The 6 Domains of Tactical Analysis

September 29, 2011 in Assessing Groups, Assessing Individuals, Assessing The Collective, Assessing The Environment

There are 6 domains used in Tactical Analysis that provide us with 6 different ways to look at the world.  When you put these domains together, they allow you to predict what human beings are going to do.

For all of the following domains, a profiler has to establish a baseline (the norm for the area) and only then will he be able to hunt for the anomaly (those deviations from the baseline.)  The domains should be used to quantify and communicate what your baseline is as well as to let you pick out those anomalies that pose a threat.

Kinesics: The study of body language.  Being able to identify a person’s emotional state based off their body language provides an incredible insight into that person’s mind.  Are they dominant or submissive?  Are they comfortable or uncomfortable?  Are they interested or uninterested?  All of these cues will let us predict what a person is about to do. Kinesics does not merely involve the study of facial expressions, but rather takes into consideration the entire body.

Biometric Cues: Uncontrollable bodily reactions in response to the world around us.  Whether observing someone whose pupils are dilated or constricted, if they are blushing or pale, someone with a dry mouth, or someone with an increased blink rate are all cues that let us know how that person is perceiving people and objects around them.

Proxemics: The study of interpersonal relationships. By analyzing how people use the space around them, we can begin to understand their relationships with those people they are surrounded by.  Being able to assess what people are attracted to (proxemic pull) and what they avoid (proxemic push) will let us get into the collective mind of the group.  Proxemics can be observed up close to people during conversation or from hundreds of meters away using binoculars.  Proxemics can also be used to identify the key leader of any given group.

Geographics: The study of people’s relationship with their environment.  Understanding which areas of the neighborhood or the building you are in that everyone feels comfortable going to (habitual areas) and those areas that only a select group of people have access to (anchor points) can provide us with an anticipated baseline and pattern for the people who are visiting that area.  Identifying how people move through their terrain (natural lines of drift) will also let us identify those who are either familiar or unfamiliar with the area.

Iconography: The displays that people use to express what they believe in.  By observing the flags and colors that represent their groups, clothing choices, bumper stickers, graffiti, tattoos, and posters will give us a window into their motivations.  People who are willing to make a statement through a piece of iconography are often displaying their beliefs and ideals and are often times willing to fight for that belief.  Understanding what a person believes in will also assist us in predicting their future actions.

Atmospherics: The collective attitude and feel of an area.  Is it positive or negative?  By continually asking yourself if the behaviors, emotions, attitudes, and objects that you are observing match your baseline, you will be able to identify those individuals who don’t fit in.  Drastic changes and shifts in the baseline atmospherics will let you know when a threat is imminent.  Your intuition will very often perceive this threat well ahead of your conscious recognition of it.

When pieces to a few of the domains or all six come together, they are what are going to let us put a person’s behavior into the context of their environment and determine what they are going to do in the future.  Not only will it let us identify their intentions, but also let us communicate our predictions and observations to others.

To see why these domains are the ones we rely on, take a look at the article explaining the function and the framework that the domains provide

Where Is the Enemy Going?

September 28, 2011 in Assessing The Environment

The Combat Hunter Program that we teach consists of much more than just combat profiling.  The other significant portion of the program ties in combat tracking.  (The Marine Corps really likes to add the word “combat” to things to make it sound intense: human profiling became “combat profiling” and man-tracking became “combat tracking.”)  These two skills, both focusing on understanding humans and how they interact with their environment, relate to each other in a number of ways.

While the tracking team is conducting their follow up (the act of man-tracking,) the team leader is continuously asking himself a series of questions about the person or group he is following.  Where is he going?  Does he know he is being followed?  If he does know that he is being followed, how is he going to react?  If I were being followed, where would I set up an ambush?

To get into his head and begin thinking like him, the team leader is pulling information from the trackers: how fast he is moving, if he is wounded or limping, if he has indicated that he is carrying a weapon, if he is moving alone, if he is turning around, if his speed or pace has changed, a series of facts that he can analyze and use in his pursuit.  All of these data points can be gathered by analyzing the tracks left behind by our enemy.

Obviously, figuring out where the enemy is going would make tracking him much easier.  Understanding how geographics and tracking tie together can help us in this.  Your enemy has to be returning to either a habitual area or his personal anchor point.

