June 28, 2016 at 5:30 pm #28292MaxKeymaster
My last content post was on June 11: ‘Training, and how it relates to the Four Stages of Competence.‘ Since then I have been up at site for 10 days on a private class, and doing various admin and site cleanup and improvement since then. It’s been busy, but it has been very rewarding. The training on the recent private class was excellent, with a 3 day Combat Team Tactics (CTT), a 3 Day Combat Patrol (CP), followed by Force on Force Team Tactics (FoF) training and a final exercise utilizing UTM ammunition for various activities such as an ambush and dawn raid onto live OPFOR volunteers. This training is very rewarding for both the students and cadre. If you have not been to an MVT class, or it has been a while, then I am at a loss for words because of the training opportunities you are missing. I could not be more happy with the advances we are making with our training classes and teaching techniques, and I simply want you to experience the benefits and be a part of it.
I plan on discussing a little bit about decision making in this post. In doing that, I will relate it to combat but I will deliberately keep it away from the doctrinal rabbit holes that formal military discussions about this topic often follow; this is designed to be about you, not a military unit. So let’s talk about decision making as it relates to you and potential life threatening situations that you and your family may experience. I have seen many comments regarding a section of the ‘prepper community’ being very analytical, with the whole ‘list of lists’ thing, and this is something that can be a problem, and this type of mindset can result in much being analyzed and little being done: analysis paralysis. Analyzing and making lists may be a comfort blanket, but it will not be the solution when the hammer falls.
It can be argued that the primary issue faced by those who suddenly face a need to make a decision, is understanding that they have reached that decision point, that point at which a decision must be made. If that decision point is not recognized, and a relevant decision is not made, then we are in big trouble, and we have certainly handed the initiative over to the enemy. Denial of a developing situation is often to blame for this. In our everyday lives, nothing happens that fast, and there is often little consequence to decisions that must be made. When things of significance, perhaps life threatening, happen, then you will most likely find yourself in a time crunch, with the situation having ‘turned left.’ This is where denial comes in: you cannot do it over again, once it has happened, as much as you may perhaps want to. This denial, and wish for an alternative course of events, is what contributes to the freeze response to a situation, as you wish that it just goes away and you can return to your normal pattern of life. Without even relating this to combat, we can easily relate this to a sudden life threatening situation, which you may see develop very rapidly, such as a threatening approach by some muggers. But, you are just leaving the movie theater and you have a plan for a relaxing romantic evening! No. That wish will not make the threat go away, and you have to be able to recognize that the situation just took a left turn, and that you have reached a critical decision point, and you must react to it. If they are psychopaths, then you cannot rely on appealing to their better nature to resolve the situation, because your lives are nothing more than the wrapper on the way to the candy that they want, to be torn open and discarded. Make a decision, and execute.
Many people spend a lot of time worrying about, and preparing for, the ‘collapse.’ Ok, so, you are sitting here reading this post, and suddenly
*SCREEN GOES BLACK*
Power cut. You go to the breaker panel and try and turn the power back on. It’s not happening. You try calling the power company on your cell, but you can’t get through. The situation does not resolve itself after an hour. You cannot communicate with anyone. Your kids are at school and your wife is at work. No one is going to tell you what is happening. You have imperfect information. This is not a movie when you roughly know how this will pan out. You are alone. What is your decision on your next move?
I use that as an example to show you that you will not have perfect information on what is happening. Perfect information is a movie thing. In ‘Mission Impossible’ they have perfect knowledge on all of the sophisticated enemy protective security systems before they go in and do their really cool abseiling-underwater-computer-hacking-whatever-thingy. In reality, you will not have perfect information, or perhaps any information. If you are sitting in your house in the dark right now, what information do you have on potential hostile forces coming through the woods?
There are a number of ways to deal with the denial and the lack of perfect information that do not in themselves require minute to minute decisions, but rather take that initial decision to take action. For example, let’s look at how we may take care of lack of information, through a combination of the following:
- Training: Effective training is going to help with denial through effective operant conditioning, and also with the need to make decisions through a series of ‘canned’ responses. A perfect example of this is ‘Action on Enemy Contact Drills’ otherwise known as break contact drills. As part of such a drill, you will have your individual react to contact drill (RTR) which is a form of operant conditioning to allow you to react aggressively towards the threat. Following that, the break contact drill will get your team moving and thus taking action, as an alternative to being frozen in the enemy kill zone. Thus, your reaction and decision were already trained and rehearsed beforehand. As the drill continues and the situation develops, the leader can then take the opportunity to step in and direct further action depending on what he perceives, such as you having taken a casualty, or the enemy is following up, etc.
