Saturday, October 22, 2016

Rangers vs Special Forces: Hostage Rescue

A prospective client asked me all about scenarios involving airfield takedowns - all the who-where-what-why-when's & how many's . . . I told her it all depends on so many factors & variables, to include what kind of troops available . . . this led to a conversation regarding the difference between Rangers and Special Forces, and so I shared with her the following parable from the ancient sagas of US Army Special Operations . . . S.L.

The Chief of Staff of the Army asked his Sergeant Major - who was both Ranger and Special Forces qualified - which organization he would recommend to form a new anti-terrorist unit. The Sergeant Major responded to the General's question with this parable: If there were a hijacked Boeing 747 being held by terrorists along with its passengers and crew and an anti-terrorist unit formed either by the Rangers or the Special Forces was given a Rescue/Recovery Mission; what would you expect to happen?

Ranger Option

Forces/Equipment Committed: If the Rangers went in, they would send a Ranger company of 120 men with standard army issue equipment.

Mission Preparation: The Ranger Company First Sergeant would conduct a Hair Cut and Boots Inspection, while the officers consulted SOPs and held sand table exercises.

Infiltration Technique: They would insist on double timing, in company formation, wearing their combat equipment, and singing cadence all the way to the site of the hijacked aircraft.

Actions in the Objective Area: Once they arrived, the Ranger company would establish their ORP, put out security elements, conduct a leaders recon, reapply their camouflage, and conduct final preparations for Actions on the OBJ.

Results of Operation: The Rescue/Recovery Operation would be completed within one hour; all of the terrorists and most of the passengers would have been killed, the Rangers would have sustained light casualties and the 747 would be worthless to anyone except a scrap dealer.

Special Forces Option

Forces/Equipment Committed: If Special Forces went in, they would send only a 12 man team (all SF units are divisible by 12 for some arcane historical reason) however, due to the exotic nature of their equipment the SF Team would cost the same amount to deploy as the Ranger Company.

Mission Preparation: The SF Team Sergeant would request relaxed grooming standards for the team. All members of the team would spend a grueling afternoon at a quality spa ensuring physical abilities would be honed.

Infiltration Technique: The team would insist on separate travel orders with Max Per Diem, and each would get to the site of the hijacking by his own means. At least one third of the team would insist on jumping in HALO.

Actions in the Objective Area: Once they arrived , the SF Team would cache their military uniforms, establish a Team Room at the best hotel in the area, use their illegal Team Fund to stock the unauthorized Team Room Bar, check out the situation by talking to the locals, and have a Team Meeting to discuss the merits of the terrorists' cause.

Results of Operation: The Rescue/Recovery Operation would take two weeks to complete and by that time all of the terrorists would have been killed, (and would have left signed confessions); the passengers would be ruined psychologically for the remainder of their lives; and all of the women passengers would be pregnant. The 747 would be essentially unharmed, the team would have taken no casualties but would have used up, lost, or stolen all the "high speed" equipment issued to them.


Friday, October 14, 2016


In Thailand, one witnesses the deep respect given King Bhumibol and the Royal Family by the Thai people. That respect was earned; everywhere one looked was evidence of the King's great works and his love for his people. I wish to show my respect & to honor His Majesty on the occasion of his passing . . . S.L.

His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej (ภูมิพลอดุลยเดช - pronounced P'humip'hon Adunyadet) known as King Bhumibol the Great, was the ninth monarch of Thailand from the Chakri Dynasty as Rama IX. Having reigned since 9 June 1946, he was, at the time of his death, the world's longest-serving head of state and the longest-reigning monarch in Thai history, serving for 70 years, 127 days. He held Thailand together during VERY difficult times, and helped lead Thai people to prosperity. His story is very unique, and quite remarkable. He was one of the greatest kings of all history.

His Majesty led Thailand during extremely challenging times - throughout the Indochina Conflict - and personally helped bring prosperity and stability to Thailand and throughout the region. For the many difficult decades following World War II, Communist insurgencies existed in every country in Southeast Asia. Thailand was an anchor of stability, the keystone that held the region from total collapse. This was due in large part to King Bhumibol's direct influence, thanks to his remarkable character.

Westerners who have never visited Thailand cannot fully appreciate the King's influence. In Thailand, they had a Communist insurgency, but the majority of the Thai people never supported this despite the difficulties & extreme poverty experienced in the provinces. This was directly due to the King's personality. He was revered as semi-divine. As Communist guerrilla movements took hold and even prevailed in neighboring countries, in Thailand the Communists failed to gain traction.

In Thailand, democracy is not like in the West. There are many coup's-de-etat - most of them bloodless, thank God. When a coup - or a counter-coup - takes place, the leaders seek the official blessing of the King. Without this blessing, the leaders of the coup (or counter-coup) must pack their bags and go into exile. As such, King Bhumibol practiced much more direct influence over the political affairs of his country than his royal counterparts in the West.

Thailand emerged from the difficult war years and rode a wave of economic development as one of Southeast Asia's 'tiger economies'. When I returned to Thailand in the late eighties, I observed that a middle class had emerged. In large part because of the King's personality and tremendous influence, Thailand has no enemies. Everybody loves Thailand.

In recent years there has been trouble within the Kingdom. Following years of domestic political strife, the military took power. There have been human rights issues - it is not my intent to discuss this here. Ironically, it is the heavy-handed military government that may actually ensure a seamless coronation of the Crown Prince.

There will be difficult days ahead. The Thai people pray for King Bhumibol . . . I pray for the Thai people . . .