Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Random Thoughts Podcast 2: John Robb on Artificial Intelligence, Business, Education and the Restructuring of American Society
That’s kind of a long winded title, but it’s just a taste of the territory John Robb and I cover in a rambling 40 minute conversation. If you don’t know John, you should. Go here for his history, which is significant:
John is the nearest thing to a prophet the military, government and high-tech has right now. He predicted (and defined) open source warfare and terrorism, invented the RSS software that drives blogs, consults on policy for every agency in the US that’s involved in military or foreign police, writes books and blogs, predicted autonomous warfare (and was a special consultant to the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the future of robotics warfare and artificial intelligence) and he’s a damn fine conversationalist.
John and I are notorious to our significant others for our long and tangential conversations (I mostly just shut up and listen, as one should when you’re lucky enough to listen to one of the world’s authorities) and we’d discussed, several times, just turning on a recorder and capturing some of our random thoughts.
John’s a huge influence on me, my company and much of my writing. His thoughts on the evolution of artificial intelligence and how it will reshape (or tear down) all elements of American society are insightful and may be useful to those considering the challenges that emerge for us each day.
This is an informal phone conversation between two friends, not a formal interview, and an experiment with various software platforms that allow us to move a phone call into a podcast with a minimum of work. Listen for the content instead of the occasional glitches if you want to make the best of it.
I’m experimenting with the podcast format. This first podcast is in response to an excellent article by Greg Ellifritz on his blog www.activeresponsetraining.net where he references some good work by a LEO researcher named John Hearnes as well as the Tactical Professor Claude Werner.
Greg’s Friday aggregate of the best of the best in guns, gear, training, etc. is about the only “tacti-cool” blog I read other than Claude Werner, Ralph Mroz and Massad Ayoob. But then, I’m old and just don’t care anymore.
Greg’s link to the article mentioned:
I suggest reading the article first, and then check out the podcast. Lemme know what you think.
Nuclear Bomb Blast
As a warm up, click here and enter your city and then pick your nuclear weapon (from a suitcase terror bomb) to the 500 MT Russian warhead, the biggest yield publicly known.
I’m taking auditions for my Guitar Guy, too….
Between October 16-28 1962 there was a nation wide event referred to as “The Cuban Missile Crisis.” It was a nose to nose showdown between the two nuclear superpowers (at the time), the United States and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics, and their respective leaders John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev. I won’t go into it much, since it seems most people today are bored with history and understanding it, and then completely miss the point of the recurring theme in BATTLESTAR GALACTICA 😉 “This has all happened before…and this will happen again.”
The main thing to understand is it was the first time there was widespread public knowledge of a credible threat of nuclear attack on US soil.
I was a mere youngling at the time, early elementary, but you know, almost sixty years later, I remember that time. We were living in San Francisco, right across from Golden Gate Park and two doors down from where The Jefferson Airplane (Wikipedia is your friend, if interested) lived and jammed and got seriously high while entertaining us young kidlets.
I was in school, in our classroom, reading if I recall correctly. There was a loud and unfamiliar siren from the gigantic speaker mounted on the top of the school.
Sounded something like this: http://www.freesound.org/people/guitarguy1985/sounds/54084/
Being a youngling, I looked at my teacher to tell us what that was. What I can see today, just as clearly as I see the screen I’m working on, is the look of sheer terror on my young and beloved teacher’s face. Her voice shook as she fought for control, and she had us do as we had been practicing faithfully everyday: duck under our little wooden desks, crouch down and cover our heads.
So we did, and being younglings, thought it great fun, except for those of us who saw or heard the fear in our teacher’s face. Kids, especially young kids, are like emotional tuning forks and the fear spread through us, reducing many of us to tears or spotted pants or dresses.
It was, that day, not a planned drill. It was an accidental activation of the city-wide nuclear attack siren.
What I remember that day besides the terror in the face of a very young woman charged with the protection of very young children was the sense of complete hopelessness. She did as she’d been trained, but at that moment, with the sirens in her ears, deep down she knew that if a Soviet missile was inbound at the facilities in San Francisco Bay, that we were all just moments away from a either an instantaneous death or a horrifying and prolonged death in the rubble waiting for rescue that would never come.
Um, I didn’t like that very much. Still don’t.