You can determine from his tracks if he knows he is being followed, if he is moving with a purpose, or if he is unsure of where he is going.  An experienced insurgent or criminal will not lead you back to his anchor point.  He will not want to compromise his secure space by being undisciplined.  In order to maintain the degree of security he perceives from inside of his anchor point, he will likely lead you back to a habitual area.  The crowds of people and open nature of habitual areas will provide him the cover that he needs.  This will also cause his tracks to become contaminated, preventing the trackers from catching him.  We can predictive profile because of patterns, and there is no difference when tracking.

What are the patterns that he has set up to this point?  Does he continually check “his 6,” ensuring he is not being followed?  Are there indicators that he has taken security halts, demonstrating that he is conscious of the fact that he has enemies too?  Has he been lying in a prone position that lets him observe the area without being seen?  If he has shown a pattern of being security conscious, you can anticipate that this will continue and he will make his way to a habitual area, remaining vigilant until he is positive he is safe.  This may be where you want to direct your adjacent units to cut your enemy off.

If this is the case and you can’t cut him off, you will need to shift into tactical questioning mode to ask people if they have observed your enemy, (again, the Marine Corps turned everyday questioning techniques into “tactical questioning.”)  Having a physical description of him or being able to identify the type of shoes he is wearing will help.  While you are asking questions, do you notice anyone in your proximity that has situational awareness?  If you have closed the gap and have surprised him, he may still be in the area to determine if he has been compromised.  Does anyone that you are questioning show signs of deception?  Profiling and tracking are not exclusive skill sets. They complement each other very well, each providing the other with information to assist you in finding your enemy in plain clothes.

The questions you can answer and patterns you can establish on the track-line will help you anticipate where the person you’re following is going.  Profiling doesn’t begin only when people are around, you can begin profiling the instant that you see any indicator of human activity. This could easily be his footprints and the indicators he leaves behind when he is walking.

Do you have more ways to integrate tracking and profiling?  Let us know.

Do I Want To Be Explicit?

September 27, 2011 in Applying The Observations

I got asked a couple weeks ago why we talk about the difference between tacit and explicit knowledge during the introduction to profiling class.  The student was curious to know if one of these types of knowledge is preferred over the other.

We can define tacit knowledge as knowledge that is difficult to convey to another person through either writing or verbal communication.  Explicit knowledge, on the other hand, is knowledge that can be articulated and usually comes in the form of manuals, procedures, processes, or how-to videos.

How do these two types of knowledge play in to profiling?  To a person who may have grown up in the inner city encountering threats on a daily basis and who has a wealth of experience profiling, they may have a stronger degree of tacit knowledge.  They can’t explain why they think there is a threat down this road, “they just know” that it is there.  Something about an event has caused him to be alerted to a threat, likely due to a similar experience in his past.  This can also be a place where police and law enforcement officers find themselves.  After spending years on the street building their file folders for criminal activity, they become experts at identifying criminals.  Despite his inability to communicate why he feels the way that he does, everyone in that patrol is probably going to heed his warning.

When it comes to survival and identifying threats left of bang, regardless of a person’s ability to communicate why they believe a threat is present, I definitely encourage you to acknowledge the warning.  The problem occurs if you take any lethal action towards someone during that encounter.  This applies to law enforcement personnel just as much as it applies to Marines in a combat zone.  Eventually, someone higher up in the chain of command is going to ask why you took the action you did.  If you have the explicit knowledge of profiling and can explain exactly why you did what you did, you will be more likely to receive the support of the chain of command.  I wouldn’t always expect the same acceptance from your command if your answer to the question of why you shot that person is along the lines of, “he looked shady” or, “I had a bad feeling about that guy.”

Again, if it is a life or death situation, I would much rather you take the action to protect yourself regardless of your ability to verbalize the “why.”  But, whenever possible, I encourage you to practice using the profiling domain terms so that you can improve on your ability to effectively communicate your decisions.  This capability should be put onto your list of milestones as you develop and continue in your pursuit to become an expert predictive profiler.

Thoughts?  Let me know.

“Left Of Bang”

September 27, 2011 in Background Information

Picture a timeline that goes in each direction indefinitely.   Somewhere in the middle of that line, we will mark “bang.”  Bang is the incident.  Bang is the IED detonation, the sniper shot, the attack, the mugging, or the crime being committed.  Bang is minute zero on your timeline.

