Tag Archives: perception



Algorithm warfare is literally everywhere nowadays yet most people haven’t got the slightest idea what is going on or what they are being exposed to.

Most of us can relate to Allan Weisbecker’s example of how Yahoo mail served him an ‘associated’ advertisement when one day he mentioned “walking the dog” as he wrote an email.

“This one came up as I was signing ‘allan.’ 

Coincidence? Pu-lease. My point is the lightning speed with which Yahoo’s algorithm worked. Like two seconds was all it took to analyze ‘walking the dog’ then nail me with a dog-related ad – what shocked me was the speed, considering all the cyber-details that had to go through the system. This is what Yahoo uses on a casual daily basis. Imagine the algorithm NSA has grinding away at Fort Meade, to keep track of what you’re thinking and doing.”




featured graphic:

two rival swarms of critters wage a non-stop war for the space

source of featured image: http://www.cellfighter.com/conway-life-screensaver.html



The Algorithm of Jazz @Yale: Matt Griffith ’14 performs Artie Shaw Concerto for Clarinet


“… The reality is that the gap between mainstream and alternative media outlets has artificially been reduced by co-opting the alternative media and their audiences. Countless examples of this exist. At least 9 out of 10 alt media outlets are pretty much carbon copies of each other and have during the last 5 years been putting their weight behind government policies that would have been exposed and debunked years earlier.

For instance, the false war on islam terror is widely accepted now by guys like Alex Jones, Steve Quayle and Doug Hagmann. All of them are also buying into and spreading other zionist scams, lies and propaganda fluff. For sure these characters are the best of all to put on mainstream news broadcasts – where they belong. They go into suicidal funks when they can parrot Netanyahu’s insane waffling.

The conditioning was, it now seems, planned to climax all along when a type like Trump came into the White House. It is also at this very moment that all of this is being suggested right as zionist puppet Trump is “reshaping” the press room in Washington. How convenient. Likely the NSA algorithms didn’t see this one coming. Riiiight….

Shockingly, well – not really, Hodges’ suggestions are greatly welcomed by his following, when we observe the feedback he gets for it.

Well folks, wish Dave Hodges good luck. Wish him a fruitful career at CNN, ABC or NBC because that’s where he is planning to apply.

It looks like they have come full circle at the transparent alternative media. What once was a platform or niche for alleged dissent has now officially turned into a mergers and acquisitions business model…..”




https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LSHZ_b05W7o (Daddy’s Car, three minutes)

a song composed by Artificial Intelligence – in the style of the Beatles 


Hierarchical Temporal Memory algorithms for understanding asymmetric warfare

Conference Paper:  (PDF Available) April 2009


There is a problem in combat modeling when it comes to accurately representing asymmetric warfare. The roots of this problem stem from the ways in which warfare has evolved over the last century from force-on-force combat to the network-centric warfare (NCW) that has emerged today in its most exemplary fashion in the Middle East, especially in the context of Joint Urban Operations (JUO). Therefore, this paper focuses on some of the previous attempts as a means to motivate the need for a new technique that understands the interactions on which an accurate representation of NCW rests. Given the difficulties of previous modeling attempts, this work then focuses on the profound impact that human behavior has on the modeling of NCW. Furthermore, with such attention to human behavior, the discussion of modeling NCW shifts to the human brain and its impact on behavior in such an environment. Thus the topic of this paper turns towards what results from neuroscience are useful for understanding NCW and how those facts can be translated into use on modern computers, via the use of hierarchical temporal memory (HTM) algorithms; finally, the inherent issues with such a task shall then be discussed.



From the single desk of a startup hedge fund to the gilded halls of Goldman Sachs, computer code is now responsible for most of the activity on Wall Street.

















http://algorithmicjazz.com/p5js/coj/cojindex.html A jazz melody algorithm. Click, hold, and move the cursor around on the screen.


source of image:




Page created January 20, 2017 – Last updated January 24, 2017

Algorithm warfare is a very complex topic that needs to be introduced to the world, not the least due to the present and future dangers that it poses.

Algorithm warfare includes more than just the deployment of analytical, defensive and conditioning or offensive (hostile) algorithms by commercial entities and government agencies. It is also about constantly creating floods of fresh mineable data; analyzing, exploiting and manipulating financial markets, perceptions and public opinions; and the eventual creation and deployment of self-perpetuating loops of algorithmic artificial intelligences that can steer a planetary populace on autopilot.