I’ve been on a news blackout off and on since the pre-election because, as a former perception management professional, I get tired of the endless emotional manipulation in the media. Fortunately I still retain the skill set to move quickly through a series of web portals, blogs, and news aggregators to get a snapshot of the world situation pretty quickly.
These days I just focus on my local community.
As an Official Old Guy, white of hair, long of tooth, bent of back, short of breath and recapitulating ontogeny every time I get out of bed in the morning, I find myself more and more being asked by younger people, mostly Millennials, to teach them things that I would have thought their parents or grandparents would have taught them. This is what comes of being old; you have expectations based on your own experience which most of the time has no relation to the younger people we interact with.
Things like: basic cooking, making a fire from scratch, sharpening a knife, changing oil in a car, changing a tire, purifying water, improvising shelter, staying warm when you don’t have warm clothes, taking a crap in the woods, making a comfortable camp, etc. etc.
Mind you this is not “survivalism” or “prepping” or whatever the hell its called these days. These are basic life skills for a human. And have been for many many thousands of years.
One subject that came up recently was: “What could we do if there actually was a nuclear war between the US, China, Russia, North Korea, whoever?”
So I thought I’d take the time and repost the information below. These are my recommendations from essentially a lifetime being involved in various forms of public safety as a volunteer and as a professional. Work the checklists, and you’ll be better off than 85-90% of the US population for ANY emergency be it bad weather, power outage, or the unfortunate confluence of events that may lead the tall man with the hat of smoke to nod over a city within our borders.
Here’s a link to a free PDF download of Cresson Kearney’s NUCLEAR WAR SURVIVAL SKILLS:
Just a word about Kearney – his goal was, in the face of official indifference to protecting the civilian population during a nuclear event, to create a rigorously scientifically vetted and TESTED IN THE FIELD manual that compiles everything from building shelter to making a nuclear attack level radiation meter out of a tin can, string, tin foil, and crushed Sheetrock. I’m very skeptical of EVERYTHING until I test it myself. I will affirm that if you follow the exact instructions and copy the measurement template from this book, and then follow the static electricity charging instructions, you will have a radiation meter that will measure the high levels of radiation from a nuclear event. I tested my first run courtesy of a radiologist friend who promptly went and made several of them with his kids as a home project.
EDIT: I was reminded of this excellent book from the 80s LIFE AFTER DOOMSDAY which was written by a scientist who, like me, became disgusted by fear mongering and set out to write a book that educates and informs. Great solid information. Also available here as a free PDF download:
Let’s stay safe out there. A little bit of DOING goes a long way to mitigating the fear and helplessness I saw in my teacher’s face, so long ago.
Preparedness Thinking Checklists:
If the power went out today, would you have the means to keep you and your family seeing in the dark and warm in the cold?
If you couldn’t get to the grocery store, how long would you be able to provide meals for you and your family?
If no one came when you called 911, do you have the knowledge to protect you and yours from crime, fire, and medical emergencies?
If you woke up and your credit/debit cards no longer worked, and the banks were all closed for an indefinite time, would you be able to pay or barter for the goods and services your family needs?
Perhaps the recent bad weather or the unending stream of bad news on the television, internet and newspaper has you thinking about being prepared for an emergency.
Do you know how to assess your own level of preparedness? Would you know what to do in the case of a serious emergency?
Take the enclosed self survey and decide for yourself how prepared you are…
FUNDAMENTAL EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS SURVEY
(These yes or no questions will clarify your state of readiness for emergencies)
1. Has your family rehearsed fire escape routes from your home?
2. Does your family know what to to do before, during, and after an emergency situation?
3. Do you have a functioning flashlight in every occupied bedroom?
4. Do you keep shoes near your bed to protect your feet in a night emergency?
5. Do you know how to shut off the water line to your house? Do you need a tool to do so?
6. Do you know how to shut off the gas to your house? Do you need a tool to do so?
7. Do you have smoke alarms and carbon monoxide alarms in the proper places in your home?
8. Do you have and know how to use a fire extinguisher?
9. Do you have duplicate keys and copies of important insurance and other papers stored outside your home?
10. If your family had to evacuate your home, do you have an identified meeting place?
72 HOUR EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS SURVEY
(These yes or no questions will clarify your readiness to take care of yourself for the minimum 72 hours recommended by the American Red Cross)
1. Do you have sufficient food on hand to feed everyone in your household without resupply for 72 hours?
2. Do you have the means to cook food without house gas and electricity?
3. Do you have sufficient water for drinking, cooking, and sanitary needs?
4. Do you have an 72 hour evacuation kit in case you were ordered from your home?
5. Would you be able to carry these kits if you had to evacuate on foot or government mandated transportation (buses, trucks, etc.)?
