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Thread: One good thing about OODA

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    Default I'm with Entropy on this Issue

    I think Entropy is on target with respect to his comments concerning technology. I will only add a little to what he already expresses.

    When I was still in the Marine Corps, my Marines and I suffered through this painful process of serving technology, vice technology serving us on numerous occassions.

    This misfocus caused warfighting skills to atrophy. Misfocus kills. Misfocus kills because service members in harms way find they do not know how to quickly adapt to a combat environment because the baseline references to operate with an infantryman mindset are lost once people depart from basic training; sustainment training is set aside to follow gadgets and develop new systems when time should be focused on studying the nature of the fight, language training, anthropological and infrastructural studies of the threat environment via the use of sophisticated technologies.

    Once service members deploy in theater, they lose access to bandwidth, technologies do not hold up well in indigenous weather/environmental conditions, and I spend more time maintaining the system than reading the enemy. This is ludicrous. Machines should serve me, not the other way around.

    This frustration lead me to become an ardent follower of the late Colonel John Boyd when he stated the priority in preparing and execution of war lies in "people, ideas and hardware" in that order.

    Warfare is about people. Warfare is about weaponizing time and space; the weaponization of time and space is best prosecuted by those who make the most effective timely decisions utilizing a tool/model known as the "Boyd Cycle" or "OODA LOOP". We need people of all ranks to be able to make rapid/effective decisions in a time of crisis. This requires increased investment in the human mind in the form of language training, cultural training, free play exercises employing technologies and w/out technologies since our adversaries know the U.S. has the technological edge and evade/exploit their gaps. General Van Riper did this in Millenium Challenge 02 and this shut down the tech based exercise. One can read more about it here... http://www.globalsecurity.org/org/ne...0906-iraq1.htm . For those interested in learning how other countries see they can fight us best read "Unrestricted Warfare" via this link... http://www.terrorism.com/documents/T...restricted.pdf

    Thank you for making a post regarding this subject and allowing people, like myself, to respond.

    Cheers and Semper fi, Bob
    Last edited by Jedburgh; 09-03-2008 at 01:05 PM. Reason: Moved posts to OODA thread.

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Default One good thing about OODA

    Quote Originally Posted by OODA.LOOP View Post
    Warfare is about people. Warfare is about weaponizing time and space; the weaponization of time and space is best prosecuted by those who make the most effective timely decisions utilizing a tool/model known as the "Boyd Cycle" or "OODA LOOP".
    I respectfully and absolutely disagree. Making effective decisions in a timely manner is nothing to do with the OODA loop. The OODA loop is a simplified model of one possible decision making process.

    The idea of cycling the loop faster and faster means that bad decisions based on bad observations get acted on faster, and the same point of incomplete observation is revisited in a shorter time. The problem is further compounded when technology enables faster bad decisions, based on a pretence of understanding -EG: Robert's Ridge.

    If the loop was merely to state the actions for which the enemy is unprepared both, temporal and spatial, are those most likely to succeed then it would be useful, and also the definition of surprise. However I have yet to see anywhere, where Boyd stated this.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    As I've posted before, I still think OODA is perhaps most applicable in the realm it was first designed for: one on one air-to-air combat. As soon as you start adding people in, and bringing in new factors, it can easily degenerate into a series of poor decisions based on inadequate information and time pressure.

    That said, I think the concept can be expanded to areas other than air-to-air combat, but the framework needs to change. OODA in the wrong hands can (and I'm sure has) lead to badly-informed decisions made solely on the pretext of being "fast" and thus "first." To tie back to the original thread, technology can make this worse by creating an illusion of complete information and complete communications.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Well said. This:

    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    ...OODA in the wrong hands can (and I'm sure has) lead to badly-informed decisions made solely on the pretext of being "fast" and thus "first." To tie back to the original thread, technology can make this worse by creating an illusion of complete information and complete communications.
    can be quite simply illustrated by viewing or reading contemporary news media reports on virtually any topic and making a decision on the accuracy of the report or the potential effects based solely on their initial rapidity and frenzy to be first and thus providing inaccurate and most often down right misleading information.

