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August 2, 2016

Left of Bang Training In Law Enforcement: A White Paper

In May of this year, Shane Wickson, a patrol lieutenant with the Cleburne Police Department in Texas published a white paper titled, “Tactical Behavioral Profiling Training For Texas Peace Officers” explaining why behavioral analysis should be taught during a police officer’s entry-level training. This paper highlights a key problem facing modern-day police officers. Despite the rising risk of officers being ambushed in the line of duty, Wickson notes, “all training that pertains to pre-attack indicators or reading situations is done on the job or via elective coursework. These courses are not usually supported by the department and individual officers usually pay for and the courses on their own.” As the concepts written about in Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life and taught in our Tactical Analysis Program are designed to take the “magic” out of threat recognition through our structured Baseline + Anomaly = Decision approach and the clear categorization of behavior into the four pillars, those components of situational awareness become the foundation that are developed throughout an officer’s career, making them more safe and more survivable while on the job.

Shane Wickson’s white paper, which was written while he attended The Bill Blackwood Law Enforcement Management Institute of Texas, has been added to our behavioral library and can be found by clicking here.

July 29, 2016

How Often Can I Rewatch Training Modules?

One of the questions that we often get from online students before they choose to train with us is in regards to viewing and reviewing the individual training modules included in our training programs.

One of our primary goals at The CP Journal is to get the information, content, and materials that we have built and continue to enhance into the hands of the people that truly need it and want it.  Because of that, we make our online training modules and courses reviewable as often as the individual student would like.

Early on in the feedback process we heard from online students that they often felt the need to rewatch certain modules over and over again to really internalize the material and get to the understanding of being able to implement the behaviors in their own day-to-day lives. With this feedback in mind, once you purchase an online training course from us and choose to train in our online learning environment, we want to make sure you have the flexibility to rewatch any lessons as often as you would like.

As we continue to enhance our courses and add new material, you will continue to have access. If you are unsure whether there have been updates since last you logged in, you can visit our Course Road Map and see if there have been any updates to the materials.

Thank you to our online students who continue to incorporate our training programs into their larger initiative to improve situational awareness and understanding of human behavior. Please continue to direct any questions pertaining to our online learning programs to:


July 26, 2016

How “Gates of Fire” Can Help Millennials and Their Leaders: Lessons and a Reading Guide

gates-of-fire-coverThe millennial generation often gets a bad rap from people in the military and police communities for stereotypically asking their leaders “why” they are doing something instead of blindly doing what they’re told to do. While there are situations when there simply isn’t time to answer this question and you truly just need to trust the person to perform the task without asking questions, I never completely understood the criticism of people who ask the question, “Why?” Almost all of my training and experience as a Marine Infantry Officer taught me to seek out an understanding or the purpose for what we were doing, as the times when there wasn’t time for an explanation were infrequent. The pursuit of knowing why we were going to conduct any operation is summarized in the Marine Corps’ doctrinal publication, MCDP-1: Warfighting, where we were taught that there are two parts to a mission; there is the task to be conducted and the desired result from that action. The reason for the two parts is because the leader can only assign tasks based on the information currently available to them at the time. Yet, as the situations that police officers and military service members operate in are dynamic, the commander needs to allow for flexibility in how the task will be performed in case the situation has completely changed. By making the intent for the operation explicit and explaining why the task has been assigned, it allows the men and women on the ground to adapt to the situation when the initial task is no longer the best way to accomplish the mission. While tasks may become irrelevant, the intentions for the action don’t. So, for someone operating on the ground, failing to know why you are doing something and not implicitly understanding what the purpose is for an action is incredibly dangerous, as it means you eliminate your ability to adapt to any new conditions you face.

Staying committed to a certain task without understanding what that task is supposed to accomplish is dangerous because it means you are operating in a way that reveals you have been taught “what to do” and “what to think” instead of being taught “how to think” and “why to do.” Being tied to a task without a purpose requires that you get permission or guidance to do something because you are unsure of what your goal is. You become incapable of exhibiting initiative because the task was provided without context. The commander’s intent, which is the explanation of why a task should be done and what end state the commander is looking to accomplish in the operation, is the most important component of the mission because it allows for those on the ground to adapt to the changing circumstances. If this is the case, then why are people who seek that understanding considered insubordinate instead of being recognized as a professional in their field?

