Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Transcendent power has public safety applications

By Steve Hammons

The concepts of hard power, soft power, smart power and transcendent power have been used primarily in discussions about the use of military forces and diplomacy in international activities.

However, these ideas can also be applied to a wide range of other fields and endeavors including public safety.

Public safety agencies use hard power every day. Peace officers have guns, pepper spray, handcuffs, lockups and other tools at hand. 
Firefighters have special trucks and hoses to douse fires with water as well as advanced medical gear for paramedics and emergency medical technicians to help injured or ill people.

At the same time, these kinds of public safety efforts also use soft power such as one-to-one communication, community outreach and safety education programs.

By merging hard power and soft power, these organizations tap into smart power, the balanced use of both methods and resources in appropriate ways and circumstances.

Public safety personnel can also make good use of certain aspects of transcendent power, an idea based on the term “transcendent warfare” which was used by a former Navy SEAL officer in a 2001 graduate-level research report as part of his studies at the Marine Corps War College.


In public safety responses involving hard power and soft power, human behavior is a key element.

For peace officers, situations involving dangerous behavior, unlawful activity or domestic violence all stem from human behavior. Human behavior results from or in tandem with human psychology, perception, awareness and consciousness.

The same could be said about fire officials. They deal with accidents and injuries as well as fires, many of which could have been prevented by safer behavior. Again, behavior flows from human awareness.

Unsafe behavior can be prevented or mitigated. People can be made more aware of situational dangers around them.

Situational awareness by public safety personnel, children and teens, and average adult citizens can benefit from some of the ideas included in transcendent power and transcendent warfare. Safety steps can be implemented ahead of emerging danger. Danger can be anticipated and possibly perceived ahead of time.

How can research, development and operational experiences involving transcendent warfare help in these ways?

When the SEAL officer made reference to the idea of transcendent warfare, he was, in part, referring to advanced research and operational activities of the U.S. military and intelligence communities in the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

This research into human awareness and cognition found that humans seem to truly have a “sixth sense.” That is, we have the ability to use our intuition, feelings and gut instincts to sense more about various situations and develop information based on these perceptions.

The then-secret R&D and operations of what came to be known as Project STAR GATE used new understanding about the human sixth sense to gather intelligence information for military and intelligence purposes.


It has sometimes been said that peace officers can develop “cop instincts.” In other words, they start to get feelings and perceptions about criminal behavior.

Sometimes these perceptions may be based on subtle cues they pick up visually – someone is acting in suspicious or deceptive ways, or something just doesn’t appear as it should be.

However, other times there may be awareness that is not obtained from the normal five senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste or touch. The perception of a sixth sense might come into play, independently or in sync with what the officer may perceive in more conventional ways.

Emergency medical personnel, when assessing a person’s injuries, may see various symptoms and indicators. There may also be an absence of certain obvious injury. This can be the case with internal bleeding, head trauma and other injuries. Can sixth-sense perception, in combination with other tried and true medical assessment methods, help in evaluating a victim’s condition?

When fighting a structure fire, in addition to knowledge about fire’s effects on various building materials, can a firefighter’s sixth sense help anticipate a building’s catastrophic collapse?

In short, can we use our sixth sense to gather intelligence information or understanding about a range of situations that affect public safety in our everyday lives and in the performance of professional duties?

Based on significant research and operational activities conducted by U.S. military and intelligence personnel, the answer seems to be yes.

By learning more about transcendent warfare, Project STAR GATE and similar resources, public safety personnel may be able to use new and advanced knowledge of human awareness and perception to protect the public, enhance their professionalism and help ensure their own survival.