Situational Awareness is a trait that is often times overlooked or blown off by everyone during his or her daily routines. This translates into how they act and operate throughout their travels. Not having good situational awareness can and will get yourself into a situation that can possibly kill or seriously hurt you or your loved ones.
As a definition; Situational awareness or situation awareness (SA) is the perception of environmental elements and events with respect to time or space, the comprehension of their meaning, and the projection of their status after some variable has changed, such as time, or some other variable, such as a predetermined event.
Everyday life is a very dynamic arena. There is so much happening within your field of view (FoV) and outside of your FoV. For an individual to take in all activities happening and assess each one will be near impossible. Training and practicing will help you filter out what is the most important ones to focus on.
The individual needs to assess each situation as a unique and separate situation. There are so many variables that affect each situation that the individual needs to take into account each and every time.
For instance, when conducting long-range combat marksmanship, the individual needs to take into account the altitude, wind, barometric pressure, weight of bullet, gravity effect, Ballistic Coefficient of round, distance. Fundamentals of marksmanship, just to name the ones that are constant. There are several other environmental factors that may or may not appear for the individual to deal with, like enemy situation, non-combatants, etc.
There are techniques that can help someone to achieve some situational awareness. Becoming situational aware of your surroundings as you go about your daily lives may save your life. One of those techniques is understanding the OODA Loop.
The OODA loop is a process we go through all the time during our daily activities. It is how a human reacts to a stimulus. The concept was created back in the 1950’s by a fighter pilot named Colonel Boyd. He believed by understanding the human reaction time when faced with a stimuli, a disadvantaged situation can be overcome by an individual. It stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.
Observe - We process about 80% of what we see, that does not include our other senses of hearing, such and smell. As you walk through a parking garage, you should always be observing your surroundings. Once you hear that gunshot, your eyes will scan toward the sound and you pinpoint the location of the noise. Now you are entering the Orient stage. This can happen in seconds.
Orient - You are now focused on the individual with the gun. Seeing the situation unfolding and others around the scene also reacting or failing to react. Two factors will affect you during this stage. Denial and Emotional Filter, denial is where you refuse to accept or deny what is happening. Emotional Filter is where you let your emotions of denial overcome you.
Decide - Now that you have focused your attention on the shooter, you now are deciding what actions you need to take to either eliminate the threat or protect the ones near by.
Act - You immediately come to a decision and continue to react and execute your decision through action. This can take seconds to get to this point depending on the environment and situation. But they say reaction to auditory stimulus, which takes about 8-10 milliseconds to reach the brain, is faster than reaction to visual stimulus that takes 20-40 milliseconds to reach the brain.
Another Technique to assist you in understanding and maintaining Situational Awareness so you are being prepared is Coopers Color Code.
White: condition white is a state of unreadiness, you are oblivious to your surroundings. In condition White, you are relaxed and unaware of what is going on around you. White may be characterized by daydreaming, self-concentration, looking at the ground, or concentrating mindlessly on your cell phone. This condition is the optimal time for any assailant to make their move, as the victim will not see the action coming and will be caught by complete surprise. Even the unarmed citizen should never be caught in this capacity, because many bad situations could be prevented just from a person being aware of their surroundings.
Yellow: in condition yellow, you are observing your surroundings. Noticing those factors that stand out, like the suspicious individual hanging out near the entrance to the convenience store as you pump gas. You are aware of who and what is behind you, making mental notes on where good cover is located if something does happen. This should the lowest level of awareness you need to be while going about your daily lives. It is not impossible to maintain this level, but certain things do deter us from constantly maintaining a Yellow condition. However, over time and practice you will be able to observe while engaging in your normal daily activities. The key is to remain relaxed but aware of your environment. A few examples are to know where the other exits are when you go eat out at a restaurant, or go to a high school basketball game, etc.