In the numerous articles that I’ve read about how to lead millennials, I’ve found that there are two types of people who fill the ranks as commanders in the military and police forces. There are those that embrace the opportunity to explain their intentions for an action (true leaders) and there are those that will always view junior members of their unit who ask why with contempt (dictators). A dictator might answer questions about why something is being done with phrases like “that is the way we have always done it here” for a number of reasons. This might be because they actually don’t know why they are doing something and are simply repeating the actions that they saw the person who had the job before them do. Or, it could be because the ability to step back from a situation and truly explain the purpose for something requires that they step off the path of least resistance and perhaps they are too lazy to put in the mental effort. While it’s frustrating to realize that, in this case, your own chain of command will not be a source of professional development for you, this shouldn’t hinder your pursuit of understanding what the purpose of your tasks are. You should instead focus yours effort on learning how to find these answers for yourself.

While it is perfectly logical that someone who wants to understand why something is being done would turn to the person in their chain of command who assigned the task for that answer, a critical skill for professional warriors is the ability to find the answers to these questions on their own. There are other sources you can turn to as you seek to develop yourself and your ability to define why something is being done that is completely within your control. The most accessible form of that wisdom within your control is in books, which is why many military leaders release recommended reading lists for their unit, as they often times provide the answers that the Marines, soldiers, sailors and airmen might have at various points in their career.

As an example, consider the historical fiction book Gates of Fire by Steven Pressfield, which has found a home on many of these recommended reading lists, including the Marine Corps’ Commandant’s Professional Reading List for new Marines, both for new enlisted Marines and new officers. The story is about the 300 Spartan warriors led by Leonidas who stood up to over one million Persians at the battle of Thermopylae. The story is told

July 18, 2016

Can I Add Level 2 After Starting the Basic Course?

We’ve gotten a few questions recently from our students who have purchased our Basic course and wish to add the Advanced content before they finish the Basic course.  We thought it might make sense to share a short post about the current status of that option, the rationale for why it is set up that way, and the steps to get all of the content that you want.

At present, you can choose to train with us either in our Basic or Advanced online programs before purchasing any program.  The Basic program includes eight hours of our Level 1 content with relevant scenarios for the version that you choose.  The Advanced course includes all of the content from Basic and a second level of eight-hour content to take the training a step further.  If you choose to begin training with us in our Basic course, at present, we only make available the option to add Level 2 (Advanced) content at the conclusion of the course.

We don’t make the individual Level 2 course add-on available on our purchase page because of the pre-requisite course requirements that are set up with our online training software.  Because we offer different programs for the different client markets that we operate in, some people may purchase Level 2 of a different course, and be thoroughly confused as to why the content isn’t lining up.

At the conclusion of Level 1, you will see the option to add-on Level 2 and continue training with us.  We trust that you will continue to find the content engaging, so much so that you will still want to purchase Level 2 when the option presents itself.  We are continuing to make content and course experience enhancements to our training and greatly value the feedback that we receive from our online students.

Please continue to send us feedback on your experiences and never hesitate to let us know any time you have any other questions. We are glad to help.  We can be reached directly via e-mail at


July 15, 2016

Interview On The Capable Civilian Podcast

A couple of weeks ago I had the chance to talk with Alex Fox who runs The Capable Civilian Podcast to talk about our book, Left of Bang: How the Marine Corps Combat Hunter Program Can Save Your Life, to show how civilians can ensure their own safety in this increasingly dangerous world. I really enjoyed this conversation and we talked about a broad range of issues to include the creation of the Combat Hunter program, what situation awareness is, how to read behavior, why you should stop looking for “threats,” why you can trust your instincts and how you can develop them.

If you are looking to dig a little deeper into any of the topics we discussed, here are a few articles that expand on what we talked about.

I really enjoyed this conversation and encourage you to take a look at the Capable Civilian Podcast and follow Alex on Twitter.


July 11, 2016

How We View Competition: Part 2


In an article I posted last week about why we don’t spend much of our time or energy here at The CP Journal thinking the competitors to our business, I explained how we use the “3 Buckets of Control” to focus only on those things that we can do to support our students. The reason why I discussed this view is not because we aren’t competitive. By defining the people and organizations who are not our enemies, we can focus on those who truly are. The adversaries that we compete with are not other businesses in our field. They are the predators who are attempting to hide within our communities and interrupt our right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Our clients might call this adversary a terrorist, an active shooter, a deranged fan, a bully or a gang member, and as we seek to support our clients in their fight against these predators, there are a few key considerations that make up our perspective on our true competitors.