6. Do you have an established out of state contact?
7. Do you have a first aid kit in your home and in each car?
8. Do you have work gloves and tools for minor rescue and clean up?
9. Without electricity and gas do you have a way to heat at least part of your house?
10. Do you have a plan for toilet facilities if there is an extended water shortage?
If you’ve answered NO to any of the above questions, then that’s an area you need to address.
A Minimal Emergency Preparedness Checklist:
1. Water: one gallon per person, per day
2. Food: select foods that require no refrigeration, no preparation or cooking, and little or no water.
3. Flashlight and batteries
4. First aid kit
5. Medications: especially any prescription or non-prescription medications you or your family require regularly.
6. Battery operated radio and batteries
7. Tools: wrench, manual can opener, screwdriver, hammer, pliers, knife, duct tape, plastic sheeting, garbage bags and ties.
8. Clothing: seasonal appropriate change of clothes for everyone and sturdy shoes.
9. Personal items: eyeglasses, copies of important documents, insurance polices, toys and books for children.
10. Sanitary supplies: toilet paper, moist wipes, feminine supplies, personal hygiene items, bleach, hand sanitizer.
11. Money: have cash. In an emergency, many banks/ATMS may not be open.
12. Contact information: print out current list of family phone numbers, lawyers, doctors, insurance agents. Include the number of someone out of state you can call to take messages for scattered family members.
13. Pet supplies as appropriate.
14. Maps of the local area and surrounding areas.
1. Two weeks worth of food for your family. When you go to the grocery store, buy one extra of everything you buy. Goal: You won’t have to leave your house for 14 days to get food to eat.
2. Two weeks worth of drinking water for your family. One gallon a day x 14 = 14 gallons of water per family member. This is for DRINKING ONLY, not washing or even food preparation. Consider doubling it to provide for personal hygiene or if exertion is required in hot weather. Goal: if potable water stopped flowing, you wouldn’t have to leave your house for two weeks.
3. Two weeks of cash for ALL household expenditures. Add up every expenditure on all your debit/credit/out of pocket expenses for a two week period. Then take half of your monthly expenses (mortgage/rent, utilities, car payment, insurance, whatever) and add that to all your documented daily expenses. Keep that much in cash in your house or somewhere you can get it. Not in the bank or anywhere you can be locked out of. Get a safe or stash it in your house. Cash preferably in denominations no greater than $50, with the bulk of it in $20s and $10s. GOAL: If the financial system locked down under executive order, you would have sufficient cash on hand to meet your required expenses even if your electronic banking no longer worked and checks were no longer processed.
4. Fire protection: per your survey, fire extinguishers and training to use, consider how you’d put out a fire if there was no water pressure.
5. Medical: Minimum of 90 days supply of any prescription meds you or your family need. If those meds need to be refrigerated, get a 12V RV freezer you can hook up in your car or to an auto battery. Comprehensive first aid kit/supplies. If you don’t have training for first aid, identify someone who does or doctors or vets or dentists who would help you.
6. Heating: Have enough blankets/sleeping bags/warm clothes and an additional way of heating your home or a portion of your home if there were no power and the gas was cut off.
7. Autos: Keep all your cars fully gassed at all times. Half a tank is the new empty. Keep in gas cans a minimum of one full tank of gas for each vehicle at your residence, plus an additional can for lawnmowers, etc.
8. Protection: If you don’t own a gun, get at least one and sufficient ammo for it. Get training and consider getting a concealed carry permit. Be willing to use it.
9. Communications: Keep a land line in your home. Keep your cell phones fully charged and purchase a Mophie back up battery for your phone. Consider back up communications like CB radios or handheld FRS/MRS handy-talkies or even HAM radios. In your family plan, make sure every family member has addressed how they will let you know where they are and how they’re getting to you.
