By Guy Higgins

Recently, the national news in the U.S. has included significant coverage of a rash of accidents involving U.S. Navy warships operating in the Western Pacific. Before I go any further, the investigations into these accidents are far from complete, and the conclusions have yet to be drawn. Therefore, my speculations as to the causes are just that – speculations. My conclusions about the importance of training are not speculations. In the late eighteenth century, Captain Thomas Truxtun ordered his crew to “practice daily with the guns.” As a result, when his crew encountered the crew of the French ship L’Insurgent in the Quasi-war with France, Captain Truxtun’s crew achieved an overwhelming victory. Training today is no less important than it was for Captain Truxtun’s crew two centuries ago. Continue reading

Left of X – Reprise

By Guy Higgins

At a recent meeting of the Colorado Preparedness Advisory Council, I mentioned that I had posted on “Left of X.” The council chairwoman observed that, “We call than left of boom.” Well, that got me to thinking. It really isn’t left of boom.

X is when something “starts” that will result in boom (that would be bad things happening). There is an interval between X and boom – and that interval needs to be considered. In my original post on Left of X, I emphasized the importance of being prepared and able to act before the archer shoots the arrow (Left of X), but I also mentioned that it remains important to be able to “shoot the arrow.” That’s right of X but left of boom. Granted, there may not be too much time between the two. Continue reading

Left of “X”

By Guy Higgins

A long time ago, in the old days, when I was actively involved in considering things like ship defense systems, we would talk about the two options that existed to respond to an attack. You could “shoot the arrow,” or you could “shoot the archer.” In general, shooting the arrow is a hard thing – they’re small, hard to see and they move fast. Archers, on the other hand are easier to see, slower and easier to hit. The problem, of course is that you don’t always know if the archer is a bad guy until it’s too late and you wind up having to shoot the arrow. Continue reading

War Games Part II

By Guy Higgins

Last week, we published a post re-emphasizing a 2014 blog on war gaming/exercising emergency response plans, and I promised that this week I would continue with thoughts on crisis management.

Crisis management, unlike emergency response, is focused on controlling the unfolding crisis after (and even during) the emergency response team’s activity to protect people and then property. The Crisis Management Team (CMT) is a very different group of people and they’re seldom actually at the location of the actual emergency. They’re people with the authority to allocate resources to resolve the crisis and get the organization back to normal operations. Continue reading

Freeze, Flee or Fight? Training Makes the Difference

By Guy Higgins

On August 20th, three young Americans, a United States Air Force airman, an Oregon National Guardsman and a university student, all friends, were on a EuroRail train when a man armed with an AK-47 assault rifle, a 9mm handgun and a boxcutter entered their car and attempted to shoot passengers.

The guardsman elbowed the sleeping airman and said, “let’s go.” The next seconds are history. The three Americans tackled the armed man, disarmed him, knocked him unconscious and, with the help of a British businessman, tied him up. They then tended to injured passengers. Continue reading

Practicing – the Fundamentals, the Skills, and the Game Plan

By Guy Higgins

Much to the surprise of many of you, I’m sure, I’m a sports fan (at least those things I think of as sports).  I was scanning the sports page today and there was a long article about Peyton Manning and his performance in training camp this year.

For those of you who aren’t followers of the arcane and trivial, a little background first.  Three years ago at the end of his last season playing for the Indianapolis Colts, Peyton Manning had a major operation on his neck – it was the latest of several operations on his neck, shoulder and arm, and there was a great deal of concern about his ability to return to his Most-Valuable-Player performance level.  He spent a year in physical therapy rehabbing.  Last summer, Peyton left the Colts and was signed by the Denver Broncos.  Still a lot of muttering from the talking heads – everyone had a definitive opinion about whether or not the Broncos were taking a big risk.  Well, Peyton had a “reasonably good” year – the Broncos went 13-3 and were tied for the best record in the American Conference.  Continue reading

Train the Way …

By Guy Higgins

When I was working in the Pentagon (lo, these many years ago), I sat in on a brief presented to my boss by the Air Force.  The topic was the projected early retirement of F-16 airframes due to flight-maneuver-induced fatigue.  In training, the pilots were flying the airplanes at higher and more frequent “G” loads than had been expected.

The F-16 was one of the first computer controlled airplanes – fly by wire.  Advances in aerodynamics and flight control meant that pilots now had an airplane that could turn harder and faster than ever – it could “pull ten G’s.”  That means the force exerted by the turning airplane was ten times the force of gravity.  That’s a lot.  But in air combat, speed and maneuverability reign supreme.  Give a pilot a better tool, and he (the experience about which I am blogging here was so long ago that all the fighter pilots were men) will use it.  During combat, pilots are not ever going to say to themselves, well, if I turn more slowly, I’ll be at a higher risk of losing the fight, but I’ll save airframe fatigue life.  Aside from the fact that most pilots don’t know words that big, that idea is crazy.  Use everything you’ve got. When the requirements for the F-16 were being set, the leadership should have recognized that pilots would use everything they have. That mind set isn’t going to change during training – nor should it. Continue reading