OODA Loop & Combat Mindset

OODA Loop & Combat Mindset

This is a discussion on OODA Loop & Combat Mindset within the Defensive Carry & Tactical Training forums, part of the Defensive Carry Discussions category; OODA Loop & Combat Mindset By Tom Perroni The OODA Loop model was developed by Col. John Boyd, USAF (Ret). When Colonel John Boyd first ...

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    OODA Loop & Combat Mindset

    OODA Loop & Combat Mindset

    By Tom Perroni

    The OODA Loop model was developed by Col. John Boyd, USAF (Ret). When Colonel John Boyd first introduced the OODA (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) loop concept during the Korean War, he was referring to the ability possessed by fighter pilots that allowed them to succeed in combat. It is now used by many other Combat oriented organizations.

    I believe that in order to use the OODA Loop it must be used in conjunction with the Combat Mindset for it to be effective in a Gunfight.

    What is Combat Mindset? For the fighter, mindset is the conscious or subconscious willingness to commit harm (lethal or non-lethal) against another. When engaging in combat, mindset, more often than not, will be the determining factor as to your success or failure, regardless of technical proficiency. Anybody can train in a martial skill, but few have the mind and will to use their skills for killing or serious injury. Mindset's partner is 'mental trigger,' and this trigger is the defining moment that forces you to engage your opponent with the goal of injury or death.

    So how do you train in Mindset? Here is how we begin the Mindset portion of our training. Keeping in mind that Mindset is just one of the 3 main principals taught at Perroni’s Tactical Training Academy. Mindset, Skills Training and Tactics. Here is how we teach Mindset:

    Since 9/11 everyone is familiar with the “Color Code” used by the government (Dept. of Homeland Security) to indicate the terrorist threat level. However I was taught that the originator of the “Color Code” was Jeff Cooper. Upon it’s inception it had absolutely nothing to do with tactical situations or alertness levels. It had everything to do with the state of mind of the sheepdog. As it was taught to me by an instructor who got it straight form Mr. Cooper, it relates to the degree of danger you are willing to do something about and which allows you move from one level of mindset to another to enable you to properly handle any given situation as it progresses. In this ‘Color Code” we have 4 colors that represent 4 mental states. The colors are White, Yellow, Orange, and Red. I have listed them with a definition of each:


    White - Relaxed, unaware, and unprepared. If attacked in this state the only thing that may save you is the inadequacy and ineptitude of your attacker. When confronted by something nasty your reaction will probably be, 'Oh my God! This can't be happening to me.' (Sheep)

    Yellow - Relaxed alertness. No specific threat situation. Your mindset is that 'today could be the day I may have to defend myself.' There is no specific threat but you are aware that the world is an unfriendly place and that you are prepared to do something if necessary. You use your eyes and ears, and your carriage says 'I am alert.' You don't have to be armed in this state but if you are armed you must be in yellow. When confronted by something nasty your reaction will probably be, 'I thought this might happen some day.' You can live in this state indefinitely.

    Orange - Specific alert. Something not quite right has gotten your attention and you shift your primary focus to that thing. Something is 'wrong' with a person or object. Something may happen. Your mindset is that 'I may have to shoot that person.' Your pistol is usually holstered in this state. You can maintain this state for several hours with ease, or a day or so with effort.

    Red - Fight trigger. This is your mental trigger. 'If that person does 'x' I will shoot them.' Your pistol may, but not necessarily, be in your hand.

    Black – complete mental shutdown.

    I teach my students to always be in condition Yellow! And once you move to condition Orange this is when I believe the OODA Loop occurs. Please also note that one of the most frequently asked questions in my training class is: Should I shoot with one eye open or two eyes open?

    This is where I tell my students that in a gunfight you will not have the ability to shut off one eye, because your brain is in Observation mode and you need to be able to take in any and all information. Using your dominate eye will be for precision or long range accurate shots only. You will most likely be shooting from the hip or “Zippering” your shots in this situation.

    But before any of this happens in a split second you will have gone through the first of literally hundreds of OODA Loops in any given confrontation. The reason they are called loops is because you will continue to take in information and make decisions based on that info throughout the confrontation.