- Patrolling / Community Outreach: However this is done, depending on the situation and how ‘tactical’ it is, the option of conducting local area patrolling, or at the very least low key visiting of your neighbors, will build information on the local situation and hopefully prevent any hostile forces moving through the area undetected, and surprising you or your neighbors. This will build up a local intelligence picture of your area. To support that now, you need maps and imagery; your local county property boundary mapping site will let you see who owns what in your neighborhood and what the boundaries are.
- Communications: How is information coming to you from outside your immediate footprint? What information sources do you have access to? This may require the ability to plug into HAM networks, at the very least to be able to listen. Of course, the availability of media will depend on the situation / collapse as it happens. If you do gather information through these means, then it will led to potential decisions.
I provide the examples above to show how you can better prepare, through training and operational planning, for situations occurring to you and your group. This sets the base level which will place you in a better position to address those decision points that arise.
Experience is something that will help you make decisions on an intuitive basis in response to an arising decision point. Experience gives you an understanding of capability and in effect ‘what right looks like’ in terms of tactical decisions. You may not be a combat veteran but you can embed the right instincts through effective training. Experience will help you with visualization of courses of action and thus the ability to reach a quick decision. Among all the talk about OODA loops is the fact that you are usually having to make decisions against a living and breathing enemy who seeks to outwit you, and thus speed of decision making is important.
If you seek more, or perfect information, in a bid to conduct best analysis of a developing situation, you may fail to act in a timely manner and thus lose the decision window, thus allowing the enemy to seize the initiative. You must understand that in a crisis situation you will not have perfect information and that seeking to wait for that unicorn may be a huge mistake. The flip side is that if you can avoid it, you don’t want to rush into things in order to allow time for planning, but that should form part of your intuitive decision making process – if you wait, that should follow a decision to do so, not the result of a freeze.
In ‘Contact!’ I provide you with a version of the ‘Combat Estimate” which is similar to the MDMP (Military Decision Making Process). This is designed as a leader / staff planning tool when time is available to consider all the factors and courses of action. If time is short, you need to be more intuitive when considering the situation and the correct decision to make. I do not expect you to get the Combat Estimate out under fire. This is something that you may decide to do as part of a TEWT (Tactical Exercise without Troops), which is similar to actually being forced to write QBO’s (Quick Battle Orders) physically down on paper as part of something like a training platoon attack. This is not because you actually expect to conduct your decision making and implementation in this way on game day, but it is a method of mental training that prepares your mind to consider the factors in a logical way. Thus, with a better tactically trained mind, you will be better equipped to make those intuitive decisions when time is short. This is related to developing an infantryman’s feel or view of the terrain, where you can assess the battlefield and relative location of enemy and friendly troops and it simply becomes a game of angles, cover and the sequencing of fire and movement.
In a situation of imperfect knowledge, or even any knowledge, you may need to be proactive in order to develop the situation. If you know or suspect that there is any enemy out there that is a threat to you, then you may make a decision to seek greater knowledge. This could be in the form of reconnaissance patrolling, or even an advance to contact in order to make contact and thus gather information from that. If your team is well trained in battle procedure, TTP’s and SOP’s then you will be in a better situation to develop the situation based on the first pieces of information that you gather. Because, remember that as you make contact there is an enemy commander reacting on the other side to the information he is gathering, and you seek to gain and retain the initiative. Waiting for perfect information is a mistake. Given that most reports will initially be inaccurate, waiting for better information is a judgement call. If, through a combination of violence of action and a maneuver, you can throw the enemy off balance, then that puts you in a position to develop the situation to your advantage, as you make further decisions to reinforce success, or perhaps to break contact if you further ascertain that you have launched into a far stronger enemy force.
On the Combat Patrol class, as part of the theory at the beginning, we talk about the principles of battle procedure, otherwise known as CAKE:
- Concurrent activity
- Anticipation at all levels
- Knowledge of the grouping system
- Efficient drills
If you can master that, along with effective rehearsals and team SOPs, then it will go a long way towards giving you a team that can be utilized by an effective commander. The team becomes an effective tool, but will not be used well unless the commander is able to make timely decisions. Remember, it is often inaction that is the problem, not necessarily going off with an imperfect plan, because the situation can be developed. Better to go off with an imperfect plan that can be changed or finessed, than be inactive waiting for the perfect information unicorn: “Go left, go right, but make a decision!”
