Author Topic: The OODA Loop, from: The Defence Budget  (Read 6419 times)

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Online MarkOttawa

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The OODA Loop, from: The Defence Budget
« on: September 29, 2015, 17:05:12 »
Very tangential but...

OODA Looping, or, USAF Col. John Boyd and the US vs Russia, China, ISIS
https://cgai3ds.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/mark-collins-ooda-looping-or-usaf-col-john-boyd-and-the-us-vs-russia-china-isis/

Mark
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Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.

Offline Chris Pook

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Re: The OODA Loop, from: The Defence Budget
« Reply #1 on: September 29, 2015, 17:33:19 »
Very tangential but...

OODA Looping, or, USAF Col. John Boyd and the US vs Russia, China, ISIS
https://cgai3ds.wordpress.com/2015/06/08/mark-collins-ooda-looping-or-usaf-col-john-boyd-and-the-us-vs-russia-china-isis/

Mark
Ottawa

Tangent noted - I believe Putin to be weak in Kinetic Energy assets and can't "row upstream", so he flows down stream and takes the opportunities available to potentiate entropy.  Chaos ensues and everybody is floating down river with him - all equal.
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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: The OODA Loop, from: The Defence Budget
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2015, 17:46:09 »
Keeping the tangent going ...

I have read a fair amount of Boyd and about Boyd and I just want to make two points:

     First: Boyd is purely about military strategy and the consequential need to face, meet and defeat an enemy in war; there are some (many?) who believe that the art of grand strategy is in meeting and facing the competitor and achieving one's ends without fighting;
     and

     Second: the OODA loop, better called a process, is something we knew, back in the 1940s, '50s and '60s as Battle Procedure which was defined as, "the whole process by which a commander does his reconnaissance, makes his appreciation and issues the orders
     that commit his troops to battle."
Boyd's Observe equals our old "does his reconnaissance," Boyd's Orient is our old "makes his appreciation," the part of it which considers the AIM and all the factors relating to it; Boyd's Decision is also part of our appreciation
     process ~ the bit where one makes a plan; and, finally, Boyd's Act is our "issues the orders that commit his troops to battle." The big difference between our little book on battle procedure and Boyd is, largely, volume or wordiness.

The key thing to remember about battle procedure is that it applied to Montgomery and Crerar and Simmonds, and to the RCN and RCAF, too, as much as it did to a brigade or company commander, although I sense that has been forgotten in the 21st century. The aim of good command and control systems  (the amalgam of people, procedures, facilities and communications that any commander uses) is to make the battle procedure flow more and more quickly and more and more smoothly, getting well coordinated "maximum concurrent activity" going, and keeping it going, is what good operational staff work is all about: in a battle group CP or an army group HQ.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: The OODA Loop, from: The Defence Budget
« Reply #3 on: September 29, 2015, 18:53:16 »
Further to the OODA point, and what I believe is the difference between the older battle procedure and Boyd is that Boyd doesn't assume that you reach your end state first time out, or even after "bracketing the target". 

His construct should more appropriately be OODAR - 

Observe (the situation), Orient (to the plan), Decide, Act, REPEAT
Observe (the situation), Orient (to the plan), Decide, Act, REPEAT
Observe (the situation), Orient (to the plan), Decide, Act, REPEAT....

And keep going until you have achieved your objective.  There is no assumption that the plan will get you to your objective in one shot.  You have to iterate towards it.  No Hole-In-One.  Whaups and Albatrosses equally count ( http://www.scottishgolfhistory.org/origin-of-golf-terms/bogey/ )

In modern management theory Boyd has been co-opted as Continuous Improvement. Meaning you never achieve your objective.  There is always room for improvement (or the weeds always need to be cut). 




Pugh, good Scot that he was decided that all this running around in circles was all very well but it was costly.  So he formalized the process and generated a spiral.  Big circle is concept. Tighten assumptions for increasingly accurate feasibility studies.  Establish contract assumptions.  Detailed assumptions for the final small circle that gets built.  And then...... continue running around in circles to constantly improve the product (some argue meet the terms of the original contract).

So, the moral to this tail tale (oops - freudian slip) is that the secret to everything, defeating Putin, putting rounds on target, building ships is the exact same as the secret to a shiny pair of boots..... small circles. 

There is no end state. There is no exit strategy.  There is only constant activity.  There is no rest for the wicked, or the successful.





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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: The OODA Loop, from: The Defence Budget
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2015, 19:14:50 »
Yes, indeed, Chris, but Battle Procedure was meant (still is meant?) to be a continuous process and the spiral analogy is a good one and also applicable to how battle procedure was conceived (I believe) and taught (I know). The notion of good battle procedure, accompanied or managed by good staff work, is that each phase builds upon the one before and so, cycle after cycle, until the campaign and eventually the war is won.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Re: The OODA Loop, from: The Defence Budget
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2015, 19:37:48 »
Yes, indeed, Chris, but Battle Procedure was meant (still is meant?) to be a continuous process and the spiral analogy is a good one and also applicable to how battle procedure was conceived (I believe) and taught (I know). The notion of good battle procedure, accompanied or managed by good staff work, is that each phase builds upon the one before and so, cycle after cycle, until the campaign and eventually the war is won.

Kind of like a grinding wheel, wearing away at the enemy.....



The analogy also works with the 70% solution more popular among US soldiers and Marines (howcome they get to be capitalized?) than among their USN and USAF counterparts, according to Harvard Business Review.

A small error in the USAF results in few airmen killed but a lot of dollars lost.
A similar small error in the USN results in more sailors killed and a whole lot more dollars lost.

The USAF and USN pride themselves on getting things right and not making those mistakes - and more often than not they have the benefit of time and space to ponder their decisions.

The Grunt officer has a different problem.  He doesn't spend money.  He only spends lives.  And while he is/should be keenly aware of the lives he is spending the enemy seldom gives him the time he needs to perfect a solution.  Consequently he often is forced to decide in an information vacuum and trust that he will get another opportunity to go around the circle again and find a solution the second, third or fourth time (Kind of like Swinton's Lt Backsight-Forethought at Duffer's Drift).  For the Army officer the 70% solution is often as good as it is going to get.  He has to commit as little as possible to generate information (and if lucky as solution) and keep a good reserve on hand to benefit from what he has learned when the first plan screws up.

I sense, and this is true in the civvy world as well, that too many people expect that a good plan can be perfected, and that given enough time, information and resources they will get it right the first time.

My experience tells me this will never happen and that it is better to act, after a suitably judicious period, with the information at hand and keep enough in your back pocket to iterate to your target over time. 

For my clients that always means: Never spend your budget.

The rule I was taught at Gagetown works for me: 2/3s for the subordinates, 1/3 for myself.  Repeat that twice and it becomes 60% for the task, 30% for the subordinates to manage, 10% for me to manage.
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Offline E.R. Campbell

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Re: The OODA Loop, from: The Defence Budget
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2015, 20:26:25 »
At least in so far as Adm Sir Max Horton, RN and RAdm Leonard Murray, RCN, were concerned, the Battle of the Atlantic sure didn't offer much in the way of either time or space, Dönitz had the initiative and he pushed his U boat captains to exploit every weakness ~ and there were so many! The speed of the merchantmen and the limited endurance of the escorts confined the allied convoys to specific areas; they were, more often than not, sitting ducks. It wasn't until the late spring/early summer of 1943 when the new frigates and RCAF Liberator bombers arrived, that the carnage began to be slowed. The "tide" wasn't turned, for good, until mid 1944 and, as late as the spring of 1945 the German U boats were still sinking allied warships at the entrances to our most heavily defended harbours.

But they both used the Navy's variant of battle procedure, a process by which they assessed their "battle-space" and analyzed their options and made plans and gave orders to their various forces; and they did it over and over and over again as the situation evolved and their resources improved.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Re: The OODA Loop, from: The Defence Budget
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2015, 20:59:27 »
Point taken - but I suggest in counter-point the fleet actions that required days/weeks to set up.  The Battle of the Atlantic was a battle fought largely by Sailors for the Duration operating in small ships.   There were no set-piece engagements.  In fact, I think it reasonable to suggest that the 6 year slog on the North Atlantic had more in common with Afghanistan 2010 or Palestine 1947 than it had with Trafalgar, Jutland, Midway or even Normandy 1944.

The Navy proper (RN/USN) was largely focused on their capital ships and fleet evolutions. 

If I recollect my history, wasn't there a degree of antipathy between the RN/RCN and the RCNVR?

I am not saying that the Navy, Capital or Corvette, didn't have to make the same types of decisions that the soldiers did.  I am just saying that the typical infantry officer was faced, more frequently, with having to manage his plan than a Capital Navy officer would have had to.  The Corvette Navy operated at a faster pace than the Capital Navy but not as fast as the Infantry (and certainly not the Armoured officer).  The Air Force, that percentage of the force that actively engaged the enemy, operated at an extremely fast pace but only for short durations with useful recovery periods between.

But WW2 is not today and I believe that the Capital Mentality is more likely to be in evidence than it was during WW2.  The vessels and aircraft are more costly and so they are husbanded more carefully meaning that space and time are maintained as much as possible. 

This is not to demean anybody serving in any uniform, nor is it to suggest genetic predispositions. It is to suggest that circumstances create environments which create cultures which create individuals.  And those individuals are creatures of their experiences, their successes and their failures.  When stressed they will fall back on what has worked for them.

Thus the dichotomy between "chancy" soldiers and "process-driven" sailors and airmen.  Of course the formal "selection" process is going to play a part as sailors and airmen may be inclined to reject "chancers" as not their type of people.
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Re: The OODA Loop, from: The Defence Budget
« Reply #8 on: September 29, 2015, 21:14:40 »
I'm just suggesting that at the highest levels, and Horton and Murray were there, at the very top (commanders-in-chief, both of 'em), our old, familiar battle procedure was still used ... I'm sure they didn't call it that, but the simple, robust process was the same.

(I accept that at lower levels in the Navy and the Air Force the dynamics of battle are different from that with which we, soldiers, are familiar and so are the risks (costs) and rewards.)
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Re: The OODA Loop, from: The Defence Budget
« Reply #9 on: September 29, 2015, 21:27:18 »
I'm just suggesting that at the highest levels, and Horton and Murray were there, at the very top (commanders-in-chief, both of 'em), our old, familiar battle procedure was still used ... I'm sure they didn't call it that, but the simple, robust process was the same.

(I accept that at lower levels in the Navy and the Air Force the dynamics of battle are different from that with which we, soldiers, are familiar and so are the risks (costs) and rewards.)

Agreed.  And at the end of the day, by whatever terms employed, their procedure allowed them to manage and succeed.
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Re: The OODA Loop, from: The Defence Budget
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2015, 06:42:47 »
I'm just suggesting that at the highest levels, and Horton and Murray were there, at the very top (commanders-in-chief, both of 'em), our old, familiar battle procedure was still used ... I'm sure they didn't call it that, but the simple, robust process was the same.

(I accept that at lower levels in the Navy and the Air Force the dynamics of battle are different from that with which we, soldiers, are familiar and so are the risks (costs) and rewards.)


 :sorry:   :highjack:

At the low (not just lower) levels of naval and air action, I think Boyd's OODA loop is perfectly accurate and the loop is a very appropriate model: in a warship, the captain, in his ops room, just like the fighter pilot in his cockpit, is constantly observing (his situation), orienting himself (and his ship) to it; making decisions, based on the information presented on screens and on his Head-Up Display; and then acting, sometimes on his own, in the case of the fighter pilot, sometimes in concert with others.

It is at the mid-level command (group or flotilla in the Navy, squadron and wing in the RCAF) where the dynamic is quite different from that facing, say, a battalion, brigade, division or even corps commander. But I would argue that the Battle of Britain was also a good example of battle procedure (OODA) being used, in very near real time, by quite senior commanders e.g. (then) Air Vice Marshals Keith Park and Trafford Leigh-Mallory.
It is ill that men should kill one another in seditions, tumults and wars; but it is worse to bring nations to such misery, weakness and baseness
as to have neither strength nor courage to contend for anything; to have nothing left worth defending and to give the name of peace to desolation.
Algernon Sidney in Discourses Concerning Government, (1698)
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Offline Chris Pook

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Re: The OODA Loop, from: The Defence Budget
« Reply #11 on: September 30, 2015, 10:53:29 »
I think I can also agree with that statement.

As I noted, the solution to everything seems to be, "small circles" - or as my Scots Granny would have said, with a nod to Robert the Bruce and spiders, if at first you don't succeed try, try, try again.  (Damme, I bet Nicola Sturgeon learned the same story)

Perhaps the difference lies in the speed of the loop?  Not just in the periodicity of the loop itself (how many times per minute/hour/day/year) that decisions are made but in the length of time you spend at each station?  Leigh-Mallory and Park were confronted with a defensive battle where they had to deal with the classic periods of "boredom" followed by moments of "excitement".  For a portion of their day during the battle they Observed clear skies and clear screens, Oriented their observations to their plan, or intentions, Decided there was nothing to be done and Acted by doing nothing and then went back to Observing  the skies and screens. 

At some point in the day a sound would be heard, a flash would be seen in the skies or a blip on a radar,  the observation checked against plan and intent, a decision to launch would be made and the "scramble" calls would be sent out.  In some respects Park and Leigh-Mallory shared much in common with Anti-Aircraft Artillery commanders, treating their aircraft as guided bullets: and expensive, but still expendable, resource.  The battle was won as much by the ability of Hawker, Supermarine and Bristol to crank out new aircraft, and the ability of the RAF to maintain the fleet, and by the ability to generate new pilots as it was by the skills of the individual pilots and Squadron Leaders.  (Again, not to gainsay them nor to say they too didn't employ their own Battle Procedures).

As we loop through these examples it occurs that the similarities are being shaken out but the underlying differences remain.

Battle Procedure, than and now, Army, Navy or Air Force is ultimately a planning tool  which encompasses the same phases as Boyd's loop.  How different circumstances influence the way that that tool is employed creates cultural differences.  Or perhaps the cultural differences influence the way the tool is employed....

For me personally, the light bulb moment with the OODA Loop, was when I realized that everywhere in my life I had been taught to "succeed" and nobody taught me how to manage "failure".   It was wrong to try and fail (achieve a wrong answer).  It was better not to try at all.  Risk aversion it is called.  Jackie Fisher would have understood as would Admiral Byng - but for different reasons.

In point of fact my Granny had part of the answer all along.  Most endeavours do not go according to plan.  There are many "failures" along the way.  The secret is what are you prepared to do when things go wrong - and turning tail is not an option. 

OODAR codifies Bruce's spider.  It makes clear that there is no magic plan, no simple, correct, DS solution that will get you to your goal, ENDEX.  You have to keep Observing, Orienting, Deciding an Acting until the objective is achieved and then continue Observing, Orienting, Deciding and Acting as you wait for your next task and then, again, continue Observing, Orienting, Deciding and Acting as the next task, the next objective is assigned.

It is "freeing" in the sense that it encourages action because if you know that there is always a do-over, then you will be more inclined to take risks. 

If you have staked everything on your last decision then you have nothing left to do anything over again.  But that moves into the related field of risk management.

When I was due for confirmation in the United Church, coincidentally as the public High School, we were assigned an essay on religion. We had to write about something other than our own.  I ended up studying Buddhism and its origins in Hinduism.  As I know you know those religions venerate the wheel, the cycle.  They are in direct contrast to the linear progression of Christianity and its single throw of the dice.  I have only one life to live so I best make it a good one doesn't resonate in those cultures.

I know that working in circles works well for me in the real world.  It makes sense to a number of my clients.  I believe we need to make more of it in the education system including in military education.

Too often on a course we would get to "Re-org" and no re-org was done, the command was handed over to the next candidate and the task critiqued with the DS deciding success or failure had occurred.  More needs to be made of real world training where the inefficiencies are accepted and actions continue until success is achieved.

Some might think that you can't afford the time to have all those failures occur.  But that fails to take account of all the stimuli that encourage learning.  30 muddy soldiers moaning "What! Not again?" is a great incentive to improving the quality of the decisions, as is "Why aren't you there yet?"


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Re: The OODA Loop, from: The Defence Budget
« Reply #12 on: October 16, 2018, 14:05:22 »
Erwin Rommel and the OODA loop!

Quote
The Military Decision-Making Process Is An Inflexible Mess. Here’s How To Fix It
By Maj. Jamie Schwandt, U.S. Army

Skilled leaders have discovered ways throughout history to take advantage of ambiguity. And it can counter the overdoses of established measures we use in military planning, by which I mean the Military Decision-Making Process (MDMP).

The historian David Fraser described the ponderousness of operations as a major flaw in the British military during World War II: “There was demonstrated, in British actions, rigidity of mind and reluctance to change positions as swiftly and readily as situations demanded… great fussiness and over-elaboration of detail in orders.”

Unfortunately, that’s a pretty good description of our MDMP. It shocks me that we still use this failing and critically flawed technique.

What we should be doing is embracing ambiguity. Make it our friend on the battlefield. In World War I, for example, if Erwin Rommel was out of ammunition or outnumbered, instead of retreating he would throw his men into fresh surprise attacks. Essentially, Rommel would use rapid movement and bold independent action to create feedback loops. Tim Harford describes Rommel in Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives, “The enemy would be confused; that would produce unpredictable openings; Rommel would seize those openings, creating more chaos and further opportunities.”

Rommel’s messy approach was successful because of his rapid, relentless, and unpredictable movements as it baffled the enemy. Rommel’s philosophy was summed up nicely by Harford, “He developed a distinctive philosophy, founded on the observation that fleeting opportunities often emerge in the confusion of war. Rommel believed that opportunities were often fleeting, and that the chaos in the scramble to seize them was a price worth paying – especially since chaos could give an edge to the side best able to cope.”

Rommel’s approach was similar to a boxer jabbing an opponent, where the boxer continuously jabs until he finds the opponent’s weakness.

The counterpunch to Rommel in World War II was “The Phantom Major,” David Stirling, who was his match in using ambiguity. According to Harford, Stirling’s principles of messy tactics were as follows:

    Get yourself into a position of opportunity.
    Improvise your way around obstacles
    Move faster than the people who try to stop you.

Stirling and his men would constantly adapt and evolve their tactics, even when they had been nearly perfected. As with to Rommel, speed and shock were more important to them than careful planning and preparation. Harford remarked, “On future missions they resolved to move in quickly and silently, even without full knowledge of the target because that would achieve total surprise.”

Rommel and Stirling would have approved of Colonel John Boyd’s OODA Loop. Both men were skilled at getting inside their opponent’s OODA Loop – which is a high-speed decision making and feedback process in four stages: Observe – Orient – Decide – Act. Harford found a unifying thread between countless victories against the odds was the OODA Loop, “The unifying thread between these countless victories against the odds: the way that successful commanders kept changing the situation faster than their adversaries could figure out what was going on.”

In essence, the OODA Loop is quick, heedless of detail, allowing improvisation on the fly. It is the opposite of rigidity of mind and the opposite of reluctance to change. The following is a way to get inside of an opponent’s OODA Loop:

    Make quick decisions.
    Possess a strong sense of what is going on around you.
    Disorient your opponent and force him to stop to think about what’s going on.
    Repeat relentlessly and paralyze your opponent with confusion.
    As your opponent is about to act, do something new to force him to stop and think again.

Yes, it is hard, but it is better than losing, which is what you are likely to get by shackling yourself to MDMP. That approach applies an overdose of the status quo. Those who favor MDMP seek refuge in certainty. Those same people simply cannot think in terms of nonlinear networks and are not comfortable with uncertainty. Our military cannot succeed when our default planning system refuses to allow for and adapt to uncertainty.

Maj. Jamie Schwandt, USAR, is a logistics officer who has served as an operations officer, planner and commander. He holds a doctorate from Kansas State University. This article represents his own personal views, which are not necessarily those of the Department of the Army.
https://taskandpurpose.com/military-decision-making-process-bad/

Mark
Ottawa
« Last Edit: October 16, 2018, 15:45:49 by MarkOttawa »
Ça explique, mais ça n'excuse pas.