The Pre-Frontal Cortex

July 9, 2013 in Background Information

When it comes to reading behavior, we spend a lot of time on the site focused on the behavior that is driven by the limbic system and how that portion of our brain perceives and responds to the world around us.  While it is the limbic system that provides trained observers with the instantaneous, automatic, uncontrollable (and therefore honest) responses we need to make accurate assessments, we can’t ignore the behaviors and gestures that are driven by a different section of our brain – our pre-frontal cortex.

The Pre-Frontal Cortex (the PFC) is the front section of your brain and located right behind your forehead.  This is the most advanced part of our brain, our executive center, and the size of the PFC is what separates humans from the other species on this planet (Dowling, pg. 91). The PFC is involved with tasks such as: judgment, choice, planning, motivation, social regulation, humor, and speech (McDonald, pg. 149). In the survival of the fittest environment of the prehistoric times that our ancestors lived in, humans were not at the top of the food chain, and there were a number of predators that were bigger, more powerful, and travelled in larger packs than humans.  The reason that humans were able to survive this period of history was because, Continue reading »

What’s With A Name?

May 29, 2013 in Background Information

Our site has moved.  Maybe you noticed, maybe you didn’t, but it was time to make the change.  When we first launched the site, we had a pretty narrow focus for the articles we were writing.  Our audience consisted of primarily the Marines who had already come through a Combat Hunter course and were looking for follow on resources to keep learning before they deployed.  With that audience, the name Combat Profiling made sense.  To a Marine who had already learned the basics of behavioral analysis, the words “Combat Profiling” were synonymous with getting left of bang and identifying an enemy who was hiding in plain clothes.

It didn’t take long though for us to realize that there were professionals from other fields spending time on the site.  Soldiers attending the Army’s ASAT training were finding us through search, police officers were getting referred to us by colleagues, corporate security officers were signing up for subscriptions to our Journal and numerous other people interested in learning about behavior were reading our articles.  As I transitioned out of the Marines and stepped into the business world and began talking with potential customers, I began to see that the words “Combat” and “Profiling” didn’t project the same image as it did to Marines.  The negative connotation of the words began to detract from the purpose of the site and limit the learning opportunities that we could provide our readers.

The goal for our site has always been very clear to us: provide the best available resources to our nation’s protectors so they have the ability to recognize a threat before the attack occurs.  That primary goal has always been the most important to us; increase a person’s survivability by providing the ability to separate the enemy from the crowd he hides amongst.  As we look to build partnerships with other experts in the field, companies, online training sites and writers, the need to rename the site became more and more apparent.

The big change is complete – moving the site to the new URL.  We are continuing to test and check the site for any errors, but if you notice anything wrong with any of our articles, images or videos, please contact us so we can fix it right away.  The rest of the cosmetic changes will be minor and hopefully won’t be noticeable to you, but feel free to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

With the new site address comes new opportunities to learn the benefit that behavioral analysis can provide.  For our Journal subscribers, you will see weekly development videos added to our Journal pages beginning this coming Monday (6/3).  These will offer the chance to practice your ability to observe and communicate what you are seeing in real world environments.  If you experience any problems logging in to your account, please let me know as soon as possible so we can get the issue fixed.

For more free resources, visit our new Webinars page to sign up for our free monthly webinars.  On Thursday June 13th, we will be hosting a webinar about school safety and active shooters. Register today.

Thank you for reading and if we can help in any way, please get in touch with us. Get Left Of Bang And Stay There.

Patrick Van Horne

The Path To Violence – A Look At School Attacks

March 27, 2013 in Background Information

Watch The Path to Violence on PBS. See more from After Newtown.

This is great documentary about school violence that PBS produced titled, “After Newtown – The Path To Violence.”  It talks about an aspect of school violence that the national media often doesn’t bring up – not every attack that is planned is successful.  The investigation that PBS’s team conducted highlighted a major point that is worth discussing – school shootings don’t just happen, they are often planned out, anywhere from two to three weeks to two years.  From the perspective of identifying and stopping these attacks, the fact that there is a planning phase is a good thing.  The longer a student plans an attack, the more pre-event indicators they will leave behind for people to pick up on and help to assist in the early detection of those with intentions to harm others. Continue reading »

Tactical Analysis – Viewing Security Through A Different Lens

February 24, 2013 in Background Information

The Demand For A Higher Standard

With violent acts and active shooter incidents seemingly occurring more frequently, the demand from the public for security professionals to provide a higher quality of protection has never been greater.  Whether you are in the military, a law enforcement officer, or in the private security industry, your ability to identify criminals and threats before they commit their act must include the ability to identify those people who have violent intentions.  This allows you to act as a true professional and be capable of taking action proactively by identifying and intervening before the event occurs.  Crime and violence prevention demands this level of commitment from those who have volunteered to serve.  Understanding behavior allows an observer to look beyond the variables that are present in an attack such as victim selection, weapon, location, attacker, or motive, and focus on the one and only constant – the person’s intent to do harm.

