Algeria Launches ‘Final Assault’; State News Agency Reports Some Hostages Dead: via HuffPost

Algeria Launches ‘Final Assault’; State News Agency Reports Some Hostages Dead: via HuffPost http://huff.to/11GHyih

The people of Mali want help to be freed from what are essentially outside invaders.

This is different from Afghanistan where the side with US support is essentially the insurgency.

The militants were doing a frontal attack and the area is desert. They evidently weren’t expecting outside resistence.

They now have to be hit as hard as possible before they get a chance to regroup and form a plan to dig in or hide.

Avenues of retreat need to be guarded so they get caught in the open.

They’ve apparently tried to blend in with some of the cities they’ve occupied but must have some way of identifying each other.

A good way to handle a small city is with portable metal detectors. Everybody comes out and goes through. For places with under 100,000 people it’s feasible.

Anybody remaining is probably a target and any terrorists coming out have to disarm to go through.

There can then be a sweep with most of the civilians out of the way.

The civilians can help ID who the terrorists are if any go disarmed into the holding area.
The terrorists won’t have brought women and young children for a military assault and these can be used to help sort out who’s who, although if there has been fighting gunshot residue tests could be useful if such tests are as portable as depicted on CSI.

Algeria had to hit hard on the hostage takers.  The hostages were primarily taken to buy time to wire the refinery to blow up.  They were all dead without a strike. 

The key question in a hostage situation is which side is buying time.  

In a civilian situation often somebody screwed up and hadn’t thought through their actions.  They wind up trapped and take hostages.  If pressed to quickly they may do something stupid but if given time to think it through they will usually resign themselves to the best of very few choices.

With militants it’s different. 

The ones in Algeria couldn’t have had any reasonable expectation of ever getting out.  Their decision was made going in.  Keeping hostages alive was likely a ruse.

You also have to take the long view.  If you screw around with the situation you are sending a message that similar attempts may also be successful.

The militants were high end, including explosives experts for example. 

They lost 35 people including experts and in return took out a couple dozen unarmed civilians.  They failed in their objective to blow the place.  That’s a fail.

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