    To paraphrase an old gunfighter, "I don't need to be fastest, I need to be the best shot..."

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    As I've posted before, I still think OODA is perhaps most applicable in the realm it was first designed for: one on one air-to-air combat. As soon as you start adding people in, and bringing in new factors, it can easily degenerate into a series of poor decisions based on inadequate information and time pressure.
    Well, as the chief Psychologist for the Swedish Armed Forces, famously asked, "How does explaining the OODA loop to a fighter pilot make him a better fighter pilot?" - and in Air to Air combat it is only applicable to one pilot looking at one other aircraft he is reacting to, or acting against.

    That said, I think the concept can be expanded to areas other than air-to-air combat, but the framework needs to change. OODA in the wrong hands can (and I'm sure has) lead to badly-informed decisions made solely on the pretext of being "fast" and thus "first." To tie back to the original thread, technology can make this worse by creating an illusion of complete information and complete communications.
    The problem is a nut shell, and one that would not exist if we didn't buy into OODA as accurately explaining the process in hand.
    It does not accurately model how humans thing or make decisions (simple and idealised).
    It's not a planning tool, and it's not even a good analysis tool.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    I had not heard before that OODA was originally designed for air combat. That surprises me. Air combat is too fast-paced and fluid for pilots to be going through such mental checklists.

    The way to shorten the OODA loop is not through study of OODA or any other artificial construct, but through training and practice - something I believe is true for any military enterprise.

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    I had not heard before that OODA was originally designed for air combat. That surprises me. Air combat is too fast-paced and fluid for pilots to be going through such mental checklists.

    The way to shorten the OODA loop is not through study of OODA or any other artificial construct, but through training and practice - something I believe is true for any military enterprise.
    The majority of Boyd's theories originated with his ideas regarding air-to-air combat. Where he (IMO) got into serious trouble is when he started expanding those ideas into a "one size fits all" theory for conflict in general. Boyd also wasn't much of a believer in missiles in air to air combat. He was a gun dogfighter pure and simple, and (again IMO) OODA reflects this.

    Wilf, I think you might benefit from taking a step back and looking at OODA as more of an "after the fact" description of a thought process, which is where I feel it is most useful (that or breaking the AI of some computer games and possibly timed chess matches...anything where there is a finite time limit known to both participants). Note that I don't say it's perfect, or even much of a planning tool. To me it's more someone trying to explain something that can't necessarily be explained...but once the tools got their hands on it everything went south in a hurry. One could actually say the same thing about ol' Carl.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve Blair View Post
    Wilf, I think you might benefit from taking a step back and looking at OODA as more of an "after the fact" description of a thought process, which is where I feel it is most useful (that or breaking the AI of some computer games and possibly timed chess matches...anything where there is a finite time limit known to both participants). Note that I don't say it's perfect, or even much of a planning tool. To me it's more someone trying to explain something that can't necessarily be explained...but once the tools got their hands on it everything went south in a hurry. One could actually say the same thing about ol' Carl.
    Steve, you may be right. I have long been trying to work out why the OODA loop even exists, and why it is so loved.

    I fully agree that the OODA explains how a Shepherd, using 2-3 dogs, herds a flock. This shows the OODA at work. It works because the Shepherd can see all his dogs and all the sheep.... totally unlike any form of warfare or conflict.

    So, how does the OODA loop help us understand military activity against an enemy, or how does explaining the OODA loop to the Shepherd help him "flock" his sheep faster?

    Here to learn!
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Post Consider the implications of the fact that

    You know what you know and as such you can choose to act on or not act on such things, but much the same as any interactions between humans you can and do only control you so of course you can only plan for your actions or inactions.

    This is not necessarily the same as having no control over others. Anyone whos seen crowds together for one purpose or another can see that there are ways in which to produce almost certain reactions to stimuli. This is the only way I can see that one can honestly plan for enemy actions but it still comes down to a better more informed SWAG then one might generally make intuitively. The "hard" decisions still have to be made but the tools can at least help to make them slightly more informed than might otherwise happen.
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

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    Moderator Steve Blair's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by William F. Owen View Post
    So, how does the OODA loop help us understand military activity against an enemy, or how does explaining the OODA loop to the Shepherd help him "flock" his sheep faster?

