COL John Boyd on the Essence of Winning and Losing! | Law Enforcement & Security Consulting

The strategic and tactical mindset should have these words from Boyd in mind while we interact with our environment  and our adversary. Winning through skill and the ability to adapt these skills to a given set of circumstances in an effort to set up the outcome is know as operational art. 

Operational art in the world of conflict is the link that synergistically connects strategy and tactics. Conflict is a clash between multiple complex adaptive systems trying to impose itself on the other. Conflict can turn violent or it can be resolved peacefully. Our strategy as protection professionals is to impose our will on the adversary. To do so we must use our ability to interact with our adversary who is an independent and animate force with its own objectives and plans. Interaction helps you control the dynamics of the situation on your terms.

Superior situational awareness and ongoing interaction such as communication, negotiation, tactical movement both overt and covert and tactical set up will help reduce uncertainty and open up opportunities for us to use our insight and imagination to adapt tactics to an evolving situation and seize the initiative.

This ability to use insight and imagination and apply knowledge through initiative-driven interaction with our environment, and the climate (what’s happening?) of the situation, considering both adversarial and friendly situation and their affect on the moral, mental and physical dimensions of conflict is known as operational art. Understanding and being able to apply what we know to the dynamics of the situation is in my view what John Boyd speaks to here when he talks about the “essence of winning and losing.”

Stay Oriented!


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