Variations of the OODA Loop 1, Introduction

Note: This is a selection from Variations of the OODA Loop, part of tdaxp‘s SummerBlog ’06

The U.S. Marine Corps in their discussion of strategy,1 the U.S. Navy with information operations,2 and commentators discussing linguistics3 all mention the OODA Loop. Yet descriptions of the OODA loop can be as vague as

A top-level description of human behaviour [sic] in a tactical setting should include the processes involved in developing situation awareness, making decisions, then acting in accordance with a set of goals. Almost any discussion of military doctrine now includes the ‘OODA loop’ – Observe, Orient, Decide and Act (attributed to US Air Force pilot John Boyd). 4

Described in general terms in such varying publications as American Speech,5 International Affairs,6 The Journal of Military History7, The Journal of the Operational Research Society,8 and others,9 10 11 it is rarely precisely described. There are many different “OODA Loops,” devised by different authors at different times, that lend themselves to different sorts of analysis. They can be created to advocate some technique12 13 14 or technology,15 or as a starting point in decision support systems,16 simulation,17 18 19 20 or visualization.21 Authors should be familiar at least with the version that they are using, if not alternate systems, in order to fully comprehend their own writings and to write persuasively for those who may have encountered other OODA Loops.

This series will focus on three classes of OODA Loops: Boydian, Pseudo-Boydian, and Post-Boydian. Boydian OODA Loops are those created by John Boyd, the man who created the OODA loops but published little.22 Pseudo-Boydian loops are the reverse: they purport to be created by John Boyd yet contain substantive variations. Post-Boydian loops are written with a Boydian loop in mind, but ultimately reject the Boydian system to create something newer.

This article is not an exhaustive list of all the OODA loops “in the wild.” However, by using published journal articles, conference articles, monographs, graduate theses, and blogs, it attempts to capture as many as possible.

Variations of the OODA Loop, a tdaxp series:
Variations of the OODA Loop 1: Introduction
Variations of the OODA Loop 2: The Naive Boydian Loop
Variations of the OODA Loop 3: The Sophisticated Boydian Loop
Variations of the OODA Loop 4: Pseudo-Boydian Loops
Variations of the OODA Loop 5: Post-Boydian Loops
Variations of the OODA Loop 6: Bibliography

SkyFord: City of Pollution

The final segment of my Tianjin Sentiments (perhaps a fitting companion to another blogger’s “Balkan Memories“?) is of the pollution in Tianjin. Tianjin is composed of two characters — Tian meaning Heavenly or Sky, Jin meaning Ford. In a previous post I explained that I would translate Tian as “Heavenly” for beautiful things, and as “Sky” for more prosaic uses. Thus, this post on the pollution in Tianjin discusses contamination in Sky Ford.


The pollution in Skyford is everywhere. Our local guides explained that it was the result of the building boom that builds new offices, malls, and apartments everywhere. Certainly there was a lot of construction in Tianjin, as there was in Beijing.

Some of the power plants in Tianjin clearly gave off a blackish smoke

Moore cooling plants, these as scene from the train (metro)

At the Port of Tianjin I saw more trucks than I have ever seen, in my life.

Riding in a taxi in this is oddly relaxing: as you’ve already forfeited your life, there is nothing to do but wait.

A Chinese wears a mask (as I did) while gazing out at what was once the Pacific Ocean

To the smog-chocked horizon and beyond, industrial salt ponds grew on the reclaimed land. Plants did not.

Industrial machinery helps process the salt

Salt Town

The ocean was brown. The cause of that was, among other things…

… and oil refinery. The refinery is much, much closer than it looks. The deadly smog makes everything look hazy and far away, and this part of Tianjin had the worst smog of anywhere in China I’ve seen.

While the Ocean is dead, the port lives. The amount of shipping containers was Cyclopean, if not Lovecraftian

View of death from the former deathship, the Soviet ACC Kiev.

This was on the LSD-like riverfront of Skyford, near the strawberry house and waterfall. Ugly beyond description.

Tianjin, a tdaxp series.