In this post I will be covering the “micro” and “macro” aspect of Situational Awareness (SA). I will show you the two very different environments that SA operates in and exactly what those environments are. And yes, I will show why understanding both is important to you and your family/team.
In my last post (Situational Awareness: Part 1 – Introduction) in this series I opened the topic of Situational Awareness (SA) by introducing what it is, how it relates to the OODA Loop and L.I.P.S. I also explained SA in terms of an intangible preparedness skill. Although :intangible” it is the single most IMPORTANT preparedness skill. Now lets move on to understanding SA in the micro and macro environments…
For this conversation we are going to define Situational Awareness as the acquisition of, the processing of, a state of, and taking action on knowledge. That knowledge comes from the environment around you.
The environment that I am speaking of comes in two forms, “micro” and “macro”. It is easier to understand the micro environment by defining the macro environment first. Your macro environment is the environment that exists on a much larger scale than your immediate surroundings. I am talking about on an international and national level. You could also easily include events occurring on a state and maybe even a county level as being part of that macro environment.
The micro environment is much closer to you; that which you have more control over and that which generally has more effect on you. Everything within your immediate surroundings; within eyesight, if you will, is in the micro environment. Everything that takes place in your home, neighborhood and probably even in your city all exists in your micro environment. But for our discussion, for the most part, I will refer to that which is within eyesight.
So exactly what is the “knowledge” and the “everything” that I referred to earlier?
To simplify it we can refer to both terms as “stimulus” or maybe more correctly, “stimuli.” But either way it is sensory input that we receive as humans via the basic five senses; sight, hearing, taste, touch, smell. But I am going to add a sixth sensory input in there as well. Some call it “instinct”, other call it “gut feeling”, some other call it the “still small voice.” Whatever you choose to call it is fine; I will call it “instinct” for this discussion. Although, I am more disposed to the “still small voice” description but it is too long of a term for writing an article.
So everything that we can sense in our environment is the input, which we process and then it becomes knowledge. Once we have that knowledge we then can project what the various outcomes might be. Based on the highest probabilities of the various outcomes we choose an action, and then take action.
I place all of this process under the single label of Situational Awareness (SA).
Now that we have suffered through defining SA, why is SA good to have? With good SA and a solid understanding of L.I.P.S. you can make great decisions and take actions that keep you and your family or team thriving and out of danger.
Why is the lack of SA bad? Simple, in an emergency, disaster, or especially “grid-down” if you don’t have good SA you will die. And all of your family or team will probably die along with you. I am not sure about you, but death is not high on my priority list.
First comes the micro environment. You are in a “grid-down” situation, you are out scavenging for fuel, you turn the corner and there are three bad guys. You recognize them as all being bad guys from earlier run-ins, you know they mean business. One is about 50’ from you and has a pistol in his hand, arm hanging by his side. The second is about 125’ from you and has a shotgun cradled in the arms. The third guy is about 175’ from you and has an AR-15, maybe an M4, slung in the low ready position; appears to have a 30-round magazine. They are all looking away from you by about 90 degrees so you have maybe 1 – 2 seconds of lead-time on them. Who is your biggest threat and whom do you shoot first? Make your choice and outline your reasoning before continuing.
So, let’s talk it through the way I see it:
- The guy with the pistol is 50’ away from you and 50’ is a longer distance for the average person to accurately fire a pistol and hit a target. This is especially true for someone having to make a “snap” shot. So in my way of thinking he is not a real big threat right away.
- The guy with the shotgun has it cradled so it will take him a second or two to bring the shotgun into play. Also, it is almost a 42 yard shot for him; a standing “snap” shot at that. At 42 yards if he has it loaded with birdshot you can probably live even if you are hit. Also, most people are not accurate at that distance, especially with an adrenalin rush hitting them. So while being shot with a shotgun is not fun, it will hurt. You are more likely to be hit with a shotgun pellet than from a round fired from the person with the pistol. So he does represent a bigger threat than the pistol carrier.