Orange: occurs when you find yourself in a bad part of a town that you are traveling through or turning a corner in a city and there is a demonstration happening. There is a possibility of a threat happening but it is not detected. You may not be the primary target but can become the secondary target. You heighten your awareness and observe for indicators, like weapons in hands of the demonstrators, someone observing you or walking toward you while you are pumping gas. You begin to prepare yourself for action by indicating you are aware of that individual walking toward by asking what he needs before he gets within a dangerous distance. You are also looking for alternate routes of egress from the situation. Possible areas for cover to protect from gunfire if the demonstration escalates to a chaotic situation. It is not out of the norm for a person to go from Yellow to Orange multiple times a day. Most times, appearing to be aware and not oblivious to your surroundings may be enough for that criminal element to leave you alone.
Red: this is the condition where your "mental trigger" has been tripped and you are taking action against a very specific adversary (or adversaries). This mental trigger is a point where you have determined that action needs to happen to protect yourself. It is not one single point but can be multiple of points that are tailored for different situations. Once you switch to Red, you are focusing your attention on single or multiple threats that are directly affecting you. This does not mean you are immediately engaging them with gunfire, but you have now determined the actual individuals that are the threats. You have two basic choices, one is to utilize that egress route you found earlier and get your family out safely and away from danger or you stand your ground, obtain cover, and address the threat. You may have to draw your weapon and obtain a good sight picture to deter the threat.
If they escalate the threat to action on their part then you will be drawing your weapon and executing your fundamentals of marksmanship working your way from the primary threat to secondary threats and so on. Focus on the actions you are doing at that moment and not what you just done. There will be plenty of time to reflect on it later. Primary decision is protecting yourself and your loved ones.
I chose to add egressing from the situation because there may be times and locations where you are unable to have a weapon and you have your family with you. Like, overseas on vacation. Depending on the situation you may not be able to get your family to safety first without eliminating the threat by any means you have. But engaging the threat directly may put your family in harms way indirectly. Egressing from the situation should happen while you are in Orange, since this is where you will be looking for those locations. But it can also happen while you are in Red and have identified a threat.
Bottom line, while you are in Red you are prepared to what is required to bring yourself and family home safe. You are mentally prepared to escalate to the point of deadly force.
The last thing I want to emphasize is Self-awareness; it is one of the most overlooked areas when it comes to situational awareness. Most people “assume” they are not presenting a target or being noticeable and standing out of the crowd. Like that contractor that is working overseas in Afghanistan and is traveling through Dubai wearing those 5:11 pants, Merrill shoes, USA flag hat and tactical backpack. I see it every time I travel overseas. Being the “grey man” and blending into your surroundings is a key element to ones “survival tool box.” They call this technique, the 51% rule. Looking and acting like 51% or the majority of the people in your area. Meaning, try to dress like and act like the majority of the populace in the area you are currently operating. If you travel to an area or country; do some research to see what the culture is like, how the people dress, their language etc.
Lastly, in regards to Tactical Preparedness, a scenario during an economic collapse and you are deciding to bug out or not. If you decide to Bug In for the time being and you are living in a suburb where most everyone has left. The situation will be chaotic to say the least. There will be abandon vehicles, trash strewn about the yards and roads, broken and/or boarded up windows, etc. Most houses will be without power or appear that way. You should “camouflage” your residence to reflect the other houses with the proper reinforced areas for protection. Maybe board up your windows up front and break the glass, throw debris or trash around, keep your car in the garage and tow a broken down car with flat tires in your driveway, leave the doors open to that car to imply that is has already been ransacked. Don’t run your generator continuously, conceal it and dampen the noise by building an insulated building to house it. Make sure you provide proper ventilation. Also use lighting sparingly and always use black out curtains. Live and sleep on an upper floor or the innermost room, leaving a buffer zone between you and the outside. Secure and reinforce your living area to prevent easy access. Establish a defensive perimeter to engage threats. Create loopholes in the outer wall so you can fire from a concealed position if the need arises. Plan your egress by having rally points should you get separated. Have a plan, rehearse the plan, and adjust the plan according to the current environment and situation.
Of course there is a lot more that will go into this scenario, look for more detailed plans for bugging in and bugging out during a crisis in The Tactical Preparedness Manual coming out in 2018.
Comments will be approved before showing up.