Pre-Event Indicators and Behavioral Cues

The process for preventing violent acts begins by developing a baseline for the people that surround you.  This baseline is the normal behavior for a person or the area and includes elements of body language as well as other elements of nonverbal communication, such as how a person relates to their surroundings. When it comes to recognizing violent individuals, there are types of behavior that can be seen as deviations from this baseline.  Identifying these anomalies is an essential first step to threat recognition.  Continue reading »

That’s Not The Behavior We’re Talking About – A Point Of Clarification

February 20, 2013 in Background Information

We spend a lot of time on the site talking about the behavior we want to observe, but I think it’s also important to understand the type of behavior that we aren’t talking about.  I want to take just a minute to differentiate those approaches from what you will see in the Tactical Analysis program and The CP Journal from what you might expect to read about.

It Isn’t FBI Profiling

We aren’t teaching FBI profiling.  Continue reading »

What’s With The Name, Logo, And Tagline?

February 15, 2013 in Background Information

The three primary elements of our brand have a lot of meaning to us.  Here is the story and thought behind our company name, logo and tagline.

The Company Name: “The CP Journal

During his time as a Marine, our founder Patrick Van Horne saw what it was like to work in an organization that celebrated their history.  He was first exposed to the principles of behavioral analysis as a team leader in the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Program and as an instructor in the Combat Profiling portion of the course.  While we don’t teach combat profiling (or combat tactics or any form of profiling) here, the “CP” part of our name is a reference to the innovators who worked with the USMC to develop the behavior pattern recognition and analysis program so that Marines could be more safe and more effective overseas.

The “Journal” comes from our origins as a company.  We started as a website that published articles and videos so that Marines could practice the skills they just learned in the Combat Hunter course.  While we have evolved beyond just articles, it serves as a reminder that our goal is to improve the performance of our nation’s protectors after they come through one of our courses.

The Company Logo: “The Lenses

When Scott Harrison of five5six design set out to create our logo, all that we asked was to ensure that it had meaning, significance and tied to the left of bang mindset we embrace.  To say that he exceeded our expectations would be an understatement as he ensured that every piece of the logo was significant.

The logo consists of three hexagon shaped lenses.  The three lenses represent that three sources of uncertainty that contribute to the fog of war discussed by Marine General Charles Krulak MCDP 1 – Warfighting.  “Uncertainty pervades the battle in the form of unknowns about the enemy, about the environment, and even about the friendly situation,” (Warfighting, 7).  The three questions we ask ourselves in order to establish a baseline – what’s going on here, what would make someone stand out, and what are we going to do about it – are designed to reduce the uncertainty caused by each of the three contributing factors.  Behavioral analysis and assessments provide the information needed to make intelligent decisions when we only have a limited amount of time and limited amount of information available.

Each lens is a six-sided figure that represents the six domains of observable behavior discussed in “Left of Bang,” in the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter program and in the Army’s Advanced Situational Awareness Training program.  The domains come from different fields of behavioral science and become the “lens” that we view our environment through.

The inside lines of each lens are a different color to show the relationship between the different behaviors and to reflect that only when a situation is viewed through all of the lenses does it begin to provide true value and meaning to the observer.  These connecting lines represent the Rule of Threes that we use to build our clusters and identify anomalies that rise above and fall below our baseline.

Each of the lines entering the lenses from the outside world represent the seemingly infinite amount of information that we could observe and is available. The vast amounts of inputs historically overwhelmed the Marine or Soldier “on-the-ground,” but when viewed and analyzed through the lenses, provides an observer with the ability to find true meaning, focus on the indicators needed to make a decision, and get Left of Bang.

The Company Tag Line: “Get Left Of Bang and Stay There

The phrase “get left of bang” refers to the point on an attacker’s timeline before they conduct their assault.  While “bang” is the action that the criminal, terrorist, insurgent or assassin takes, all of the pre-event indicators that reveal their violent intentions exist left of bang on that timeline.  Our focus is to prevent violence from occurring.  When we are “right of bang” on the timeline, we are reacting to the attacker and they have the initiative. Our goal is to force the criminal to react to to the good-guys, and create a environment of safety, confidence, and protection.