    Experimenting with OODA Loops is a form of training, meaning; test your actions based on your decisions to see their outcome. Bad decisions do not negate or interrupt your opponents OODA Loop they actually enhance your opponents OODA Loop. Three basic outcomes in interrupting or disrupting your opponents OODA Loop are; they’ll either become disoriented in attempting to make a decision, they’ll make a bad decision or they will make a satisfactory decision only too late. Good training that makes you think “outside of the box”, adding more and more situational awareness is the key to really utilizing Boyd’s Loop.

    OODA Loop defined:

    Observation - Scan the environment and gather information from it.

    Orientation - Use the information to form a mental image of the circumstances. That is, synthesize the data into information. As more information is received, you 'deconstruct' old images and then 'create' new images. Note that different people require different levels of details to perceive an event. Often, we imply that the reason people cannot make good decisions, is that people are bad decisions makers -- sort of like saying that the reason some people cannot drive is that they are bad drivers. However, the real reason most people make bad decisions is that they often fail to place the information that we do have into its proper context. This is where 'Orientation' comes in. Orientation emphasizes the context in which events occur, so that we may facilitate our decisions and actions. That it, orientation helps to turn information into knowledge. And knowledge, not information, is the real predictor of making good decisions.

    Decision - Consider options and select a subsequent course of action.

    Action - Carry out the conceived decision. Once the result of the action is observed, you start over. Note that in combat (or competing against the competition), you want to cycle through the four steps faster and better than the enemy, hence, it is a loop.

    This is the component that enables us to make the ‘Fight or Flight” decision. Will I stand and fight or will I tactically re-locate.

    Here is a few Tactical Guidelines I teach my students:
    You will not rise to the occasion……. you will default to the level of training you have mastered.
    Maximize you distance from danger.
    Observe hands.
    Shoot until the problem is solved.
    Scan before re-holstering.
    Do NOT give up if hit with a handgun round most people survive being hit with a handgun round.
    'Conflict is inevitable; Combat is an option'.
    When you’re doing OODA “loops” correctly; accuracy and speed improve together; they don’t trade off.

    Chris Pick Adjunct Instructor for Perroni’s Tactical Training Academy also contributed to this article.

    Some of the information in this article came from John Boyd, Donald Clark, and anonymous sources on the internet.


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    Senior Member Array threefeathers's Avatar
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    I teach civics in a large High School and I teach the OODA Loop to my students. I have a nephew in prison for 52 carjackings and I tell them what he would look for in victims.

    Simply put, folks who were unaware of their surroundings.

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    Member Array JudoJake's Avatar
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    Good stuff guys. Keep up the good work. Preach on. The battle is won or lost in the mind.

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    Breaking your opponents ooda loop usually wins the fight, good read.
    Fortes Fortuna Juvat

    Former, USMC 0311, OIF/OEF vet
    NRA Pistol/Rifle/Shotgun/Reloading Instructor, RSO, Ohio CHL Instructor

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    OODA looping is one of the most important concepts in fighting.

    One of my earlier posts, Winning a Confrontation has some additional reading on OODA.
    Training means learning the rules. Experience means learning the exceptions.

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    Thank you for all the nice comments on the article.

    In my opinion you can carry the biggest gun in the world but without proper combat mindset it will do you 0 good!

    At the moment of truth you will NOT rise to the occasion........You will default to the level of training you have mastered.

    "Conflict is inevitable; Combat is an option".

    My $ 0.02

    Tom Perroni

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    At the moment of truth you will NOT rise to the occasion........You will default to the level of training you have mastered.

    I've heard this saying a lot in the training community. I don't think it's an absolute as most seem to think though, based on combat experiences with some highly trained soldiers in the Corps when they face their first incoming.

    No one would likely disagree that the USMC trains heavily in anything other than a combative mindset and skills with weapons/tactics. It's always been a given that some of those men [ actually young men barely out of puberty ] freeze up in their first firefight initially, or worse. If they survive that first "Oh Sh*t, I'm in it now" while taking incoming, they usually do well enough in subsequent events.