In order for the commander to be effective, he must understand when he has reached decision points, and he must be unafraid to make decisions. He must, in fact, relish responsibility, which is one of the fundamentals of the German Auftragstaktik, which evolved into the modern day Mission Command. Here, subordinates are given a mission with a unifying purpose, or reason why, in order for them to understand the higher commander’s intent, and thus be able to take action as the situation changes to develop the situation to what the commander actually wants. Not just blindly following orders. It must also be recognized on the flip side of this that the philosophy does not simply authorize loose cannon, but rather subordinates operating within the intent of the commander and within the mutual support of fires and control / phase lines: otherwise, you go off on your own and find yourself being lit up by your own supporting fires, because you didn’t listen to the coordinating instructions…..
On the modern battlefield, with so many ISR sensors, commanders can be deluged with TOO MUCH information, along with meddling superiors who have a view of the action simply due to modern technology, and are perhaps acting in line with restrictive politically-motivated ROE and also ‘CYA’ ass covering due to career fears of subordinates committing some sort of atrocity, or making the wrong call. Such an atmosphere is professional death for an army. You, as a survivor, will not have access to too much information and will not have to worry about any of that, simply try to keep your people alive. One of the vital facets of mission command is trust at all levels, which means that the commander must trust his subordinates and must trust their call on the ground. A better modus operandi is for remote commanders to simply act to support the call of call-signs on the ground, through providing assets / QRF as and when called for. More of a ‘top cover’ role than meddling with an extremely long screwdriver. Trust the man on the ground. Of course, that level of trust and competence can only be gained by training together in ways that allow it to develop.
At MVT, we are running the Force on Force Team Tactics classes. These are woodland based but we already have one hut site out in the woods under construction, soon to become two, which add an additional dimension to the classes. In the classes you will find yourself fighting against an actual adversary who will be using team tactics against you. This is an excellent training vehicle to develop to ability to make decisions when they need to be made. This applies whether you volunteer to step up to a team leadership position, or if you are simply having to maneuver with your team against the enemy. You will learn whether they were right or wrong!June 28, 2016 at 7:18 pm #28293SeanTModerator
Experience is what you get immediately after you need it.June 28, 2016 at 7:53 pm #28295AnonymousInactive
Deleted..June 28, 2016 at 7:57 pm #28296MaxKeymaster
I knew my use of an example such as a catastrophic power cut would lead to a number of dissertations on peoples individuals preps for that…but I went ahead and did it anyway!June 28, 2016 at 7:58 pm #28297AnonymousInactive
Well.. I got what i got.. Sorry.. I refrain from further comments..
BergmannJune 28, 2016 at 9:53 pm #28301Joe (G.W.N.S.)Moderator
I plan on discussing a little bit about decision making in this post. In doing that, I will relate it to combat but I will deliberately keep it away from the doctrinal rabbit holes that formal military discussions about this topic often follow; this is designed to be about you, not a military unit. So let’s talk about decision making as it relates to you and potential life threatening situations that you and your family may experience.
Bold mine for emphasis.
Don’t let the “I will relate it to combat” part detract from this applying to your Family decision making under duress situations.
Well.. I got what i got.. Sorry.. I refrain from further comments..
It isn’t that “dissertations on peoples individuals preps” doesn’t apply to this Forum, it’s just not the objective of this particular Thread which is about the decision making process.June 29, 2016 at 5:57 am #28312KeeperParticipant
Thank you Max for sharing this and making my eyes open a little wider to seek out more information and training to better myself and better able to take car of my family.
Alumni living in N.E Fla. for now. Going to retire in Iowa on the farm some day soon.June 29, 2016 at 11:48 am #28314RobertParticipant
The 2nd biggest problem with the current “prepper” genre- not being able to make decisions quickly.
Sometimes, there isn’t time for endless “research” (that usually leads in a big circle). Also, you can’t always wait for every scrap of info- it’s rarely there.
