Tac IQ


Screen Shot 2019-06-05 at 8.45.41 PM

Emotional Intelligence (EIQ) is a well known concept, and has been discussed in the tactical community before. I believe that there is a “Tactical Intelligence” (TIQ), or Tac IQ if you will, that includes EIQ but is more comprehensive and applicable in  response to threat and critical incidents. And that Tac IQ should be the default mode for arms-carrying tacticians.

This article on Core Cognitive Capacities  got me to thinking how they transferred to TIQ/Tac IQ. Several are commonplace in current tactical instruction, some even have direct correspondences to age-old teachings in the martial tradition – the human body and mind react to violence in the same ways they always have, and the best tacticians have always learned to moderate their stress similarly.

Sustained Attention:

Sustained Attention is the act of sustaining attention during threat encounters, in order to maximize our ability to manage them and adapt to changes.

This is difficult to achieve, as often people become distracted by various things that are inconsequential to what needs to be done, irrelevant to the situation, and even by their own internal state. The can be what we might call “vapor lock,” panic, or even a complete shut down.

Response Inhibition

Being confronted with acts or events that are threatening rattles most of us at least a bit; but it shakes some people to their core. Those who can manage their emotions, and thus their responses, and who learn to inhibit the responses that are counter-productive, are more solid tacticians.

We call it “keeping cool,” being “dialed in,” or “solid” when under pressure. It has also been called “imperturbable.”

Skill is independent of emotional state, by and large. I have seen a number of people with high levels of skill that were simply unable to keep their cool when things got serious. Their wires came loose, and they came undone.

Speed of Information Processing

This is also information prioritization at speed. This is the Orient part of Boyds OODA Loop. “Awareness” – Observation – allows us to take in information, but says nothing about processing or prioritizing it. Trying to be aware of everything is actually counter-productive – we must learn to chunk information and assess what we need to attend to right now and what can wait. The more complex a situation is, the more moving parts involved, the more important this is.


Cognitive Flexibility and Control

Flexibility AND Control. We learn Control through the patterns of behavior that we practice in tactical training. Examples of such patterns would be using verbal commands to direct a subject to do certain things: hands up, turn and face away, get down on your knees, etc. Or, conducting a high risk traffic stop.

Flexibility is the ability to adapt the pattern to the needs of the particular situation. It is actually fairly difficult for some to adjust, to change what they “know” or have practiced to something that makes more sense under the present circumstances.


Multiple Simultaneous Attention

Multi-tasking. Something which we as humans are actually pretty much unable to do.

From a tactical perspective, this goes back to prioritization and flexibility. Multi-tasking really isn’t doing a bunch of things at once, its being able to switch between things based on priorities, and knowing when it is right, or when it is okay, to switch. We may even have to switch our attention back. This demonstrates how important information prioritization, information processing, and cognitive flexibility are when we have to “multi-task.”


Working Memory

Keeping information in mind long enough to perform tasks. In order to know when to switch back through multiple things that need attention, we have to keep in mind what it was we need to switch back to, and when it would be best to do so. Stuff gets missed, and the stuff that gets missed can be what makes all the difference.


Category Formation

Organizing information into categories: threat and non-threat for instance. Then dialing in further so that even with a confirmed threat, we can categorize threatening and non-threatening actions and what are appropriate responses to each. If you have ever watched a group of police officers conducting a high-risk arrest you can see this exemplified. Known violent, potentially armed suspects can be compliant with arrest, and are all the time. There is always a potential threat that the suspect is baiting officers into some kind of ambush, or of an opportunistic attempt to either assault officers or escape, but they cannot proceed with all their actions as if this is absolutely the case.  They have to categorize the compliant threat differently than an active one, at least for the time being.

Pattern Recognition

And how do we categorize things? Through an ability to find patterns and deduce what is going to happen based on the pattern. Recognizing anomalies in the patterns that may spark a need for further attention and assist in categorizing. Here is where Awareness is important – because we have to see stuff in order to see patterns and make sense of them.

Similarly, we have to recognize patterns to recognize what patterns we may use in response. The “pattern” of an active threat necessitates a different response pattern than an armed subject that is not currently active does. Recognizing the difference means better recognizing the response.


Technical training absent the above is far more status quo than otherwise. Yet tactical and combative skills are not employed in a vacuum, and in reality can only be properly applied when exercising the above capacities. Seeking out training and experience that engages Tac IQ and refines it is the only path toward tactical excellence. Identifying the Tac IQ capacities are the best way to develop our skills in each of these areas.











Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s