On Combat

On Combat

December 16, 2013 By MPS Boris B.

Book Publication Date:  August 16, 2007

On Combat looks at what happens to the human body under the stresses of combat.  It discusses new research findings as to what measures law enforcement “warriors” can take to prevent such debilitations so they can stay in the fight, survive, and win.  The authors outline the evolution of combat and the nature of the brave men and women who train their minds and bodies to overcome adversity.  On Combat presents new and exciting research on how to train the mind to become inoculated to stress, fear, and even pain.  Many law enforcement professionals consider this book an essential read.

You don’t have to be in law enforcement to enjoy this book as it appeals to the general public.

The author, retired Lt. Col. David Grossman from the U.S. Army, outlines in great detail ways in which to deal with high stress level situations both psychologically and physiologically.  One of the primary points of focus the author discusses is a condition referred to as “Condition Black.”  This is his term for the effects of fear and stress on the human body and mind, resulting in the escalation of a person’s heart rate above approximately175 beats per minute.  Symptoms of this condition include deterioration of cognitive processing, loss of peripheral vision and depth perception, auditory exclusion, instinctive reactions instead of rational decision making, and other effects which reduce performance.

The author also outlines various methods of how to train for and manage this condition.  One such technique is called “Tactical Breathing,” in which a person inhales through the nose over a period of four seconds, holds for four seconds, then exhales through the mouth for four seconds, followed by holding the breath again for four seconds.  This serves to reduce one’s heart rate and increases one’s ability to stay focused on the tasks and objectives at hand.

The book emphasizes how important it is when training for emergency situations that the practice scenarios are as realistic as possible.  It also discusses the link between realistic combat video games and how the children who play them can feel as if they actually are in the situations and environments depicted.

Overall this book is an interesting and informative read.

Gift of Fear

December 16, 2013 By Tysei L.

Publication Date:  October 1, 1995

The Gift of Fear is a provocative read that challenges the idea that violent behavior is random and unpredictable.  Using thriller-like narrations of actual violent incidents, the author shows that the brain subconsciously picks up on subtle cues that act as precursors to a violent encounter, creating a survival signal known as fear.  The Gift of Fear empowers us by validating our intuitions and de-shrouding the mystery of senseless violence.

The concepts discussed in the book make it an essential read for anyone with an interest in safety.

Especially in the context of private security, the ability to recognize credible threats that initially seem benign is an important skill.  Although specific cues in predicting various kinds of violent behavior are given (PINS, or pre-incident indicators), de Becker is careful to note that they must be applied within context.  The friendly stranger who offers to lend a hand does not always have a secret malicious intent.  The book administers a reality check – it is better to be rude than to compromise your own safety.  Plenty of anecdotes show how standing your ground and being assertive can stop violent behavior dead in its tracks: a particularly important concept for security personnel in the capacity of both customer service and client security.

Ultimately, I feel this book is not a step-by-step tutorial in managing violent behavior. De Becker emphasizes the point that he generally dislikes checklists, as they can often mislead people into thinking there are shortcuts in making predictions.  As much as the PINS look good on paper, they would not inform the intuition of the casual reader who goes on to lead a complacent life after putting down the book.  In-line with the Condor core value of Training, the PINS must be consistently recognized and practiced to be ingrained into the officer’s mind, eventually forming into intuition.

The greatest value the book offers is the philosophy that intuition is a powerful tool, an awesome gift of nature that must not be suppressed.  De Becker articulates this eloquently: “when you accept the survival signal as a welcome message and quickly evaluate the environment or situation, fear stops in an instant.”  The Gift of Fear serves as a rude awakening to the complacent and those who dismiss their intuitions as being irrational. I recommend this book to anybody who wishes to expand their arsenal of tools for officer survival, and to those who want a thrilling read that also comes with practical information.

Sharpening the Warrior’s Edge

December 16, 2013 By Nanci J.

Publication Date:  October 1, 1995

Sharpening the Warrior’s Edge is the first text which examines survival and combat performance from a scientific perspective. Author Bruce K. Siddle methodically brings together one hundred years of research which identifies the relationship between survival stress, the heart rate and combat performance.

Most importantly, Siddle explores the psychological and spiritual components which establish the warrior mindset. This pioneering test is a must read for present-day warriors, or anyone involved in use of force, combat, or martial arts training.

Bruce Siddle, in his book “Sharpening the Warrior’s Edge,” explores the deterioration in normal functioning which occurs when a person’s heart rate soars too high under extreme stress.  The effects are fascinatingly awful!

The book underlines the importance of survival strategies for life-threatening scenarios, which are also applicable for general stress-proofing and performance enhancement to meet ordinary challenges.  It is not difficult to identify numerous challenges we face as security guards, which can be very stressful yet ordinary to our line of work. Performing fire procedure in an alarm condition or dealing with verbal abuse from an irate person are examples which come to mind.  If you are like me, these situations cause your heart rate to increase.

In addition to training for skill confidence, Siddle promotes 2 techniques: tactical breathing and visualization.  During the most recent fire alarm that I experienced at my work site, I noticed that my heart was racing as I made the first intercom announcement.  During the 30 second interval before repeating the announcement, I focused on taking slow, deep breaths.  From that point on, I was a smooth operator.  Tactical breathing works, you just have to remember to do it.

I recommend this book.  Although not exhaustive in providing practical techniques for stress management, the book provides useful information which will motivate and perhaps inspire you to try something new or develop other strategies that work for you.  It will also contribute to a deeper understanding and greater appreciation for the rigors of our Condor training.

Who Moved my Cheese?

December 16, 2013 By Boris B.

Publication Date:  September 1, 1998

Although more analytical and skeptical readers may find the tale a little too simplistic, its beauty is that it sums up all natural history in just 94 pages: Things change. They always have changed and always will change. And while there’s no single way to deal with change, the consequence of pretending change won’t happen is always the same: The cheese runs out. The point of the story is that we have to be alert to changes in the cheese, and be prepared to go running off in search of new sources of cheese when the cheese we have runs out.

The story starts when a group of good friends meet up after their high school reunion.  They begin talking about the past and how it has affected them.  One of the friends points out that the entire group of friends are having difficultly adapting to changes in their lives, both in their careers and personal lives.  One friend named Michael starts telling everyone how a big change occurred in his business.  It was really hard to adapt and the business was failing.  Everything changed until he heard a little story about two mice, Sniff and Scurry, and two little people, Hem and Haw, who live inside a maze.

The mice and the people are both looking for special cheese, which they need to survive.  The mice, Sniff and Scurry, possess only simple rodent brains but have good instincts.  The two little people, Hem and Haw, use their brains filled with beliefs and emotions.  As different as the little people and mice are, they share something in common.  After finding a large amount of their special cheese, both became very comfortable.  They believe that the cheese will never run out.  One morning their special cheese was gone.  The story then focuses on the process of learning and discovery that the mice and the little people go through on their quest to find a new source of cheese.  The story is a metaphor on adapting to change.

The book provides simple lessons, such as:  Change Happens (the cheese keeps moving), Anticipate Change (get ready for the cheese to move), Monitor Change (smell the cheese often so you know when it’s getting old), Adapt to Change Quickly (the quicker you let go of old cheese the sooner you can enjoy new cheese), and finally Enjoy Change (savour the adventure and enjoy the taste of new cheese).

I recommend this book as it helps sharpen things in life that we know but rarely do something about them.  Be aware of what is happening around you and do not get too comfortable! Always teach yourself new skills that can help you to survive in the fast changing world of ours.