2 May , 18

Execute The Perfect Hostage Rescue Mission

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Hostage Rescue isn’t something you consider when you plan an epic adventure down south with 6 of your best buddies for some Marlin fishing, pints and a lifetime of memories and blockbuster stories that rival even the most thrilling Hollywood adventure.

Listen, sometimes bad things happen…

Without so much as a thought, one of your buddies makes the tactical error of rolling into a location way too hot, in a vehicle that attracts too much attention, wearing a watch that is too big and too bright and rolls out a wad of bills that’s way too big for the activity at hand.

What we have here is a confluence of factors that turn you and your crew from a simple group of guys heading out to have a good time fishing, to worthy targets ripe for a dirty street level snatch and grab by some opportunistic heavy hitters.

So before you pack up and head out on the vacation of a lifetime with Bobby Big League and the rest of your buddies, take a minute to dial yourself and your crew in on performing the perfect hostage rescue… and by the way, they aren’t grabbing the guy with the big wad… they are grabbing you, because they want Mr Moneybags to head to the bank and get a bunch more cash to exchange for your fingers… or worse, your head!

Now, you may opt to wait for the authorities, meanwhile, one of you is having sharpened wooden slivers tapped ever so slowly under the fingernails.  Bureaucracy moves slowly, and corrupt police agencies move even slower, so this rescue is going to fall to those in your group who were left behind.

No need to panic is there? Your crew has made more entries and killed bad guys during monumental battles on Call Of Duty, so by all accounts your GTG (good to go).

Before you blow through the primary POE at White Center of the stronghold… I mean kick down the front door guns a blazing… here’s how it gets done.

What I am about to share with you should be written down or printed out and kept close for the next time you roll out to hostile havens in foreign lands.

Make no mistake, the bad guys are going to come calling to squeeze every possible nickel out of you… so when that phone call comes with the demands of money for a life, make sure you and your crew are ready to roll out.

hostage rescue

5 Phases Of A Perfect Hostage Rescue

HRT or Hostage Rescue Tactics is the pinnacle skill set that separates good Spec Ops and Tactical Teams from great teams. When a team is tasked with performing hostage rescue as one of its primary functions, generally speaking, a majority of training time is spent developing these skills.

Although these type of situations are infrequent domestically, as far as the training matrix is concerned, you should focus your valuable training time on situations that are High Risk/Low Frequency.  Conversely, you can focus less training time on High Frequency/ Low-Risk scenarios due to the fact you gain the necessary skills through repeated exposure.

But because you and your buddies are likely not to have any experience in this type of work, I am going to speed things up and provide you with a simple framework to save the day… should you choose to accept it.


You can’t run into a hostage rescue without having established some type of plan. There is a very clear format that underpins any deliberate action, but to memorize it wouldn’t serve the purpose of what we are trying to accomplish. The 5 point planning procedure is effective when you have time and a large team… You Don’t!

This is going to be a hasty rescue. You need to act fast with a clear head. For simplicity sake, you are going to need to focus on your POE, SPOE, MOE and POEX.

Hostage Rescue

These acronyms represent your point of entry, secondary point of entry, method of entry and point of exit.  Boiled down to the basics, you need to decide where you are going to make entry into the bad guy’s lair.

In addition to your primary point of entry, you should establish a secondary point of entry and decide how you will execute that entry. My recommendation on an acceptable point of entry is close enough to the point where you will execute the hostage rescue, known as the den, but far enough away that you won’t be detected.

When you think about it it really is no different from when you were a wily teenager sneaking back into your parent’s house undetected at 3 am.

For a successful hostage rescue, you are going to have to think stealth!

The plan requires each of you to perform certain tasks. Assign each team member a task prior to arrival. Who will be in charge of making entry, who will carry the tools, who will lead the daring rescue? This process is known as Groupings and Taskings, much like a quarterback calling the play in a huddle, but in this case, you must be very specific. After all, by now your buddy has wires attached to his skin with a deep cell diesel battery standing by to light him up if you don’t get there!

Your weapons assignments will be difficult in this case. Chances are good you didn’t bring a suitable carbine that can deliver a round at 2800 fps to the NRZ of the bad guy, rendering them combat ineffective before their body even realizes it… NRZ is the non-reactionary zone from either the front or side aspect leading to the medulla oblongata. When your shot strikes here it’s lights out before they can even react.  Typically speaking this occurs on direct entry from your final assault position… but we are off in the weeds here.

You likely only have your hands, a couple of fishing hooks and maybe a filleting knife… no big deal. Once you take out one of their scouts using the skills you learned from Combat Fighter, you can take his weapon and add it to your personal arsenal.