- Now we have the guy with the AR or M4. First, the fact that he has it slung indicates that he knows how to “wear” his weapon. Holding it in the low-ready indicates that he has some amount of training in weapons handling and tactics. The 30-round magazine indicates that he has a lot of rounds he can throw at you as fast as he can pull the trigger. Or, optionally he can let loose a fully automatic burst at you. To me, this guy is your greatest threat. You better throw a lot of lead at him as fast as you can to take him down or get him to run.
- But, if you have also operated a bit you would factor in any cover that might be available to you. Actually, this should probably be your first choice. They can’t shoot you if that can’t see you and/or that can’t get a round into you. So your best bet might be to run for cover vs. standing there and having a shootout with 3 against 1 odds against you.
So there is your micro environment along with its sensory input. Once you absorb that input you process it into meaningful knowledge, decide on action options, choose one of those options and put it into play.
Let’s touch on a macro environment scenario now. Times are tough, unemployment is high, banks are troubled, the government is getting more and more tyrannical and you are hearing the TV talking heads talk about the instability and devaluing of the dollar on the nightly news. You have money in a Fidelity IRA, a couple thousand in the BoA bank, and your paycheck gets direct deposited. You wake up in the morning and there is a “News Alert” on TV referencing the President talking about the possibility of a bank holiday to straighten out the dollar problem. He says its no big deal and it would only last a day. Most of the TV talking heads praise him for such a bold move. The stock market opens 10 minutes later and drops 150 points in the first 5 minutes, another 200 points in the first hour.
What is going on, how important is it and what do you do about it?
Well, let’s talk it through:
- Times have been tough for a long time now, and really tough since 2009. So there isn’t a lot different here.
- We’ve had the lowest labor participation rate for quite a while now, and it has been getting steadily worse since 2009. While the unemployment rate has been going down it is mostly based on people being hired for low-paying jobs, part-time jobs, and fewer people looking for work. So nothing major or new here either.
- The government has been getting much more tyrannical since 2001 in the areas of regulation and militarizing of police. So there isn’t a whole lot new here either.
- The value of the dollar moves up and down, but it has been fairly strong for quite a while. Mostly this is due to other currencies going down in value. But “devaluing” the dollar is a serious big red flag. This means that the dollar is about to make a big move (maybe already has) and it is almost certainly to be a downward move. This is a key piece of information.
- Hearing the phrase “straighten out the dollar” is a huge red flag. That indicates that something is wrong with it and something has to be done to correct it. This is a key piece of information.
- If you ever hear the phrase “bank holiday” mentioned in the US, especially by someone in government, you should be extremely concerned about what is happening. This indicates that the entire US economy and financial system might be about to be completely changed. And there is a very very good chance that any money you have in any form in the bank or similar financial institution is in jeopardy. In jeopardy as in being taken from you, especially IRA and 401k kind of money. This is an extremely key piece of critical information.
You have just been exposed to a micro and a macro environment form of stimulus input or SA. The micro environment issues and risks tend to be dangerous and more probable in general. Macro environment issues can be just as dangerous but less probable overall to occur. And macro can also be more wide spread. In other words, micro and macro can kill you but macro can kill a whole bunch more at one time.
Why is knowing the difference between micro and macro? You gotta know the risks to both, know what to watch for and understand the potential impact of both while putting them into perspective. Or…you just can ignore SA and follow the other sheep into the abyss.
Yeah, sorry, I am saying you gotta “think” about important stuff not just some NFL score for your favorite team on Sundays.
In the next article I will identify barriers to good SA and how to overcome them : Situational Awareness: Part 3 – Barriers to SA
Situational Awareness: Part 1 – Introduction
Situational Awareness: Part 2 – Micro & Macro SA
Situational Awareness: Part 3 – Barriers to SA
Situational Awareness: Part 4 – Team SA
Situational Awareness: Part 5 – Summary
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