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How to Develop Situational Awareness

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posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 01:28 PM
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How to Develop the Situational Awareness

The threat of civil unrest, terrorism and just plain nutballs attacking, bombing, shooting up a crowd or simply trying to eat your face off - has become 'every day events' this day in age.

Carrying a gun? Sure, I'm all for it, but you need to back up that piece with some real tactical understanding of where you are at all times, what you're doing, at all times. IE: Situational Awareness.


As the names implies, situational awareness is simply knowing what’s going on around you. It sounds easy in principle, but in reality requires much practice. And while it is taught to soldiers, law enforcement officers, and yes, government-trained assassins, it’s an important skill for civilians to learn as well. In a dangerous situation, being aware of a threat even seconds before everyone else can keep you and your loved ones safe.

Here's an example:
That superhuman ability to observe his surroundings and make detailed assessments about his environment? It’s not just a trait of top secret operatives; it’s a skill known as situational awareness, and you can possess it too.

1. Observe + Orient = Situational Awareness source

2. Observe: Stay in Condition Yellow



Condition Yellow is best described as “relaxed alert.” There’s no specific threat situation, but you have your head up and you’re taking in your surroundings with all your senses. Most people associate situational awareness with just visual stimulation, but you can also learn a lot about a particular scenario from the sounds (or lack thereof) and even smells in the environment.

3. Put yourself in a position for optimal observation.


To achieve effective situational awareness, you need to be able to observe as much of your surroundings as possible. So whenever you enter an environment, put yourself in a position that will allow you to see as much as you can.

My buddy Mike Seeklander at Shooting Performance recommends finding a place where you can view all or most of the exit points, and that allows you to put your back to the wall. This position readies you to make a quick getaway, and eliminates the possibility of failing to see a threat materialize behind you.


Hone your observation skills by playing the A-Game

To play, when you go into a business, make note of a few things about your environment: the number of workers behind the counter, the clothing and gender of the person sitting next to you, how many entry/exits there are, etc. When you leave and get into the car to head home, ask your kids questions like “How many workers were behind the counter?” “Was the person sitting next to us a man or a woman?” “What color was his/her shirt?” “How many exits were there?”

It’s fun to play, but more importantly it’s training your kids (and you) to be more mindful of their surroundings.


4. Orient: Baselines, Goals, and Action Plans

Being more observant isn’t enough to master situational awareness. You have to know what you’re looking for, and then put that information into context so it has meaning and becomes actionable.

The article goes on to explain you need to form a ‘baseline’ in every situation. If you’re in a supermarket you would imagine people carrying or pushing baskets, reading the shelves. Who looks out of place? Or too ‘in’ place. If you’re standing in line for any length of time? Who’s looking at their phones? Who’s checking out the surroundings - and why? Determine your ‘base line’ - then look for anomalies. Asking yourself - if someone or something stands out? Looks or acts odd? WHY?


The Orient step provides three things to help us achieve situational awareness: 1) baselines and anomalies for our particular environment, 2) mental models of human behavior we should look for, and 3) plans of action depending on our observation.

“Anomalies are things that either do not happen and should, or that do happen and shouldn’t.” Anomalies are what direct our attention as we take in our surroundings and what we need to focus on to achieve situational awareness.

From there you’ll be trying to analyze just about everything. Believe me, I’ve tried. I used to do this at airports a lot - fascinating.

Anyway, you’ll want to form a baseline for the crowds behavior, then for individuals in the crowd.

Who’s dominant and who is not. Who looks like they belong and are comfortable and who isn’t? From there? Who’s acting shifty? Who’s distracted or who’s too intent?

You’ll want to form a baseline for the crowds behavior, then individually. From there? If you’re not in mental mush state?

5. Have a Plan of Action Based on What You Observe

In addition to asking yourself the baseline and anomaly questions every time you enter an environment, Van Horne suggests you ask yourself a third question: “What would I do if I saw an anomaly?” In other words, come up with an action plan.

Establish baselines. Look for anomalies. Have a plan.

That’s what situational awareness comes down to.


It’s never to late to learn. I was fortunate in raising horses for a number of decades. Being 5’3 110lbs working with stallions who weigh 1200lbs and are double my height? Yeah, you learn body language. You learn what’s ‘about to happen’ and I can’t tell you how many times the ‘knowing’ saved my life. From there is was very simple to apply the information (above) to the most dangerous animal of all - humans.

