How is it that the Navy SEALs (and other special operations forces) are able to continuously prevail in combat situations where they are grossly outnumbered? What is it that allows them to defeat their enemies despite overwhelming adversity? You may think the answer is simply their extensive cache of high-tech equipment, but you could not be any more wrong. While possessing the most advanced hardware certainly bolsters their capabilities, they are merely supplemental in nature. As the old saying goes, “It is not the tools that make the craftsman.” The real “secret” behind their success lies within the software, the warrior ethos and the indomitable spirit.
So, how are these elite operators forged? What allows them to achieve/maintain such levels of mastery and performance? The common denominator is actually quite simple…training. They continually hone their craft through scenario-based simulations, stress inoculation, performance imagery, skill stations, intelligence gathering and analysis, along with physical conditioning. Through these efforts, the SEALs are able to refine their strategies and tactics, institute contingency plans and, most importantly, build implicit trust and cohesion. The end result is a high-speed organization that possesses the operational prowess and tactical agility to persevere, no matter what the circumstances.
Inadequate staffing has become a tragic reality for many fire companies across the country. Due to budget cuts and concessions, even those in urban communities (my own department included) are forced to contend with this glaring deficiency. Regardless of our resources, it is our solemn duty to safeguard the life and property of the citizens we swore to protect. In order to uphold that oath, it is imperative that we adapt and improvise to effectively and efficiently overcome such hindrances. Only by gaining, what Admiral McRaven (former Naval Special Operations Commander) refers to as, “relative superiority,” can a disadvantaged attacking force overwhelm their opponent and become victorious.
Accomplishing such a feat requires an organizational commitment to preparedness and the pursuit of excellence. Members need to believe in the significance of this undertaking and be given the resources and support to be successful. It is said that necessity is the mother of innovation so, members at all levels should be empowered to apply their talents, to think outside the box and push the limits of our normative constraints. We must embolden those individuals who are daring, passionate and possess a genuine desire to advance their organization and all those within it. For they are the very life blood of the fire service and the force multipliers which grant us the resiliency to triumph against all odds.
We as an industry cannot afford to succumb to the societal pressures and temptations to embrace mediocrity and tolerate meagerness. The public demands the highest caliber of service and relies on our optimal performance to restore order in their greatest time of need. We must possess the fortitude to not accept anything less and put forth the effort necessary to attain that standard. To borrow a line from the movie Lone Survivor, “Anything in life worth doing is worth overdoing, moderation is for cowards.” Because on that inevitable day you are called upon, there must be no hesitation or uncertainty, only steadfast action and…no regrets.