Review 2 – Field Command by Charles “Sid” Heal (reviewed by John J. Stanley)

Field Command

by Charles “Sid” Heal


Recommended ReadingProfessionals serious about the study of their craft have certain books near at hand. Readily available to lawyers is a copy of “Black’s Law Dictionary.” For doctors it is the “Physicians’ Desk Reference.” For law enforcement professionals that book needs to be “Field Command” by CATO President Charles “Sid” Heal. In this book, Heal takes the message of tactical science that he so clearly articulated in his earlier book “Sound Doctrine: A Tactical Primer” (Lantern Books, 2000) to the next level. He does so by employing strong, efficient prose and using clear examples from both the distant and near past.

After a rousing forward by “On Killing” author Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, Heal takes us directly to the his main premise in Section 1 – At the Scene. Here he introduces readers to the basics tenets of tactical science and the sad ignorance of this field by all too many in our profession, including command personnel. Heal attempts to enroll his readers in the importance of learning the science of our profession by taking us to the site of many tragic failures from law enforcement’s past. Ruby Ridge, Idaho (1992), Waco, Texas (1993); Jordon, Montana (1994), and Roby, Illinois (1997) are cited as examples where lack of tactical science knowledge produced tragic consequences.

Each of Heal’s six sections–At the Scene, Understanding and Developing Strategy, Command Staff, Planning and Decision Making, Multi-Dimensional Battlespace and Action Bookends–moves with encyclopedic thoroughness and should also be familiar to any former student of his week-long tactical science course. Among the many concepts discussed are: principles of command; plans and planning; strategy and tactics; terrain analysis; the principles of war, operations, intelligence and logistics; as well as more esoteric subjects such as social forecasting and fifth dimensional battlespace. Heal opens all of his section headings on these topics with quotes from military leaders and historians and further illustrates each subject with historical examples to breathe life into each concept accompanied by detailed endnotes.

As valuable as the contents of the six sections of this book are, it is Heal’s 59-page Concept Glossary immediately following the text that makes this work indispensable as a reference book. Each of the concepts discussed in the previous pages is defined in this alphabetical appendix so they can be quickly located. A thorough index follows this appendix to point the reader back to key phrases and names in the text.

To move through this book quickly and to do so without marking it up heavily while writing extensive notes in the margins is a mistake. All peace officers serious about our profession must move “Field Command” to the top of their reading list.

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