To sum up your planning process for this hasty but courageous rescue, be sure each of you knows his assignment, you have a Deliberate Action Plan you will execute to save your friend, an Immediate Action Plan (IAP) if you are compromised (no plan survives first contact, you must adapt!), and you know your point of entry, method of entry and point of exit.


In an ideal hostage rescue scenario, your negotiators would buy you some time during which you would get the layout of the den and practice your entry.  In this phase, you might even go so far as to build a mockup of the den and practice until everyone is moving like a well-oiled machine.

Sadly, time is not on your side. I suggest you do your best to rehearse your actions on the objective a couple times before you execute your hostage rescue.

This is the phase that you check your equipment to make sure nothing is going to make any noise and give away your position. Phones off, with the exception of the primary contact phone. Make sure anything that makes noise is left behind.


Observing the stronghold will give you some indication as to how you will move throughout your operation.  You may be relegated to a dynamic entry from the exterior or you may have the opportunity to conduct a complete stealth operation.

Ideally, you find a way in and can move to the final assault point undetected. There are a couple of things to keep in mind. You can conduct a stealth probe to breach point, which is the final point from which you will make entry and unleash your violence of action during your final assault. Or you can conduct a stealth probe to contact where you stealth directly to the contact point with the bad guys and conduct your final assault immediately. You will have to decide!

Move slowly, use ambient noise to cover your movement. Remember if you make a sound, take 2 minutes to sit and soak to listen and determine if you have been compromised.

Be aware that changes you make to the environment have an effect downstream. Opening a door in one location changes the air pressure and may cause a window to rattle or curtains to sway in another location.  If you have really switched on bad guys, your odour will also carry through the den, make sure you aren’t wearing your favourite Obsession cologne from 1986.

This is probably the highest risk part of your hostage rescue operation in so far as once you begin moving toward the bad guys you are committed to making sure your buddy makes it home safe.

Be alert for any opportunity to exploit and make your move. Opportunity dictates an action, not time!  An opportunity missed is an opportunity lost… it may never appear during the operation again. Make it count!


Well, my friend, it is go time… You and your crew are stacked up outside the room where your lifelong friend is being held and you are ready to make your move.

Here’s how it’s going to go down. Remember the weapon you took off one of the bad guys you neutralized on your way in? Well, whoever your most proficient CQB gunfighter is will be your #1 in the room.

Hostage RescueNow, here’s your order of operations. Number 1 and 2 are going to make entry and walk the walls, 3 and 4 are going to go down the middle.  How do you pick which wall? In tactical movement, your #1 on entry is never wrong (unless he freezes and fails to act) and your #2 reads off the movement and direction of #1.

This is the point where you utilize speed aggression and surprise to overwhelm the bad guys and recover your buddy. Upon entry give loud commands using your buddies name telling him to get down… this is just in case you need to address a lethal threat. This should all happen within a second or two. #4 takes control of your friend and you should immediately begin your exfil out of the room. Do Not turn your back on the bad guys on the way out… #1 with lethal overwatch will be the last out of the room.


At this point, you are making a hasty retreat to your designated POEx.  You may consider laying down suppressive fire to keep those pesky bad guys down.

Get back to your rendezvous point and get outta dodge as fast as you can… you can high five each other once you are back on friendly soil hoisting a celebratory pint!


Key Points

Have 3 distinct plans- Deliberate Action, Immediate Action (emergency) and Contingency plans. Movement should be slow and quiet like a cat. Time is of no consequence, an opportunity is. The violence of action on the objective will enable you to overwhelm the bad guys.

Final Thoughts

Listen, your best ally for survival in executing an emergency hostage rescue is to ensure you never have to do one. That means having very good situational awareness and understanding of your environment. Stay safe!


Todd Lamb is one world's most trusted sources of Health and Fitness information and programming. He has dedicated his life to the service of others having served as a member of the Royal Canadian Regiment in the Special Service Force and as 17 year veteran Police Officer with 10 years on SWAT and 4 as a Team Leader. Todd is dedicated to transforming the lives of 1,000,000 men through honest science based information backed up with years of practical experience in Tactical Operations. Todd is a Best Selling Author of multiple best selling fitness programs and the book STAND APART

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7 thoughts on “Execute The Perfect Hostage Rescue Mission

  1. Tim Summerfield

    Excellent advice with pure clarity. Proper,solid plans to ensure safety of your squad and hostage. Positive execution of planned entry and exit,with secondary choices. Plan ahead or come home dead. Thank you for your service and concerned advice for others.


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