The Wingman-Philosopher of Mig Alley: John Boyd and the OODA Loop (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) (Essay) - Air Power History

The Wingman-Philosopher of Mig Alley: John Boyd and the OODA Loop (Observe-Orient-Decide-Act) (Essay)

By Air Power History

  • Release Date: 2011-12-22
  • Genre: Engineering


[ILLUSTRATION OMITTED] In "John Boyd and John Warden: Airpower's Quest for Strategic Paralysis," Maj. Gen. David S. Fadok describes John Boyd's theory of conflict as "an eclectic and esoteric discourse on how to survive and win in a competitive world." (1) The author, however, makes it clear that this discourse did not spring fully-formed from Boyd's forehead; a number of years, experiences, and influences steered Boyd toward this philosophy. Boyd broke from the physical and spatial parameters that limited predecessors and instead emphasized the temporal and psychological. Surprise, in effect, is the prime goal, and to achieve this Boyd advocated operations at a faster tempo than that of one's adversary. His "Boyd Cycle" or "OODA (2) Loop" especially has migrated from a tactical construct toward wider application; it has found advocates not only in the U.S. military, but also in the realms of business and sports--anywhere a competitor seeks an edge. Boyd's OODA loop is still pertinent; dissecting its historical influences, however, may be just as useful when formulating an approach toward U.S. security.