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Decision Making Process


             Decision making is the act of exercising proper discretion guided by an analytical view of the problem or challenging situation at hand. This is a mental process whose end result is the selection one of the various alternatives that exists under a certain circumstance. For every decision making process there has to be a single choice that has to be arrived at by the end of the process. The process results in an output which can either be an opinion or action of choice. On the other hand, decision analysis involves the evaluation of the process of making a decision as well as the alternative decisions that are reached (Anonymous, 2010). Decision analysis comprises of a systematic methodology that allows for professional decision making. This paper reviews a decision making process and the decision reached as well as the evaluation of the consequences of the decision made. The decision element involved an attack on Ukrainian vessel that had been seized off the Gulf of Somalia.


 

            While on a protective and surveillance operation on one of our apaches off the Gulf of Somalia we encountered a vessel that had been taken over by Somalia pirates off the several miles off the Somalia coastal strip. Our vessel on the international waters was actually several miles off, and thus it would not offer any help because the taken over vessel was fast approaching the coast of Somali. However, we still made reported the information back to the ship as protocol would require and proceeded to trail the vessel. Through our cameras we were able to see at least three Somali pirates one of them holding an SPMG, whilst the other three identified pirates held AK-47s. Our estimation gave us an approximate number of ten pirates. The rest were not visible, because they were hidden within the vessel’s chambers. This deduction was based on the fact that there were two speed boats under tow by the vessel with each having a capacity of at least four to five occupants. The challenge in this scenario was that we were outnumbered by two and far worse we were not well armored. The fact that the vessel was so near to the coast left us little time to make choices on whether to engage or not.


             Our vessel was far off and it would not provide any help in addition to our aerial support. Therefore, we either had to get on board and engage the pirates with our without proper armor in a bid to rescue the vessel or wait upon our vessel as we hovered around. The later was least likely to work because the Ukrainian vessel would reach the coast before us, and there the pirates might have more reinforcements in terms of numbers, probably far much greater than us. Therefore, our best take was to get to the vessel and engage the pirates before, they got close to the coast of Somali. However, this choice also had a dual challenge: firstly we were less armored and out numbered, and secondly; we would risk either getting the vessel blown up if the pirates had any explosives as well as get the captives killed. Additionally, we were also likely to get a large number of casualties if I allowed the engagement. Being the leader of the aerial surveillance expedition I had to make a quick decision to save the captured sailors and vessel and take in the pirates that were most probably Somali. Therefore; after gathering this information, analyzing it and relaying it to the ship.


 Based on the assumptions that they may not be as many as we anticipated and that they may have no lethal weapons such as RPGs (rocket propelled grenade). I decided that we should engage the pirates before they got to the coast, because that was our only chance of getting them. On the other hand, we could track the vessel as we anticipate that our vessel would release speed boats that would get to our location in time. In the first case we would risk our lives as well as the lives of the captive crew within the vessel that was being held by the pirates. On the other hand, the later option was less likely to work out because our vessels were far off in the international waters, whereas the pirates were fast approaching the coast. Thus if we did not launch an attack we would lose both the vessel and the captured crew that may letter be used to demand ransom. In a short while as we analyzed the scenario we information from our main vessel stating that they had gotten official clarification that the vessel was carrying various weapons that were meant to be shipped to the United Arab Emirates.


 Without further discretion I gave a go ahead as the leader of the expedition after thinking that letting go the weapons was even a more serious thing, because they were going to land in the wrong hands in a war torn state.  The apache dropped as and just we were all down, an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) grenade hit the chopper and it blew up mid air. The gunfire intensified and for about twenty minutes we had lost five of our men and we were held captive too. The rest of the men that were caught were badly injured and profusely bleeding. For a moment I thought that they would not survive long enough to get medical attention at all. Held under captivity our, the vessel continued with it course. Fortunately, the speed boats that were to reinforce our engagement shortly caught with the vessel before it could get to close to the coastal strip. The reinforcements engaged the pirates whose number had now reduced because we had taken out 3 of them. The gun fires rang on for about fifteen minutes and thereafter; I heard the sounds of a fighter helicopter. The helicopter from one our ally nations jointly protecting the waters had been called upon to reinforce the engagement after information about the engagement was relayed to other units jointly involved in the task. The sniper on the helicopter did a great deal of a job by taking out the pirates vantage positions one by one. After about an engagement that ran approximately for another 30 minute the captured vessel was taken over by our crew.


 The engagement had been victorious, but unfortunately we had lost five of our men and one crew member to the vessel. The bodies and the injured were quickly evacuated to our main vessel for emergency medical care. Thereafter, we inspected the ship and decided to escort it to its final destination.


 

The decision approach I took may not be termed as the best, had I waited for the reinforcements that seemingly arrived faster than I thought due to a prompt response we would have probably taken on the pirates very well and without the number of casualties that we had by the end of it all. Therefore, I can say the decision was rush and it led to the loss of one of our apaches and five of our men. The decisions only positive aspect if any is that had we succeeded or had better armor the engagement would have been still positively beneficial, however; in this case it was not the case. The decision made had lots of weaknesses because it failed to consider the fact that we were outnumbered and had less armor. Thus, going in was a blind charge, that actually proved to be costly later on.


 These great losses imply a wrong decision making process because I did not involve all the members in our vessels for a comprehensive review of the situation and re-stratification. This would have worked well because there were other rescue vessels nearby. The main reason of not waiting upon their decision was based on the fact that I presumed that they may be far off and thus they could not reach the vessel in time to provide rescue to the crew of the captured ship. The fact that I made these mistakes that later turned costly presented a bad image about my decision making as a leader. This actually portrayed to me that consultative forms of decision making and offering the decision making time enough length allows the achievement of better results in decision making (Bubnicki, 2004).


 After this occurrence I experienced a lot of cognitive dissonance, because I at times felt like I did a heroic thing even though it did not succeed. However, at times I feel like I committed a very big mistake by making a premature engagement that led to the loss of five of our men and one crew member to the captured vessel. This cognitive dissonance has bee creating havoc in my life, because the memory keeps coming to mind whenever I want to make any major decisions in any operations. My confidence and independence in exercising discretion of any military matters later greatly declined. However, with time I have come to accept the situation and now I can live positively with the decision, after getting some extensive counseling that has helped me eliminate self guilt. I now have fully accepted that the five died in the line of duty doing a job they are meant to do, and as such; there should be no fears or regrets, because it could just have been me. This kind of self justification within oneself has actually proved to be effective in helping one to reduce cognitive dissonance on conflicting ideas that are held (McBrewster, 2009).


 References

Anonymous (2010), .The 7 problem solving steps, retrieved on 8th December, 2010 from http://www.problem-solving-techniques.com/Decision-Making-Steps.html

Bubnicki, Z. (2004), .Analysis and decision making in uncertain systems, Springer publishers

MacBrewster, J.  Vandome, F. A. and. Miller, P. F. (2009), Cognitive Dissonance, VDM Publishing House Ltd