This Is War!


In our February 2013 issue, we briefly discussed the late USAF Col. John Boyds famous OODA Loop, a decision-making process originally developed to assist fighter pilots in air combat training. We noted, Key to understanding and implementing the OODA Loop, according to Boyd, was the accuracy and rate with which we step through the decision-making process. If we fail to accurately assess our environment, we cant make effective decisions. If we fail to make those decisions quickly enough, external events will overtake us and also result in poor decisions. The OODA Loop is derived from the acronym formed by it’s four basic steps: observation, orientation, decision and action. Theyre summarized below.

Of course, mastering the zen of flying isnt like going to war, although some may train it that way and opine that its you against the elements, or something else, and you must be victorious. If you subscribe to that opinion/philosophy, and it works for you, consider the three quotes in the text box at bottom. Theyre from The Art Of War, Sun Tzus classic text on military strategy. Theyre not at all unlike a zen-influenced koan, are they?

In this phase of the decision-making process, we collect information by observing the environment in which were operating.

Once weve collected data about the environment in which were operating, we analyze and synthesize it to develop a mental picture of where we are in relation to the problem.

With the data obtained through observation and our understanding of our position relative to the problem, we decide whether and how to act.

In this phase, we implement the decision(s) weve made. But were not finished. Because its a loop, we then start again by observing how our action has affected the environment in which were acting, and continue this iterative process until were satisfied with the outcome.

For to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.

What the ancients called a clever fighter is one who not only wins, but excels in winning with ease.

He who knows when he can fight and when he cannot will be victorious.


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