Book By: Patrick Van Horne & Jason A. Riley

Reviewed By: Friedrich Seiltgen

Written in 2014, Left of Bang is the product of the United States Marine Corps Combat Hunter Program. While it was written to reduce military casualties in Iraq, the same principles apply to civilian life also.

Whether it’s an active shooter, IED, carjacker, or a mugger heading your direction, the term “Bang Happens” is the equivalent of something bad happening. The moments before something bad happens is Left of Bang, and vice versa: the moments after something bad happens is Right of Bang. You always want to be on the Left of Bang, and the tactics in this book are meant to keep you there.

In 2006, the Iraqi insurgency was at its height. The military responded with heavier body armor and up-armored Humvees. The enemy responded with larger IEDs. Marine Corps General James Mattis, call sign “Chaos,” decided he wanted his Marines to be able to spot the bad actors Left of Bang. In short, he wanted Marines to be the Predator not the Prey, and in 2007, the Marine Corps War Fighting Lab went to work!

The book starts with the basics of Jeff Cooper’s Color codes, and I just know Gunpowder readers read our piece on Col. Jeff Cooper already! Why the color codes? Because Combat Profiling requires basic mental preparedness to take lethal action, and lethal action might be the difference between life and death!

The Combat Hunter Program used the expertise of several experts and came up with three specific skills to help Marines identify threats and keep them Left of Bang. The three are: enhanced observation, combat tracking, and combat profiling. Left of Bang concentrates heavily on Combat Profiling. I know that’s a dirty word to the liberals out there, but profiling must be done. Combat Profiling is not racial profiling! Criminals come in all sizes, shapes, religions, ethnicities, and colors! You must focus on behavior. The book covers the language of profiling, aka, the Six Domains: Kinesics, Biometrics, Proxemics, Geographics, Iconography, and Atmospherics.

After learning these basics, the book goes on to lessons of Deciding to Act, the Combat Rule of Three, and the Three Decisions. At this point, you want to put it all together and start applying profiling to your daily life, whatever that may be. The section on identifying key leaders brought back some memories for me. One of my favorite supervisors was a Vietnam veteran who told us stories of his service. During patrols when enemy contact was made, they were told to look for a soldier carrying the radio. When we asked why, he told us that they would shoot the person next to the radioman, as that was the guy in charge. When you think about it, it makes sense. The Lt. is certainly not going to carry the radio, the Private next to him is!

When I first became a police officer, we were trained in riot control. When dealing with rioters, the person running the show is not one of the imbeciles up front in our faces. We were trained to look for the guy or gal in the back walking around giving instructions to the rest of the gang. That’s the person targeted for extraction, because that’s the leader!

Whether you’re a soldier, law enforcement officer, or civilian, this book is full of useful information that will help keep you alive. I am glad this training was released to the public. I’ve learned a few new tactics from this book that I will be incorporating into the Terrorism Indicators portion of the Islamic Terrorism Counter Strategies training I teach. The world becomes more dangerous every day, and all of us good guys need all the advantage we can get.

That’s all for now folks! Please keep sending in your questions, tips, and article ideas. And as always – “Let’s be careful out there.”

Friedrich Seiltgen is a retired Master Police Officer with 20 years of service with the Orlando Police Department. He conducts training in Lone Wolf Terrorism, Firearms, First Aid, Active Shooter Response, and Law Enforcement Vehicle Operations in Florida. His writing has appeared in RECOIL, The Counter Terrorist Magazine, American Thinker, Homeland Security Today, and The Journal of Counterterrorism & Homeland Security International. Contact him at [email protected].