Proximity Negates Skill

November 30, 2012 in Assessing Groups

I received a few questions yesterday from people about the concept that I referred to as “Proximity Negates Skill” in the Threats Inside the Wire – The Approach article.  Let me explain the concept in a little more detail:

From the perspective of an attacker, a closer proximity will:

–       Increase the accuracy for the attacker.  For example with if I was going to shoot at you with a pistol, I am a sniper from the 7-yard line and you will go down.  But when I move back to the 25-yard line you should be ok as long as you stand completely still – it will only be a grazing wound.  For me to be more accurate, I have to get within a closer proximity.  It negates the need for me to be skilled and accurate from a distance.

–       Increase the number of options that an attacker has available.  From 1,000 yards away, you are limited to a sniper rifle to engage a target.  At 500 yards, you could use a sniper rifle or an M4/M16.  At 25 yards, you could use a rifle, a grenade, a pistol.  At 5 feet, you could shoot, stab, bite, kick or punch.  By getting closer, an attacker doesn’t need to have the skill to use a sniper rifle, he can find an option that requires less skill.

From the perspective of the defender, an attacker at a closer proximity:

–       Reduces the number of options.  If you were to throw rocks at me from about 20 yards away, as a defender, I could run away to a spot outside of your range, I could run towards you to attack, I could take cover behind a car to protect myself.  If you got to a closer range, the number of options I would have to defend myself would begin to diminish until the only thing I could do is attack or cover up.  I might be very skilled with a rifle, but if the attacker gets too close, that skill becomes negated as that option gets pulled off the table.

–       Reduces reaction time. Same example, you are throwing rocks at me from 20 yards away.  If you throw a rock, I have a couple seconds to go through the OODA loop, realize that a rock is coming towards me and make a decision for how to react.  I should be able to defend myself at that range.  If you were to move within arms distance of me and began throwing quick jabs in my direction, the time that I have to go through that same process disappears.  Even if you have a great deal of martial arts ability, that training and skill becomes meaningless if you don’t have the time to process the information.


Next week, I will post the final three articles to the Threat Inside The Wire – Green On Blue Series, but if there are unanswered questions about any of the concepts, let me know.

Threats Inside The Wire – The Approach

November 29, 2012 in Applying The Observations, Assessing Groups

The approach precedes the attack. It has to and Green-on-Blue attacks are no different.  An attacker must get closer to his target in order to be successful, but it also is going to cause that person to stand out from the baseline.  If you are a new reader, I recommend you take a look at the article explaining Proxemic Pulls to better understand this dynamic before moving on:

From Science To The Streets – Where The Proxemic Pull Came From

The reason for this is that attackers intuitively understand the principle that Proximity Negates Skill.  If you can’t shoot someone from 500 yards away, you have to get within a range where you can hit your target.  If you don’t have a gun, you need to get within knife striking range.  If you don’t the skill or the ability, you have to get within a closer proximity to compensate and be successful.

The consequences for failing to identify an insider threat are extremely high, and while the fact that attackers are moving closer to Marines or Soldiers can make stopping these attacks more challenging (a closer attacker reduces the amount of time available to react and limits the number of options available for dealing with the threat), it also simplifies the problem as well.  Continue reading »

Threats Inside The Wire – Finding Common Ground

November 27, 2012 in Applying The Observations

The reason that I led yesterday’s article off with the example of Nidal Hassan’s attack in Fort Hood might not be for the reason you would imagine. While this was a terrorist act in nature, the characteristics of his attack mirror those of a workplace violence incident.  In fact, it meets the exact definition of a Type 3 Workplace Violence incident as defined by OSHA.**  Nidal Hassan walked into a building where he was an employee/supervisor and committed a violent act against coworkers.

The situation in Afghanistan, where uniformed Afghan National Security Forces (ANSF) open fire on their “coworker” American trainers, is no different.  To get further and further left of bang, we first need to understand Continue reading »

Turning The Map Around – How A Company Looks At Hiring

November 13, 2012 in Veterans, Business, and Security

In the military, every operation gets looked at from two perspectives.  The first is from the friendly perspective (as a Marine or Soldier looking at the enemy.) The second is from the enemy’s perspective (what he would be thinking looking at us.)  This is done to ensure a comprehensive approach to mission planning and, while we can’t mitigate every risk, it allows us to begin thinking about how we can predict and influence the actions the enemy may take in the future.

One of the hurdles people often face during the job search is that it can be difficult to put yourself into the shoes of a corporate hiring manager.  It can be difficult to turn the map around because people haven’t worked in human resources or truly understand how these managers look at job applicants.  Continue reading »

Disney Land – Indisputable Happiness, Security and Positive Atmospherics

September 5, 2012 in Assessing The Collective

There are very few absolutes in life and while it would be dangerous to think otherwise, there is one clear exception to this rule.  The one absolute fact in this world that you can bank on is that Disney Land is truly the happiest place on earth.  Anyone who says otherwise is probably still getting past some lingering anger over a missed high-five from Donald Duck but doesn’t have a legitimate gripe.  This makes Disney the textbook definition of a place that has Positive Atmospherics.  Continue reading »

The Clusters Have Been Updated

June 12, 2012 in Assessing Individuals

We have gone through the 6 different clusters that we use to define a person’s body language and expanded the possible behaviors that you can use classify the people you are observing.  The more you practice identifying these clusters will allow you to quickly establish baselines for individuals as well as notice the subtle changes in that can alert you to shifts in their moods and intentions.