Although the basic concept of algorithms is understood by the general public, the advances and potential capabilities in the field are far less understood. It is therein that the dangers lay.

In our introductory articles [1, 2, 3, 4] the concept of algorithm warfare has already been explained with practical examples but a clear overview of who and what the major players are for instance, who the centerpieces are if you will, had yet to be created.

This page will also serve that purpose, to list those involved directly and indirectly. The longer the list becomes the clearer the bigger picture will become on where algorithm warfare is coming from and where it is heading.


Enhanced PROMIS Contract (Inslaw)

Insider Trading 9/11: Substantial Profits in Financial Markets



“Psychological warfare (PSYWAR), or the basic aspects of modern psychological operations (PSYOP), have been … used “to denote any action which is practiced mainly by psychological methods with the aim of evoking a planned psychological reaction in other people.” 

Various techniques are used, and are aimed at influencing a target audience’s value system, belief system, emotions, motives, reasoning, or behavior

It is used to induce confessions or reinforce attitudes and behaviors favorable to the originator’s objectives, and are sometimes combined with black operations or false flag tactics. 

It is also used to destroy the morale of enemies through tactics that aim to depress troops’ psychological states. 

Target audiences can be governments, organizations, groups, and individuals, and is not just limited to soldiers. 

Civilians of foreign territories can also be targeted by technology and media so as to cause an effect in the government of their country…..”




The co-founder & lead developer for Warfare Plugins is a WordPress enthusiast and U.S. Army Reserves Psychological Operations Sergeant.


This article was published by Jeff Gates for Foreign Policy Journal on August 28, 2009.  It was included on the IRIS website because it provides a perspective that is completely in line with their algorithm warfare sensitization campaigns and it explains an aspect of it from a specific point of view that interlocks with our previous report titled “Israeli Intelligence Deploys New ‘Anti-Semitism’ Identification System“.


“… Israeli game theorists operate not from the Center for Morality or the Center for Justice but from the Center for Rationality. As modeled by Zionist war planners, game theory is devoid of all values except one: the ability to anticipate—within an acceptable range of probabilities—how “the mark” will react when provoked. Thus we see the force-multiplier potential for those who wage war with well-planned provocations and well-timed crises.

Israeli behavior is often immoral and unjust but that does not mean it is irrational. For Colonial Zionists committed to the pursuit of an expansionist agenda, even murderous provocations are rational because the response can be mathematically modeled, ensuring the results are reasonably foreseeable. That alone is sufficient for a people who, as God’s chosen, consider it their right to operate above the rule of law.”


“… already points to a future in which intelligence-gathering, assessment and military action, including the calculation of who can legally be killed, will largely be performed by machines based upon an ever-expanding database of aggregated information. As such, this transition to execution by algorithm is not simply a continuation of killing at ever greater distances inaugurated by the invention of the bow and arrow that separated warrior and foe, as many have suggested. [3] It is also a consequence of the ongoing automation of warfare, which can be traced back to the cybernetic coupling of Claude Shannon’s mathematical theory of information with Norbert Wiener’s wartime research into feedback loops and communication control systems. [4] As this new era of intelligent weapons systems progresses, operational control and decision-making are increasingly being outsourced to machines…..”

“…. When one poses the question, under what conditions is it morally acceptable to deliberately kill a human being, one is not, in this case, asking whether the law permits such an act for reasons of imminent threat, self-defence or even empathy for someone who is in extreme pain or in a non-responsive vegetative state. The moral register around the decision to kill operates according to a different ethical framework: one that doesn’t necessarily bind the individual to a contract enacted between the citizen and the state. Moral positions can be specific to individual values and beliefs whereas legal frameworks permit actions in our collective name as citizens contracted to a democratically elected body that acts on our behalf but with which we might be in political disagreement. ….”


Click here to download the PDF of this item 



JANUARY 19, 2016

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, the most expensive weapons program ever, won’t justify its price tag by outmaneuvering other jets (it can’t), flying particularly fast, or even by carrying munitions in a stealthy bomb bay. Instead, the U.S. military is banking on an emerging technology called cognitive electronic warfare to give the jet an almost-living ability to sniff out new hard-to-detect air defenses and invent ways to foil them on the fly.

