What do Jeff Cooper and Gene Roddenberry have in common???


June 11, 2003, 07:03 AM
Did Jeff Cooper, or Gene Roddenberry, give us the Alert Color Code?

In this month's Coopers Comments, the Colonel makes the statement...

I have been preaching the Color Code now for a very long time with remarkable lack of success ...

This is in reference to the nearly bogus color alert system that our fatherland defense office has devised.

Jeff has certainly spoken often about mindset and the various color codes associated with various levels of threat.

But the code is also very similar the the "red alert" and "yellow alert" from Star Trek...

I wonder which one of them actually came up with the idea first? Are there any other contenders?

note to moderator -- i dont think this meets criteria for general discussion since its not firearms related... please move to L&P if desired.

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June 11, 2003, 07:59 AM
Cooper talked about the color code quite a bit and either invented it or popularized it. I mentioned this in an article several years ago as a contribution to the Texas Concealed Handgun training program.

A newly minted gun expert wrote the mag and denied that Cooper had any influence on the program. So, next session, I asked Commander Rodriqueg of The Texas DPS and he said that Cooper developed the threat level code.

So, I suspect that he did.

El Tejon
June 11, 2003, 08:07 AM
Any other contenders? Well, yeah, the United States Marine Corps.

Al Thompson
June 11, 2003, 08:35 AM
Cooper (IIRC) modified a tactical code the USMC used to meet his needs. I think it's a great thing regardless of where he got the idea.

June 11, 2003, 08:59 AM
That general idea has to go back at least to Moses, if not Adam. I don't think anybody in good conscience should claim to have "invented" anything. But I could be wrong...:scrutiny:

June 11, 2003, 09:03 AM
I've watched a videotape of Jeff Cooper explaining the color code he uses. It's really, truly informative, and anyone who has a chance to see it or hear him otherwise explain the color code should do so. The purpose of the code, as he explains it, is to provide a concrete decisionmaking formula for moving from normal, everyday alertness to using a firearm to defend one's life. By using a well-practiced, concrete, formulaic train of thought, it prevents the hesitation normally experienced when one is under threat of attack or actual attack, and this is the purpose of the code, to prevent unnecessary hesitation, and to apply only that force which is necessary to defend yourself. The way Jeff Cooper explains it is:

White - relaxed and fairly oblivious of your surroundings, you should only be in this condition if you are at home or another secure setting behind locked doors.

Yellow - the state of not only constant awareness, but the constant recognition of possible threats. In this state, you are observant of your surroundings, allowing you to recognize threats if they present themselves.

Orange - in this state, you have recognized a potential threat, and are ready to defend yourself against this threat if necessary.

Red - you are actively defending yourself or others against a threat that has presented itself to you.

It's not just about general awareness, it's about positively identifying potential and actual threats as you go about your daily life. It's this threat identification and aquisition process that is so valuable, and that reduces your response time to those threats if they present themselves.

Jim March
June 11, 2003, 09:17 AM
Ya, I think both Cooper and Rodennberry adapted it from old military codes.

This isn't meant as a slight to Cooper - I am a proponent of the color codes myself. I've also had significant training and experience with self hypnosis and can state that the idea of using a single quick "code word" to trigger an entire series of actions and responses is 100% spot-on to how the human brain works.

June 11, 2003, 01:48 PM
I remember Coop tying his code system to Col. Boyd's OODA loop at some point, also.

June 11, 2003, 02:04 PM
I am not sure Coopers colors and Boyds OODA loop are quite the same.

OODA would come into play when you are actually in conflict. You would continue to loop through Obseve, Orient, Decide, Act and back again - really, this is happening perhaps for every shot or every target and the faster you can hit those marks and make your loop, the more likely you are to win.

I think Coopers system would possibly lead you into Boyds...

June 11, 2003, 02:11 PM
Yesterday I was watching an old movie, "Guadalcanal Diary." It was filmed in 1943. During one Japanese attack scene the Marines (actors) are calling out "condition red!" So we know the color code goes back to at least 1943.

June 11, 2003, 02:16 PM
Although I am a dyed in the wool Trekker ( I am NOT a "trekkie":fire: ) I freely admit ti reading in one of Roddeberry's books that he took the color code from the military.

As others have indicated color codes have been around for a long time


June 11, 2003, 03:11 PM
Agreed, Pendragon...White doesn't work well with OODA, but Orange and Red correlate pretty closely to Decide and Act...maybe that's the tie in.

Jim March
June 11, 2003, 08:25 PM
I'm a big fan of the color codes, but I don't think the OODA loop is a good fit for MY brain. So far, once I'm "fully triggered" into action, I've done OK "improvising" :). Could be the reactions from over 15 years with a motorcycle as sole transport, or may be how my brain is "wired" (which is admittedly somewhat abnormal :D ).

June 11, 2003, 08:55 PM
The color codes are a concept that you internalize to help you be more aware and ready.

The OODA loop is a way of describing what happens in a conflict - whether it be a boxing match, a gun battle, a street fight or full on platoon style combat.

