OODA-PISRR, Part III: Formless Fast Transients

This is your waveform


This is your waveform on fast transients


Any questions?

begins his epic briefing, , describing the need for fast transients:

In other words, suggests a fighter that can pick and choose engagement opportunities—yet has fast transient (“buttonhook”) characteristics that can be used to either force an overshoot by an attacker or stay inside a hard turning defender.

Yet while mere fast cycling is important.

Idea of fast transients suggests that, in order to win, we should operate at a faster tempo or rhythm than our adversaries—

A better strategy is to aim for getting inside the enemy’s head

or, better yet, get inside adversary’s observation-orientation-decision-action time cycle or loop.

The purpose is to hide the form of the fighter, creating a confusing, menacing, ambiguous, unpredictable disorder

Why? Such activity will make us appear ambiguous (unpredictable) thereby generate confusion and disorder among our adversaries—since our adversaries will be unable to generate mental images or pictures that agree with the menacing as well as faster transient rhythm or patterns they are competing against.

This is not simple optimization for speed. If a fighter wanted to optimize for speed, he would merely practice his routines so he could act without thinking (bypassing decision in the OODA loop) and rope-a-dope when attacked (so one can bypass subversion in the PISRR loop). His cognition loop would then be:

The Fast Fighting Machine: Non-Deciding, Non-Developing

Rather, this is optimizing for formlessness.

The OODA-PISRR cycle, the Social Cognition Loop, was previously displayed as a circuit:


It could also be shown to be a wave with a unique form

Vertical Axis is kinetic Energy, Horizontal Axis is Time

All merely going faster would be do is decrease the cycle-time of the waveform. It would definitely be menacing to face an enemy going fast. But not confusing, ambiguous, or unpredictable.


Fast transients rely on appropriate use of Decision and Subversion to get inside the enemy’s cognition loop and make your waveform disappear.

As John Boyd said in Patterns of Conflict, describing the Mongol Horde:

By exploiting superior leadership, intelligence, communications, and mobility as well as by playing upon adversary’s fears and doubts via propaganda and terror, Mongols operated inside adversary observation-orientation-decision-action loops.

In a similar way, by exploiting decision and subversion, the winner operates into the enemy’s cognition loop.

As Chet Richards quoted Sun Tzu in Riding the Tiger (previously featured on tdaxp):

Be extremely mysterious, even to the point of soundlessness;
Be extremely subtle, even to the point of formlessness;
Thereby you can be the director of the opponent’s fate.

Victory with OODA is not just going fast, its using decision and subversion to deprive the enemy of the patterns needed to detect you. By acting in ways that are incoherent to one’s enemy’s, one’s waveform becomes confusing, menacing, ambiguous and unpredictable

One reaction is to create what Boyd called “many non-cooperative centers of gravity” in the enemy, making his waveform disappear too. But while the winner’s waveform is merely apparently chaotic, the enemy’s waveform is chaotic.

Next, the enemy ceases cycling, paralyzing him in one cognitive state. Visually


Of course, not all transients are fast. Until they are.

OODA-PISRR, a tdaxp series in four parts
1. The Social Cognition Loop
2. The PISRR Cognition Loop
3. Formless Fast Transients
4. System Perturbations