Observe. Orient. Decide. Act.
February 24, 2015 10:38 PM Subscribe
John Richard Boyd was a U.S. Air Force F-86 and F-100 pilot. Indeed, at the elite Fighter Weapons School he was arguably the best pilot and instructor in the world during his tenure. Boyd could make jet fighters do “impossible” things and simultaneously out-think adversaries. As a result Boyd gained the moniker “40 Second Boyd” because he quickly defeated all challengers in simulated aerial combat.from a review of “Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War” by Robert Coram.
Robert Coram on the Art of Manliness podcast.
Forty Second Boyd And The Big Picture (previously)
About a hundred miles north of Las Vegas there is a clump of wild grass and cottonwood trees called “The Green Spot.” Not much to look at from the ground, but from thirty thousand feet above the brown Nevada desert it stands out for a hundred miles.you can read Boyd's work at Defense and the National Interest:
In the mid to late fifties, a fighter pilot could earn himself a quick forty bucks and perhaps a nice steak dinner in Vegas – not to mention everlasting renown, which is to fighter pilots what oxygen is to us lesser beings – by meeting over the Green Spot at thirty thousand feet and taking position just 500 feet behind an arrogant and unpleasant man with precisely zero air-to-air victories to his credit. From that perfect kill position, you would yell “Fight’s on!” and if that sitting duck in front of you was not on your tail with you in his gunsight in forty seconds flat then you would win the money, the dinner and best of all, the fame.
Tank commanders may be charging cavalrymen at heart; sub skippers may be deer hunters using patience and stealth. But fighter pilots are Musketeers. They are swordsmen whose survival depends on remaining on the offensive… that is to say, they are men who survive because they can (and have) initiated 16-to-1 fights because they possess the confidence – actually, the untrammeled ego – to know they will win.
To be challenged in such a manner is an irresistible red flag to men like this, and certainly no less of one because the challenger was a rude, loud, irreverent braggart who had never been victorious in actual air-to-air combat. And yet that forty dollars went uncollected, uncollected for many years against scores of the best fighter pilots in the world.
That is more than luck. That is more than skill. That is more than tactics. That level of supremacy is the result of the ability to see things in an entirely new way. It is the difference between escaping from a maze you are embedded in, versus finding the way out from one that you look down upon from above.
Having your ass handed to you in such a spectacular and repeated fashion causes some men to curse and mutter about ‘one trick ponies’ and so on. But for others, for those who are more invested in victory than in ego, it reveals a level of skill that instantly removes all swagger and competition and puts one in the place of a willing supplicant, eager for knowledge.
Taking a few moments to understand what this odd man learned about airplanes and aerial combat will pay rich dividends later. Because John Boyd – Pope John, The High Priest of the Fighter Mafia, the Mad Major, the Ghetto Colonel – Forty Second Boyd not only wrote the revolutionary tactics manuals that gave American pilots the keys to air-to-air victory… and with it the essential and undisputed control of the battlespace. Nor was his achievement limited to the design of the phenomenally successful F-15 and F-16 fighters. Nor was it merely the codifying of physics and thermodynamics to make a science out of an art form. That John Boyd saw all of these things for the first time would have made him a legend. But this was quite the lesser of his two great achievements. For Boyd not only saw how to perfect the sword. He saw too how to perfect the swordsman.
And for that, Forty Second Boyd may turn out to be one of the most important men of the Twenty-First Century. And he has lain at rest in Arlington National Cemetery since 1997.
Aerial Attack Study[PDF], 1964
New Conception For Air-to-Air Combat[PDF], with the famous E-M diagrams
A Discourse on Winning And Losing[PDF]
Destruction And Creation[PDF] - 1976
Patterns Of Conflict[PDF, and powerpoint as PDF, and videos of John Boyd presenting] - 1986, his most famous work:
Idea of fast transients suggests that, in order to win, we should operate as a faster tempo or rhythm than our adversaries -- or, better yet, get inside adversary's Observation-Orientation-Decision-Action time cycle or loopThe Strategic Game Of ? And ?[PDF] - 1987
We will use this scheme of pulling things apart (analysis) and putting them back together (synthesis) in new combinations to find how apparently unrelated ideas and actions can be related to one another.this leads us to our revelation[PDF]
Organic Design For Command And Control[PDF] - 1987
Conceptual Spiral[PDF] - 1992
The Essence Of Winning And Losing[PDF] - "If you have read any of the biographies of John Boyd, you may remember this briefing as “the big crunch.” If you develop a deep understanding of this work, you’ll have the essence of Boyd."
Boyd’s OODA Loop (It’s Not What You Think)[PDF]
A Non-school of Strategy:On The Making Of History: John Boyd and American Security[PDF]
The late USAF Colonel John R. Boyd (1927 – 1997) was hard on ideologues: “Don’t be a member of Clausewitz’s school because a lot has happened since 1832,” he would warn his audiences, “and don’t be a member of Sun Tzu’s school because an awful lot has happened since 400 BC.”
We should not be members of Boyd’s school, either: “If you’re going to regard this stuff as dogma,” he would say at some point in his briefings, “you’d be better served to take it out and burn it.” Why, then, spend time studying his works today? Boyd’s (1987a) answer was not to memorize the specific principles of any strategy— including his—but to follow his larger example, to achieve what he called “intuitive competence” in creating, employing and dealing with the novelty that permeates human life (Boyd, 1992).
even businesses[PDF] have adapted The Strategy Of The Fighter Pilot. So have security professionals
some more reading:
Slightly East of New
What Does A Broken OODA Loop Look Like?
Introduction To The Theories Of Colonel John Boyd
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