Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
The OODA Loop is useless. Or more to the point, the way most people in the military talk about it is useless.
“We’re going to get inside the enemy’s OODA Loop.”
“He got inside my loop.”
People in the military can’t shut the hell up about OODA Loops.
In the military, the OODA Loop is often used as a synonym for “decision making.” Some will even break down the acronym, into “Observe, Orient, Decide, Act,” as if that makes it a more profound statement. “You see, first the enemy has to observe us, then he has to orient himself…”
Too many people use the OODA Loop to give credibility to otherwise blindingly obvious things. “So, if we lay down a smokescreen, the enemy won’t be able to observe us, and we’ll break down his OODA Loop!” So, it’s better if the enemy can’t see us? Thanks for that insight, Napoleon.
People say things like that because everyone in the military knows about the inventor of the OODA Loop, Colonel John Boyd. He was a modern-day Clausewitz, or Jomini, or some other dude they read about in their company-grade PME, but can’t remember what the hell they said because it was all really, really boring. Boyd also invented the A-10 or something, so BRRRT!
Describing decision making by prattling on about the OODA Loop is like saying things fall because of gravity. That’s true, as far as it goes, but knowing that doesn’t mean you understand physics. Almost everyone who talks about getting inside someone’s “loop” is just using the term to mean you need to make decisions faster than the other guy. If you can make decisions faster, you’ll have a better chance of winning. No shit, Sherlock.
It might be a little unfair to criticize the OODA Loop for being obvious. Many things are obvious only after someone says them the first time. After all, people bitched about apples falling out of trees for ages until Isaac Newton explained to those idiots why that kept happening.
Just like Newton is usually known as being the apple guy even though he was really the father of physics and calculus, Boyd is known as the OODA Loop guy, even though that’s not really the most important thing he did. After all, if he hadn’t come up with OODA, there are a dozen good ways of describing the same thing. Whether it’s plan-do-check-act or collect-process-organize-do-review or assess-balance-communicate-do-and-debrief or a dozen other ways of making the very simple very complicated, someone else would have made a perfectly acceptable substitute.
Colonel Boyd wrote a series of essays and presentations that range from the fascinating Patterns of Conflict to the virtually impenetrable rumination on ideas, thermodynamics, and the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle called Destruction and Creation. The creators of American maneuver doctrine gave a lot of credit to Boyd, but while the OODA loop is an important part of that, it is by no means the bulk of his contribution to maneuver doctrine. Beyond that, his work on energy-maneuverability theory shaped the design of every tactical aircraft flying today. Some people need to learn a little more about the background before bringing up OODA in a vacuum.
If tacticians bring the OODA Loop into a discussion, it doesn’t necessarily mean that a faux-profound statement is going to be said within the next 30 seconds, but it’s pretty likely. That mention of the OODA Loop had better be followed by immediately dropping some serious knowledge bombs about specific ways you plan to exploit it.
If those knowledge bombs could have been dropped without unnecessarily introducing the OODA Loop, please do so. And God help you if you say “get inside his Loop” unironically, just turn your laser pointer into the duty officer and consider yourself relieved.
For one veteran who fought through the crossfires of German heavy machine guns in the D-Day landings, receiving a Congressional Gold Medal on behalf of his service and that of his World War II comrades would be "quite meaningful."
Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate to award the Army Rangers of World War II the medal, the highest civilian award bestowed by the United States, along with the Presidential Medal of Freedom.
BANGKOK (Reuters) - Defense Secretary Mark Esper expressed confidence on Sunday in the U.S. military justice system's ability to hold troops to account, two days after President Donald Trump pardoned two Army officers accused of war crimes in Afghanistan.
Trump also restored the rank of a Navy SEAL platoon commander who was demoted for actions in Iraq.
Asked how he would reassure countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq in the wake of the pardons, Esper said: "We have a very effective military justice system."
"I have great faith in the military justice system," Esper told reporters during a trip to Bangkok, in his first remarks about the issue since Trump issued the pardons.
On a military base, a black flag is bad news. That means it's too hot outside to do anything strenuous, so training and missions are put off until conditions improve.
As the climate changes, there could be plenty more black flag days ahead, especially in Florida, a new analysis from the Union of Concerned Scientists found. America's military bases could see an average of an extra month of dangerously hot days by mid-century. In Florida, they could quadruple.
Pentagon data shows heat-related illnesses and injuries are on the rise in every branch of the military. Last year, nearly 2,800 troops suffered heatstroke or heat exhaustion, a roughly 50 percent jump from 2014.
"I think most of us, if we hear there are tens of thousands of cases of heat stress in our troops every year, our minds would go to where they were deployed," said Kristy Dahl, a senior climate scientist at UCS and the lead author of the study. "But more than 90% of the military cases of heatstroke happened right here at home."
BANGKOK (Reuters) - The United States and South Korea said on Sunday they will postpone upcoming military drills in an effort to bolster a stalled peace push with North Korea, even as Washington denied the move amounted to another concession to Pyongyang.
The drills, known as the Combined Flying Training Event, would have simulated air combat scenarios and involved an undisclosed number of warplanes from both the United States and South Korea.
An opening ceremony will be held Monday on Hawaii island for a military exercise with China that will involve about 100 People's Liberation Army soldiers training alongside U.S. Army counterparts.
This comes after Adm. Phil Davidson, head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, spoke on Veterans Day at Punchbowl cemetery about the "rules-based international order" that followed U.S. victory in the Pacific in World War II, and China's attempts to usurp it.
Those American standards "are even more important today," Davidson said, "as malicious actors like the Communist Party of China seek to redefine the international order through corruption, malign cyber activities, intellectual property theft, restriction of individual liberties, military coercion and the direct attempts to override other nations' sovereignty."