Creating Order Out Of Chaos

January 31, 2013 in Background Information

CP Journal Lens LogoWhen I was searching for the theme for Journal’s inaugural issue, I knew that I wanted to start at the beginning – with the foundation of behavioral profiling. With a behavior detection and assessment approach to separating the enemy from the crowd he hides amongst, everything begins with the baseline. Every observation, every decision, and every piece of actionable intelligence starts by understanding the norm in the area. Being able to look at the complexity of human behavior and turn that mass of information into something meaningful is all about creating order out of the apparent chaos. Some people think that this is too daunting of a task. This issue is about why they are wrong and why a new officer, in any field, can begin establishing their baseline their first day on the job.

The title and theme for this issue is centered on that specific focus – Creating Order Out Of Chaos. I use the word “creating” for a reason as well. It isn’t about “finding” order and it isn’t about “searching” for order. There is nothing about observing behavior that involves aimlessly stumbling through a process or hoping that you will eventually figure it out. This is about using a purposeful approach to create the conditions that our nation’s protectors need to outsmart an ever-adapting enemy.

This is where the Journal will begin, by removing the chaos from our observations, which is only possible if the underlying patterns that are present are first understood. This is possible in any setting and gets us beyond limitations of other approaches that only work in specific settings or situations. Once these patterns are understood, it becomes easier to begin predicting someone’s future actions by revealing their intentions. It also allows you to quickly find the people who warrant additional attention because they are the ones who break from the pattern that everyone else is following. This allows an observer to become confident in what they are seeing and the assessments they are making.

Identifying and communicating these patterns is the driving question for the main article in this issue, “Defining The Human Terrain – Revealing Core Patterns.” Following the discussion about how to establish the baseline for whatever area you find yourself in and how to attain this level of understanding quickly upon arriving in a new area, there will be two follow up pieces that discuss this from two different perspectives. The first response, “Learning Your Beat,” ties this concept, which is taught to deploying Marines, to the way that police officers strive to learn the dynamics of the neighborhoods they patrol each day. The second article, “Training Beyond The Physical Terrain,” looks at the issue of failing to learn the human terrain from a strategic perspective.

This concept is expanded upon in this issue’s development video, where we begin identifying people who are familiar and unfamiliar with their surroundings. This video takes the process of establishing a baseline and finding anomalies for specific settings, such as a transit station.

The last article is in our Professional Warrior section, “Priming Your Brain, A Guide To Learning,” which discusses the link between learning and exercise. Becoming adept at these skills requires practice until it becomes a habit and readers can take steps that improve retention, increasing the likelihood that the lessons we teach are recalled in the times that they are needed.

We are excited to begin offering readers a high quality of articles and access to training resources not previously offered on the site to make sure our nation’s protectors have the access to what they need to get left of bang. These new materials, along with our existing content will aide you even further in separating the enemy from the crowd and taking control of your own safety in the fight against insurgents, criminals and any other potential threat.

Thanks for reading and welcome to The CP Journal.

This article has become part of an e-book that can be downloaded here

Why Behavioral Analysis? Because I’m Tired Of Watching Reactions

January 23, 2013 in Background Information

Throughout history, we have continuously relied on a reactive response to crime and terrorism.  If a criminal shoots at a courthouse from across the street, we install bulletproof glass.  If a gunman smuggles a weapon into an airport, we install metal detectors.  If terrorists park a car loaded with explosives at the entrance to a federal building, we install concrete barriers to keep all cars away.

Those measures haven’t succeeded in stopping the threat; they have only succeeded in moving the threat to a different location.  As a country, we continue to chase the tactics that criminals, insurgents and terrorists use to instill fear.  We know that our nation’s survival is dependent on our ability to regain the initiative, but we also know that it won’t be easy.  Our enemies are constantly learning.  They are constantly searching for our weaknesses and looking for ways to exploit them.  Relying on a reactive approach to security won’t do enough to protect us.

Evaluate all of the security “solutions” that are advertised in our country from the vantage point of the terrorist who believes in the saying: “why attack the mighty lion when there are so many sheep to be had.”  The reality is that the more we harden some buildings the more vulnerable we make others.

So why do I believe in behavioral analysis?  Because there is no way we can barricade all of the soft targets in our country but those buildings need the ability to identify people the people targeting and conducting surveillance on them. Continue reading »

The Lenses

January 21, 2013 in Background Information

We are excited to reveal the new logo for the site and the coming The CP Journal.  The “Lenses” is a design is anchored around a series of three hexagon shaped lenses.

