Headspace and Timing

By | October 30, 2020

[October 30, 2020]  Military jargon permeates our society.  Headspace and timing, though, is a technical term meaning to adjust weapon systems so they fire correctly.  Usually used with the Browning .50 caliber heavy machinegun, adjusting headspace and timing is critical for its proper use.  However, I will be using as jargon rather than technically.

The U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs accomplished great strides in understanding and treating the mental health of those serving our nation.  I remember a time in the U.S. Army when we were told to “suck it up” if we suffered any injury or had a personal problem that might have affected our job performance.  We were “weak” if anyone saw us not doing our job fully and without complaint.  Times have changed.

Yet, the jargon “headspace and timing” refers to – correctly, I think – our mental capabilities.  Are we operating mentally without undue distractions, brain injury, or psychological impediments?  If so, our brain with proper headspace and timing is firing properly.

To illustrate, Project Headspace and Timing is a non-profit organization founded to promote positive mental health practices to our nation’s veterans by working to unify them with their communities, nature, and themselves.  Such organizations, staffed by caring people, can help our vets and our vets’ families.  They do well because of a hard focus on the mental state of veterans.

I remember my Drill Sergeants use of the term “headspace and timing” when yelling at us poor slobs standing in formation.  One particular after at Fort Polk, LA comes to mind.  While the rain was pouring down in sheets, Drill Sergeant Bryant was conducting an inspection of our gear.  To him, the rain was just another prop to help him toughen up us Privates and show us the “real” army.

I fumbled with my gear to open it and show DS Bryant that I had packed my rucksack properly.  Of course, it never met his standards.  The rain had made a mess of the rucksack’s contents since everything was wet.  He stood, loudly yelling, “You worm Satterfield, get your headspace and timing right.”  It’s hard to forget such a well-deserved dressing down in front of my platoon.  Today, I look back on that time with a bit of nostalgia, but I’m also happy I’m not there taking the end of a verbal lashing.

I did toughen up, and I credit DS Bryant with providing me the motivation and technical skills to be successful.  He helped make me mentally tough, not just physically tough.  And that was why he was such a great Drill Sergeant.


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article every day on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

25 thoughts on “Headspace and Timing

  1. Eric Peterson

    Thank you for the shout out in this article! I am the founder of Project Headspace and Timing and that is precisely why we started it. Thank you for what you do!

  2. Dennis Mathes

    Get your act together. That’s what my mom always had to say to me. Same thing, I do believe. It is always good to have others watching out for you and helping point you in the right direction. But, at the same time, we need to be focused and have our heads right.

  3. Doc Blackshear

    This was a fun article to read. Those who come here should also read the comments forum. Some interesting comments you should consider.

  4. Bob Reilly

    Late Comment Regarding Lock & Load”
    I recently stopped using marking adjustment rounds.
    I am now “Fire For Effect” 24/7.
    Maybe due to recent cancer diagnosis.
    When that passes I am going to stay “Locked & Loaded” and Firing For Effect”.
    So I say to you:
    You do not have to wait for your diagnosis to do that now.
    Arty Boy
    Unkown author- ” Live today like it is your last- one day it will be”.

    1. Andrew Dooley

      Hi Bob, great comment. I read about you in Gen. Satterfield’s blog. Thank you for your service in the Vietnam War. I don’t get the chance to say that very often.

  5. Albert Ayer

    I personally never heard of ‘headspace and timing’ used any where or with the military since I didn’t serve. I do , of course, give my greatest respect to those who have served. They are my heroes. But headspace and Timing is an interesting and apparently description piece of jargon. I understand it is used alot in military slang and by those who are no longer in the military. Thanks Gen. Satterfield for an interesting article. Well done.

    1. Bryan Lee

      Personally, I agree but many will not. Most of use have heard of it for the reason that we are around veterans all the time and they use a bunch of phrases and jargon. Hang around them for a few minutes and you will see what I mean. Thanks Albert.

    1. JT Patterson

      Too funny, old warrior. Thanks for hitting the nail on the head again. This blog sure can make me smile and reading the comment section helps a lot especially with comments like this. I know, I know…. this is really mild stuff but reading my textbooks in the morning compared to this blog sure is a breath of fresh air.

  6. Tracey Brockman

    I loved this statement, “To him [Drill Sergeant Bryant], the rain was just another prop to help him toughen up us Privates and show us the “real” army.”
    All thumbs up!

  7. Georgie B.

    Excellent article, once again, Gen. Satterfield. I believe that there are some politicians who lack proper ‘headspace and timing’ and one of those is Joe Biden. He’s missing a lot in the brain area and I think it’s physical. Not because he is a leftist. He is just doing what he is told to get elected; a goal he has always had. Is this the 5th or 6th time he has run? Either way, he cannot do the job and everybody knows it.

    1. Dead Pool Guy

      Yeah, too many lack the proper “orientation” (as I call it) to do well. They adopt ideologies that oversimplify and created a situation where the person doesn’t need to adopt responsibility to get ahead or feel good about themselves.

    2. Willie Shrumburger

      That is obvious. But, and this is important, at least they get out there and try. I believe most of them simply lack the experience to speak before a crowd or before the cameras. Some, yes, adopt crazy ideologies that should be noted and crush. Otherwise, maybe they are good folks.

      1. Max Foster

        I disagree, Willie, respectfully. Some of us adopt ideologies that are HIGHLY destructive. The Marxist bent (actually neo-Marxist technically) on the Democratic Part side are truly evil people. Why are they evil? Because they want to impose their values and rules on us at the end of the law and eventually at the end of a gun (like all communist, socialist govts do).

        1. Yusaf from Texas

          Spot on comment, Max. Thanks and I must say, IMO, you are right.

        2. Scotty Bush

          Yes, there are some powerful ideas that are terrible yet never seem to go away. And many are based on the very attractive and very evil Marxist ideas.

  8. Army Captain

    This Drill Sergeant obviously made a significant impact on your life. Maybe you could track him down and let him know. Maybe!

      1. Eva Easterbrook

        That doesn’t mean you can’t try. I think it’s worth the time and resources. I tracked down my second grade teacher who had made a big diff in my life more than 50 years ago and thanked him. Mr. Jacob Rogers was a big man with a big heart. He help hundreds of kids be better adults and along the way raised a family and they all did well also. That is what helping is about.

    1. Lynn Pitts

      I think the point Army Cpt is trying to make is that when possible, thank those around you who help. Help is always there unless you are an a$$hole. That way, we insure others are helped too. 😊

      1. Gil Johnson

        Yep!!! I agree with you, Lynn. We don’t just act a certain way because of us today but for others tomorrow.

      2. Billy Kenningston

        Well said Lynn. Thanks. Learning how to get along with others and have people like you (as opposed to being popular) is important skill, in particular for children.


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