SWAT commanders, much like professional coaches, do the majority of their work off the field. Establishing expectations, developing strategies and improving both individual and team performance levels are all tasks done before game day (or in our case, a critical incident). When game day does come, the coach or SWAT commander’s role is to minimize risk, call the right plays and be prepared to adjust tactics as circumstances unfold. Imagine for a moment, then, a professional coach trying to do his job from the parking lot of the stadium and having to make all decisions based solely on information someone conveys to him over a two-way radio. Although that may be unthinkable for a coach, it is exactly what most SWAT commanders are faced with in critical incidents.
While it is highly encouraged that commanders do an initial site survey of the incident before establishing a command post in a safe area away from the problem, the circumstances may not always allow for that. Commanders often find themselves, at least during the first few minutes, responding directly to the initial command post while trying to gain both situational awareness and establish a common operating picture for all involved without having the luxury of seeing the problem firsthand. Even if that initial site survey does occur, eventually the commander will find himself at the command post and out of view of the incident as it continues to change.\
NTOA instructor and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Commander Sid Heal says this about situational awareness: “Arguably, tactical commanders’ sole contributions to any operation are the decisions they render. While factors such as training, education and experience are critical, a commander’s understanding of what is going on has the most impact. This understanding is most often referred to as ‘situational awareness,’ sometimes called ‘situation awareness.’” Common operating picture, he says, “(i)n its most simple terms … is simply the shared knowledge and understanding between individuals, teams or groups. It is particularly critical whenever a number of agencies or echelons of command are involved, such as when handling major disasters or large tactical operations, because of the need for close coordination and cooperation. Even so, because the information used to form a common operational picture is always somewhat incomplete, inaccurate, ambiguous and
even conflicting, a comprehensive common operational picture is elusive.”
Read full article here: http://ntoa.org/public/Publications/Articles/2438.pdf?platform=hootsuite