    History shows us extensively training for combat and the mindset that is necessary within that theatre goes a long way and you should default to the training, but that goes out the window frequently enough to not be relied on based on any training in and of itself. You don't know what you'll default to, no matter your training, when the pucker factor hits 11 on a scale of 1-10 for the first time.

    Experience in mortal combat/battle brings more to the plate than training ever will IMO. Just my 2 pennies worth based on actually observing others and myself in their first real life and death encounter. We know tactics often go out the window until there's been a cohesiveness developed through real world events.

    Does that mean it will happen to you? We don't know, until you've been there and made it back. Why do you think combat vets don't particularly like the idea of newbs who haven't seen the elephant in their ranks and make efforts to not work with them if possible. Places like Blackwater and others want experienced people for the most part who've been in it before, not just have a load of training in preparation for a possible event.

    Combat mindset comes more from having survived some real world event/s and not just training for that event. It always amazes me when I see some trainers trying to convince their students they're becoming warriors through some training.

    You can give the student all the skills he could use, but it doesn't mean he'll default to that level of training automatically. To suggest that it is a given that you'll default to your level of training without any prior experience in the real world may just mislead people at best.

    I don't believe you can train combat mindset into every person who desires and then spends the time and trains the physical skills to advanced levels. One never knows what they'll do in battle until they do it, and the more they do it, the more they and others know what that person will default to based on doing it, not training for it.

    The Corps trained us for 12 weeks in boot to be of the mindset we walked on water and were the baddest muthers that walked the earth [ that mental preparation ]. 12 weeks of training with the killer mindset ingrained daily in everything we did. It was all just brainwashing. 12 solid weeks listening and acting like bad boys, and the first time in battle, some are going to stay with this programing and others are not, no matter how much training they had for their first encounters of life and death at their doorstep.

    I think it's better to state that you MAY default to the level of training, you have a better chance of defaulting to that level of training, but there are no guarantees in this regard until you've got some experience in battles.

    Three basic outcomes in interrupting or disrupting your opponents OODA Loop are; they’ll either become disoriented in attempting to make a decision, they’ll make a bad decision or they will make a satisfactory decision only too late.

    If we are to train with the above in mind against hardened criminals who've seen the streets violence and perpetrated acts of violence on others for some time [ unlike many civilians taking training ], and we expect we can get inside their loops, it's certainly within the realm of probabilities to believe students are subject to the same defaults with little or no actual experience on the streets is it not?

    Brownie
    The mind is the limiting factor

    Quick Kill Rifle and Pistol Instructor

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    Member Array JudoJake's Avatar
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    Definitely all good points. Although force on force training is by no means the same as real life encounters. I do believe that it gives you the most realistic training. It represents reality as closely as possible. This training provides the brain with a learned experience.

    I have been conducting "Active Shooter" training all week. I am one of the instructors teaching a class that instructs cops on how to show up and deal with an active shooter situation. We are using simmunition's in the training. They hut and you don't want to get hit by them. I have several scabs on my body right now from taking hits. The officers involved in this training experience sever things that will happen to you during a lethal force situation, including; increased hart rate, tunnel vision, lose of fine motor skills, anticipation of taking rounds, and so on.

    Believe me this in no way represents real life, but it is very close to it and you see people do some crazy dances to get out of the way of incoming rounds. It goes back to everybody has a plan until they are shot at. You see this happen in training, but you all see them recover and solve the problem.

    I was mistakenly shot by a police officer during the scenario, even though he knew I was an instructor, was clearly displaying my empty hands and turned to the side, so that he could see my hands, but not be facing him. He had never been exposed to that level of training and was upset about his obviously poor judgment. I'm not trying to start a thread on how scary it is that the police shoot the wrong people. I'm simply making my point that force on force training puts you under duress, induces unpredictable responses and allows you to make some of your mistakes in training and not in a real situation. It also alloys you to go through the OODA Loop, which you don't get on a static range, where nobody is shooting back.

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    JudoJake

    you see people do some crazy dances to get out of the way of incoming rounds. It goes back to everybody has a plan until they are shot at. You see this happen in training, but you all see them recover and solve the problem.

