Charles "Sid" Heal
It's hard to believe, but Sound Doctrine: A Tactical Primer has been in print for more than a decade. It is not only being used as the textbook for which it was intended but also for promotional examinations and is becoming cited more and more as a reference and resource. No one is more surprised and pleased by the success than I am. Notwithstanding, Sound Doctrine was never intended to be more than a primer—an introduction to the science that supports good planning and decision making during crisis situations.
A lot has happened to me personally in the last ten years also, not the least of which was being recalled to active duty for Operation Iraqi Freedom; my fourth tour of combat in as many theaters. I turned 53 in Al Amarah, Iraq, a few weeks after the youngest member of my team turned 19. The realization that I had spent my entire adult life in these activities was a startling revelation when he pointed out that he was a first-grader in school while I was there the last time (Operation Desert Storm) and that I was older than his father. Nor did it pass the Marine Corps unnoticed either as I was mandatorily retired with maximum years of service when I returned to the United States later that year.
Likewise, my career in the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department advanced and I was selected as the Commanding Officer of the Special Enforcement Bureau, the premier assignment in the entire Department (I'll admit to some bias here.) The unit is only about one-hundred people divided into three details that regularly work together in handling some of the most hazardous and complex assignments confronting law enforcement. The Special Enforcement Detail is comprised of six, full-time SWAT teams. The Emergency Services Detail is comprised of certified paramedics who are also trained in SWAT operations, mountain and swift-water rescue. Canine Services Detail is staffed with dog handlers who also function in SWAT and search operations. The people selected for these assignments represent less than one percent of the total Department applicant pool. Working in these assignments is the only time where the activities actually mimicked movie scripts and television. When I was eventually promoted to Commander and "out of billet" it was with a certain nostalgic melancholy that I realized that no other assignment would be as satisfying (or challenging) as this one. My law enforcement career was also coming to an end and I retired from the LASD in the spring of 2008. Since that time I've worked as a consultant, taught and written about the lessons learned, not to mention two bicycle trips across the United States and long hours playing with our nine grandchildren.
After the attacks of September 11th, 2001, American law enforcement was pulled into handling homeland security missions in protecting our communities against terrorists. It quickly became clear that the tools and thinking used in the war on crime are inadequate for the war on terrorism. For just one example, consider how effective the conventional surround and negotiate strategies used when confronting barricaded suspects would be against terrorists like those attacking the London Underground Railway trains in 2005 or those in Mumbai, India in 2008. In such cases these tactics would not only be ineffective, they would be counterproductive—actually exacerbating the situation by providing time and opportunity for terrorists to consolidate their gains, secure their positions and construct defenses.
Where before, using terms like "counterterrorism" and "law enforcement" in the same sentence was sure to attract criticism and scorn, domestic law enforcement counterterrorist assignments are now becoming common. No one wanted the additional missions but they quite naturally and reasonably have become the responsibility of the law enforcement community. As some smart general once noted, we have to fight the war we have—not the one we want.
Notwithstanding, some of the more staid administrators, concerned with propriety and appearance, insist that terrorism is simply a different form of criminal behavior and that their departments are quite capable of dealing with it, if and when it ever occurs in their own jurisdiction. They shun even the appearance of preparation lest they be accused of overreacting. On the other end of the spectrum are alarmists who emphatically advocate for increased firepower while naively ignoring the fact that it is no harder to kill terrorists than criminals. Bigger bullets, faster cyclic rates and heavier armor can certainly be an advantage but are not decisive in and of themselves.
Preparing to fight terrorist attacks calls for clear thinking and decisive action not more firepower. Only by understanding the underpinnings does it become clear that retooling rather than rearming is necessary. This is the setting which stimulated the effort to undertake a more comprehensive work on tactical science. "We will not solve the problems of the future with the same thinking that created them in the first place."
Near the end of my police career I authored a course on tactical science and asked for help teaching it from two of my long-time mentors, Tim Anderson and Dick "Odie" Odenthal. Both of them are retired career police officers with extensive backgrounds in police tactical and emergency operations and both with broad military experience. In fact, Tim Anderson was my reporting senior on three different occasions and retired from the USMCR as a "full-bird" colonel, while Odie and I paralleled our careers in emergency management in the LASD where he eventually became the Commanding Officer of the LASD's Emergency Operations Bureau.
The course was entitled "Tactical Science" and we first taught it in December of 2004 and each December after that until 2007. By then, it was so popular that we began giving it twice a year and had to limit the class size. We had also recruited a number of outstanding former students to help teach. By 2008 we were teaching versions of the week-long course ten times a year throughout the United States and have had increasing demands for it since. Sound Doctrine has been used as the course text but with the depth of experience and knowledge of the instructors the course far exceeded what was written in both scope and depth—which in turn created a demand for a more comprehensive text.
To the best of my knowledge, Field Command is a first of its kind; a full-length tactical science textbook focused specifically on crisis situations faced by the law enforcement community. Greater in depth and scope than Sound Doctrine, the intent is to introduce and explain the concepts without elaborate and esoteric descriptions. The concepts and principles are taken from tactical texts and military field manuals and are presented as close to how they are used as possible. In some cases it was necessary to paraphrase from military jargon or esoteric explanations to a simpler and clearer version. When more than one definition was available the simplest was chosen. Accordingly, the application of these principles and precepts should not be construed too narrowly or only in the context in which they are explained. Likewise, the terminology remains unedited. No attempt has been made to assuage personal sensitivities or seek political correctness. To facilitate understanding, illustrations are abundant and not only clarify the text but amplify it with new insights and applications.
The book is divided into six sections, each of which focuses on a discrete aspect of a tactical operation or disaster response and follows the same simple to understand format as Sound Doctrine with each concept and principle bold-printed when first introduced. To facilitate an easier style of reading, no footnotes are used in the text. Instead, end notes are provided to explain and/or amplify concepts, ideas, and principles, and in many cases provide the historical background for when and how the insight came to light. The end notes are numbered sequentially throughout the book rather than restarted after each section or chapter so that each one has a unique identifying number. For the same reasons, a comprehensive index is provided to quickly locate terms and concepts, as well as a concept glossary which concisely describes the major concepts and principles discussed in the text.
As law enforcement adapts to the challenges of the 21st century the new role in combatting terrorism is at the forefront. Law enforcement's role in homeland security has greatly benefitted from the advances resulting from the military's efforts in homeland defense, not the least of which has been the technological advancements. Yet while law enforcement has become enraptured with technology that is not only needed but long overdue, it lags in understanding the science that supports sound tactical decisions and planning. No one would be impressed with a medical doctor who had all the latest X-rays, CAT scans, MRIs and lab tests but lacked the knowledge to determine the significance of what they reveal. So it is with tactical commanders who have all the latest equipment but only the vaguest notion of the factors and influences in play and are devoid of any understanding of what they mean. What is more, the consequences of ignorance in either profession are equally deadly.
It is somewhat ironic that in the most technologically advanced period in history the most conspicuous capability gap appears to be a lack of knowledge of tried and true scientific principles that can be dated back thousands of years. What is needed is a culture of examination and learning in which mistakes are culled and archaic practices and thinking are banished. The two most useful tools for this endeavor are hindsight and science. Even without any tactical acumen, failures become both apparent and irrefutable when examined in the harsh light of hindsight. Science enables understanding to be distilled. It is my hope that this book will provide a small step in that direction.
I considered subtitling this book, "Tactical Science for the Alpha Sheepdog." The phrase is taken from a metaphor described by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman in his book, On Combat, as well as a number of articles and presentations. He relates a discussion with a retired Vietnam veteran, who stated:
"Most of the people in our society are sheep. They are kind, gentle, productive creatures who can only hurt one another by accident. Then there are the wolves and the wolves feed on the sheep without mercy. Then there are sheepdogs and I'm a sheepdog. I live to protect the flock and confront the wolf."In the animal world, an "alpha" is the leader of the group; the dominant one who controls the other members of the pride, pack, herd or flock; the one who fights for the rest. The pack or herd follows the alpha to hunting places and watering holes. The alpha, then, is often seen as deciding the fate of the group. The status of an alpha is not bestowed but earned, often through repeated bloody confrontations. Moreover, alpha status is not permanent. When an alpha grows weak and wanting it is ousted. The pack or herd simply cannot survive following a leader who is lacking and fails to fulfill the duties of this essential role. The similarities for teams of humans handling tactical operations and responding to disasters should not go unnoticed.
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