Thursday, April 16, 2015

LTG Sacolick & Hostage Policy Review

The Obama administration has faced some harsh questioning on its hostage policy. For years the United States position has been that it won't negotiate with terrorists - and for the most part the country doesn't. However recent events have put that policy into the spotlight - the trade of five Taliban commanders (long-term residents of the Guantanamo detention center) for SGT Bowe Bergdahl, failed rescue attempts in Yemen and elsewhere, and the beheading of U.S. citizens in Syria. In addition, some hostage family members feel that they are not kept informed by the U.S. government of attempts to release or recover hostages. The Department of Defense has a Personnel Recovery (PR) program (see Joint Personnel Recovery Agency or JPRA) that educates its service members on avoiding capture, surviving captivity, and coordination personnel recovery. However, while this PR program and structure is robust in war zones (like Iraq and Afghanistan), it isn't as mature or developed in other trouble areas of the world and usually does not extend beyond the military. American citizens who are in the news media, humanitarian organizations, business, or in the wrong place at the wrong time are subject to capture - but many feel there is not a coordinated effort among all U.S. agencies for their recovery. LTG Bennet Sacolick, a long-time Special Forces officer, is tasked with a review of the hostage recovery program. Read more in "Meet the General Shaking Up America's Yemen, ISIS, and Hostage Rescue Plans", The Daily Beast, April 15, 2015.

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