We talk a lot about stress inoculation and how important it is to our development. Basically providing the end user with a look at what they are training for to improve performance when it counts.
Another way to look at it is as a full dress rehearsal. I am a huge fan of these rehearsals and have seen first hand how valuable they are to performance. It’s really about taking the newness feeling and changing it to that comfortable, I’ve been here before feeling. That’s the key to split second decision making with a high percentage of success. It’s because you’ve seen something similar, you recognize the situation as familiar and your response to it is retrieved with greater accuracy and faster application.
Why is this important? Let’s take CQB as an example. Far too often I see teams that are choreographing their movements in a known layout. They have worked in the shoothouse to the point they don’t really read the layout, they just go with what they know. The down side is that unless they are going to be performing assaults in real time on their own shoothouse they really haven’t trained for the realities they will encounter. In response to seeing things for the first time we have slowed movements, increased communication and overall diminished performance on target.
The goal of any principle based tactic is to provide a framework for decision making. It requires folks to really think on their feet. To get them to that point, they have to see as many different scenarios in the same layout as possible. The more they can see in training, they better prepared they will be in the real world. That’s where the split second decision is key to success. It doesn’t have to be perfect or an exact replica, it just has to be close enough to give the framework that produces the response. Couple that with the speed of execution and that’s the ultimate goal.
My advise to teams is to slow down, break things into their component parts. Breach point procedures lead to room take downs, which leads to hallway management, which leads back to room take downs, back to hallway management and maybe stairwell management then repeat as necessary. Zoom in on the room take downs and throw as many different scenarios as you possibly can in a single room. Everything from corner feed doors to center feed doors, to push type doors to pull type doors. To obstacles on the left or obstacles on the right or even better obstacles on the left and right.
The more looks you have at these various scenarios the better prepared you will be. In the end, the team is only as good as their slowest man. If that person is at a critical decision making point and it’s the first time seeing it things could either go really slow or really bad.
Imagine all the simulators astronauts go through as part of their mission preparation. They have looked at dozens of scenarios to gain that familiarity because I would imagine there are no do-overs in space.