24 September 2022


(The two officers pictured above are not exactly demonstrating good situational awareness) 

Like so many other topics, there are numerous versions or interpretations of what effective situational awareness means. For the most part, they all mean the same thing, just explained differently. This information applies to every person out there, whether or not they carry a weapon. This should be shared with loved ones and even children to help them become more aware of their surroundings. 

There are a number of tools and resources that can be utilized to help you facilitate the safety of you and yours. For my money, being aware of your immediate surroundings is the single-most important factor in maintaining your safety in all situations. No matter what other resources, tools or weapons you may have to help you deal with an unsuspected, dangerous event; your ability to recognize the potential problem is your number one asset. Driving, hiking, shopping, working, gardening, cycling, hunting, sports events, etc, etc; all have unique and inherent concerns or dangers, regardless of how insignificant some of them may seem. By being alert and aware and recognizing that there is a potential problem, you can then determine what actions need to taken to either avoid or cope with the threat. This is called the "OODA Loop".

The OODA (Observe, Orient, Determine and Act) Loop was first conceived by Air Force Colonel John Boyd as it applied to combat operations in the field (actually in the air as it applied to dogfights) but it can be used in a great many other situations, including self-defense. The word "loop" implies that this is a continuously applied concept of decision-making. The faster you apply the OODA Loop, the more likely you are to interrupt your opponent's, thus changing his thought process. Beginning with an observation of the situation, then orienting on the possible the options that are available, then deciding on what action or actions you feel are appropriate to take and finally acting on the decision that you have made. Now it starts all over again with observing the results of your action.
Sadly, the world that we live in today is not like it was in the ‘60's. As they say, “You’re not in Kansas anymore, Toto!”. We live in a very fast-moving society where we are continuously encountering evil. The criminal element that we face today is more cunning, savage, brutal and heartless than probably at any time in our Nation’s history. Values, morals and the very sanctity of life are diminishing daily. The chances of you or a loved one coming in contact with this evil are increasing at an alarming rate. Here’s how to decrease the probability of encountering these dangers and, thereby, decrease your likelihood of being mugged, robbed, injured or killed or simply avoiding an accident

The Color Code of Mental Awareness

The origin of the Color Code can be traced back to defensive weapons guru, Col. Jeff Cooper, of what is now Gunsite Ranch in central Arizona. This is critical, potentially life-saving information! The Code gives us the means to gauge personal awareness by putting a name and description to the amount of attention that we pay to our surroundings. By identifying a threat or potential threat early enough, we hope to be able to defeat fear and astonishment by replacing it with the knowledge that we have trained for this occurrence, and the confidence that we are willing and able to deal with 

Condition White is, unfortunately, the level of awareness that the majority of people stay in during their normal, day-to-day routine. They are largely unaware and unprepared for any type of event or activity that may threaten their personal safety or that of their loved ones. When this event or activity becomes a real threat and one is in this state, they are usually easily defeated and can be injured or killed if the event involves deadly force or some other specific danger.

Condition Yellow is best described as a relaxed state of alertness and is the minimum condition that you should allow yourself to be in at any time that you are not sleeping. In this condition, you are relaxed yet aware of your surroundings at all times and will have a much better chance of appropriately responding to the threat in a shorter period of time. Condition Yellow simply means that you are paying attention and does not require any further action.

Condition Orange is where you have become aware of a specific alert. Something has happened that has escalated your level of awareness. This could be a car following you through several consecutive turns or suspicious individual following in behind while your waling down the street. You haven’t reacted yet because it may be nothing more than a harmless coincidence but it now has your undivided attention until either a threat materializes or the circumstances relax. 

When this level of awareness has been reached, you will take whatever preliminary action that is necessary for you to immediately address the threat if it should present itself. This may include unzipping your jacket to facilitate immediate access to your weapon or moving your purse to the other shoulder or positioning yourself in such a way as to help provide a tactical advantage. Maybe it simply means leaving the area.

Condition Red is the condition of a specific, real alert. You are convinced now that the threat is real and dangerous and are taking action to appropriately respond to it. At this level, you will present your weapon, whatever it may be, and do whatever is necessary to effective protect yourself.

Condition Black was added sometime after Col. Cooper’s original release of the Code and is not really another level of awareness. It is instead designed to describe the act of being engaged or involved in a potentially lethal situation. At this point, your survival depends on the level of training you have received and your ability to control your mind. At this moment, the implementation of what may called “Survival Mode” or the “Fighting Mindset” is what will help you to be successful.

So there you have it! This is the Reader's Digest version of the situational awareness segment of some of my classes. This was derived from various sources that I have encountered over the years along with some of my own comments thrown in for good measure.