Director of Operations | firstname.lastname@example.org
Tim retired from the Los Angeles Police Department as a Sergeant II with 28 ½ years of service, 16 years of which he was assigned to Metropolitan Division as an officer with the Special Weapons and Tactics Team and a Tactical Operations supervisor with the K-9 Platoon. He also retired from the military as a Colonel in the Marine Corps Reserve. His Marine Corps assignments included Commanding Officer of 3D ANGLICO and the 4th Light Armored Infantry Battalion, Chief of Staff – Reserve Marine Air Ground Force Pacific, and Chief of the Rear Area Operations Group – First Marine Expeditionary Force (I MEF). He holds a Master’s Degree from USC and is a graduate of the United States Army War College.
Charles “Sid” Heal
Advisory Board Member |
Sid Heal retired as a Commander with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department after nearly 33 years in law enforcement, more than half of which was spent in units charged with handling law enforcement special and emergency operations. At various times during his career he has served as an operations officer, watch commander, unit commander, incident commander and trainer in a myriad of law enforcement tactical operations, and is a court recognized expert, in law enforcement special operations and emergency management. In addition to his career in law enforcement, Sid recently retired from the Marine Corps Reserve after 35 years, with service in more than 20 countries and four combat tours. As a result of both these careers, he has been personally present for the operations involving the 1992 coup d’état in Thailand, the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing, as well as the response to the attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Center in 2001. He is the author of Sound Doctrine: A Tactical Primer and Field Command, as well as more than 165 articles on law enforcement issues.
Richard “Odie” Odenthal
Advisory Board Member |
Richard “Odie” Odenthal is a retired Captain from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department. For 7 years he was assigned to the Emergency Operations Bureau where he was responsible for the development of tactical response and training policy for the LASD for disasters, major events, and riot response.
What is tactical science?
In the simplest terms, it is the systematized body of knowledge covering the principles and doctrines associated with tactical operations and emergency responses.
Where does tactical science originate?
Tactical science is the accumulated knowledge of time-tested, tried and true principles that have proven influential in the outcomes of tactical operations and emergency responses for the last 5,000 years. These principles have been documented for at least the last 2,500 years.
How does tactical science differ from other sciences?
It doesn’t. There are actually two types of sciences, “hard” and “soft.” A hard (sometimes called “exact”) science is one which uses formulas and algorithms to provide conclusive answers. Examples of hard sciences include mathematics, physics, chemistry, geology and astronomy. A soft science is one which uses probabilities and interpretations to provide explanations and forecasts as well as to identify trends and anomalies. Examples include sociology, psychology, anthropology and economics. Tactical science is befittingly a soft science in that there is often more than one right answer and it is impossible to reduce the dynamic influences to a concrete formula or algorithm.
How is research conducted with tactical science?
Unlike a “pure science” (sometimes called “basic science”) in which the primary purpose is to develop information for understanding, tactical science is an “applied science” in that its major contribution is in applying knowledge to forecast and influence behaviors and outcomes. Accordingly, the scientific “truths” are derived from field observations. It is not uncommon, however, to incorporate truths from other sciences, such as political science, sociology, psychology or economics, to explain something that has already been proven in other fields.
How will an understanding of tactical science benefit me?
Planners and decision makers fully immersed in the science of tactical operations and disaster responses are far more likely to recognize anomalies and be able to adapt and innovate when they understand the conceptual underpinnings of the factors and influences in play. Likewise, they become a formidable adversary when challenged to defend their actions in the courts and other forums.
Does tactical science have its own terminology?
Every science has a particular nomenclature with referent terms and phrases that precisely describe a particular concept, idea, factor, or influence. Tactical science is no exception. An ability to converse using correct terminology greatly facilitates clarity and understanding.
What is the difference between using a tactical skill set which has proven successful in the past and understanding tactical science?
A skill set is designed to be applied to a given situation and so is “context specific.” Skill sets are easy to teach and apply because of this fact. Understandably they are the preferred method for providing capabilities for police officers in the early stages of their careers when there are so many other things that compete for attention and are equally valuable. Because a knowledge of tactical science provides an ability to recognize and understand the impact of the conceptual underpinnings of the factors and influences in play, however, an individual thoroughly indoctrinated in the science is quicker to recognize trends and anomalies and better able to predict and adapt to changing circumstances. Moreover, they are better able to explain their rationale and justify their decisions based upon verifiable scientific rules and principles.
I am well along in my career and have been quite successful in handling tactical operations and emergency responses so what advantage is there in trying to understand the science now?
Many seasoned law enforcement officers have demonstrated proficiency in tactical operations without ever having had any classes in it. This is largely for two reasons. First, because the skills sets that we are trained in from our academy days are based upon the science, and second, because law enforcement officers tend to be great problem solvers and quick to adapt to changing circumstances. A problem arises, however, when a skill set is applied to an unfolding set of circumstances that have factors and influences which exceed the understanding of the decision makers or the capabilities of the responding officers.
Since tactical science is accumulated knowledge from past incidents, can’t I learn it the same way?
Certainly, but as the saying goes, “Experience is the best teacher but it is a harsh schoolmaster.” It is a sad but irrefutable fact that hindsight has revealed that many tactical fiascoes could have been avoided had the planners and decision makers had a deeper understanding of the factors and influences in play. Indeed, hindsight can make even the most subtle influences blatant. Hindsight, however, is one of those factors that are never available to commanders handling unfolding events. Because most tactical situations in law enforcement are “come as you are parties,” a solid understanding of the principles and precepts that dominate such chaotic circumstances becomes paramount.
