Negotiating with Hostage-Takers: We Need Doctrine
By Michael R. Shevock
While the Navy is ever-more involved in boarding suspect vessels, the Coast Guard has been doing it for a long time. Both services desperately need a comprehensive hostage-negotiation doctrine. In U.S. law enforcement this science has reached a high degree of sophistication, but seaborne situations provide complicating factors for which contemporary land-bound practices are not appropriate. We have not yet perfected policy for this, because no boarding team has yet been taken hostage. The following is intentionally limited because certain principles and tactics associated with hostage negotiation are sensitive and inappropriate for open-forum discussion; the hope is to inspire the quest for more knowledge.
Impressive Feats—And Possible Blowback
It is well known how a Navy SEAL team killed three Somali pirates on Easter Sunday 2009, thereby helping to save Captain Richard Phillips of the MV Maersk Alabama. While they performed magnificently, they inadvertently did one thing that could ultimately prove unfortunate: they made it look easy.