With every rep of training, I felt myself kicking off the dust from the last few years. With every rep came the AAR, something I have long felt we do not do enough of. The training points were laid out and discussed. What I found lacking was the same I always had. Unless the “mistake” was glaring, it was glossed over. It was okay to do good enough.
I am a strong believer that you have to just make things work and the chaos of reality is never the confines of training. That being said, what we gloss over is what we silently say is acceptable. By omission we grant permission. We must seek to improve through the impossible pursuit of perfection.
In law enforcement, everyone loves to read the books of the GWOT generation. Much like the previous generations looking to the tales of the Vietnam veterans. The special operations community bore great burdens during our decades-long war, and the tales have been written and the “secrets” of leadership expressed. Everyone loves to talk about book after book, quote after quote, school after school, name after name, they almost all seem to miss the point. They settle with just good enough being better than it was before.
They all seem to miss the point in almost every single tale of success of the special operation community. It was the creed/ethos that drove the why and the relenting pursuit of the impossible perfection. Obviously, law enforcement as a whole cannot train to the level of these organizations, but they can start asking more questions. They can stop and address more issues. They can stop and explain the why.
Fundamentally law enforcement lives by the Peelian Principles. The fundamental aspect is we are the people serving our community. We are there to uphold the laws of the land and preserve the civil rights of citizens. This is the bedrock of our entire society. We must seek to be better than acceptable. We must seek to be hypervigilant to every mistake, mishap, and success. We must evaluate everything to become our best.
This happens through leadership and culture building. It means standing up when it’s not easy. It means everyone must be open to scrutiny and every action open to evaluation. It means being able to take chances and make mistakes. It means not training to “perfection” but training to failure. It is living by a creed and improving through the impossible pursuit of perfection.
Jake Smith is a law enforcement officer and former Army Ranger with four deployments to Afghanistan.
As the Voice of the Veteran Community, The Havok Journal seeks to publish a variety of perspectives on a number of sensitive subjects. Unless specifically noted otherwise, nothing we publish is an official point of view of The Havok Journal or any part of the U.S. government.