1. This is a competition with clear winners and losers.

As we move through 2016 and consider the violence we have experienced in the past few years, the world certainly feels like a more dangerous place than it did even just five or six years ago. We have seen high profile terrorist attacks in Paris, Brussels and Orlando. We have seen race-related violence that led to the recent murder of five police officers in Dallas, Texas, and the murder of nine people at a church in Charleston, South Carolina. We have seen and experienced how often we turn on breaking news to listen to the reporting of an active shooter in our schools, workplaces and city sidewalks. While the “experts” appearing on 24-hour news channels debate whether this is an actual rise in violence or just a rise in the reporting of violence, the distinction is irrelevant. It simply feels more violent out there and, because of the fact that success stories where the good guys stop an attack by being left of bang aren’t reported as frequently as when attackers succeed, it feels like the predators are winning this fight.

Fighting a perception of pervasive violence is a big enough challenge in its own right and there is no room for people who think that we are doing things “good enough,” because clearly we aren’t. In their

July 6, 2016

The Collective Mood and You


Here at The CP Journal, a lot of our work centers on personal safety and security and is geared towards professions such as the military, police, and security. However, many of the concepts that we teach our clients can be easily transferred to the civilian world for anyone to use.  In two recent posts, I outlined the four clusters of observable behavior that we teach our clients and broke down the first two pillars, which are the individual and groups.  I applied a common sense language to both pillars so that they can be easily applied to everyday life.  As a follow-up to those posts, I will now walk through the next pillar, the collective mood, and explain what it is, how to recognize the mood around you, and how to use that information to make more informed decisions for your own personal safety and to improve your overall communication with other people.

The collective mood of an area is best described as the social or emotional atmosphere of an environment, situation, or place.  By assessing the collective mood in your everyday routine you will be able to set a baseline for all of the places you visit on a daily basis and then be able to more accurately assess the individuals and groups that don’t align with the given situation.  These misalignments, or anomalies, can help you recognize potential threats or people that are present with intentions other than the norm for the area. The two mutually exclusive assessments for the collective mood are positive or negative, and you can determine the collective mood by either thinking about it from a

June 30, 2016

How We Consider Competition In Our Business

cp-journal-logo-black-spatterA few weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast interview in which Jason Fried, the founder of Basecamp (formerly 37 Signals), was talking about how he has built his company and influenced his company’s culture. I first became a fan of Jason’s work and his ideas after he sent a box of his book, Rework, to my unit when I was still an instructor in the Marine Corps’ Combat Hunter Program. What immediately impressed me was how deliberate and intentional he seemingly was about every decision he made for his business. Many of his ideas have gone against the grain of “business as usual” as he provides all of his employees with a paid vacation anywhere they want to go in the world for themselves and their families, letting his employees work from anywhere in the world, and paying for personal education like guitar lessons or culinary school for his employees as a few examples. It was clear in his writing that the common sense (yet unconventional) decisions he was making were not something to do just because other businesses were doing it, but because it was the right thing to do for his company. That level of thoughtfulness has stuck with me over the last five years as Jonathan and I have built The CP Journal and we have tried to apply the high degree of intentionality to the decisions we have made. As there have been a growing number of people offering “Combat Hunter training” for civilians, we have had a number of conversations with people in the past few weeks about how we view competition in our business. As we have always strived to build a company that we would want to do business with, how we view these competitors has helped us to become even more customer-focused than before.

When people ask us how we view competition to our business, the short answer is that we don’t. We have made the choice to

June 25, 2016

How To Tell Better Stories and Improve Case Study Presentations

nobody-wants-to-read-your-sh*tThis past week I had the privilege of presenting around the Los Angeles area with the Joint Regional Intelligence Center. Over the course of the three days of events, I got to hear an impactful, engaging and moving presentation about the ambush of two Las Vegas Metro Police officers from a detective in that department. As case studies and “lessons learned” presentations are so important to furthering the profession of warriors, protectors and guardians, I found myself thinking about what made this particular presentation so strong. Alternatively, as I’ve seen many of these presentations, what has made others so boring and hard to sit through? While it is easy to focus on obvious things that might detract from a presentation, like a speaker who visibly isn’t passionate about their topic or a presenter who reads their text and bullet point filled PowerPoint slides to their sleeping audience, I’ve found that the most engaging case studies and lessons learned presentations are the ones that tell the best story.