Read the article in full. It’s one of the best I’ve read in a long time concerning the topic.

Then - apply the information you’ve learned.

You never know when it will save your life and/or the life of those you love.

And if you don’t know what to get your friends and family for Christmas? The article lists a number of great books on the topic.

Merry Christmas ATS’ers!



edit on 1219Saturday201713 by silo13 because: fix




posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 01:45 PM
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My first thought is it'd be hilarious if that image set for the 6 alert conditions included his hat coming off in the 6th condition. And where's his trenchcoat, did he lose it in a struggle? Or do I got this wrong. Should his hat be coming off at condition gray? Either way I burst out laughing. Thanks.

But serioulsy when someone is in a panic state they get dumb, don't they? I do. It's almost impossible to be observant. The only thing saves me is if I have something memorized. Like an escape route. Or a way to fight. If I'm going blind, I'm a deer in the headlights.

What do you say to that? What if you're not relaxed?
edit on 12/9/2017 by jonnywhite because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 01:46 PM
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a reply to: silo13


As the names implies, situational awareness is simply knowing what’s going on around you. It sounds easy in principle, but in reality requires much practice.

I think people either got it or don't.

Being observant, getting the big picture, staying in the moment, the present, the now, using your senses, not letting your mind drift or be distracted.

Not all the time, but the more activity around you the more focus we should have, like driving for instance. Ordinary every day driving on hi ways, dangerous as hell, you better have your radar up at all times.

Yesterday turning left in a two lane, left turn at a light, I was on the outside lane, another car was slightly behind me in the inside lane and I watched them thru the whole turn as they suddenly began to drift out of their lane aiming right at my left rear quarter panel !

I honked and veered right to keep from getting hit. If I had only been watching in front of me there would have been a collision.



posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 01:47 PM
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This can be condensed to a few tenets of situational awareness:

1. Keep your head on a swivel.

2. Don’t walk around with your head down and hands in your pockets.

3. Don’t walk or drive and be sucked into your phone.

4. Listen to what people are saying around you.

5. Know where the exits are, and know how to improvise an exit.

6. Carry a weapon.

If you’re paying attention, regardless of the situation, you should have enough warning to at least minimize your exposure to risk.
edit on 9 12 17 by projectvxn because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 01:54 PM
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a reply to: projectvxn

Good points but I believe it's important - as per the author of the article - to work on your MEMORY and to create a baseline for any situation you're in, and then a baseline for the individuals around you.



posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 01:55 PM
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a reply to: silo13

That's why you boil it down to a few easy steps and repeat until it's muscle memory and an ingrained habit.



posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 02:07 PM
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I just spat out my coffee!!!

Sorry I know you are trying to be serious but that scene from the Born Identity, me and my mate used to joke about it in the context of situational awareness when at a bar and on the pull.

Was just a silly game we would play.

Honestly threads like this make me laugh, I know that you're trying to be serious but it makes you come across like a Walter-mitty type, living out a fantasy where your a spy and every time you step into a diner the CIA are looking to grab you.



Made me chuckle thinking back.



posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 02:35 PM
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a reply to: OtherSideOfTheCoin


I know that you're trying to be serious but it makes you come across like a Walter-mitty type,


Yeah? Well I'm not the one who sat in a bar with his buddy playing the game.

How honing situational awareness skills could save lives


You can protect yourself in crowded public spaces by being aware and studying your surroundings, including people nearby.

It has nothing to do with being a CIA wanna be, or paranoid. It's called staying safe in a world that's gone nuts.



posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 02:42 PM
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a reply to: silo13

Thing is to me this is just basic street smarts its not anything more than that.

If I am sitting in a bar or restaurant and some guy starts mouthing off or causing trouble I know how to act to avoid him. If I walk into a room its kind of obvious where the exist are or where the windows are and so on. Growing up in a rough part of Glasgow any time I went out I would sit facing with a view of the door and bar but again that was being street smart. I go on holiday I am aware it could be pick-pocketed so again I am street smart enough to know not to carry about my documents, and all my money.

I think that would be my main post, dressing up situational awareness as something more than just being street smart to me comes over a little Walter-mitty.

