View Full Version : Situational Awareness
10-31-2011, 02:30 AM
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Note that from 0:09-0:10 in the video below, a soldier runs from right to left, seemingly oblivious to the fact that he's placing himself directly in the line of fire of the helmetcam soldier. Fortunately, "helmetcam" is observant enough to hold fire, preventing a case of fratricide.
Question: Can good situational awareness be learned, or is it a trait that one must be born with?
10-31-2011, 05:05 AM
I've noticed that there are some traits which seem to be more inborn, others which can be improved, and yet others which are only acquired by some people at great expense. Others never seem capable of learning those traits.
I've never had the opportunity to test myself in any significant way, but in watching hundreds of similar videos, I think that most people can improve their abilities to perceive danger and their place in space.
I seem to notice things that others never say anything about; deer in the brush by the road, coyotes skulking through the ditch, turtles sitting on logs or rocks that others never mention. Conversely, my wife would never notice those things, but sees shadow and light interplay and picks up certain nuances in conversations across rooms that I never see.
So situational awareness is more than the sense of incipient danger, which is what most of us would say defines it.
To answer your question, though, I would say that some aspects of situational awareness can be learned...how to spot trip lines, or notice disturbed ground, etc. Others, well some people seem to have a 6th sense.
10-31-2011, 02:02 PM
Thanks for posting. Situational awareness is important.
1) To my non-infantry eyes, his patrol showed excellent discipline in a confusing situation. Further, the leadership seemed to be there, which eliminated any panic. I am impressed at their level of training!
2) The helmet-cam field of view appears to be 15 to 20 degrees. The human eye has about 160, so the cam-wearer may have had a little more time to react than the video suggests. Just the same, the guy running past was one lucky SOB because there wasn't much pause time in the fire.
I can also attest to personal experience that one's mental image of a situation can override what one sees and is told. Fortunately someone else drove the bad guys out of what had been a friendly position where I had been landing almost daily for months. It was just 100 yards to the right of the touchdown point on the strip.
The bad guys were smart enough to not try to shoot at me. Had they done so, the wrath of you-know-who would have descended because I had fighters delivering ordnance right next to it!
10-31-2011, 03:36 PM
GOOD situational awareness can be learned. it's what we train for. Mostly infantry but for us non-infrantry folk also.
GREAT situational awareness is something that is born with i believe. You can train all you like but if your mind is not chemically built to handle certain high pressure situations then you will reach a plateau that others who are equipped from birth will surpass.
10-31-2011, 03:37 PM
Good find Stan!
I'm not sure if the guy who flagged himself was just lucky, or if he might have even taken one in his rear SAAPI plate. This is what we call React to Near Ambush, and not a very well-coordinated or manned ambush, unless the Taliban coordinated with the bees...he he...or had some IEDs in the kill zone between them and the unit.
In a good unit that practices IADs (Immediate Action Drills), React-to-Contact/React-to-Ambush is second-nature, and well-executed with fast-thinking minds. There still are decisions to be made constantly...returning effective fire on the threat to suppress the enemy, while finding other possible threat locations (especially in an L-shaped ambush), whether to move to cover/concealment or assault through the enemy, or using fire and maneuver to exit the kill zone...while maintaining 360 security.
Consolidation and Reorganization takes place next at some time in a lull, with possible allocation of indirect fires from Arty/Mortars and CAS. These guys took at least one GSW casualty, an ANA embed, along with bee stings on at least one of the Joes. Just goes to show that everything you train for doesn't cover Murphy's plans for you...
Most Infantry Rifle Platoons I have been in did NOT practice IAD's anywhere near what I would consider to be acceptable, while every Scout Platoon I was in ran a very regular schedule of Team-level IADs, since we only operated as 5 or 6-man units in the field. Hopefully, these units are conducting regular rehearsals of React-to-Contact IAD's (near and far ambushes, sniper ambushes, mortar ambushes, mechanical ambushes), Break Contact, Platoon Attack, Squad Attack, etc.
From my Monday-morning quarterback seat, without intimate knowledge of these guys' ROE, one weapon system I would have brought to bear after the initial assessment would have been the AT4, a LAW, an RPG-EI with thermobaric warhead, or a SMAW-D. You start blowing holes in the mud brick with explosive blasts, and the ambushers will be breaking contact themselves. It's common SOP for every Fire Team to have one Rifleman carrying an AT4, which he will be more than happy to get rid of in a situation like this.
Another great weapon for these scenarios is a Multi-Shot Grenade Launcher, which can have a mix of HEDP, HE, WP, and even CS, but it requires ridiculous levels of authorization to approve use of CS on the battlefield. Looks like these guys encountered a small-sized element of Taliban with little to know knowledge of execution of a good ambush, thankfully. It was more of a harassment ambush, and there might have even been a specific intent to just whack the ANA embed with a sniper under the cover of the ambush.
Great situational awareness and proactive response to threats is learned in high-demand environmental conditions, like an abusive childhood, team sports, life on the street, or other raw survival environments in one's developmental years. Read...On Killing, by Dave Grossman
10-31-2011, 03:42 PM
ill check that out.
10-31-2011, 06:40 PM
I agree with LRRPF52. The SMAW was my baby and it will make folks re-evaluate their desire to send you to see allah, at least in the short term.
10-31-2011, 06:55 PM
Situations like this used to drive me crazy when I was quad leader. Seemed like every time we had a live fire shoot and move exercise I'd have to stop the drill because some numbskull would put themselves in danger. Some folks are just incorrigible.
10-31-2011, 08:27 PM
I had a cat one walk in front of a HEDP SMAW ready to go after spot shots conmplete, launch lever in the forward position and verbal "ROCKET" already out of my mouth. You want to talk about having to check your drawers!
11-01-2011, 02:41 AM
Depends on what you define as 'good'. The SA thing started in the airline industry and their training via simulators does a very good job of teaching commercial pilots SA. The airline industry seems to do a very good job. The LEA also trains SA and they do a good job but not as good as the airline industry. This is because the conditions a law enforcement officer works in are not as controlled. Same with firemen.
The military has spent a fortune trying to figure out how to train SA but the results indicate that although some cues can be learned and actually put into practice pretty well, how the individual chooses the cue or cues and prioritizes them is so conditional that the individual must live in the actual environment before he figures out which cues are the ones he most needs to deal with and when.
That boils down about fifty studies I have read on training SA.
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