  • Each lens is a six-sided figure that represents the 6 Domains of Observable Behavior, and becomes the lens through which we view our environment.
  • There are three lenses in the design as the information gained through the domains allows an observer to make assessments about an individual person, a group of people and the environment that surrounds an observation.
  • The inside lines of each lens are a different color to show the relationship between the domains and that neither lens alone is sufficient to make an assessment from. Only when a situation is observed through all of the lenses and domains does it begin to provide true meaning.
  • The connecting lines between the lenses represent the Rule of Threes that we use to build our clusters and identify anomalies that rise above and fall below our baseline.
  • Each line entering the lenses from the outside world represents the seemingly infinite amount of information that we could observe, but when analyzed through the lenses allows an observer to find true meaning, focus on the indicators needed to make a decision, and get Left of Bang.

CP 2 Logo Black and Red

I always want to give credit where credit is due and I’m really happy to have chosen Scott Harrison of five5six design for this project.  Scott is a soldier on active duty and has been a long time reader on the site.  When I first approached him about designing a logo, it didn’t take him long to create the lens concept from the ground up and get an initial set of mock-ups sent over.

I couldn’t be more pleased with what Scott created and certainly recommend him, and five5six, to anyone looking for graphic design work. Take a look at his work on his company’s Facebook page and Twitter page to see what else he has done.  His website (here) is undergoing an overhaul, but you’ll be able to find his information and his complete portfolio of work on the site as soon as it is complete.

Breaking Down The Limbic System

October 4, 2012 in Background Information

In the previous post “How The Brain Controls Behavior” we broke down what happens in the body once the Limbic Systems determines something to be a threat.  What we did not talk about what happens inside the limbic system to make this threat/no threat determination.  While the information is not vital to learning about behavior, understanding the process can provide additional insight to what is happening around us.

The process starts as information first enters our brain through the sensory systems (i.e. taste, touch, smell, sound, and sight,) and is usually brought to the Limbic System for an initial round of processing.  The sense of smell for instance is immediately brought to the limbic system, while inputs from the other senses could go to the pre-frontal cortex first.  The part of the brain responsible for transmitting this sensory information is the thalamus.  Continue reading »

How The Brain Controls Behavior

October 1, 2012 in Background Information

The human brain is the one and only common feature that will let us find the similarities between people that cross cultural boundaries and allow us to confidently assess their behavior anywhere we go in the world.  Our brain, whether at a conscious or unconscious level, controls every action that we take. When it comes to understanding how and why we do certain things, and being able to anticipate what a person is about to do, we have to look at how the brain actually controls and affects our movement.[i]   A simple understanding of what the brain’s limbic system does will open the door to our understanding of human behavior. Continue reading »

The Goal Is Not Fear

June 19, 2012 in Background Information

I can’t tell you how many times I hear the same string of comments and questions.  “Because you know what to look for, do you live your life in a constant state of paranoia” or “I bet you find yourself analyzing every single person that you’re around!” For a long time, I struggled to respond to these questions.  They aren’t hard to answer, but finding the right words to try and convey how I felt was a challenge.  The short answer is yes – I do try to analyze as many people as possible, but I don’t live in a perpetual state of fear.

Last week I was in a meeting with a group of scientists all with doctorate level degrees across a range of fields and was surprised to get asked the same string of questions.  Answering these questions for this audience helped me to articulate a more accurate answer. Continue reading »

Making Combat More Simple – Why A Heuristic Works

May 15, 2012 in Background Information

“Everything is very simple in war, but the simplest thing is difficult.”

–   Carl von Clausewitz

Even though Carl von Clausewitz became one of the most influential military strategists in history with his work, On War, even he probably couldn’t have comprehended the complexities of the urban insurgency that our military battles today.  His famous quote about the friction of war is a concept that every warrior experiences time and again, and we have found that even the best technological advancements in the world can’t completely lift the fog.  As insurgents continue to operate as low-tech as they can, the challenge that Marines or soldiers face only compounds as we need to find more effective ways to find them.

We tell you that the concepts that we teach work, and for those of you that take us at face value, we appreciate that, but let me explain why it works.

Heuristics make Tactical Analysis work and the concept is pretty simple and straightforward.  Heuristics are just strategies that let us make decisions more quickly and accurately in situations where there is limited time and limited information.  Limited time and limited information, sound a little bit like combat?  Sound even more like fighting an insurgency? Continue reading »

The Profiling Terminology – For Function And For A Framework

May 5, 2012 in Background Information

After spending most of last week at a Security and Counter-Terrorism Conference in New York City and getting the chance to talk to a number of people whose careers revolve around threat detection, I learned that, for people who look at the material on this site with pre-existing knowledge of behavioral analysis, one question gets asked over and over again:

– Why these domains and why this terminology?

– The 6 Domains of Observable Behavior serve two purposes.  Continue reading »