Time Management in a Combat Environment
There are three types of time compression to be managed in a combat environment. They are:
1. Real Time-Compression
2. Perceived Time Compression
3. Self-Imposed Time Compression
Managing Real Time Compression
Real time compression is when the operational tempo or your circumstances dictate an immediate response. A bypass or solution to real time compression is to use preemptive force. If you are able to observe pre-attack indicators, in that moment, you can choose to disengage or you can choose to engage preemptively, before your adversary can implement his attack. Of course there are legal issues, or rules of engagement, or if you are a representative of the government, there are constitutional issues to be considered.
Windows of Opportunity: a Tactical Concern
A very real issue when it comes to managing time compression is the recognition of a window of opportunity. Windows of opportunity can be fleeting. More importantly, if you forgo taking advantage of the first opportunity that presents itself, there are no guarantees that you will get a second opportunity to implement a response. The wrong choice here can be disastrous. Hope has no place in a tactical environment. A tactical error would be to pass by a window of opportunity and hope that you will later get a second opportunity to take decisive action.
Perceived Time Compression
Perceived time compression is the result of your perceptual senses and cognition. Cognition is just thinking or your mental processing of the data that you perceive. There are many ways in which our perception can be inaccurate. Our emotions can drive or alter our perception. Emotions are self-validating. For example, when your body experiences the physiological response of fear, it enters into a refractory period. During the refractory period, your brain literally can prevent you from receiving any input that countervails the previous information that said you should be afraid. While not allowing new contradictory data in, the mind only permits in information that affirms that you should be afraid. This can be a very helpful waive or a dangerous and inaccurate one. It is a complex issue and there are ways to manage emotions. I will speak to this in a separate blog. For our purposes today, your awareness of the issue is sufficient to move forward in the topic.
Self-Imposed Time Compression
Self-imposed time compression has an emotional factor but it is to be distinguished from the self-validating phenomena that we discussed earlier. Self-imposed time compression finds its roots in several areas:
1. Pride, and shame
2. Value-based imperatives
Pride and Shame
Pride and shame are deadly tactical sins. Allowing shame to motivate you can cause you to use poor judgment and impose the drive to act rather than reason and deliberation. An example would be if an organization embraces cultural shaming as part of its onboarding process. Police departments are apt to this error. Think of a new officer, a rookie, who fails to apprehend the suspect after his first foot pursuit. If at the end of the shift he is met with ridicule and teasing he may be prone to investing in the acceptance of his peers rather than using sound tactical principles on his next foot pursuit. The reality is that foot pursuits are a very serious tactical problem. Many officers are injured or killed during foot pursuits. They are to be engaged in with a high level of caution and temperance.
Another example would be for a person to be diminished in front of family or in front of a significant other. This might inspire actions that he or she would not otherwise have taken but the feeling of shame is particularly painful and can provoke very poor judgment.
The very nature of an event can cause you to use poor judgment. Incidents involving children or the elderly can be emotionally provoking for example. Emotionally volatile incidents can easily prompt an ideological response. For example, because we value the lives of children higher than the life of an adult, an ideological viewpoint, such as a child drowning or an elderly person in a building fire, we will take risk that we might not otherwise take. This is an acceptable personal decision. However, it should not be made without introspection and understanding. There should still be some logic applied. It is still acceptable to evaluate the viability of ones’ plan of action before undertaking the risk. I am not saying that you should not assume a higher risk for those we value. I am saying be aware of the decision making process. There are times when there are not viable options and a life is to be lost. There is a difference between a choice to make a calculated risk against probabilities and throwing caution to the wind and running headlong into a situation without consideration of any possibility of success.
Inexperience: Urgency Versus Hurry
Those with little experience most frequently make this error. They do not distinguish between the urgency of the event and the emotional current of the event acting as a driver. There can be real urgency to a situation. A healthy response to urgent tactical primers is to note them and calibrate a proper response with the highest probability of success. However, the emotional response to urgency by lesser-experienced people is that they will, in their minds, justify ignoring certain tactical principals or operationally proven methods in order to satisfy the emotional need to, “just do something’.
As simple as it sounds, the answer to these issues is as much just knowing that they exist and recognizing when you feel these drivers motivating you. Also, be watchful of others in dangerous or life-threatening circumstances. Watch out for them and give them guidance so that they do not succumb to the temptation to set aside proven operational guidelines, good judgment, or sound tactical principles just so they can try to alleviate the anxiety that they feel. Beyond that, good training and a healthy dose of experience will go a long ways toward moving passed this growing phase.