10. Once you’ve comprehensively covered two weeks, go to 30 days.
There’s more, but that’s a good starting point.
My friend John Robb at Global Guerrillas and I share an unfortunate gift, the Gift of Cassandra. As I mentioned in my latest update on this article, we will and we did see more. One of the many things John Robb has done is introduce the concept of open source insurgency/terrorism; i.e. Widely disseminating the tactics/techniques/procedures used in various terror events, and of course assisted by the media. We can watch the rapid evolution of the car/knife attack methodology in real time now: we’ve gone from renting trucks, to stealing trucks, to light cars, and now to hijacking trucks close to the target area. Knives are easy to find, hard to defend against in the hands of a committed attacker, and like vehicles, ubiquitous.
Couple of points I mentioned in the original update: take care with children and strollers and have a plan. The Swedish attacker deliberately targeted small children and mothers with strollers because they can’t run as fast as the grown ups.
Intervention can take many forms: a quick thinking guard rammed the truck with his own van, damaging his but stopping the vehicle.
For the shooters in the house, not many realistic shooting resolutions to this problem in the very fast breaking initial moments. Please see below my riff on the neurology and cognition involved in necessary situational awareness and rapid decision making under stress and adapt to those you care about and incorporate in your training.
To my friends out there working — Good Hunting.
After the vehicle attack in London today, I thought it may be useful to repost this previous note on truck/vehicle attacks.
A few additional random thoughts after the initial rush of reports today:
- Note that the attacking vehicle was a Hyundai sedan. Not a big heavy truck nor even a smaller moving/delivery van type. Just a regular small car. What’s apparent is that the demand on your situational awareness is going to be significantly increased in a time when we will see more of these type of attacks.
- A good friend of mine who does security for a religious community that eschews vehicular use on their holy day advises his protectees to walk on the sidewalk and not in the street. While that’s certainly good advice, it didn’t much help the people in London who were on the sidewalk when the vehicle jumped the curb and plowed right down the walkway scattering bodies in its wake. An additional step is to, when possible, walk on the side of the street FACING vehicle traffic, and keep ones eyes reading traffic (both vehicle and approaching pedestrian) about a block out. Keeping your head up and not buried in your smartphone is a good start.
- If you have small children, don’t let them walk behind where you can’t see them. Herd them in front where you can keep them in your cone of vision AND keep an eye on approaching traffic/pedestrians. Keep in mind that with young ones, shouting at them to RUN or MOVE is likely to result in frozen panic out in public. Instead grab them, push them, or throw them in the direction you need them to go. Don’t take them out of the stroller, pick it up and run with it or throw it and baby out of the way, or run pushing it with baby where you want to go.
- If it’s possible (and it wasn’t on the bridge today) move up onto lawns, into buildings, or recessed doorways, around corners, down an alley or gap between buildings.
- If you can’t face traffic, head on a swivel and be extremely reactive in the light of any unusual vehicle behavior. It need not be a terror attack; at one of my favorite restaurants a woman started her car and when she put it in gear put it in reverse and gassed it. Right up the sidewalk and through the glass doors and plate glass windows into the dining area. Fast moving people got out of the way before they were run down, with a reaction time measured in less than 2 seconds by the video. A few were observed racing into the bathrooms right after, which is understandable given the circumstances.
- One of the things that renews my often shaky belief in the goodness of people was the response by bystanders to rush in and help before official help arrived. I was particular moved by the bystanders rushing to help those laying on the sidewalk, and the Foreign Minister personally giving mouth to mouth to a wounded police officer. We need more politicians like that.
- Another thing to consider is the knife as weapon of choice. A car and a knife are very easy to come by. I recently spent some time with military knife instructors to whom sticking humans is not a theoretical exercise, as well as with some martial arts instructors in a blade-driven/weapons driven system. The difference between practicing a martial art that includes knife and practicing the brutal military exercise of knife combat is obvious even to the untrained and especially to those with training and/or experience (several accomplished killers by knife of humans I’ve met have never taken any classes in martial arts or knife technique though they certainly can teach what works and doesn’t work in prison cells, back alleys, or the tunnels in Tora Bora). For the untrained, run away. If you can’t run put something between you and the knifer, then run. If you’re getting stuck, grab the arm and scream for someone to help you. If you’re trained, do what you know how to do if you can make it work under stress and on the street. If you can’t, you’re not trained. If you’re armed, do what needs to be done.