While the specifics of the jet’s electronic warfare, or EW, package remain opaque, scientists, program watchers and military leaders close to the program say it will be key to the jet’s evolution and its survival against the future’s most advanced airplane-killing technology. In short, cognitive EW is the most important feature on the world’s most sophisticated warplane…..

Read “interaction” in that context to mean the critical moment when an adversary, perhaps a single lowly radar operator, detects a U.S. military aircraft on a covert operation. That moment of detection is the sort of world-changing event that happens, literally, in the blink of an eye.

Just before the study came out, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, established the Adaptive Radar Countermeasures program to “enable U.S. airborne EW systems to automatically generate effective countermeasures against new, unknown and adaptive radars in real-time in the field.”

The goal: EW software that can perceive new waveforms and attacks as quickly and as clearly as a living being can hear leaves rustle or see a predator crouching in the distance, then respond creatively to the threat: can I outrun that? Can I fight it? Should I do anything at all? It’s a problem of artificial intelligence: creating a living intelligence in code….”

The full article is here:



“What we’ve done with the 5th Generation [aircraft] is the computer takes all those sensory inputs, fuses it into information. The pilot sees a beautiful God’s eye view of what’s going on. […] It’s a stunning amount of information.”

—Gen. Mike Hostage, Commander, Air Combat Command, U.S. Air Force




Posted May 23, 2015 by Danny Crichton (@DannyCrichton), Contributor

“… Algorithms are not just determining who lives, but also who dies. The Defense Department, taking advantage of incredible advancements in autonomous technologies, is increasingly advocating for self-flying drones. The hope is that machine learning and better algorithms can reduce the human error in drone-based assassinations, potentially allowing these technologies to make the decision to shoot without human intervention.

Ever since the development of computers in the mid–20th century, algorithms have been used to increase business efficiency. Today, algorithms run our world. UPS and FedEx use algorithms to optimize the routes of its drivers, Procter & Gamble and Walmart use learning algorithms to ensure that sufficient products are on store shelves, and banks use algorithms not only for securities trading but also to predict cash flows…..”

“… There is an objective quality about the computer that is lacking in a human being, even though they are both ultimately political. It is just that the human seems political at the time the decision is made, while the algorithm was political when it was designed and implemented…..”

“… There is a belief that moving such decisions away from humans and into the machine-learning black box is the solution to many of our political problems. That is precisely wrong. We aren’t avoiding the politics of our decisions, but rather giving up human agency itself to allow the computer to make it for us. This is the fundamental difference between first and second generation algorithms.

Developing policies in our society is the forcing function to ensure that we come together, debate, and ultimately work toward a usable consensus on how we want our government to function. The more we give up on those sorts of arenas for debate, the more we will increasingly find that our society simply cannot work together whatsoever.


Algorithms will not save us. They cannot make the decisions we have to make any easier, and in fact, can massively increase the level of polarization that takes place in our country. Using an algorithm in immigration to predict economic performance may sound like a way to avoid a hard debate about immigration, but that is precisely why it is so dangerous. Who exactly do we want to allow into our country? Computer code can’t make us content…..

I still believe that when the algorithms themselves are part of the political debate, we can increase the efficiency of government while also improving the lives of citizens.

Ultimately, we live with each other in a human society. We should never give up our seat at the table in order to allow the algorithms to just do their work. The data we allow them to use and the models we allow them to calculate should all be areas where humans have a voice. Our politicians need to see the algorithm as where politics is increasingly centered, and engage with them accordingly.”





For this occasion the comment section will be opened below. 


landscape gardening (with new addenda)

 landscape gardening

I guess it’s a fantasy of mine, perhaps a quixotic aspect of my inexorable aging, that some form of collaborative effort could address the issues noted in the articles noted in this blog entry and the comments I added after I posted it.

They describe the recent (and ongoing?) battles between entrenched ideologies, mainstream media and the alternative media with regard to truth, truthiness, and fake news. 

I wrote to a few people about this idea and thought I’d write to a few more, but I decided to write this blog entry and then send them a link.  


Geoff Lowe – Bass

Pat Bitautas – Drums

Tom Tallman – Flugelhorn

Rich Moore – Tenor Saxophone 

My creeping paranoia tells me that Google saw to it that my e-mails were never delivered; my more realistic sense tells me that the recipients have been busy and pre-occupied with work, health, life and their own priorities, or perhaps that they were not quite ready to take on an entrenched authority that quite obviously has no problem killing people. I understand; such courage is difficult to summon.

