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The O.O.D.A. Loop
The time was the latter part of the Korean War. The challenge was that enemy MIG-15 aircraft were too often winning aerial dog-fights. They were highly maneuverable, piloted by experienced and well-trained enemy pilots, and were regularly challenging F-86 Sabre jets flown by US Air Force pilots for supremacy in the skies...and winning.
That is when Colonel John Boyd, commander of a fighter group during the latter stages of the Korean War, began to look at the situation closely. He decided that a competent pilot could overcome nearly any disadvantage posed by the enemy aircraft in speed, maneuverability, or skill by "attacking the mind" of the enemy pilot. From this belief came the theory we now call the "OODA Loop."
If you Google "OODA Loop," you will find hundreds of references to its use in every category from military to business to workplace safety. Just a few of these links are listed at the side of this article.<-- The links are unreadable because it is cut off. I hope you will learn more about the OODA Loop on your own. If you understand what the OODA Loop is at its basic core and how to use the OODA Loop theory against the "enemy" who may show up at your church to do harm, you will find it enlightening and challenging. There is a way to use the OODA Loop to our advantage.
Using the O.O.D.A. Loop
The key to using the OODA Loop to our advantage in church security and safety teams is learning to quickly and consistently interrupt the OODA Loop of an attacker.
When a "wolf" (attacker) shows up on your property, he has already made an Observation (the rationale behind the attack), Oriented himself to the church people and property, made the Decision to act, and is about to take Action. At this point, his first iteration through the OODA Loop is complete, and he is already cycling through the OODA Loop over and over. Where is my main target? Where are they located? What is my field of fire (if armed)? Who else am I after? He is constantly Observing, Orienting, and preparing to make additional Decisions on what Actions to take next, cycling through that pattern again and again. How security teams can make a difference, and even stop the attack before it really gets started, is interrupt the OODA Loop of the "wolf" over and over and over.
When you interrupt the OODA Loop, the attacker must "reset" the entire loop, losing concentration, focus, and, more importantly, time - time which you and other team members can move to the attacker to disable and restrain him from further actions. The more times you interrupt the Loop, the more resets, and thus the more time for you. How do you accomplish this? With distraction.
Example of disrupting the O.O.D.A. Loop
John Wolf enters your auditorium looking to find his estranged wife who is in the middle of a messy divorce from him and "do her in." He has Observed- she's a church-goer every Sunday, Oriented - she goes to the same church, Decided - I know where to find her to get even for what she's doing, and Acted- he has shown up at the church door.
As he walks through the door, he's in another cycle of the OODA Loop. Observe - she normally sits over there, Orient - yes, there she is, Decide - I'm going to use this knife or gun to scare/hurt her, and now he's about to Act. Suddenly, one of your team members begins to yell, "Knife! Knife! Knife!" or “Gun! Gun! Gun!” to let others know the "wolf" is at the door. Your team member immediately throws the Bible he's holding at John Wolf at a 45-degree angle away from John, not directly at him. The fluttering of the book across his line of sight distracts John for just a moment. RESET. His OODA Loop just returned to Observe and now begins to recycle. You are already moving toward John, as is another team member. Others begin to throw objects not directly at John, but at an angle just out of John's reach. Just enough to cause distraction over, and over, and over. With each OODA Loop reset, you gain precious seconds to move to and counter John's attack.
O.O.D.A. Loop Tool
The OODA Loop can be an effective tool. This was proven conclusively to me while I served on a multi-agency S.W.A.T. team in my county. One day, we set up a shoot drill to be run one at a time by each officer. What the instructors did not tell us was that they had built in distractions intended to disrupt our OODA Loop. We each ran through the first time, and sure enough, the distractions proved to be "rough" spots in what would have been great shooting. We all lost time due to the distractions. Since then, I have used interruption of the OODA Loop in almost every phase of life to redirect thought processes or gain time. The disrupting of the OODA Loop is an effective tool that anyone can learn.
Your team needs to be discussing the OODA Loop regularly, talking about ways to implement distraction in any type of incident, and practicing it in your team drills until it becomes an ingrained part of your response to an incident, whether just a noisy disrupter or a gunman. It may gain you the precious seconds you need to stop the situation before it goes from bad to worse.
Let's face it. You O.O.D.A. be ready!
Stay focused. Stay safe.