- We’ll see more like this. And we’ll see it in the US as well. All of the points addressed apply.
- Be like those people who went to help. It’s what separates us from the animals that run down children and old people.
A good friend of mine does security for a religious school and house of worship. Just recently, after a spate of suspicious phone calls inquiring about security procedures, he saw what’s become the most recent worst nightmare for law enforcement and security procedures: a large heavy delivery truck driven by two very out of place individuals, cruising through the street that his house of worship empties out into. Many of these worshippers walk to and from church. The five to ten minutes before and after they let out, the street is packed with pedestrians: families with small children, elderly.
The truck parked in an apartment building nearby. The two men went upstairs and fetched out a mattress. It took them about 20 minutes, most of which they spent watching the front of the church and the security personnel. It seemed as though they were lingering and in no hurry to pick up the mattress they’d come to get. The church service was also delayed by, gee, about ten minutes because of an extra long service.
Right when the first service members departed, the truck was hastily loaded up, and then driven slowly past the front of the church, and then departed.
On the surface, maybe just a couple of hard working guys driving a dramatically oversized truck to pick up one mattress who just happened to have time to kill and hang out and watch a stressed out security officer. But in another life, on a planet far far away, a guy I know who’d spent a lot of time in dangerous places would have said, “Dang…that sure seems like it might could be a rehearsal for some kind of nasty event, like driving a heavy truck through church goers.”
Not that that kind of thing happens too often, despite the recent spate of events like described here:
And even with a certain notorious organization calling for these kind of attacks against houses of worship after they published a list of all those places:
And of course there would be no linkage with a recent spate of telephone calls asking specific questions about times and places to the religious school associated with that house of worship.
There’s this thing from psychology which I are a student of sometimes, and gets to hangs around with peeps much smarter than me, which is called, I think, “normalcy bias.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Normalcy_bias
In sum it’s the thinking that goes like this: “It hasn’t happened to me, therefore it cannot happen.” It’s a presupposition which provides an unconscious (as in you don’t even know you know/believe it) foundation for action and planning. The cure for it generally is a harsh one, when reality sticks it’s sometimes ugly nose in and says, “Hey Sweet Cheeks? Today’s the day you get fucked.”
People die or get hurt when you let normalcy bias rule your decisions especially when it comes to dealing with violence.
That’s what you have security professionals (aka professional paranoids) who do that kind of distasteful thinking for you, so that you don’t have to think about small children and old people crushed under the wheels of a big truck.
Of course, you do have to trust and take their advice on board, and a big (often overlooked) part of being a high end security professional is the art of convincing the non-experienced that your experience is presenting a picture that conflicts with the bosses normalcy bias.
So I was asked to opine about the art and science of killing trucks after someone I know saw this video:
Very brave man. Who died in the attempt to stop the truck involved in the Nice terror attack.
I’m just a researcher, but I was able to ask a few friends of mine who have some experience dealing with variations on this kind of issue. What’s offered below is only opinion based on other’s experience and training so take it (as all things I offer) with a big grain of salt and run it through your own perceptual filters. If it doesn’t make sense for you or work when you test it, bin it. Won’t hurt my feelings one bit, and as you may have noticed, offered here without charge.
Pre-Event: (LEFT OF BANG)
- Know who rents trucks in your preciencts/city. Not just the big haulers but even a cargo panel truck like Ryder or U-Haul. DHS has all their various flyers out at those facilities but a conscientious patrol cop or proactive intelligence analyst might drop by those in his/her area of interest and cultivate relationship.
- Blocking streets that have events is something decided by higher, and I wont’ get into that. Installing permanent or temporary vehicle obstacles is great if it happens.
During Event, Pre-Incident: (LEFT OF BANG)
If you’re participating in a planned major event (like a street fair) you’ll have contingencies in place. I’d expect that they’d address procedures for slowing/blocking heavy vehicles through a combination of traffic control points, temporary obstacles or zones, and establish appropriate response.
In the opinion of some more learned than I, here’s the desirable flow to prevent heavy vehicle attacks:
1) Deny access to the vehicles through proactive police work/intelligence gathering.