Boyds theory is that in any conflict, we have to first:

Observe the situation (a man is looking suspicious/dangerous at me),

Orient ourselves to the situation (I think he may be a threat, I should prepare...[this may be the lead in for the color codes])

Decide (ok, the chips are down, time to shoot!)

Act (bang!)

The actual actions contained in each step will vary but the most important concept is that EVERYONE DOES THIS and the way to win is to complete your OODA loop before your opponent - and then do it again, beating him each time.

Boyd describes how each phase of the loop can be shortened or lengthened by various factors such as training, leadership, trust, suprise, etc.

For us, it will be training, practice, dry firing and mind set that will allow us to respond very quickly when the flag goes up. I personally believe that even a BG with a gun probably does not expect to have to shoot me and probably just wants to use it as a threat and keep thing in the realm of robery, not murder. Totally depends on a million things of course, but the phrase "action beats reaction" can be best understood by knowing about OODA - If the BG has a gun out and I decide to draw and shoot, I am already through OOD when I decide to shoot - he has to go through each phase - Observe me make a move, Orient that I could be a thread, Decide that I am and THEN Act - but like I said, I start out on A :)

This is also one of the underlying principles behind our newer, faster, lighter military - we move in fast, kick some tail and the enemy cannot respond to us fast enough.

When you are on the losing end, you are trying to get caught up to your opponent - but by the time you get to "Act", he has moved on to another action - as your loop lags behind your opponent, your responses become less approproate and fear, panic and confusion set in and help finish you off.


June 11, 2003, 09:03 PM
Didn't Roddenberry write and/or act in a series about the Marine Corps titled "The Leutenant"? This would have been a couple of years before Star Trek... about '63-'65.

Jim March
June 12, 2003, 02:09 AM
The way I shorten up the OODA process is with a one-word mental question:


It's shorthand for "am I in fear of losing my life or suffering great bodily injury?".

If the answer equals "yes", I act. NOW. Faster than I can think anything else, with the first weapon I can lay hands on. While moving.

June 12, 2003, 02:27 AM
I have to admit the first thing that came to mind was "uh... I have met them both ??" :)

(Roddenberry was the speaker at my college commencement ceremony (20 years ago !), and I have had the pleasure of conversing with Jeff on a few occasions.)

Jeff Cooper popularized the use of the color code, but certainly he does not claim to have invented it (in fact I don't think he claims to have invented anything at all - he regards himself as a teacher and messenger, not an inventor).

Certainly the color code alert system dates back to the second World War and perhaps before that. But, if you think about it, the "color alert" system has been used in civilian life in one form or another for a long time as well.

For instance, the US Geological Survey changed it's volcanic eruption predicition from a letter code (A,B,C, etc.) to a color code (green, yellow, orange, red) years ago, while people in most metropolitan areas prone to smog have lived with air quality alert systems, based in colors for more than three decades.

June 12, 2003, 03:21 AM

You can improve your OODA response without understanding the abstraction.

Athletes do it all the time by training. Teams do it by building trust. Business does it by becoming faster to react to the market.

I personally saw the process when I used to play squad leader for online team games. Once I read Boyds work, I could name and identify and correct the things that were contributing to our poor performance. His stuff is not for the street, it is for the classroom, the boardroom and the whatever room that military people use to plan missions room.

June 12, 2003, 07:31 AM
These are academic EXPLANATIONS of processes/things that ought to be going thru your head anyway. Kinda like a map, it's not the territory but it's useful.

June 12, 2003, 10:23 AM
Given that Roddenberry based the organizational struture of Starfleet on the Navy, I wouldn't be surprised if he did indeed adapt the color code from the military.

June 12, 2003, 10:51 AM
The first series created and produced by Roddenberry was The Lieutenant (NBC, 1963-64). Set at Camp Pendleton, The Lieutenant examined social questions of the day in a military setting. Coincidentally, the show featured guest performances by actors who later played a large role in Star Trek. Nichelle Nichols, Leonard Nimoy, and Majel Barrett. Casting director Joe D'Agosta and writer Gene L. Coon also worked with Roddenberry on Star Trek.

-from http://www.museum.tv/archives/etv/R/htmlR/roddenberry/roddenberry.htm

June 12, 2003, 11:38 AM
(in fact I don't think he claims to have invented anything at all - he regards himself as a teacher and messenger, not an inventor).

I thought he invented (coined) "hoplophobe" and the "Modern Technique."

June 13, 2003, 12:31 AM
He has indeed coined several terms, but as for who "invented" the Modern Technique... Jeff would tell you that elements came from a number of contributors, including many of his associates from the days of 'leatherslap' contests at Big Bear Lake, California.

Similarly it was a group of Cooper associates who, led by Jeff, formulated the definition of a Scout rifle.

Clearly Jeff was the catalyst for these concepts and it was he who, more than almost anyone, has worked to bring these concepts to public view.

My comment is meant to underscore the idea that Jeff regards himself as more of a teacher and less of an "inventor". I'm sure there are plenty of other things he "invented" such as your example of the term Hoplophobe, and perhaps even the concept of a shooting school such as Gunsite, but in my experience Jeff himself tends toward a large measure of modesty in such areas.

He remains an extraordinary person, and I have great appreciation for what I have learned from him.

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