    Here to learn!
    See...here's the rub. I'm not convinced that OODA necessarily helps the shepherd with his flock. Looking back, it might help him understand why something happened in the particular way that it did, and possibly plan for a similar circumstance in the future. But this also, to me, points out the finite nature of OODA. The shepherd has a limited window in which to act (direct his dogs), so understanding the sheep (and getting inside their OODA loop...not hard when one considers sheep) is important. Everything happens within his span of control, and his situational awareness is pretty good (he can see the flock and the dogs). It's when it gets out of that perfect awareness that things get flaky.

    OODA might be useful for event triage (such as at what point did a unit's command and control break down and what factors contributed to that), but I'm not convinced that it can be predictive (not every unit will have the same strengths and weaknesses, and planning to exploit the wrong one can be a bad thing). In fact, I do think that the time-driven nature of OODA can lead to rash decisions, aggravated by the illusion of perfect intelligence and situational awareness.

    I can understand why something like the OODA loop exists, and can see valid uses for it (mainly in post-hoc analysis). But I don't see it as useful as a predictive method or necessarily something one can master and practice consciously.
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Default Since this thread has devolved into an OODA debate

    I refer readers to an earlier Boyd/OODA debate that sort of started with my post here
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. Sydney J. Harris

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    Council Member reed11b's Avatar
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    Default One good thing about OODA

    In a number of currently active threads, there has been a lot of discusion about the failures and inadequacies of Boyd's OODA loop theory. I agree with most of them. However, I feel that it did bring one important fact to the table and this fact is often forgotten. OODA focuses on the "human" factor and that it is men that fight and determine the winner and loser in a conflict. For this reason alone, I feel OODA has some merit, though it is flawed as a complete model.
    Reed

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    Talking Excellent feedback

    I unintentionally caused the discussion to digress from the subject.

    W/ respect to the Boyd Cycle, all your points are duly noted. In fact, those that commented on the complexity of thinking and achieving a decision are absolutely correct and are not ignored, but few know this unless they are familiar with Boyd's work beyond the simple OODA Loop Description. The actual Boyd Cycle does not begin and end with the simple OODA Loop description due to the very reasons cited by some of you e.g. bad information in, bad out etc....all that is considered.

    Here is a link for those interested in finding out more. http://www.d-n-i.net/dni/john-r-boyd

    Appreciate the counter points...We'll talk more later.

    Cheers Gents, Bob

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    Default forgot to include this...

    "If the loop was merely to state the actions for which the enemy is unprepared both, temporal and spatial, are those most likely to succeed then it would be useful, and also the definition of surprise. However I have yet to see anywhere, where Boyd stated this."

    William, your comment is exactly what the Boyd Cycle is meant to capture. Boyd's works were put into writing by Dr Chet Richards.

    Cheers, Bob

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    Council Member William F. Owen's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by OODA.LOOP View Post
    "If the loop was merely to state the actions for which the enemy is unprepared both, temporal and spatial, are those most likely to succeed then it would be useful, and also the definition of surprise. However I have yet to see anywhere, where Boyd stated this."

    William, your comment is exactly what the Boyd Cycle is meant to capture. Boyd's works were put into writing by Dr Chet Richards.

    Cheers, Bob
    Thank you Bob. My observations were in no way personal to your chosen title. I just have Manoeuvre Warfare, Lind, Boyd, and OODA issues that I need to work out... as anyone here will tell you!!

    I'll seek out the Chet Richards stuff. I have the Franz Osinga book, so I'll give it another look.
    Infinity Journal "I don't care if this works in practice. I want to see it work in theory!"

    - The job of the British Army out here is to kill or capture Communist Terrorists in Malaya.
    - If we can double the ratio of kills per contact, we will soon put an end to the shooting in Malaya.
    Sir Gerald Templer, foreword to the "Conduct of Anti-Terrorist Operations in Malaya," 1958 Edition

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    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Talking Apropo or not

    This whole discussion always reminds me of one of the most intellectually scarry moments as a young maj...