2) Deny entry of heavy or other vehicles into a target rich environment by vehicle obstacles permanent or temporary or procedural.
Incident (BIG MOTHERFUCKING BANG)
3) Detect a suspect vehicle far enough out to be able to take proactive measures.
a. Have spotters on the perimeter with reliable comms and useful optics (binoculars or pocket monoculars)
4) Delay the suspect vehicle from entry and/or acceleration.
a. Procedurally through vehicle control points
b. Physically blocking the approaching vehicle with heavy vehicles.
5) Destroy the attacker
a. Divert or ram the vehicle off the roadway into something like a building or vehicles to slow or stop it.
b. Block the vehicle by getting heavy vehicles in front of it.
c. Kill the driver (my personal favorite).
i. If you’re engaging through metal and glass into a driver’s compartment, consider what weapons you have and especially what kind of ammo. Bonded is best, but roll with what you got.
ii. If all you’ve got is a pistol, try for the close range side shot. Aim at the head through the window glass and work your shots down. It may cause him to flinch and flinch the wheel to one side as the glass shatters and if he’s committed enough to duck, follow the head down and shoot through the door sheet metal. If you don’t know Super Dave Harrington’s IRON CROSS drill, go learn it. It’s the best drill for training how to fight with a pistol from a seated position in a car with either hand.
iii. Rifles are good. Volume of fire but be conscious of backstops. If shooting from the front, same thing: start high to get his head down and if you’re a cool enough shot, ping the next string off the hood into the cabin. Don’t waste time shooting tires/engines. Kill the driver.
iv. Don’t neglect the trusty shotgun. Loaded with slugs like a Brennekke or whatever the state of the art is, it will fuck up an engine and a driver’s compartment better than a rifle.
CONCURRENT WITH THIS –
Have a plan to notify people. Loudspeakers, sirens, make some noise so people will look up and see what’s happening and get the hell out of the way while the pros try to deal with it. Don’t make it complicated. If they hear loud noises, get out of the roadway as fast as they can. Don’t be a hero, just get out of the way.
Rinse and repeat.
1) Solo civilian armed or unarmed vs. heavy vehicle = no bueno. Period.
2) Have a plan.
3) Said plan should address:
a. Awareness. Keeping one’s eyes on what’s going on, also known as enjoying one’s self and not buried in the cellphone. This also includes accepting that something could happen, and mentally prepping yourself for that.
(COGNITIVE NEUROSCIENCE-Y DIGRESSION since I kinda do that for a living)
What kills people in these events is the lag time between recognizing what’s happening and doing something about it. Notice I said RECOGNIZING and not SEEING.
Untrained person: SEES SOMETHING THEY DON’T RECOGNIZE – TRIES TO FIGURE IT OUT – FIGURES IT OUT – DOESN’T KNOW WHAT TO DO – DEFAULTS TO ONE OF THE FOUR BASIC SURVIVAL FUNCTIONS (FEED, FIGHT, FLEE, F**K) – TRIES TO IMPLEMENT – MAYBE GETS LUCKY.
Trained (or at least aware person who’s accepted the possibility) SEES SOMETHING AND RECOGNIZES IT FOR WHAT IT IS – ACTS ON A SIMPLE ROBUST PLAN (grab the kids and run out of the way) –
Fewer steps = less time deciding = more time to be alive.
Back to the plan:
b. Communications pre and post: “IF SOMETHING HAPPENS, GET OUT OF THE WAY AND DON’T LOOK FOR US, TEXT WHEN YOU GET CLEAR OR WE’LL MEET AT THE CAR”
c. Small kids, disabled, elderly – grab and go, dude. That’s all you can do. Can you pick up all your kids and run with them? Will they listen to you if you scream something at them like GET OUT OF THE WAY? Could you pick up your diabled father and run with him? You can carry more weight than you think if you use body mechanics, go Google Fireman’s Carry.
d. After the event, have a plan to reconnect.
e. Consider toting a small emergency kit that includes a first aid kit, some cash, a charger for your phone. Pretty easy to tote. See my previous articles on that.
f. Gun toters. Consider the total event. Before you go in blazing make sure you’ve met the needs of those you are responsible for, including yourself. Then BEFORE get a gut check on whether you have the skill, physical fitness, and the opportunity to get in and deal violence on that person – or if you’re just complicating an already complicated event. Your life, your call. Family first dude. The hero in the video ended up crushed under the truck, and no one remembers his name.
