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OODA Cycle/Loop

“People…ideas…hardware.” Always in that order. These are Col. John Boyd’s words.

Here is some recommended reading for further insight and understanding into Col. John Boyd, the fighter pilot, and more importantly, his contribution through the creation of the OODA Cycle/Loop. Read with an open mind and the ability to conceptualize the integration of the content with what you do.

For example, Col. Boyd had a conceptual design of the ultimate fighting aircraft, which was a lightweight highly maneuverable aircraft…a “true” fighting machine…but when the military bureaucrats would not capitulate to these designs, the aircraft took on a whole new look with the addition of what was considered to be “advanced technology”. This added weight had negative effects on the maneuverability of the aircraft.

So “what does that have to do with me”, you ask? Think about all the gear you carry during a raid, hit, operation, etc. Did you ever take the time to reflect on how much that additional weight effected, or may have affected, your maneuverability? Are you that “true” fighting machine?

Col. Boyd was not necessarily an instructor, but more of an inspiration in the fact that his desire was for you to discover the insights and connections before being told or shown. He not only wanted you to be ahead of the curve…he wanted you to set the curve.

Below are two additional works of Col. Boyd: "Patterns of Conflict" and "The Strategic Game of ? and ?". Both are made available to you with the permission of Mr. Chet Richards. For additional information please visit the website "Defense and the National Interest". 

OODA Loop Articles


Boyd: The Fighter Pilot Who Changed the Art of War

Author: Robert Coram

“A good overall introduction to Col. John Boyd, his acolytes (closest associates), and the OODA Cycle/Loop."

Science, Strategy and War: The Strategic Theory of John Boyd

Author: Frans P. Osinga

“He who can handle the quickest rate of change…survives.” So said Col. John Boyd. This text focuses on the deeper interpretation of Col. Boyd’s strategic thoughts and applications. Readers will find a greater insight and understanding of his work. More for the “detail” oriented individual.

A Swift, Elusive Sword: What if Sun Tzu and John Boyd Did a National Defense Review?

Author: Chester W. Richards


“Short, sweet, and to the point. Provides the reader with a deeper understanding in what Col. Boyd would have conceptualized for National Defense, with the integration of traditional thought from Sun Tzu. Also takes a peak into 4th Generation Warfare.”

Maneuver Warfare Handbook (Westview Special Studies in Military Affairs)

Author: William S. Lind

“Even though this text was written for Marines for improving ground combat forces, the ideas and purpose of its explanation regarding maneuver warfare can be utilized by anyone. This text does not focus on the “overpowering by numbers” doctrine, but rather explores the groundwork for disrupting the thought and reaction of the enemy.”

The Mind of War: John Boyd and American Security

Author: Grant T. Hammond

“The author explores Col. John Boyd’s ideas and how they impacted the lives of others. The book provides a better understanding of Col. Boyd, his ideas and their significance. In so doing he disseminates the depth of Boyd’s vision and explains the many applications and their importance for a broader public.