John Boyd introduced the military to modern air combat theories and resultant aircraft design theories. His most famous contribution was the OODA loop which can be summed up, very simplistically, as consisting of the following circular steps:
Note: I present this with abject apologies to Boyd for this gross simplification and, he would undoubtedly claim, misrepresentation of his theory. He actually had a fourth step and multiple side steps in his presentations. As I said, this is a gross simplification to illustrate a point.
Thus, he suggested, the pilot that could more quickly (and correctly!) execute this repetitive loop would “get inside” the opponent’s loop and be able to anticipate better and act faster and, ultimately, win. For example, in air to air combat if I can see that my opponent is beginning a maneuver (observe), analyze his maneuver so as to predict the outcome (analyze), and place myself in a position to take advantage of his final position (act), I’ll be in position to defeat him as a result of having operated inside his OODA loop.
Unfortunately, ISIS, and terrorists in general, are inside our OODA loop. Consider this, from a Navy Times website article,
“The Navy is moving to place armed watch-standers at recruiting stations nationwide, a move that comes a year after shootings at a recruiting station and a reserve center in
the lives of four Marines and a sailor.” Chattanooga, Tennessee
It’s taken us a year to decide to have armed personnel at recruiting stations. A year!!! How’s that for a snail-slow OODA loop? No wonder we’re not making more progress in the war on terror.
“We are in the final stages of preparations for implementation” of the policy, said Cmdr. Dave Aliberti, policy branch head for Fleet Forces Command’s anti-terrorism, force protection directorate.
A year, and we’re still not actually implementing it. We’re just in the “final stages”. That means we’ve got a ways to go, yet.
Now, what would you or I - logical, reasonable people - decide in about the first 2 minutes after the original incident? We’d say, “Arm the recruiters. After all, they’re highly trained in weapons handling and they could always be given additional training for using weapons in civilian settings, if need be.” Of course, the military sees it differently.
“Some lawmakers called for service members, especially recruiters, to be allowed to carry their personal firearms to work so they could respond to an attack in progress. Aliberti said that was looked at in detail but it is not being considered.
“Because of the nature of their mission it’s something less than ideal to have every recruiter armed when their mission is engagement with the public,” he said. “While that would be one extreme, it’s not something that is being considered seriously at this time.”
Seriously???? We won’t consider allowing recruiters to be armed? What does engagement with the public have to do with whether professional military personnel are armed. Actually, isn’t that their job – to be armed and defend citizens against terrorists? Is the military afraid that the public will find out that war involves guns?
Here’s a further extension of the stupidity.
“Navy leaders have also been less than enthusiastic about allowing sailors to bring their guns on bases. In an April interview with Navy Times and Defense News, the Navy’s top officer said the idea was on the table but that he was concerned about a situation where more guns are present during a shooting creating confusion for law enforcement.”
Think this one through … If sailors were armed on base, there would be nothing for law enforcement to do after an incident except bag the terrorist’s body for removal. More guns aren’t going to create confusion, they’re going to end the incident before it becomes a base-wide massacre.
So, what’s the military’s approach, since they don’t seem to want to use simple, common sense?
“Militarywide, the Army Corps of Engineers is upgrading recruiting stations' security with visual identification features, as well as better access control mechanisms and ballistic shields, he said. The Army Corps is also making alterations to buildings that make them more secure, he said.”
There it is – the pervasive and misguided belief that technology is the preferred solution to any problem. Armed sailors are the simple answer but the military would prefer to spend enormous sums of money on some idiotic technological solution that keeps budget money flowing.
Well, I’ve wandered off track, here. The point of the post is that terrorists are inside our OODA loop. If it takes us this long to implement simple, common sense solutions, how can we possibly fight a war and hope to win? We have completely forgotten the lessons that Boyd taught us. We need to be mentally nimble, quick and decisive in our decision making, and bold and timely in our actions. We need to operate inside the terrorist’s loop instead of the other way around.
(1)Navy Times website, “Navy to put armed sailors at recruiting stations”, David Larter,
July 14, 2016,