I envisioned (fantasized about) some means of communicating across time and distance with an online meeting, symposium or teleconference that was devoted to strengthening the alternative media. (There are lots of technologies, including our own inherent ability to project thought to other people located far away.)  

There are probably several sub-sets of “breakouts” in some form of larger “meeting” that involve teaching and learning discernment, or how to tell “crap” from 18-karat fact and insight, or how to determine the validity, veracity and verifiability of information and sources. 

My own “crap detector” (as Hemingway called it) has been through a great deal on the last fifteen years and is probably due for some “detailing” and re-buffing. But I’ve assembled and posted files on information warfare and a lot of related topics. I’m a grizzle (or maybe grisly) veteran with scars, stripes, and a commendation or two. 

I mused about a group process that would not get bogged down, as so many do and have, in inertia, minutiae, interference or apathy, or become vulnerable to destruction from inside or outside. 

What I dreamt about (and be careful, for last night I dreamt about forgetting to go to an important job interview, though I’ve been disabled/retired for almost a decade) was the crossroads of investigative journalism, reality, high perception or awareness, and rhizomatic progression.


I saw an organized approach by many to 

  • develop a multi-media library that would teach about known methods of dissimulation, propaganda, information warfare, mind control, et al.;
  • build a toolchest that would enable individuals, groups and organizations to learn about methods used in legal research, archival research, and investigative journalism;
  • create a living database of media outlets that was fed by a cloud of information about their validity, authenticity, transparency and accountability.

I envisioned a process by which more and more people could get together to talk about and learn informational technologies, cybersecurity, media production skills, new methods for information dissemination (ex.: live-streaming), etc.


I envisoned a gathering that featured guest appearances by people like Wayne Madsen, Jon Rappaport, Kris Millegan, Joachim Hagopian, Wendy Painting (lonewolf research), and others. A list needs to be built of who has this kind of expertise so we can tap it, reward it, and replicate it. You can start by doing a search for tools for journalistic verification, and finding organizations devoted to the development of investigative journalists.  


I envisioned a process and an organization that would direct, nurture and nourish this on an ongoing basis. 

We could call it the society of truth horticulture; it’s a form of landscape gardening. 




“… These top notch open source web conferencing software tools are proof that you don’t need to pay a bundle to get the features and functions you need. Due to the fact that they are free, you can take the opportunity to try out a few and choose the best match for your eLearning team. Keep in mind that free does not always mean better, however. If you discover that the learning curve is just too steep for your eLearning team or online users, you may want to consider going with another tool that offers the features you need combined with a user-friendly interface, even if that means sacrificing some more advanced functions. ….


Want to get more information about the various video conferencing fee structures to choose from? Read the article The Insider’s Guide To Video Conferencing Pricing Models to learn about the most common pricing models that you should keep in mind when choosing your next virtual meeting tool.”



Tamir Rice and dynamic decision-making

The experience and dialogue around confrontations (think Ferguson, think Tamir Rice in Cleveland) reverberate around dynamic decision-making. 

Think the safety and well-being of you and yours in a society that is increasingly on edge and ready to engage in violence.  

On one hand, there is the understanding and practice from within the discipline of aikido, which teaches movement and reaction, and taking control of the situation and the attack; on the other hand are the safety and training practices within law enforcement. 

On the third hand, much is made about guns and gun safety, with the movement to take them away, and yet the people who have them as a public duty appear to be untrained in their safe and judicious use. 

Much is made of how police officers are trained and under great stress when attacked, if in fact some of these events constituted an attack.  Perception and differentiation, and thinking on your feet, is key. 

One of the headlines I saw recently was about how the police officer had only seconds to react and respond to what he perceived was a deadly threat.  Without arguing the circumstances of Michael Brown’s death, or that of the 12-year old boy playing alone with what looked like and was reported to have been a toy or fake gun, I recalled — because I have written about it in the past and used some of its principles in my own instruction of those who respond to mass casualty situations— OODA loop training for public safety personnel

Well, they are there for our mutual safety and well-being, aren’t they?

There’s a lot of information available to your search engine; here are the top three that popped out of mine when I asked.

