One of the most important — and most ignored — parts of any process or action is the post-event report and analysis. Whether you call it an AAR, a 3 up/3 down, or just “going over what happened,” it’s one of the best ways to parse out a given event. What worked? What didn’t? Who was on the ball? Who screwed up? What can change? What gets kept?
Another thing that’s important is that it doesn’t have to be your event in order for you to analyze it. In fact, sometimes it’s better if it wasn’t; people tend to be emotionally attached to things when they had skin in the game, and are far more apt to say OUR EVENT WAS AWESOME, YOU JUST SHUT UP if anyone sits down and says, “You know, Bob, this and that could’ve been better.”
There’s also another tendency, however, to be the opposite when studying events we did not plan or engage in. By default, whatever those other people did or are doing is wrong, according to the peanut gallery, and you can go to any number of websites to find people completely willing to tell you that you’re wrong while bringing nothing to the table themselves.
So which is correct? Is the naysayer on point? Or is the defender right? Actually, neither of them are.
What happens when you strongly disagree with BOTH sides in a given event? Can you still learn something from it? The answer is an unequivocal yes. Read on.
Analyzing an Event
Regardless of who started it, who’s doing it, and whether it’s an event, group policy, or single act by a member of your group, analysis requires a few things.
- Setting aside emotion ego, and even the ideology of the parties involved.
- Critical thinking.
- Comparison of the event in question to established procedures or tested practices.
- Honest consideration of faults or mistakes that become apparent.
- Honest consideration of solid practices, even if they’re being done by a group or person you despise.
- Willingness to deploy countermeasures for damage mitigation, or change practices to align with what you’ve learned, if necessary.
If you cannot or will not do the above, then don’t bother analyzing anything, because your conclusions will be incorrect and possibly even dangerous.
What Can You Analyze?
What types of events could you look at? There are many different situations that can net you something useful. Here’s just a small list to get you started.
- COINTELPRO – We all know the basics, but you should really study up on the specifics. How was it done? What were the entry points? What were the tactics? Don’t look at it like “man, those feds are evil and they violated rights and …” Look at it clinically. Critically. If you were going to engage in that exact activity, what could you learn from COINTELPRO in order to be successful?
- Malheur – There’s some kind of idea that this series of events is beyond reproach, or that any critical analysis is somehow disrespectful. It’s not. In fact, if you do NOT analyze it, you do yourself and your group a disservice.
- ALF/ELF activities – There is much to be learned from these two groups, even if their tactics and belief system are morally repugnant. Specifically, analyze their security practices.
- AntiFa engagements and practices – Ignore them at your own peril.
- 4Chan OSINT – Like it or not, they leverage an amazing amount of power. Learn why, or don’t. For bonus points, watch HOW they do what they do.
Remember, you don’t have to agree with either side, or anything they do or believe. This isn’t about agreement. It’s about learning things you need to know, regardless of where you’re learning them from.
How Do You Analyze?
Entire books and classes have been designed around the principles of analysis. It’s not something you can learn everything about just from reading an article. You can, however, get started by asking questions.
Once you’ve chosen something to look at, start with the basics.
- What is the group/event about? What do they want?
- What are they willing to do to get what they want?
- Who are the players? Where are their loyalties? Where are their weaknesses?
- What happened in the event? Keep in mind that there are two sides to every story and the truth is usually somewhere in the middle (even if it’s leaning to one side or another). Look at a variety of sources, but also ask yourself what those sources gain. Where are they aligned?
- Where does/did the money come from? Where are/were they funded? Where does the money go?
- How do/did they do what they do? What skills did they need to do it? Where did they learn them?
Once you’ve gotten those answered, dig a little deeper.
- Was their action successful (did it achieve the goals they had set out)?
- What was the collateral damage? Could that collateral have been prevented? If so, how?
- Where did they go wrong? What could have been done better? (For this part you’ll need to also explain why; contrary to what you’ll see a lot of on various sites, it’s not enough to just crap on things or pontificate about why it’s wrong. You need to bring something better to the table.)
- What/who was their adversary? What was that adversary doing? Were they successful in preventing/mitigating damage?
Keep going in that vein.
Eventually you’ll have a pretty solid understanding of the who/what/where/when/how. You can start looking at the good/bad aspects and taking what you can from it. What can or should you incorporate into your own activities or procedures? What things did you learn to avoid? What will you keep but modify for your own use?
There is nothing to be lost by analyzing events and taking a hard look at your own activities and those of others. I’ve personally learned a great deal from revisiting things I’ve been involved with, actions I’ve taken or activities I’ve helped organize. If you’re brutally honest with yourself and engage some critical thinking skills to go along with the training you’re continuing to get (you are training, right?), you will see a lot of things you would change, and that can be a bit embarrassing. But it’ll also help you to stop making those same mistakes over and over. Get better, and be more efficient. If you find that you made a mistake, then ensure you only make it once.