    Exactly, or they freeze initially for an indeterminate amount of time as well. They certainly didn't train that way, but it happens quite often. Their training goes out the window initially, and on the streets, that will likely invoke bad, not good, outcomes upon you.

    You see this happen in training, but you all see them recover and solve the problem.

    As long as the recovery is in time to make a difference in the outcome of that particular event, it's good enough. If the recovery comes too late, they don't make it out without injury or dying, and their training didn't help them one damned bit.

    To survive an attack, you have to be mentally prepared for battle immediately. You can train people to physical skills levels superior to what might be normally found on the streets, but there's going to be those who don't have the mindset, or more precisely, the will to kill another without hesitation when they've not experienced those feelings beforehand.

    I reiterate to my students that they have been given physical skills, it's up to each and every one of them to use them or not if the moment of truth actually happens one day. I try not to let them think they are warriors and ready for battle after a weekend of physical skills training. They may mentally be up for it or they may not when the time comes, and there's just no way of knowing who will flounder and who will act until they're in it for all the marbles.

    It represents reality as closely as possible

    The mind knows at all times they are not going to die from the others actions in Sims and Airsofts and that it's training, the mind can and does differentiate the difference between real dangers of dying and role playing and re-acts in different ways. One's a pucker factor of looking stupid or reacting in some unorthodox way [ a peer pressure of sorts ], and the other is a pucker factor of the highest order. The brain perceives a real time immediate danger/threat to it's existence, not a simulated danger and acts differently, can it be any other way?.

    As my signature line states: The mind is the limiting factor

    Brownie
    The mind is the limiting factor

    Quick Kill Rifle and Pistol Instructor

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    Well training somebody to respond flawlessly in the force on force scenarios is difficult. However it is easy to see that great progress is made through this training. By that I mean that nothing ever works out perfect, not in realistic training or real life. However it is clear to see through the training that, through QUALITY, REALISTIC training, you can increase the chances of surviving a lethal force encounter. If nothing else, just knowing and having experienced the fog of war (to an extent) is helpful. It helps put away unrealistic expectations. Like Clint Eastwood said, "A man's got to know his limitations."

    This is directly related to the topic of the OODA Loop, because that is what makes the training realistic. OBSERVING, bad guy with a gun, rounds coming in your direction, and many of the things that happen to you during a fight. ORIENTATION yourself to the fact that if you don't do something, you are going to get hurt. DECIDING to take cover, shoot back, not to shoot back, advance, retreat. ACTING, which is to say that you act and shoot or whatever. If you don't hit the target, bad things happen to you, just like in real life.

    If the training is realistic enough, the brain has a learned experience. When it is threated in a similar way, for instance a man with a gun. The brain searches and initiates a response that has worked in the past. Which is, shoot, take cover and so on. The brain knows that it has to hit the target, because the person has already suffered for not hitting the target in training. Now if the brain doesn't have a learned experience, then it searches and can not find the right answer, so you freeze.

    The more realistic the training, the better the learned experience is, and the quicker you should move through the OODA LOOP in a real situation. I do believe that realistic, force on force training can be used as a good prediction to how somebody will preform on game day, but I also agree that it is not a guarantee.

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    JudoJake,

    The more realistic the training, the better the learned experience is, and the quicker you should move through the OODA LOOP in a real situation. I do believe that realistic, force on force training can be used as a good prediction to how somebody will preform on game day, but I also agree that it is not a guarantee.

    Agreed sir. I didn't mean to suggest otherwise. I believe it also depends on where you are in the loop the instant it goes down. It will be hard to train and replicate the startled BAR response in FoF when the mind already knows it's training so it's not really dumping the drugs into your system like game day.

    Your active shooter scenarios likely put the students in an offensive orienting/deciding mode from the start [ one I want to be in at all times but don't expect to happen with 100% reliability on the streets ].

    When I worked I could stay in yellow for some time while on all night surveillances on foot in some very nasty areas. It wasn't easy to stay in that mode like that though, even when I knew danger was pretty high.

    The training pays off when you're in the right cycle of the loop. The question then remains, will they be on game day. My guess is some will be and some won't. Hence you don't know what your default will be when you've trained your default from one of the four cycles in OODA and you don't get to start from one on game day.

