Armchair Hostages

Recently there are some growing criticism on the actions of the assault team during the terrorist hostage event in Sydney Australia last month. How easy it is to throw the shooters under the bus, but before they do, maybe they should consider the following.

The nuts and bolts

This standoff lasted approximately 17 hours and in that time several of the hostages escaped. Why is that important, because it was extremely frustrating to the hostage taker, terrorist Man Haron Monis. Why is that important? The mindset of any hostage taker is absolutely important, pretty much all action is based on the likelihood of the situation being peacefully resolved. I don’t blame those hostages one bit for escaping. They took matters into their own hands and given the same situation I’m sure just about every sane person would have done the same thing. However, the actions of the hostages who fled placed the terrorist on a very slippery slope. First off, what sort of person willfully takes part in a hostage taking event. One where there is the very high chance of death, your’s or the hostages? It takes someone who is not right to begin with. Now, add the fact that you have no control and your most precious commodity is escaping. Yah…you are losing control fast and you know it. Your rational begins to fade; anger, contempt and hatred are now what fuels you.

Best case scenario

The decision to rescue the remaining hostages when the situation became so desperate will be second guessed and now scrutinized by a legal body. That should come as no surprise, everyone should recognize your actions or inactions will ALWAYS be reviewed. It is easy to second guess someone after the fact, but what we have to do is put ourselves in their shoes at that moment, with the information they had at that instant. I believe they felt “in-action” would cost the lives of the remaining hostages. The terrorist had 21 shotgun shells on his dead body. He fired two of rounds as the rescue began. Take a moment to take that in, instead of spraying the shotgun rounds at the hostages when he knew the gig was up, he directed the rounds at the rescuers. Rescuers who are equipped and prepared to handle that contingency. Honestly, once things have deteriorate to an emergency assault, we all hope the gunmen turn their weapon on themselves or on us those are trying to rescue the hostages.

Justice served

It is unclear whether the heads shots were the first rounds fired or the first rounds fired where to the chest followed by shots the head shots. I’m sure that will be discovered in the inquiry, but remember there were 11 flash bangs thrown as the rescuers advanced on the terrorist. Those in the know realize that creates quite a bit of smoke, add to the fact the event took place in low light and it is very difficult to expect the ideal “range” conditions. Training is never complete and this type of tactical operation is the most complex. There are a lot of moving parts for sure, but we are all professional and I have no doubt the men who carried out the operation are the utmost professionals. I also have no doubt they are second guessing their actions, they are beating themselves up about what if I had moved faster, shot faster, shot less or even not gone. It appears one of the hostages died of blood loss from a fragment of one of the rounds fired from the rescuers. My heart goes out to her family for their loss and I would want answers for sure. I would want to know the death of my daughter was unavoidable or if avoidable at least that justice was served.

There are lessons to be learned on every operations and this operation is no different. Everybody wants to look cool, but this is the reality of special operations and only the serious need apply.

"That which does not kill us makes us stronger." Friedrich Nietzsche, German Philosopher

2 thoughts on “Armchair Hostages

  1. Marty says:

    Jeff,

    Another great post! I am interested in your opinion on the number of flash-bangs used here. I understand that each scenario is different and without all of the information it is impossible to know the answers to tactical questions; however, 11 flash-bangs seems excessive to me. In my limited experience, I’ve found at some point multiple flash-bangs have diminishing returns. Your thoughts?

    On a separate note, I’ve had the worst case of tennis elbow for the past 3 months, so I appreciate your tip from an earlier post — I am already trying it at the gym.

    Keep ’em going. And be safe!

    Marty

  2. flashback says:

    I cannot see how they can fault the rescuers, it is the hostage taker(s) that are responsible for every life taken in this ordeal. Could they have done things differently, perhaps, take the lessons and move on but every life lost is on the bad guys head.

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