Any time we say that you are acting “Right of Bang,” we are saying your actions are occurring after the fact.  The crime was committed and then the police were called.  The IED detonated and then the Marines established a cordon.  The mugging began and then you defended yourself.  When you are “Right of Bang” you are responding to whatever stimulus occurred at bang.  As predictive profilers, this is whenever we are functioning reactively to our enemy or criminal and we don’t have the initiative.  This is not where we want to be.  Being right of bang means a person has to be attacked before we can identify the criminal.

When we say you are observing or taking action “Left of Bang,” you are being proactive.  All of the events that have to occur before bang are placed left of the incident on our timeline.  If there are 15 tasks that have to be completed for an act to become “bang,” you don’t have to observe all of them for you to know what is about to happen.  That is what predictive profiling is all about.  Left of bang means we will be able to keep the enemy and predators reacting to us, instead of the other way around.  It starts by being able to identify them hiding in the crowd.

Whether you are playing chess, fighting crime, or waging war, anytime you can keep the enemy reacting to you will greatly increase your chances of success.

Naturally acting or acting natural?

August 31, 2011 in Applying The Observations

How do you determine whether someone is doing something naturally or whether they are simply trying to act natural? For Marines on patrol, the question would be, how do you know if the farmer is actually a farmer working his field, or if the person is observing you and collection information on you but is trying to act like a farmer? For cops, the question would be, how can you tell the difference between the guy who is standing on the corner, smoking a cigarette, and minding his own business and the guy who is a lookout for the local gang and is trying to act like he is “doing nothing?”

Well, one of the principles of human nature that combat profiling uses to its advantage is this: Humans only look natural when you are naturally focused on doing one thing.

When your attention is divided, and your concentrating on doing more than one thing, your behavior and speech will appear unnatural. For instance, if someone is actually reading a paper then their attention and mental energy will be focused on reading the paper. If, however, that person is only acting as if they are reading the paper and instead are attempting to conduct surveillance, then their behavior will not look natural. Or imagine, for instance, having a conversation with someone who is attempting to discreetly watch someone in the crowd of people around you in an attempt to get some type of subtle direction from that person. The person you are talking to will not be focused on the conversation. Instead, his mental energy will be divided. His action will be “jerky” and his speech will seem choppy, broken, or slower than normal. His brain will have to switch back and forth between activities (Brain Rules, 84-88). As Alex Pentland, a researcher at MIT, explains, “When there are several conflicting “commands” coming down from our higher brain centers, each requiring our body to take different sorts of actions, this interferes with our ability to act in a smooth, consistent manner” (Honest Signals, 15). Continue reading »

Establishing a baseline, for the first time

August 29, 2011 in Applying The Observations

This post is very similar to one of PVH’s post entitled Establishing a Baseline? Step One.

You enter a new area. A new village. A new marketplace. And you need to establish a baseline fast, and you need to figure out if anyone wants to or is going to try to do you harm. Your first thoughts, “oh crap, what’s going on? Who is who? Who wants to hurt me? What is that person doing?” Recently I took some instructors out to do some instructor development. We went to an area that I’m only partially familiar with. As soon as we got there, and stepped out of the car, my first thoughts were, “What is going on? Do I even know what I’m doing?” So, what do you do when you’re in a new area and you need to begin establishing a baseline?

Establishing a baseline for the first time in a new area is not self-evident. An untrained individual may be able to do a decent job identifying certain things–the obvious things–but is going to miss important behaviors and patterns, and will focus on the wrong things. Continue reading »

Proximity Negates Skill – Why It’s Hard to Profile On The Fly

August 28, 2011 in Assessing Groups

Last week I was able to take a few instructors from my team up to Los Angeles to do some instructor development with LAPD’s Gang Task Force.  Getting the opportunity to spend time with the officers who hunt down criminals every day is always a great experience because they live the profiling that we teach.  They don’t always use the same terms and may not have received the training that we provide, but when it comes to identifying the threats and the anomalies in their areas, they are second to none.

Every time we have collaborated with them, I have always come back learning something new.  This time was no different.  Last Friday I was reminded of how difficult profiling can be when the time is not taken to establish your baseline from an observation post (OP).   Being in an OP allows you to spend some time talking through the baseline and gaining an intuitive understanding of the area you are about to operate in.

The day before we went to LA, there was a shooting in the Hollenbeck District where we would be spending the day, Continue reading »