    There I was, a new member of the Screamin' Eagles, sitting in a Div rehersal for Ulchi Focus Lens. My previous assignment -- planner for 2ID. At the end of the rehersal, the CG struts front and center to address the small herd of MAJs clustered at the end room...

    His words (close paraphrase)... Welcome to 101st!!! Where we make decisions at 200 km/h (homage to Apache Helicopters)...

    My immediate thought... Yeah and we will get our a$$ in a crack at the same speed...

    Skip forward one week... BCT AASLT wiped out due to insufficient condition setting - mission launched on orders of Corps commander against best advise of Div Commander...

    Skip forward two days... BCT AASLT wiped out (previously destroyed BCT is Div Res - its magic) while conducting AASLT to secure near and far objectives of deliberate river crossing -- 'Div is T+ at river crossing - we can fly'

    I reiterate all this only to illustrate this one point...

    Speed does NOT equal Tempo...

    For an entire week this one point was continually (negatively) reinforced to any who wished to recognize...

    Next year... Same Corps Commander... Same results...

    In my mind this is OODA at its worst... Fortunately only digits were harmed

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    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Default Pace versus Speed

    Quote Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
    I reiterate all this only to illustrate this one point...

    Speed does NOT equal Tempo...
    (The following is not a sports metaphor.)
    Your point is made rather poignantly on the field of friendly strife known as soccer in the US and Football everywhere else. US teams trend to have no concept of tempo in that 90 minute struggle, which may explain why the US national team got bounced early in the Olympics and doesn not advance to far in World Cup.

    Sometimes the right answer is observe, orient, decide, wait a while, act. I think that was how, among many others, Hannibal won at Cannae, Epaminondas at Leuctra, Gustavus Adolphus at Breitenfeld, and Napoleon at Marengo,.
    Vir prudens non contra ventum mingit
    The greatest educational dogma is also its greatest fallacy: the belief that what must be learned can necessarily be taught. Sydney J. Harris

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    Anyone who thinks OODA = speed

    is simply wrong.

    Like any theory or framework, it needs to be simple and understood by most. That's where Boyd failed - OODA is complex and difficult to understand and therefore misinterpreted by many.
    "Speak English! said the Eaglet. "I don't know the meaning of half those long words, and what's more, I don't believe you do either!"

    The Eaglet from Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland

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    Council Member Hacksaw's Avatar
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    Default Agreed

    Hopefully my little vignette didn't imply that I was under the impression that speed = anything other than speed.

    However, I would argue there is a whole group of senior leaders who tend to get speed mixed up with tempo and getting inside an opponent's decision cycle.

    The little story provided earlier involves two gentlemen who subsequently went on to earn a fourth star (no commentary offered - just a fact). An anecdotal sample size of two

    I would offer the opinion that they are not unique and in fact this tendency influenced US/Coalition operations for the first five years in IZ/AFG.

    As for a cultural bias - I offer how many times in training junior leaders have we heard the expression - make a decision lieutenant/corporal/cadet etc

    I acknowledge that none of this earth shattering, but the profound lack of tactical much less operational/strategic patience is our greatest weakness.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hacksaw View Post
    I would offer the opinion that they are not unique and in fact this tendency influenced US/Coalition operations for the first five years in IZ/AFG.

    As for a cultural bias - I offer how many times in training junior leaders have we heard the expression - make a decision lieutenant/corporal/cadet etc

    I acknowledge that none of this earth shattering, but the profound lack of tactical much less operational/strategic patience is our greatest weakness.
    On interesting quote from a British Brigadier I saw speak in Canada seems relevant. He stated that General Sir Rupert Smith once told him that in counterinsurgency you should delay making a decision to the last possible moment and allow the conditions to develop. Reflecting on it, it's more of a "military art" than a "science" thing, as there are many examples where delayed decisions caused catastrophe as well as rapid ones.
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