We live in a society that that has so many distractions, that it is easy to lose sight of being situationally aware of what is going on. People don’t realize that being situationally aware has to take place all the time. There are activities where hopefully we are doing it naturally. One example being when you drive your car. But first, let’s define what situational awareness really is. The Army Field Manual defines it as: “Knowledge and understanding of the current situation which promotes timely, relevant and accurate assessment of friendly, competitive and other operations within the battle space in order to facilitate decision making. An informational perspective and skill that fosters an ability to determine quickly the context and relevance of events that are unfolding.” I have highlighted some of the key points in this definition.
Assessment: This is looking at your surroundings and assessing potential exit/escape points if needed. Looking at the people around you to see if there is anything unusual in how they are dressed or acting. An example would be a winter coat in the summer. Behavior that might be out of the normal. Fidgeting with clothing could mean that they are carrying a concealed firearm and are not used to or uncomfortable with doing so. Potentially someone to keep an eye on. If we use a restaurant as an example, if you have the choice to put yourself in a position to be able to see everything that would be going on and know that nothing is happening behind you, would be ideal. There are many examples that can be talked about in this area alone.
Decision Making: Taking the information that you have gathered and mentally prepared a plan of action in order to protect yourself or your family. Know how to get out of a situation if needed. Have a plan of action that might include finding cover or concealment.
With practicing these skills in your daily life, you will be able to determine quickly the context and relevance of events that are unfolding. I will give you a brief example from this weekend. My wife, her parents, and I walked into a local restaurant late Sunday evening. As soon as we walked in I could see and hear a man that was very angry and animated as he was yelling for the manager to come out. It appeared that this situation had been going on for a few minutes. I quickly assessed the situation. I knew that there were 4 groups with a combined total of 15 people dining with 2-5 in their parties to my right. A party of 3 to my far left and 4 college age men in front of our party at the register. I positioned myself to assess the man. I could tell by what he was wearing that it was not likely he was armed. I got into a position that if he became physically violent with the 19-22-year-old “manager”, I could cover the distance quickly. We later found out that he had already threatened physical violence. Decision making from my assessment was that it was going to be a high probability that if he was to get physical with the employees that I would have to go hands on and keep my weapon holstered since I had already determined it was not highly likely he had one. But, ready to change tactics if the situation changed. I knew that I would take him into the wall on the other side of where he was standing and to the ground where I would restrain him.
I also observed that he was assessing his situation during this time. I did not position myself in a manner that would communicate a threat to him, but I believe he understood that he was being watched by someone who could and would act. We joke that if you don’t know me there is nothing about me that screams “warm/fuzzy” or that “I need a hug”. Fortunately, after about 15 min of his verbal berating of this employee, local law enforcement arrived. What do you think they were doing when they walked in the door? Assessing the situation and making similar notes to the environment they just walked into.
I know who I am. I know what I can do. I know that I am a sheepdog that is going to protect the sheep from the wolves of this world. Those sheep that are going about their daily lives in Condition White where they are relaxed, switched off, oblivious, unaware, and unprepared. Work on living in Condition Yellow where you are relaxed but aware. Cautious but not paranoid. Cognizant of your environment and complete surroundings. It is much easier to get to condition Orange, Red, or Black if necessary from Yellow than it is from White.
Have fun with it. If you have kids, make it a game when you are out. There is not enough time or space to cover all that could be covered here. Contact us if you desire a hands-on seminar in your church on this subject. I would also encourage you to look up OODA Loop to learn more about the development of a proper mindset.