OODA-PISRR, Part I: The Social Cognition Loop

The late Air Force Colonel John Boyd’s five stages of victory, his , are often shown like this:


But once one looks at it like a loop


all sorts of things become apparent.

First, one might try to change the existing OODA loop:

To look “more like” the PISRR loop


but the differences, such as the Decide->Observe loop-back, mean that PISRR is not the same as OODA..

More profitable is to follow Larry Dunbar’s realization

While I now understand the strategy of OODA (as well as any non-expert could), PISRR should be give equal time. OODA is going from Potential Energy (Observe) to Kinetic energy (ACT). PISRR is going from Kinetic energy (Penetrate) to Potential Energy (Reharmonize).

Harmony can be considered non-destructive waves of changing potential energy. To reharmonize would be to reunite these non-destructive waves of energy into a society.

There are many similarities, almost mirror images, to the OODA loop and the PISRR loop. Both rely explicitly on trust, this must have been where Col. North screwed up the PISRR loop. Both are powerful strategies in war. While OODA can be considered an organizational loop from Special Operations forces to a Leviathan force, PISRR can be considered an organizational loop going from Leviathan force to a System Administration force.

That is, OODA describes escalation and PISRR describes de-escalation


(Compare also to normal and revolutionary change.)

This implies that one can replace the “external world” in the OODA loop with the PISRR loop, and vice verse, so:


Yet here “Act” is redundent, because the first step of the PISRR loop — Penetrate — is itself an action.


We may call it a day, if not for a red flag. A clue in John Boyd’s language tells us we are missing something profound


If “Penetration” is a form of “Action,” then should Reorientation not be a style of Orientation?

The red flag alertts us to another similarity in PISRR and OODA — Decide and Subdue


In a comment I made to Dr. Dan Nexon, I mentioned

The difference between 3GW and 4GW difference is that 4GW tries to force a qualitative change, while 3GW tries to force a quantitative reevaluations. As I mentioned in another post [1], 4GW focuses on Orientation while 3GW focuses on Decision.

For example, we can simplify the British public’s thought process as

“While the cost of war is not too high, fight bad guys”

Strategic bombing tries to change the value of the quantitative value “the cost of the war” past the fuzzy value “too high.” The bombings themselves increase the cost of the war, while propaganda decreased “too high” (by saying “a Berlin-centered England wouldn’t be so bad…” ).

4GW would have tried to change the identity of the British public itself. It would have tried to shift the British public, not just into neutral observers, but allies. It would have convinced the public in the 1940s, in a way that many Marxists were able to do by the 1970s, that Britannia herself was the evil empire.

In other words, Orientation and Subversion all focus by changing qualitative characteristics of a person. It alters whether or not a person would do something, all other things being equal. Subdue and Decide focus on quantitative change, whether or not a man can practically achieve his goal.

This implies that Subvert is part of Orient…


which means we can simplify the model to:


We now have a realized model of the “cloudy” OODA-PISRR model we started out with




This combined loop may be called a Social Cognition Loop, because it reflects the subject’s OODA loop and the object’s PISRR loop as part one one cycle. Like a sine wave.

Yet this Social Cognition Loop is wrong, and Boyd is incomplete. A wise fighter will try to break it anyway. He can’t, but he can destroy something else.

OODA-PISRR, a tdaxp series in four parts
Part I: The Social Cognition Loop
Part II: The PISRR Cognition Loop
Part III: Formless Fast Transients
Part IV: System Perturbations

Goodbye OFK. Hello, Korea Liberator.

Imagine my horror when I found out that one of my favorite blogs, One Free Korea, was shutting its doors

With this entry, posting at OneFreeKorea comes to an end.

But hopefully the future will be bright. Joshua, a fellow South Dakotan and an amazing guy has joined with the brains behind DPRK Studies and The Asianist to create a new grou blog, The Korea Liberator.


The Korea Liberator‘s mission statement reads:

Our Agenda Is a Free and United Korea

North Korea will only change when it reflects the will of its people. North Korea’s people want most of the same things people everywhere want: self-determination; freedom of expression, religion and association; food and clean water; good education for their kids; marriage and families; some frivolous entertainment; and the satiation of their intellectual curiosities. They want all of these things without fear of Thought Police, firing squads, or labor camps.

The North Korean regime has intentionally deprived the North Korean people of the fundamental necessities of life so that it could build a gargantuan army and nuclear weapons. Somewhere between 50,000 and 300,000 North Koreans want those the necessities of life so badly that they risked their lives, crossed over to China, and live like fugitives. We believe that many others, who cannot leave, also wish not to live under Kim Jong Il’s reign. We want what they want.

While not as muscular as Barnett or Curzon, Joshua is a resolutely pro-North-Korean (people and anti-DPRK (government) blogger. He has met with Secretary , and is a daily read for tdaxp. My blogroll and rss reader have been updated.

Read The Korea Liberator now.

Curious about North Korean news? Also read NKZone, or the US Army’s North Korea geography textbook (hat-tip Catholicgauze).