    I'm not disagreeing that training doesn't help in any way here. I just want others to understand the phrase "you'll default to your training" isn't a given under many circumstances one could find themselves in.

    My own thoughts are that Tom and Chris have contributed immensely in others understanding the subjects covered. Well thought out and written gentlemen.

    Brownie
    The mind is the limiting factor

    Quick Kill Rifle and Pistol Instructor

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    Member Array JudoJake's Avatar
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    I believe it also depends on where you are in the loop the instant it goes down. It will be hard to train and replicate the startled BAR response in FoF when the mind already knows it's training so it's not really dumping the drugs into your system like game day.

    Your active shooter scenarios likely put the students in an offensive orienting/deciding mode from the start [ one I want to be in at all times but don't expect to happen with 100% reliability on the streets ].

    Great observation. The Officers have several weeks or days to mentally prepare themselves for the training. And it still is only training. This is why the OODA Loop is so important. The more you can teach people about the Observation phase, the quicker they will start the loop and mentally get in the game. If you only worked on basic marksman ship, then you are only working the Action phase.

    The quicker you can observe a potential threat(just like you have done in training)the quicker you can wrap your mind around the fact that the poop is about to hit the rotating blades. That is what force on force training dose. With limitations of course.

    The fact that you have to be prepared to respond at different phases of the bad guys loop is also a great observation. One of the drills I do with my martial arts students is the "eyes closed drill." In this drill they close their eyes and open/observe what is going on, when they are touched or hear somebody talking. It looks different every time. They don't know who in the class will attack them or how many people. They don't know what angle, distance, or whether a weapon will be involved or not. One time the open their eyes because somebody yells, once their eyes are opened they see two guys coming at them from a distance with boxing gloves on. The next drill the open their eyes and realize that somebody is marking them up with a red magic marker. These drills HELP train people to respond and quickly go through the OODA Loop, and respond at different phase of the bad guys loop. It is often not the fighting, but the time compression and the unknown threat that puts them under duress.

    P.S. I'm not disagreeing with you on any points. There are limits to training.

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    Aaah...training. Dear to my heart...but the reality is I believe, that very few CCW's train...I suspect less than 10%...on continual basis. So, in reality, the OODA loop becomes OBE.

    Rick

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    I do think that mental training is better than nothing. By that I mean that you imagine yourself in situations and scenarios and then work through the problem. The more realistic the scenario in your head, the better the training is. This can be done by working through the scenarios on this sight, or reading the news paper/watching the news. Hear what happened to other people, picture it in your head, make it personal and fill in the gaps of the story you don't know. The more details you imagine, the better the training. Many top athletes use mental training to see themselves winning the fight, many weeks before the fight.

    Granted this training has limited value, but it is valuable, it allows you go go through the loop and it is free. Of course it lacks several things such as, surprise, condensed time lines, stress and several other critical issues. But it is still training and working through problems.

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    These drills HELP train people to respond and quickly go through the OODA Loop, and respond at different phase of the bad guys loop. It is often not the fighting, but the time compression and the unknown threat that puts them under duress.

    The above is where it becomes almost invaluable training for the reasons you and I have touched on sir. It's good to see other people are using drills that get the student involved in time compression responses and closer to the BAR.

    By that I mean that you imagine yourself in situations and scenarios and then work through the problem.

    Really important stuff to remember here. I tell people all the time that "forethought goes a long way".

    But it is still training and working through problems.

    Prior mental visual training like this [ think running a movie in your head ], exercises the mind by allowing us to think ahead relative options based on various outside stimuli. The physical skills should and can be in place through training so that our minds can react on a subconscious level physically thereby freeing us a little of the BAR clutter while using all our senses input to react. Even when it is is introduced in small amounts, the mental images, the forward looking scenarios being run through options based on our personal skills, serves to develop us further and mentally prepare for battle.

    It all runs back to being ahead of the curve which usually will dictate good observational skills. Early enough notice, we can run numerous scenarios responses mentally almost instantly even while we start a potential physical response.

    Good stuff sir.

    Brownie
    The mind is the limiting factor

    Quick Kill Rifle and Pistol Instructor

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