Just some random thoughts from some Old Guys on the sidelines. Stay safe out there. Unless you’re the Achy Man: https://marcuswynne.wordpress.com/2016/11/18/repost-the-achy-man-and-the-writers-process-updated-with-rico-and-other-cool-stuff/
This is a longer (about 20 minute) discussion about various aspects of weaponizing neuroscience.
- Gunfighters, Astronauts, Race Car Drivers and the Corporate World
- Nuts and Bolts for Gunfighters
- Painters and Poets Need Neuroscience Too
- The Art of Killing and Being A Killer Instructor
- Accelerated Training For Firearms Instructors
- Why We Do What We do
In 1996, I published what may have been the first article in the popular “tactical/gun” press on John Boyd’s OODA loop as a model for maintaining situational awareness and decision making for personal combat. I presented a simplified version of Boyd’s elegant thinking and detailed expansion of the OODA loop, in a way that I felt, at the time, would be immediately usable by tacticians unfamiliar with the concept.
Sixteen years later, the OODA loop and Boyd’s work and how to apply it to personal combatives armed and unarmed are the subject of endless articles and internet forum debates and the concept is an integral part for most credible combative training systems.
This wasn’t the case in 1996, when most of the established firearms instructors were weaned on Cooper’s Color Code. In several discussions with notable tacticians, I pointed out that the OODA loop didn’t necessarily replace the Color Code, but it certainly added an additional dimension for utilizing efficient information processing.
The OODA loop concept took hold in the tactical community (it had long been part of combat aviation, military psychology and strategic planning) after other instructors and writers found utility in the simplified model and joined me in spreading the word.
So today knowledge of the OODA loop is expected in any serious tactical practitioner.
The concept of situational awareness, which I also introduced in the same article, has grown significantly as well. Let me make clear I didn’t develop the idea, I took it from military psychology and combat aviation research and put the idea into the context of personal combat. Situational awareness is a topic of serious study for the military; applying Boyd’s model to personal combat raised questions the military has long batted around: What is situational awareness? Can it be specifically defined and identified? Is it an inherent trait or is it instilled? And, most to the point, can it be taught in training?
Based on the research, experimentation, and field testing I’d been doing since the late 80’s on how to utilize accelerated learning, stress inoculation, and pre-conscious processing to recalibrate habitual baseline states to enhance performance under stress, I went on to share those concepts in another 1996 article SHOOTING WITH THE MIND’S EYE in which I stated my position: yes, the components — the critical path of the cognitive process I defined as situational awareness — can be identified, and since those components can be identified they can then be enhanced and taught.
Among the organizations I shared this with was NASA. NASA is the lead agency for study and research of “situational awareness” and provides a clearing house for the various interested agencies like military aviation, the intelligence and law enforcement communities. I consulted with the Psychological Services Division of the Medical Sciences Branch of NASA. My consultation focused on how to apply the blend of stress inoculation, accelerated learning, pre-conscious processing and scenario based training I’d developed to parts of the Astronaut Training Program.
One of controversial (at that time) positions I took, in discussion with the top military and space psychologists and psychiatrists in the world, was that situational awareness, in my experience as a trainer, was one part genetics, one part life experience, and one part training; and that situational awareness could be identified in prospective candidates, and further enhanced or taught (installed) into astronaut trainees who lacked the operational experience and training of the candidates who came in from the hard-core Department of Defense flow (ie fighter pilots, combat veterans, test pilots, etc.).
The polite (i.e. “official”) response was: “That’s not our position The area merits more study, but we tend to believe that situational awareness is in large part a skill you either have or you don’t; if you don’t, all the training in the world won’t give it to you.”
The unofficial response, over beers in a famous astronaut bar also trafficked by the US Naval Special Warfare community, was: “Ah, bullshit. You can’t teach that.” And then a long pause: “…but if you could…”
I wrote my consultation report and then went on to do other things, among them develop a training program for installing situational awareness subsequently adopted by the South African Police Service (who, at the time, had more officer-involved shootings monthly than the US had yearly) titled “Mental Conditioning for Close Combat” and also taught a significant number of personnel involved in close protection, military special operations, law enforcement, and private sector security on how to enhance their own brand of situational awareness.
