don’t even know what’s going on, who Joe is, and what his well-laid plans mean to you. that matters this evening, in this particular situation, because all of your decision making up to the moment have had nothing to do with the reality that Joe is about to bring into your life. You don’t have a “plan” for him because your plans for the evening didn’t include Joe and his violence.

All of your decision making up to the moment have had nothing to do with the reality that Joe is about to bring into your life. You don’t have a “plan” for him because your plans for the evening didn’t include Joe and his violence.

Keeping the above scenario and facts in mind, realize that only you can control your actions. This means when you step across the line in a lethal confrontation you will need to know not only what to do but when to do it, and in what manner it should be done in order to turn the initial disadvantage to your advantage.

Fortunately, if you act properly and in a timely manner (working with your bodies natural reaction to high stress), you can cause your adversaries to react to your unexpected actions in expected ways.

If you train yourself correctly you can teach yourself to act appropriately, thereby shaping the situation and conforming your adversaries reactions to your will. In other words, once the fight is on, if you have the right training, you can destroy your adversaries well-laid plans and shatter his OODA loops, and leverage that shock, and surprise to help you win the fight.

What your adversary’s options are is not your concern, your full focus should be on what you are doing/going to do to your adversary to cause him to conform to your will by interrupting your adversaries plans (his OODA loop) with speed, surprise, and violence of action. Doing so gives you the opportunity to seize the initiative and gain leverage and momentum, causing your adversary to react to your actions.

And this is our goal – to become the prime mover, to force your adversary to react to your actions, moving out of a reactive state into a causal state where you drive the violence and chaos with your actions.

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