Friday, May 12, 2017

Mental Tactics

US Army publication ADP 3-90, Offense and Defense, defines tactics as “… the employment and ordered arrangement of forces in relation to each other.”

We can civilianize this definition to “A series of actions that result in imposing the desired end state."

The effective use of tactics requires:
  1. Creative and flexible use of all available means;
  2. Rapid decision-making despite incomplete information;
  3. A near-intuitive understanding of the physical, positional, psychological, physiological, and legal ramifications of any course of action.
Tactics are both art and part science. The tactical art is the ability to apply judgment and adapt principles to the specific situation. The tactical science is the collection of techniques that can be applied immediately.

Napoleon referred to the necessity of the coup d'oeil (a French term that literally means "stroke of the eye,” but is better translated “A quick glance”), which would enable a battlefield commander to take in terrain, positions, troop strengths and capabilities. This is also part art, part science and can be learned, but is best practiced.

The civilian equivalent would be “sizing up” the situation, and knowing intuitively:
  • The Objective: “Stop this person” or “End this threat” or “Deter these people.”
  • What Maneuver should be accomplished: “Where can I move to cover or increase distance between me and the threat?”
  • How to achieve Surprise: “What move or action is least expected? or “How can I mask my actual intentions?”
  • The Simplest sequence that will be effective (complex plans rarely work)
  • The course of action with the greatest moral and legal Legitimacy.
This takes practice, but not necessarily real-world fighting practice.

You can mentally practice anytime, anywhere. Next time you’re in a mall, train station, office building, or city street, look around and then imagine a situation where someone pulled out a gun and grabbed a person. Or maybe an active shooter emerges around the corner. Or a man comes from behind, pokes you in the back and tells you “Hand over your wallet.”

What will you do?

Next time you’re sitting in church, imagine you:
  • Hear gunfire in the lobby.
  • Hear a couple screaming at each other in a hallway by the nursery.
  • See a man run up the center aisle of the sanctuary. You don’t recognize him as he turns and faces the congregation, shouting, swearing and apparently distraught.
  • Imagine he has a shotgun. A Handgun. A Machete.

What do you do?

Some might read this and think, “This is sick – I can’t think like this in church!”

That’s fine – we should be glad not many think this way. It’s not pleasant and it will forever dampen your joy at every public gathering you ever attend. While others have given themselves wholly to the moment, your mind is calculating options. It truly is a blessing for others, but a curse for you.

If you cannot think this way then you will not be able to react quickly enough to thwart the attack if – Lord forbid – an attack come to you. This needs to be a real soul-searching exercise. If you cannot bring yourself to think this way, you may not be able to align a firearm on a human target and pull the trigger.

The 9/11 Commission reminded us that the shock and surprise we felt on that morning was due to a “failure of imagination.” We were unable to imagine such a thing, and so we were unprepared when it happened. We were certainly not prepared to thwart it.

Decent people find it difficult to envisage heinous actions by evil people.

Yet, those few people who can imagine horrible actions will be better able to react quickly. These are not frozen in disbelief, wondering “How can something like this be happening?”

Some know it can happen, and we are ready.

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