Green Berets have extensive training in tactics. Phase three of the qualification is 12 weeks of “tactical skills.” In Afghanistan or Iraq, tactics mean the difference between taking fire and being overrun. The word has been diluted and overused. Green Berets know a few things about tactics.

“Tactics mean doing what you can with what you have.”—Saul Alinski

Currently, there seems to be a movement to ridicule the ubiquitous word “tactics.” I mean to take the word back. “Combat” is also a much-abused word, as is “operator,” but that is another problem altogether.

Tactics are not strategy. Tactics are an action or series of actions performed in a way that gives you an advantage. Strategy is a plan, which may involve many tactics, to obtain a goal or objective. Today we talk about tactics.

“Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat.”—Sun Tzu

Back in the ’60s, it was realized that we needed police officers who were trained and equipped to deal with dangerous suspects. Special weapons and tactics teams were formed and given a non-threatening name. This is where tactical marketing started.

Many lazy advertising wannabees use the word tactical to describe any device which can be sold to the military or law enforcement. The word conveyed use in combat and implied adventure. The users said things like, “The company painted it black and put Velcro on it. Now it is tactical.”

Tactical Ladder courtesy of
Tactical Ladder courtesy of

In chess, a tactic is a series of moves which limit the opponent’s options and may result in tangible gain. The fundamental building blocks of tactics are sequences in which the opponent is unable to respond to all threats, so the first player gains an advantage.

“Players lose you games, not tactics. There’s so much crap talked about tactics by people who barely know how to win at dominoes.”—Brian Clough

In life, like chess, we can gain an advantage by acting first and correctly anticipating the actions of others. Have you ever looked around and picked the short line at the grocery store or the fastest lane during a traffic jam? Boom! That, my friend, is tactics. Once you are in front of your competition, you have positional advantage

With situational awareness and conscious action, your entire life can be made better, safer, and will last longer. The problems you avoid make this practice worthwhile.

Tactics can be any action or device that gives you an advantage. Retake the word.

Green Berets plan ahead; they get good gear and quality training. They see the bad guy or the problem first and anticipate threat strategy and tactics.

Come up with some rapid strategery (this is not a word but it should be) of your own and use good tactics to gain and maintain a position of advantage. Win.