RMP, TC3, NODF, CRCD 6/14, CP 9/14. NODF, Land Nav, 6/15. Rifleman Challenge 9/15- Vanguard. FOFtactics 3/16, 10/16, 11/16, 6/17,11/17 CTT, 6/15, 11/16, , LRMC-1 9/17 GA Mobile CTT and DA 10/16, GA mobile DCH 3/18, HEAT1 3/18 Alum weekend 8/18, Opfor CLC 10/18, DA 11/18 CQBC 12/18, 5/19June 29, 2016 at 5:25 pm #28326SeanTModerator
I realized while reading this thread that Max’s point about decisions happened to me exactly in that place the photo depicts.
During the ODA class attack on that compound I found myself where that guy on the left is and my ‘buddy’ ( the guy closest to me when it all went hot) was to the right.
My brain was flying trying to figure out what I need to do RIGHT NOW and plan A was GTF off that flat spot and to some cover which would have been 15 meters or so behind me and down the slope. As I was processing to try to signal my legs to go, my eyes and ears(he yelled) saw my buddy have a malf in his rifle and start remediation. I then chose to turn back to try to provide him cover all the while knowing that the assault team is probably down far enough to be on my flank left and close. They were…. I didn’t have more than a couple seconds before incoming came from that flank and I got hit. For me there was a possibility that I could have jumped down that slope and lived a little longer or maybe would have been able to run all the way away. The survival instinct in me was sort of overridden by ‘knowing’ the rounds were markers and the ‘buddy bond’ I had for my team mate. Pretty hard to explain slowly a circumstance that happened so fast. Most actions were autopilot but the delay to help my buddy was conscious.
In drills you get to do over but in real life you don’t.June 29, 2016 at 10:31 pm #28338D CloseModerator
I have spent the last week mulling over training mistakes I’ve made. Some are downright embarrassing. It is the only way to dig down to the root and figure yourself out. I think one needs to be hard on this. It needs to be fixed. Reading Max here, I am reminded of LtCol Hal Moore in the Ia Drang. Surrounded and being overrun, he gets the sense of what is going on. Imperfect information, but enough to decide he needs to change drastically what is happening…
I believe it is impossible to learn this without doing so in training and that might not be enough. I saw through my own shortcomings where I needed to go because I had teachers (Max and 1SGT) who were willing to watch and teach everyone how to react and what to do when the pressure starts to build.
The only easy day was yesterdayJuly 5, 2016 at 7:09 pm #28425DanielParticipant
This may relate somewhat. Last night I went rucking after sunset. Kept it to a couple of mile laps in the neighborhood – nothing fancy. Fireworks and a few gunshots going off all around me, with ranges varying from the far distance to a block or two away in many directions.
I started to imagine if things had finally gone to hell and it was all shooting for realz. Can’t see anything. Don’t know who is doing what or to whom. Pretty chaotic with no way to get a good picture of events or what to do about it. Walking around to find out seems unproductive/ stupid. Only plan is a bad one – sit at/near home and wait for trouble danger close.
So, tying back to the original post, food for thought for sure…July 5, 2016 at 9:57 pm #28426ThomasParticipant
@DClose. Thank you for posting that clip. The depiction LTC Hal Moore and 1-7IN makes a great point. LTC Moore, with imperfect knowledge, acted to stay in front of his attacker. His decision kept him inside the OODA loop of his enemy. To Max’s point, LTC Moore knew that he reached his decision point and acted on that.
What is key to that decision sequence is that LTC Moore took a major and significant action before he was overrun. He made the decision at the correct moment when the action would allow him to maintain the initiative and control the battle. Too many commanders wait too late in the action to take that decisive action. By the time they take the action they have missed their opportunity. LTC Moore made the decision early enough in the cycle to beat back a superior force and regain the initiative in the fight. By contrast, once 1-7IN left the field and 2-7IN had replaced them, 2-7 was badly mauled because of a series of bad decision made by that BN CDR.
On the individual level, we see police officers who get shot because they wait too long to draw their weapon and fire on threats.
LTG Moore was a student of military history. He was one of the intellectual officers that shaped the army after the Vietnam war.July 7, 2016 at 7:11 pm #28465grammaParticipant
Well, thanks. I needed that.
I’ve been getting “stuck” looking for the unicorn lately. Absolutely nothing to do with combat situations, but the lessons can be applied many ways, in many situations.July 7, 2016 at 8:39 pm #28468tangoParticipant
The 2nd biggest problem with the current “prepper” genre- not being able to make decisions quickly.
Sometimes, there isn’t time for endless “research”…
I’ll take the other side of the stake if you want to hammer that one home.
Hopefully this post spurs many to objectively evaluate their current situations!
Weak Men can't be virtuous. - JBP
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