If I am ever in a situation where I need to be able to recall the number plates outside along with the dominant hand of the guy sitting on the fourth stool along from the bar and what the couple 3 table over ordered then I think I am over doing it.

Not only that, but you could take it too much. Know where the exists are, have the odd glance around to the room to get a feel for whats going on. That single sentence sums up "situational awareness" and it what we in Glasgow called being street-smart.

If I go out I go out for a good time not to pretend that I am Jason Borne and that I have to create "action plans" for everything I see gong on.

Then again I don't live in a fantasy land.
edit on 9-12-2017 by OtherSideOfTheCoin because: (no reason given)



posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 03:16 PM
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I like to keep myself in either condition white, or condition black. Either completely at peace with the world, or filled with blinding rage.

Can't decide which one I like better.




posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 03:17 PM
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I thought this was going to be a funny thread, like how to survive the marijuanas, but I guess not.



posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 03:28 PM
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a reply to: OtherSideOfTheCoin


If I go out I go out for a good time not to pretend that I am Jason Borne and that I have to create "action plans" for everything I see gong on.

But isn't that just what you and your buddy did do? Go out for a good time playing the Jason Borne game?

You can make fun of it all you want - facts are some people have no clue. I found the article interesting and thought, 'Hey, someone might get some good out of this.' Then comes along Mr. Scrooge.


No matter - I still find it interesting.

You should be pretty good at this test.
Merry Christmas!
edit on 3028Saturday201713 by silo13 because: bold out



posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 03:31 PM
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a reply to: silo13



But isn't that just what you and your buddy did do? Go out for a good time playing the Jason Borne game?


No to be fair the Jason borne game was walking into a bar and identifying the 3 girls you would chat up and the 3 guys who offered up the most competition but discussed as if we were spied. It was a joke, it why I found your OP so funny because the whole thing was just laughing about the stupidity of that entire scene.

Anyway I don't really want to derail your thread focusing on that.

All I was really wanting to say was that the Jason borne thing made me laugh and what you call situational awareness most call just good old fashioned street-smarts...... no action plans or whatever required, just some common sense and basic observational skills.



posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 03:35 PM
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a reply to: projectvxn


hands in your pockets.


Shouldn't be in there anyway, Army.




posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 03:46 PM
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originally posted by: Shamrock6
a reply to: projectvxn


hands in your pockets.


Shouldn't be in there anyway, Army.



Had a TF commander in Romania order the entire TF to put their hands in their pockets because it was cold as hell. We had flown in from Afghanistan so we had our hot weather gear on.



posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 03:54 PM
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a reply to: silo13

Zanshin (remaining mind).

Constant state of relaxed preparedness.

That's the Japanese term used in some of their martial arts. Its one of those things that are better to have and not need than to not have when in need.

Worth knowing. Nice thread idea Silo13.



posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 04:17 PM
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a reply to: projectvxn

But muh regalationz



posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 07:42 PM
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Back in my active duty days, I was an anti-terrorism officer. Situational awareness isn't a constant state of paranoia... it isn't "hyper-awareness". The best awareness practice, is to keep your mind quiet and just observe your surroundings... which can be easier said than done.

We all tend to daydream on our daily commutes... human nature. Being aware, simply put... is keeping a quiet mind. A quiet mind notices the little things that may be out of place.

The best way to practice, is to make a game of it (as mentioned above). When you make an effort to observe your surroundings (as a mental game), the little things start to stand out.

With practice, it does become second nature.



posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 08:28 PM
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originally posted by: projectvxn
This can be condensed to a few tenets of situational awareness:

1. Keep your head on a swivel.

2. Don’t walk around with your head down and hands in your pockets.

3. Don’t walk or drive and be sucked into your phone.

4. Listen to what people are saying around you.

5. Know where the exits are, and know how to improvise an exit.

6. Carry a weapon.

If you’re paying attention, regardless of the situation, you should have enough warning to at least minimize your exposure to risk.



Good points.


I carry my weapon inside my head.



posted on Dec, 9 2017 @ 09:53 PM
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a reply to: CreationBro

Oh so vague...

Do you have supernatural 'in your head' brain powers?

Or...

Seriously - I'm not ragging on you.

What's in your head?

Share it with the world of ATS!



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