For presenters looking to improve their speaking performances, I recommend you pick up Steven Pressfield’s most recent book, Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t: Why That is and What You Can Do About It. The aptly titled book isn’t only for writers but also provides a number of takeaways for speakers looking to improve their presentation delivery. When it comes to improving the case study presentations, we can start with his chapter on “How To Write A Boring Memoir.” Pressfield writes:

May 29, 2016

The Difference Between Memorial Day and Veterans Day and Five Ways to Honor Those Who Made the Ultimate Sacrifice

In the last week there have been a number of people who have thanked me for my service in the Marines as we’ve gotten closer and closer to Memorial Day. While I’m always appreciative when people acknowledge service members, Memorial Day truthfully isn’t meant for me or any other living veteran. Memorial Day is the day we set aside every year to honor those who have died while serving in the military, while Veterans Day is the day when our country honors all of those who have served. While those men and women who are currently on active duty, in the reserves, or are veterans absolutely made sacrifices while serving, Memorial Day is meant to honor those who made the ultimate sacrifice and were killed while fighting for our country.

Memorial Day is meant to remember heroes like Marine Corporal Jacob Leicht, who was killed by an IED on May 27, 2010.  He died in Afghanistan two years and nearly 20 surgeries after his leg was shattered by an IED during his first deployment to Iraq. He is a hero because he had to fight the Marine Corps leadership to send him to a deploying battalion because he didn’t feel he was done serving our country.

Memorial Day is a day to remember warriors like Marine Sergeant John Rankel, who was killed in action on June 7, 2010.  He was a warrior because he was killed on his third deployment, a deployment he volunteered for because a unit that was heading to Afghanistan was short on non-commissioned officers.

Memorial Day is a day to remember leaders like Marine Captain Matt Manoukian, who was killed on his third deployment in a green-on-blue (insider) attack by a member of the Afghan security forces his MARSOC Team was partnered with.

So, while thanking a veteran is certainly always appreciated, here are a few other ways you can honor those who paid the ultimate sacrifice this Memorial Day:

1. Take your son, daughter, niece or nephew outside and talk to them about the flags you see flying around you. Teach them that America has had to fight for the freedoms we have and that nothing was given to us. Teach them that people had to die to earn what the flags represent and what we take for granted every day.

2. Have a non-emotional and practical conversation with someone who has a different political view than you do. As we get closer to our presidential election this year, where you will continue to hear politicians talk about their opponents as enemies, remember that America has actual enemies and, while those holding office will make the decision to go to war, there are a lot of young men and women who will leave home to fight it, and not all of them will come back from it.

3. If you do want to thank a veteran, go to a parade or a Memorial Day event, remember that the veterans and the active duty service-members present are a proxy for those who can’t be at the event.

4. Think about how you can tangibly support our military. After WWII, we built an entire defense industry so that American citizens wouldn’t have to bear the burden of supporting a war effort and, while there are pros and cons to that, it doesn’t mean that Americans can be ignorant of our wars either.

5. Remember that Memorial Day is a holiday to honor those who died while serving in our military during any period in our history. The wars in Afghanistan and Iraq might be the most recent, which is why those three Marines I talked about earlier are the ones on my mind this weekend, but I write this after also recently talking to a WWII veteran who saw many more die during his two beach landings in the Pacific. As Memorial Day is for all of those who died, don’t let recent experiences dominate your thinking at the detriment of those who came before us.

This Monday, remember why we celebrate the freedoms that those who have died have provided for us.

Never forget and never quit.

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons

May 18, 2016

A Recap From March and April

cp-journal-conference-tableThank you to everyone for the support at the start of 2016.  We often get asked to share some of our experiences from time to time and thought it would be helpful if we compiled some results from March and April as a way of saying thank you to those that have made behavioral analysis and enhanced situational awareness a larger part of their process.

Left of Bang Update:

In the months of March and April, Amazon received 29 reviews of the book.  Thank you to everyone who has let us know they have read the book and for those that have taken the time to review it for others.  We greatly appreciate your support.  While the majority of the reviews that came in through Amazon this month were five-star, we wanted to share the comments from this four-star review because we think it sets a great expectation for the book and how it can be applied to the civilian world.  Here are the comments from a verified purchaser:

May 12, 2016

A Practice Video – A Robbery In A Mall Food Court

This week, Chris Pendas from Staying Safe Self Defense, posted a great lessons-learned video (embedded below) for his readers about situational awareness by analyzing security footage from a mall food court. Chris was gracious enough to let us share the video so that we could expand on his debrief for our readers using the behaviors and terminology taught in Left of Bang and in our training programs.  

So first, watch the video (it is about 5 minutes long and requires sound) to take in the scene, to observe the theft of a purse and hear the teaching points that Chris highlights for ways to ensure your personal safety in public spaces.


Here is how we would work our way through the Baseline + Anomaly = Decision observation process. For an explanation about all of the assessments used below, we recommend that you download our “Cluster Cards” for more information.

The Baseline: