Book Review: ‘Field Command’ by Charles ‘Sid’ Heal


When my friend and associate Charles “Sid” Heal mentioned to me that his new book Field Command had been published, I was immediately interested in obtaining a copy of this much anticipated work. Sid is one of those rare individuals, of whom I have met only a few in my life, who is akin to the old heroic warrior archetype of, say, a Hector or a Ulysses. Luckily for us, that old warrior also holds multiple college degrees and possesses solid analytical and writing skills to go along with his 165 commendations from military, law enforcement, and governmental agencies. Field Command represents a continuation of Heal’s earlier Sound Doctrine: A Tactical Primer (Lantern Books 2000) that has been very well received by the law enforcement tactical officer community.
      The new work is divided into the following sections:

  1. At the Scene,
  2. Understanding and Developing Strategy,
  3. Command Staff,
  4. Planning and Decision Making,
  5. Multi-Dimensional Battlespace, and
  6. Action Bookends.

These sections are, in turn, broken down into individual chapters. The work also features a foreword by Dave Grossman (of On Combat and On Killing fame) and a concept glossary.
      Field Command is well researched with 199 end notes and decades of battlefield and street policing lessons learned drawing upon the author’s own field experience gained overseas and in the United States as a Marine CWO-5 and a Los Angeles Sheriff’s Commander, respectively. Additionally, the author acknowledges the influence and collaboration he has had with many specialists and operators in the field. The work further contains numerous conceptual figures to provide both applied theoretical and tactical map schematics for the reader.
      The intent of the work is to help fill a critical gap in U.S. law enforcement crisis response capabilities. This is definitely a post 9-11 inspired work, which helps to bring law enforcement operators out of a “crime” security environment mentality and get them squarely focused on being able to also respond to a “terrorist” threat environment. As a result, Field Command is a one of a kind full-length tactical science textbook written by an expert in both policing and military response protocols. This work is so state-of-the-art that even military readers will benefit from many of the concepts and principals presented. A prime example is Section 5: Multi-Dimensional Battlespace, which provides one of the most advanced spatial-temporal-cyber (5th dimensional) discussions on this topical area to date. The Section 1 discussion on Emerging Multi-Organizational Networks (EMONs) is also of significance because such response units are better suited to the information processing and C2 (command and control) needs of the new operational environment.
      These and other topics covered in the work provide our friendly forces (BLUFOR) with the conceptual tools to better understand where terrorism and conflict is heading in the 21st century. For BLUFOR counter-terrorism planning, understanding such conceptual tools is essential. Further, to effectively simulate red force (REDFOR–modernist terrorists) and the even more ominous black force (BLACKFOR–post-modern warmaking entity) tactics and operations, an understanding of 5th dimensional battlespace, networked organizations, cloud swarms, bond-relationship targeting, and asymmetric strategy functions is required.
           This work has the vision to discuss such cutting-edge thinking in the tactical sciences while at the same time integrating and building upon more traditional elements such as OODA loops, the nine principles of war, SALUTE reports, and other military protocols found in contemporary military field manuals. For this reason, this book is in some ways quite literally ahead of its time, and will, quite likely, be even more valued by practitioners and theorists in the years to come as many of its more visionary elements begin to gain wider acceptance in law enforcement crisis response circles.

Field Command
Charles “Sid” Heal
Lantern Books, 2012
Hardcover List Price: $40.00


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