The Operational Act

Greetings Everyday Spy,

Every bit of money, planning, and effort that goes into a covert op is focused on one specific moment – the ‘Operational Act.’

While Hollywood paints spy missions to be multi-week events full of complex moving parts, real spies know that success requires clear objectives executed as simply as possible. Whether you are trying to interdict WMD, steal sensitive encryption codes, or drop bombs on extremists, success or failure happens in a single moment – the moment you execute on your objective. Whatever final activity you must complete to achieve your objective is defined as your ‘Operational Act.’

Some operational acts are complicated, like smuggling a stolen thumb drive across a military-controlled checkpoint.

Other acts are simple, like making a phone call from a public phone booth. No matter the act, the covert operator puts the same effort and attention into planning and execution. Because we know the operational act is the heart of the operation itself.

The same is true in your everyday life.

The thing you are hoping to accomplish by leaving the security of a controlled area is your objective: buying food, dropping off dry-cleaning, picking up kids, etc. 

The final activity you must execute in order to complete your objective is your operational act: exchanging money for food, trading clothes for a receipt, getting your kids into the car. 

All the steps between setting the objective and completing your operational act is the operation itself.

SItuational awareness is the tool you use to make your operational act a success.

When used properly, situational awareness starts the moment you move outside an area you control (your ‘safezone’). After leaving the safezone, you are in a situation that is unique and dynamic from moment to moment, but your awareness keeps you one step ahead and in a position of temporary control. At the moment of your operational act, you move into a position of heightened awareness and advanced control (we’ll get to that in your next lesson!) and then return to temporary control after your operational act.

If everything is making sense so far, great – you are right where you I want you to be.

Godspeed, #EverydaySpy

If things still seem a bit confusing, use this picture to help you visualize the flow. And like with all EverydaySpy training, make sure you complete your assigned ‘Skills Exercises!’

Skills Exercise:

Set two alarms for yourself for the next two days:

  1. For the first alarm, set the time to allow you to visit a local coffee shop tomorrow morning. Plan to arrive 15 minutes after they open. 
  2. For the second alarm, set the time to allow you to visit the same coffee shop two days from now and plan to arrive at 10:30am local time.

On the commute to the coffee shop both days, note for yourself what you think the situation will look like inside the coffee shop at the moment you pick up your order and leave (your ‘operational act’). For example, how many people will be in the coffee shop? How many in line? How many sitting inside? Will there be music playing, and if so how loud will the music be? Will there be cars in the drive through, and if so how many?

Once you arrive at the coffee shop and place your order, make a separate set of notes about what you physically observe in the real-time situation. 

After you complete your operational act both days, compare your notes and find which predictions were correct, which were incorrect, and what observations you made that you never predicted at all!

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