There’s a lot more about the OODA loop, to say nothing of the research done under the aegis of the US military on tactical decision-making under stress (TADMUS) after the USS Vincennes shot down an Iranian airliner by mistake. (Though there’s debate about that too, I guess….)


Boyd’s O.O.D.A Loop and How We Use It

By: Tracy A. Hightower

The O.O.D.A. Loop is a process we go through hundreds if not thousands of times in a single day. It is a process that defines how we humans react to stimulus. Colonel John Boyd coined the term O.O.D.A. Loop, in the 1950’s. Colonel Boyd, known as the “Fighter Pilot who changed the Art of War”, was an F-86 pilot and commander of a fighter group during the latter part of the Korean War. He believed that when at a disadvantage a competent pilot could still overcome that disadvantage by “Attacking the Mind” of his opponent. His observations led him to a greater understanding of Human reaction time and the coining of the term O.O.D.A. Loop. Colonel Boyd trained his pilots based upon his observations of Human reaction time and as a result his pilots had a 10 to 1 kill ratio over the superior Mig-15’s.

Human reaction time is defined as the time elapsing between the onset of a stimulus and the onset of a response to that stimulus. The O.O.D.A. Loop, which stands for Observe, Orient, Decide and Act, is Boyd’s way of explaining how we go through the process of reacting to stimulus. First we Observe, and keep in mind that although we process approximately 80% of the information we receive with our sense of sight, we can and do make observations with our other senses. For instance you might hear a gunshot and not see the person who fired it. Once you look and see the source of the gunfire you are now in the Orient stage of the process. In the Orient stage you are now focusing your attention on what you have just observed. The next step is the Decide step in which you have to make a decision on what to do about what you have just observed and focused your attention on. Finally you have made your decision and the last step is to Act upon that decision. Keep in mind that the O.O.D.A loop is what happens between the onset of a stimulus and the onset of a reaction to that stimulus.

How fast is your O.O.D.A. Loop? Well, that depends on several factors that can affect your reaction time. Simple Reaction Time is generally accepted to be around 220 milliseconds (Laming 1968). In simple reaction time experiments, there is only one stimulus and one response. Simple reaction time can be gauged in a variety of ways but basically a person is asked to place their finger on a button or a switch and told to manipulate that button or switch in response to a light or a sound. In this case the person is reacting to a “Known Stimulus” during the observe step and using a pre-determined response during the decide step. It should be noted here that many researchers have found that reaction to Auditory Stimulus is faster than reaction to Visual Stimulus. Perhaps this is because an Auditory Stimulus only takes 8-10 Milliseconds to reach the brain (Kemp et al., 1973), but a visual stimulus takes 20-40 milliseconds to reach the brain (Marshall et al., 1943).

A more familiar example of simple reaction time is the “Brake Light Theory” You are driving down the road and you “Observe” the brake lights of the car in front of you come on. This is a “Known Stimulus” because you expect while driving to have this happen and because you expect this, you already have a predetermined response, which is to remove your foot from the accelerator and apply the brake. From the time we Observe the brake light (Onset of Stimulus) to the time we begin to remove our foot from the accelerator, (Onset of a reaction to Stimulus) less time has elapsed than if we were responding to an Unknown Stimulus, which brings us to the Flash Bang Theory. Our reaction time is slower when we are responding to “Unknown Stimulus” such as when Joe Drug Dealer is sitting in his living room watching the Simpson’s on TV after a long day of cooking Meth. Suddenly he hears and sees an object fly through the window. Just before it (A Flashbang) goes off is the point at which Joe is saying “What the &%@#”! His reaction time is slowed by the fact that he has to respond to unknown stimulus and this does not include what the effects of the Flashbang going off will further do to disorient him. Had he been watching the Discovery channel he might have known that Police sometimes use this tactic when raiding drug dealer’s homes and it might have been known stimulus had he been expecting it.

There are other factors that can affect your O.O.D.A. Loop, some of which can be overcome with training. In 1952 a researcher named Hick confirmed that by going from one response choice (Decision Step) to two, response time increased by 58%. This is widely known as “Hick’s Law” and has been repeatedly confirmed by subsequent research. It is because of this that we teach some of the things we teach such as various malfunction drills. If the weapon does not go bang when it should, the more choices our students have to choose from, the slower they will react. As an example if a student through training has learned that at any given time his/her firearm may experience a type one malfunction and he/she has trained to have a single response (move, tap, rack bang) then as in the “Brake Light” example, through training and experience the malfunction has become a “Known Stimulus” and the solution has become a predetermined response and reaction time is faster.

Two factors that affect your O.O.D.A. loop during the Orient step are Denial and Emotional Filter. Denial is when you refuse to accept or Deny that this is happening to you. Emotional Filter is a lot like Denial except that you wish that this were not happening. “Oh man, please don’t let this be happening”. Both of these things can and will affect your reaction time but fortunately they can be overcome with training as this commonly happens with people who have little or no training.

In 1960 Researchers Franklin Henry and Donald Rogers found that not only does increasing the number of responses affect your reaction time, but also by increasing the complexity of the tasks, induces stress that can adversely affect your reaction time. While doing simple reaction time test, they told each subject to place their finger next to a switch and when they hear a certain sound, they are to flip the switch. After each subject’s time was registered and recorded they used the same group and did the same test but added another task to do after flipping the switch. The subjects were told to flip a second switch after completing the second task. In both tests, the only time recorded was the time it took to push the first button and Henry and Rogers found that the added stress of having a more complex task to perform caused each subject’s reaction time to increase by an average of 31%.

Colonel Boyd also knew that other factors could affect your O.O.D.A. Loop. During his research he found that Fatigue was also a factor. He and his pilots were flying F-86’s and although they were slower and less maneuverable than the Mig 15’s they were flying against, The F-86 was fully hydraulically controlled and the Mig 15 was only hydraulically assisted. This meant that Boyd’s pilots could operate their aircraft with easy and gentle manipulation of the controls, while the Mig pilots had to work harder to maneuver their aircraft. Boyd found that the more his pilots maneuvered and the longer a dogfight persisted the more fatigued the Mig pilots became and the slower their reaction time became until the F-86 pilots were able to maneuver their aircraft into a position of dominance.

As Instructors we are always striving to find ways to give our students the advantage in a fight while diminishing their opponents will and ability to fight back effectively. Making sure our students understand the O.O.D.A. Loop and how we react as humans can go a long way toward accomplishing that goal. The really great thing about understanding the O.O.D.A. Loop is the realization that everybody has one and their O.O.D.A. Loop is affected by the same factors that yours is. This is one of the reasons why in nearly every drill we teach it incorporates moving. This has the effect of resetting your opponent’s O.O.D.A. Loop and giving you still another advantage. Learning how your opponent’s mind works and using tactics that allow you to take advantage of that knowledge is what we should strive to do. Colonel Boyd had it right, know your opponent’s mind and then attack it.



Training to Think

with Sgt. Steve “Pappy” Papenfuhs

The OODA loop, reaction time, and decision making

February 23, 2012

“… While I agree with this model as a conceptual strategy for combat, and while we need to be prepared to use reasonable force up to and including deadly force at a moment’s notice, we would all prefer to “talk” suspects into compliance whenever possible.  According to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, 2 approximately 99.96 percent of the time we are successful in doing so.  Perhaps a more global view therefore, would be to view our job as “managing” the opponent’s OODA loop when practicable.  In fact, this is exactly what SWAT teams do during critical incidents; and the vast majority of such events are resolved peacefully using the Time – Talk – Tear Gas strategies that ensure the safety of both suspects and officers.

In order for a suspect to voluntarily comply with our commands and surrender to an arrest he needs the requisite time to perceive, decide, and respond.  Acknowledging this, I would like to review a video that is in the public domain and analyze it from this perspective.  This exercise is not meant as an analysis of the reasonableness of the involved officer’s actions as that would be inappropriate without knowing the totality of the circumstances, but rather as an exercise in understanding the human factors involved; and to consider a point or two about tactical deployment and training considerations…..”



Best Practices…

Why the OODA Loop is Still Relevant

Understanding the mind’s decision-making process can help you calm down subjects and improve your own reactions.


Verbal Confrontations

There isn’t a day that goes by where officers don’t have to deal with upset people who lash out at the very ones trying to help them. Getting them on track and on a manageable level is paramount to your handing of their problem.

By the time you get out of your car, a subject has already made most of his decisions. Talking to you is usually the last part of his OODA loop. This is why it is so difficult to talk to a person when he is fired up. Simply ordering him to calm down does absolutely no good. He won’t respond the way you want because he is locked in his own loop. You have to break the subject’s concentration by changing his focus. This starts him on a new loop or, at the very least, breaks the one he is on even if only for a brief moment.

I was on a call years ago dealing with an out-of-control “he said, she said” domestic disturbance. While dealing with my half, I quickly changed the conversation and asked a question about the interior decoration of the living room, focusing on a beautiful painting. It totally caught the person off guard. It was like seeing someone slamming on the brakes. The woman literally said, “What, huh, what did you just say?” My off-the-wall question was just enough to break her OODA loop and start me down the path to calming her down.

In such situations, “yes or no” questions won’t work. You have to ask a question that the person has to think about before answering. My first attempt usually consists of asking a question totally unrelated to the situation. If that doesn’t work, my next question is about something I think means a lot to the subject, like asking about his or her children. You’re not looking to become best friends; you just need to interrupt the person’s OODA loop long enough to get a word in edgewise. Though not 100% successful, it works more times than not.

Physical Confrontations

Your job is ultimately about obtaining control of the situation even if it requires going hands on. The OODA loop works the same way here. Once a person decides he is going to hit you, he gets locked into his own loop and commits to the action. Any change on your part will make him have to start the decision-making process over again. For example, if a person is stepping into you before throwing a punch, you cannot let him set down that lead foot before striking. If he gets to plant his foot you’re going to get hit. You need to make a move that forces the subject to reposition and start his OODA loop over again.

Since action beats reaction every time, the guy who keeps forcing the other to change his plans usually keeps the upper hand. This is also where speed comes in. The guy who moves the fastest usually wins the fight.

Another example of where this tactic applies is an active shooter scenario. If you are standing across from the shooter and you each draw and then shoot, both of you will probably get hit. But if you move off his centerline, you will cause him to miss (or at least hit you in a less critical spot) because you have made him change his plans, requiring a new round of decision-making. The shooter is now going to have to lift and shift in order to shoot you. That’s why the military lives by the mantra move, shoot, and communicate.

Improving Your OODA Loop

The only way to improve your OODA loop is through training. It’s not something you think about; it’s something you do. Ever wonder why you do the same small number of defensive tactics moves over and over again the entire length of your career? They work in part because of the OODA loop.

Because how you train is how you fight, you have a handful of techniques you default to under stress. You have worked on them so much you don’t think about it, you just do it. This shortens your OODA loop and increases your reaction time. It’s thinking less and acting more that gives you an advantage.

That’s why those who don’t train don’t react well. By the time they finish processing their OODA loop, it’s already too late. Or worse, they make the one and only decision they know and stick to it even if it’s not working. Officers who skip training help increase the bad guy’s ability to steal their response time. The saying “He who hesitates is lost” certainly rings true.

Malfunction drills are a great example. When you practice them regularly your movements are as smooth as silk; when you don’t practice, you look like you’ve never done them before. But have you ever watched someone on the range dealing with a malfunction that isn’t a typical stoppage? You usually see the guy keep doing the same thing over and over again until he just stares at his gun wondering what to do.

This happens when you don’t have a way to break your own loop. This is why it’s getting more and more common to see people training at police ranges looking left and then right after they shoot. This action is part security check and part breaking their loop.

The only way to improve reaction time is to train, train, and then train some more. If skill sets don’t become second nature they act as boat anchors. The more time it takes for you to get into action, the more time you give to the bad guy.

Beat the Battle for Time

The OODA loop is a form of dynamic decision-making that is as easy to understand as it is to apply. It will help you beat the battle for time. If you still don’t see the usefulness of the OODA loop, perform this simple drill taught to me by a fellow combatives instructor.

Have a coworker place a small towel on her right shoulder. Tell her you are going to snatch the towel and she has to stop you. Most of the time, she will. After a few tries, tell her to recite her social security number or something else that makes her think. Then have her try to stop you again. You’ll grab hold of the towel each and every time. You win not only because action is faster than reaction, but more importantly, because you are able to divide the person’s attention and therefore successfully change her OODA loop.

Amaury Murgado is a special operations lieutenant with the Osceola County (Fla.) Sheriff’s Office. He is a retired master sergeant from the Army Reserve, has over 25 years of law enforcement experience, and has been a lifelong student of martial arts.



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