OODA sighting

I assume most of you have seen Tom Friedman’s oped in the NYT today, “More risk-taking, less poll-taking.

He opens with:

THE U.S. military trains its fighter pilots on a principle called the “OODA Loop.” It stands for observe, orient, decide, act. The idea is that if your OODA Loop is faster and more accurate than the other pilot’s, you’ll shoot his plane out of the sky. If the other pilot’s OODA Loop is better, he’ll shoot you down. Right now, our national OODA Loop is broken.

Although we could quibble with his use of the term (for how Boyd actually used it, see “Boyd’s OODA Loop” on the Articles page), his claim that our “national OODA loop is broken” has some validity.

Recall that in Boyd’s framework, action flows from orientation. Individuals have orientations, but when we’re talking about countries or other groups, we need a surrogate for orientation. What Boyd suggested was something called a “common outlook” or “similar implicit orientation,” which he describes on pages 74 and 79 of Patterns and pp. 18-23 of Organic Design.

What Friedman appears to be arguing, and in this I think he’s right, is that we have nothing like the common implicit orientation that we need to implement solutions to our problems, and that the President’s focus now should be on creating one.

I haven’t seen the movie, but didn’t Lincoln say something about a house divided?


8 thoughts on “OODA sighting

  1. I am not sure we all agree on what has been observed. Climate, anyone? There’s a long ways to go before we get to common decision, much less action, on anything. Cute analogy though.

    (P.S. Pretty much all combat arms use OODA as a concept. “Getting inside” the opponent’s loop is an interesting term of art).

    • Steven,

      Thanks — it’s not an analogy, though.

      You’re right about uses of the loop. However, as far as I can tell, they all use it incorrectly and so miss out on a lot of the power Boyd had in mind. Check out Patterns 132, for example.

      I go into this ad nauseum in the paper I mentioned.

  2. When Boyd would talk about Guderian, blitzkrieg and “verbal orders only” … it was about common outlook and “trust”

  3. The problem for the collective USA, lies in the Orient, phase.
    For the last couple of decades, and more. the national “orientation”
    has been distorted by vested, and short term interests, and have
    little or no bearing in factual honest perceptions and decision making.

    When you base perception on preconceived notions, lunatic agendas,
    ambitions, and for the principle benefit of the few, with those
    along for the ride, at everyone else’s expense.
    you’ve essentially built a house of cards. We see the same,
    in America, and almost everywhere we interact, time, after time,
    after time.

    Thus, If you’re basic orientation is flawed, everything piled on top of
    that becomes self serving nonsense.

    I do not need to further illustrate, as the examples are endless.


  4. The cohesion of the US used to be that we were a society based on Christian values. We had a common outlook on what was right and wrong. We are pushing towards a more secular society that is more me centric than we centric. Where there are few social norms. JFK said Ask not what your country can do for you but rather what can you do for your country…it’s hard to believe that Obama and JFK are from the same party…….

    • So does this mean that those who aren’t Christian, according to some set of beliefs, set down presumably by the government, should just leave? We should become a Christian version of Saudi Arabia?

      Actually, we were never this homogeneous.

      JFK was, of course, Catholic, and back where I came from in the deep South, many if not most of the population didn’t consider him to be Christian. And then there was that little matter of Marilyn Monroe.

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