SITUATIONAL UNDERSTANDING

This section begins with the role of decision-making in achieving overmatch and how individual and shared situational understanding is essential to decision-making and execution. In that context, it then explains how three levels of situational awareness are needed to support decision-making and execution that produces decisive action.

The Role of Decision-Making in Overmatch

Deliberate decision-making is the process of identifying a problem to be solved, developing alternative courses of action for consideration, comparing anticipated outcomes of those courses of action, and selecting a course of action from that set for execution. It is critical to acknowledge that making decisions well is one, if not the, central goal for the dismounted Soldier and TSU with decisive overmatch. The challenge, of course, is that Soldiers and TSUs must make these decisions (1) under conditions of limited information, (2) when they have only limited time to make their decision, and (3) under conditions in which outcomes are uncertain (although it should be noted that as long as the likelihood of an outcome is known, this poses no special problem). Further, in order for the TSU to achieve decisive overmatch in a direct engagement, the timing of the decision must be within the opponent’s decision cycle; that is, it must be made and acted upon more quickly than the time for the opponent to react.

In practice, Soldiers and TSUs achieve this kind of deliberate decision-making in one of two basic ways; they either engage in some kind of formal reasoning or they come to this decision with a more intuitive, or “gut-level” process. It is critical to acknowledge that both methods can work well. In fact, perhaps the central goal of training is to teach Soldiers and TSUs how to make decisions rapidly using intuitive approaches that are built by effective training rather than by slower, formal-reasoning-based techniques. Current neuroscientific research makes it clear that practice does indeed foster this change, shifting the location of decision-related brain activity from the frontal cortex to more automatic and evolutionarily ancient structures as training progresses.

For Soldiers and TSUs to take decisive action in the continuous, simultaneous combinations of all tasks, they will often have to make decisions almost immediately, which heightens the importance of highly effective training aimed at developing effective rapid decision-making skills in every area of capability. Soldiers and TSUs thus must be given both the human abilities required to make decisions that are as nearly optimal as possible and the materiel required to execute those decisions in a timely manner. From a human dimension perspective, Soldiers and TSUs must receive the training required to achieve effective near-optimal decision making in a rapid and intuitive way, as measured using robust and well-validated measures of effectiveness, prior to entering the operations area. For stability tasks, cultural knowledge and awareness are critical



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