Lesson 29: Be consistent, but not too predictable

A major part of military training and operations revolves around standardization.  General training and principles that are in effect throughout the entire branch in a broad effort to mitigate as much confusion as possible.  There is a reason that every member, regardless of military occupational specialty, regular enlisted, reserve, guard, officer, etc., goes through a basic military training course.  Everyone receives this training so that every member knows and understands the basic principle.  It is this consistency that is the main reason each individual branch can be so effective.  It is not only the training that remains consistent, but also each individual member training to consistently contribute to the overall military machine.

You spend weeks on end learning the routines and it gets to the point where whatever you knew or did prior to service becomes a distant memory.  There are expectations to be met and the consistency that is trained into you takes over.  Depending on what your military occupational specialty is, this can be a good or bad thing.  When it comes to mechanical work or anything involving machinery or engineering, consistency is crucial.  For the most part, this would apply to the medical field as well.  The operations table in the middle of a life saving surgery is not the best time for experimentation, although, given that no two wounds or bodies are the same, some improvisation might be called for in response to a constantly changing situation.  For the career field I occupied, consistency had its place, but it could also be the most dangerous practice to implement.

As a member of Air Force Security Forces, we wanted to be consistently good at our jobs and apply military rules and regulations in a consistent and fair manner.  The problem comes when these consistencies in operations becomes predictable.  I am not referring to being predictably fair.  I am talking about engaging in practices that allow for anyone outside the organization to be able to predict operational patterns of any kind.  Whether it is during war time or peace, the worst thing any protective force can be, is predictable.  The consistency of a security presence making the people feel comfortable and safe can also create a potentially dangerous situation.  Consistency, while seemingly professional, can also become the indicator of vulnerabilities.  Like all good things, it is important to identify the proper balances.

One of the most effective security measures in history is a lot simpler than most people might believe.  It is yet another of the many military oxymorons you will encounter.  Consistent randomness.  If you were thinking that it was some kind of tool or technology, you are probably not alone in that belief.  The best security isn’t a thing.  Being consistently random and changing things in a way that has no pattern is one of the best strategic tools ever conceived.  We always had set posts and patrols on the installation, but the operations of these individual posts and patrols was never the same.  Randomly selected operations and checks would be implemented at randomly selected windows of time, so no one knew with 100% accuracy where everyone was going to be, at what time, what exactly they would be doing, or for how long.            

There is no proven security method that is completely fool proof.  No matter how much randomness exists, there is always going to be one factor that could potentially overcome even the best possible security, medical procedure, military operation, etc.  There are many words for it.  Luck, fate, destiny, whatever you want to call it, it happens.  When it does, the best thing you can do is resort to your training and do your best to mitigate disaster.  When fate deals you a bad hand, the best option is to resort to consistency and to remember that everyone around you has received that similar training and you are all going to do the best you can to make sure that the least number of bad things happens.  Whether you are consistent or unpredictable, things don’t always go your way.

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