The principle of situational awareness is taken to a deeper level in the book Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life. Written for the US Marine Corps, the concept is just as applicable for everyone to apply for civilian self-defense against personal threats.
[ Read SemperVerus articles on the topic of being Aware ]
We encourage you to read the entire book and visit its website. In the meantime, here are a few lessons from it:
- “Left of bang” means before the bad stuff happens. That’s where you want to be—alert, ready, prepared to respond to protect yourself and your loved ones.
- Learn to identify the three types of people in any public arena—the “shepherds” (good guys), “sheep” (regular guys), and “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (bad guys).
- Cultivate a mindset of prepared proactiveness.
- Getting left of bang requires two things. The first is a mindset and mentality to actively search your area for people (discerned by their behavior) that don’t fit in. The second is the knowledge to know what causes someone to stand out from the crowd.
- Have a bias for action.
- Operating left of bang requires intense concentration to identify the pre-event indicators and gain an advanced warning about a person’s threatening intentions.
- Being left of bang necessitates continuous awareness and alertness. The Cooper Color Code levels of white, yellow, orange, and red is an effective method for that.
- If something doesn’t seem right, it probably isn’t.
- Develop recognition-primed decision-making: identify a pattern (a baseline) in a situation, recognize anomalies (threat indicators—the presence or absence of something off-pattern) to that baseline, and quickly determine a course of responses, without any analysis or comparing different courses of action. Simply act, instead of hesitating in order to deliberate.
- Three anomalies are enough to decide.
- Combat profiling is a method of proactively identifying threats based on human behavior and other cues from one’s surroundings. It incorporates situational awareness, sensitivity of baselines and anomalies, critical thinking, and sound snap decision-making.
- People’s behavior betrays their intentions. Focus on behavior and body language. Consider appearance (e.g., a person wearing a long coat when others are wearing shorts and T-shirts), not ethnicity. Watch hands and eyes.
- Make the best decision with what you have. “A good solution applied with vigor now is better than a perfect solution ten minutes later.” General George Patton
- Proper snap decisions are made by 1) knowing what to look for, 2) knowing when enough information is enough (“the threshold of decision”), and 3) knowing what decision to make. Use this in the OODA Loop (Observe (your surroundings), Orient (make sense of what you see), Decide (determine what to do), Act (execute what you’ve decided)).
- Have a set of pre-established decisions to make based on what you observe.
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