If I already know what to do and how to do it, what difference does it make if I don’t understand why?
Understanding why something is important provides an ability to determine whether and how much it is contributing to achieve an objective. The old saying, “As useful as rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic” is a humorous cliché used to identify absurd actions. Even though its humor is derived through exaggeration, it provides an easy to understand analogy in that rearranging deck chairs was an important task in the normal circumstances. In fact, stewards would be evaluated and promoted on how well such menial chores were done. It only became pointless when disaster struck. So it is with tactical operations and disaster responses because without a knowledge of why something is important a routine can easily obscure more important, even vital, tasks.
How hard is tactical science to learn?
Not hard at all. Many seasoned officers already understand and apply a number of the concepts but without any knowledge of their originations, implications or correct terminology. Accordingly, they instantly grasp their significance and learn the true nature and terminology for concepts they’ve grown comfortable with through experience. It is exceptionally unusual, however, for even seasoned officers to be thoroughly familiar with the majority of the science since it is not commonly taught in a comprehensive package or in a progressive fashion.
I have never been in the military (or am new in law enforcement). Will I have a hard time understanding the doctrine and concepts?
No! First of all, the doctrine and concepts are not unique to the military. In fact, many can be just as easily demonstrated within the context of competitive games such as basketball, football, soccer, chess and baseball. Secondly, the concepts and principles have been gleaned over the millennia from situations which made them prominent. Accordingly, they are best understood by providing examples and explaining their importance. Thirdly, they are easily understood by people without any background at all and this is often demonstrated by a simple game in which students play the role of observer and critique actions which illustrate how these factors and influences affect the outcome.
How long does it take to master tactical science?
This question is somewhat confusing because mastering any science is always somewhat relative. For most intents and purposes, however, it means becoming proficient in it. So it is with tactical science. The concepts and principles can be easily demonstrated and grasped by people with no knowledge in just a few days, albeit in a simplistic way. This is because they are introduced in such a manner that their meaning and importance is clear and unequivocal. As students become more familiar with them they recognize more they also affect one another and are broader in scope. It is a little like learning to play chess. The fundamentals can be grasped almost immediately and proficiency comes very quickly but truly mastering it takes more effort and can take a long time.
Does tactical science have any value in resolving situations other than conflicts?
Absolutely! The same concepts used when adversaries are involved can be applied to natural and mechanical disasters. Moreover, the concepts are often been used in the business world and a number of books have been published that illustrate their importance in this context. Likewise, the same principles manifest themselves in sporting events, event planning, finance, government and many others.
I’ve been successful for many years and I’m confident that I already know most of what tactical science is about so what can I expect to gain from attending a formal course on the subject?
Tactical science has been around for a long time and is taught in many disciplines, especially the military. Hence, it is entirely possible that you are very familiar with the majority of the more important concepts. While a formal course provides an organized and progressive methodology for understanding the science as a whole, if you feel that there is no value added we would encourage you not to attend.
How is tactical science taught?
Tactical science is best learned through some type of experience such as moderated discussions, games, exercises, scenarios, practical application and so forth. Accordingly, the concepts are usually introduced and explained in a block of related concepts, such as terrain, time, logistics, or planning, and then applied in a setting that emphasizes how they work with one another and influence an outcome.
I’ve often heard tactical concepts explained that were interchangeable. How often does this occur?
Rarely. It is more likely that the person explaining them was confused. In point of fact, many sound similar but are distinctly and fundamentally different. Terms and concepts such as a “sector of fire” and a “field of fire,” “command” vs. “control,” “information” vs. “intelligence” or “drifting standards” and “creeping missions” are often explained together to illustrate their differences. Notwithstanding, they each represent a discretely different aspect; have a different application or a completely different meaning. Without a solid understanding of the supporting science it is easy to use terminology incorrectly and inadvertently create confusion.
Can tactical science be used for corrective applications?
Not in the conventional understanding. Tactical science, like all sciences, is neutral. It is simply a systemized body of knowledge without bias or preconceptions. Nor does it prescribe any course of action. It is only when a practitioner uses it to identify defects and shortcomings that it provides value as a remedy. That said, however, it is often used by a knowledgeable practitioner to support a need for change or corrective measures and to explain actions in court.
I heard that students who complete the tactical science course are given the course materials. Is that true?
Yes. The instructors are all retired police officers with decades of experience in emergency management and have a strong desire to pass on lessons learned. They see themselves as stewards of this information and not owners. Moreover, they are acutely aware of the difficulties in developing slides, lesson plans, and other necessary training materials and have provided every student who completes the course with all the PowerPoint instructor slides, the student workbook, lesson plans, reference material, source material, recommended reading lists, bibliography, and in fact, every single thing that can be lawfully provided to students to allow them to teach their own classes. Not only that, they provide updates with new material whenever asked for as long as we are able.
Do you ever do consulting?
Yes, but rarely. We would much rather teach than consult. That said, we routinely provide guidance and direction for those involved in after action reviews and investigations to assist them in gaining a better understanding for the factors and influences that contributed to a particular outcome, especially an adverse one.