Anatomy of a Hostage Rescue: What Makes Hostage Rescue Operations Successful?   [open pdf - 5MB]

"This thesis develops a theory to determine the best execution time to conduct a hostage rescue attempt. It does so by explaining the phenomenon of a hostage crisis biorhythm and proposing four principles essential for success. The principles of hostage rescue operations presented in this thesis and used in the biorhythm model--surprise, intelligence, operator's skill, and deception--are derived from looking at numerous planning models from special operations, from personal experience, and the thorough analysis of six historical cases. The historical cases show that in every instance any one of these four principles was overlooked, the operation was doomed. These principles have been determined to be the most critical factors that change as the crisis develops throughout the hostage ordeal. A thorough understanding of this biorhythm will provide planning guidelines to assess the best windows of opportunity for a proposed rescue attempt. One main focus of this work will be an in-depth case study of the hostage rescue operation 'CHAVIN DE HUANTAR'. This case study will present compelling evidence to reinforce my hypothesis, and serves as a template model for successful rescue operations. The analysis of this single case will provide a wealth of information on the success of this remarkable operation. Another main focus of this thesis will be strategic thinking of a hostage crisis using game theory analysis. The findings of this thesis will enable decision-makers to plan and organize hostage rescue forces to act at the appropriate time (window of opportunity), maximizing their chances of success. Additionally, it will provide a useful planning model that can be implemented effectively and accurately, presenting a clear picture of possible outcomes throughout a hostage crisis. Furthermore, this thesis will help the reader become a better strategist during the planning, preparation, and execution of a hostage rescue operation. It will provide a thorough understanding of how these operations work, how to solve them successfully, and how to predict possible outcomes at different stages of the operation applying the principles of game theory."

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