Over the last twenty years, I’ve received hundreds of phone calls, e-mails and letters attesting to the effectiveness of the situational awareness and performance enhancement training program from former students operating in America and many other countries.
Anecdotal evidence, yes, but then, I never claim to be a scientist, and those calls and letters are all I ever needed to be assured that what I was doing was not only working in the training environment but translating directly into usefulness on the street and on the battlefield.
I shared that information with the popular tactical/gun press in an article about situational awareness published in SWAT Magazine in 2007.
In August 2010, 15 years after my initial consultation with NASA, the project managers I worked with in 1995 now are in charge of the entire unit, and were good enough to take my nine year old son on the VIP tour of the training facility. Over lunch they told me, “Remember back in 95 when we were talking about situational awareness and human performance indicators? Situational awareness? We did a study you might find interesting.”
They sent me two documents detailing a study: “Human Behavior Performance Competencies” generated by NASA, and the ESA (European Space Agency). What this study did was focus on specific aspects of human behavior and performance essential to survival in the space environment, with particular emphasis on long duration space travel. One of the unprecedented products of the study is an easy to use matrix that identifies the human performance competency, the behavior, the behavioral markers, details and examples.
Situational awareness is one of the major human performance competencies identified. This is the first time that the top scientists and researchers from the world-wide psychological research community have come to a consensus definition of situational awareness.
In order to include it, they had to break down the components of situational awareness as they defined it, as shown in the graphics posted above.
What NASA is doing with this is using these behaviors and traits as tools in the selection and assessment of astronauts and crew selection for long-duration missions; they continue to add rigorously reviewed scientific studies on these traits. They also work in conjunction with their Training Division to enhance training to develop these attributes, and completed a peer-reviewed study and presentation on the effectiveness and implications of training situational awareness.
This can be an extremely useful model with extraordinary implications for law enforcement and tactical training.
There are two major competencies identified by NASA as principal sub-components of “situational awareness.” They are:
a. Maintenance of an accurate perception of the situation; and
b. Processing of information
Perceiving the situation in an accurate (usable) perception and processing that information adds up to a state of “situational awareness.”
What are some of the implications for situational awareness training?
If a behavior can be identified and deconstructed into components, it can then be reconstructed and woven into a training program.
One of the differences between this extremely useful model and what I’ve been doing is that I combine processing of information with the maintainance of the accurate perception; like the OODA loop, it’s all one flow from my perspective. Without efficient processing of useful information in the moment, it’s not possible to perceive a given situation, especially a dynamic situation like combat, accurately. So the two elements are interwoven.
My model for training and enhancing situational awareness focused on improving perception and enhancing cognition while under stress. These are the principal components of the baseline state of relaxed alertness and situational awareness as I’ve trained it:
- Vision skills (enhanced use of the full range of visual cues, which leads to enhancement of other sensory inputs i.e. hearing, etc., as well as designing training that enhances visual processing in the neurology),
- Sensory cue acuity (enhanced use of all senses in conjunction along with pattern recognition templates fed into the other-than-conscious mind)
- State management (managing the internal representation and physiology in such a manner as to enhance efficient processing of information)
- Cognitive model (drawing critical path pattern-recognition models from high performers and installing directly into other than conscious mind of students)
- Time distortion (how to manage and enhance processing of information and utilize time distortion to maximize personal processing time of incident-essential data).
So over twenty years, I’ve focused on simple exercises to install the skill, and test it immediately under stress and in open-ended scenarios to cement the skill in use under immediate onset threat to life stress. In my last post, I shared a simple exercise that installs one small attribute of the larger skill set.
What I find most exciting about this study is the model NASA’s best researchers came up with; in the same way the OODA loop is a model for decision making and maintaining situational awareness, the Human Behavior and Performance Competency Model is a model for breaking out the components of situational awareness as they define it.
So while some pieces of their definition might not necessarily meet the needs of personal combat, the model of the matrix they’ve created makes a template for us to fill in with the working competencies drawn from personal combat.
So – shall we create one?
Extracts used with permission from NASA. All other content copyright by Marcus Wynne (as is all material on this blog — please respect that…)