To see the updated information, follow the links:

Dominant vs. Submissive Cluster

Uncomfortable vs. Comfortable Cluster

Interested vs. Uninterested Cluster

Some gestures bridge the gap across clusters and can fit into multiple clusters.  Continually look for three indicators that lead you to the same conclusion and determine if that gesture fits the baseline.  Finding creative ways to train yourself to identify these will allow you build the file folders you need to become an effective profiler.

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 »

From Science to the Streets – When Your Confidence Is The Problem

March 12, 2012 in Applying The Observations

After having a conversation with another Combat Hunter instructor about the how confident students should be making decisions immediately following our course, I wanted to find some more information about people’s confidence in reading nonverbal cues.  We want our students to be confident after the course, because without confidence in the accuracy of their observations, they may not take action to prevent a crime or an attack from occurring.  But, at the same time, we know that confidence is certainly not an indicator of capability when it comes to any skill, and we have all seen those people who are so overconfident in their assessments that no one takes them seriously.

So we want to instill a level of humble confidence in your students, humble enough to keep learning and being realistic about your capabilities, but confident enough to take action when you see something. You should also have confidence communicating why you did what you did.  Think about a police officer who has to take the stand to discuss specifically what they observed before they arrested the person, or a Marine whose actions have been called into question as to why they chose to shoot a suspected insurgent.  Your ability to confidently recall what you observed and why that information is valid as an indicator of threats can greatly influence the credibility of your actions. Continue reading »

From Science to the Streets – The Need For Smart Decision Making

February 6, 2012 in Applying The Observations

The goal of Tactical Analysis is to help you make faster and smarter decisions while deployed, period.  While it seems straightforward, making smarter decisions comes with some other requirements: such as being scientific, being justifiable or defensible, and able to be communicated.

The reason behavioral analysis must be scientific is so that our material has validity.  While many books and a great deal of the research that exists on behavior has been challenged and reviewed, and is therefore credible, there is still a great deal of information available on human behavioral analysis that is completely baseless.  The risk of this unverified material being simply assumed to be true based off of anecdotal evidence alone could lead to horrible decisions.

Creating our material from a scientific foundation leads to the next issue, the fact that you have to be able to communicate your decisions to others when observing human behavior.  By providing scientific fields as the basis for each domain, we give you the verbiage you need to do exactly that.  If a Marine or a police officer wants to detain someone and calls their higher headquarters saying, “I want to detain this person because I have a bad gut-feeling about this guy,” the level of confidence that you are going to instill in your superiors might not be what you had in mind.  Continue reading »

Book Review – Nonverbal Communication In Human Interaction

December 11, 2011 in Books and Resources

Of the “Must Read” books listed on the recommended reading list, Nonverbal Communication in Human Interaction, 7th Edition, by Mark Knapp and Judith Hall is at the bottom for a reason, but not because it is a bad read or without great information.  It is there for the exact opposite reason; it is absolutely full of incredibly well researched content that directly applies to Combat Profiling.

It is at the bottom of the list because when you read it, we want you to have already read What Every Body Is Saying, we want you to have read Lie Spotting, we want you to be comfortable with the content here on the site and we want you to have already gone out in town and observed all 6 domains of Combat Profiling in unscripted scenarios before you read it.
Continue reading »

Understanding Body Language: Uncomfortable

November 6, 2011 in Assessing Individuals

The foundation of any behavioral analysis program begins with a deep understanding of what a person is conveying through their nonverbal communication.  Tying the domains Kinesics and Biometrics together allow us to quickly make decisions about a person’s intentions, capabilities and emotions.

The six clusters that we use to classify an individual’s behavior (Dominant, Submissiveness, Uncomfortable, Comfortable, Interested, Uninterested) are the science behind our observations.  With all of these clusters, don’t forget about the Combat Rule of 3’s – that we are going to look for three indicators that all lead to the same cluster before we make a decision.  If you have the science part of the observation down, you are ready to apply the art of the observation and decide if that cluster you have identified fits the baseline or is an anomaly.

The following are gestures on the body that I would put into the “Uncomfortable” Cluster.  Continue reading »

Is Predictive Profiling Legal?

November 3, 2011 in Background Information

One question which may be on the mind of law enforcement personnel is, “Is combat profiling (or predictive profiling) legal? This is a topic which I would like to address briefly in this post.

As PVH has discussed in a previous post, combat profiling is basically an application of predictive profiling. We give it particular terminology, and form applications which relate directly to combat and law enforcement situations. In regard to the legality of observing behavior to identify potential threats, I would like to address a few issues. Continue reading »

Why We Observe In Clusters

October 31, 2011 in Assessing Individuals

When it comes to observing body language and biometric cues, we want to stress the absolute imperative that we have as observers to put behavioral indicators together into clusters.  Because gestures have different meaning in different contexts, we have to be cautious in the conclusions that we come to.  One body language indicator alone does not tell us anything, but if you can identify a cluster of 3 kinesic or biometric cues all leading you to that same conclusion, you can increase the likelihood of your success.  In his book What Every Body Is Saying, Joe Navarro talks about “the more pieces of the puzzle you posses, the better your chances of putting them all together and seeing the picture they portray” (pg 13).
Continue reading »

Why We Do Video Training – Short-Circuiting Years Of Experience

October 30, 2011 in Learning About Learning

If you ask most veteran Law Enforcement Officers how long it takes to become a strong counter-narcotics or gang officer, you will find answers usually falling within a five to twelve year range, and usually more specifically around ten years.  That is a significant amount of time required to train and develop to become and effective operator.  The same concept applies to the military as well.  Our Staff Non-Commissioned Officers (SNCOs) who have a wealth of experience that they have earned over the last decade of non-stop deployments are easily comparable to those veteran cops.
Continue reading »