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Anti-Terrorist Hostage Rescue,
a Modern Parable

              This report compares the organizational style and effectiveness of two modern anti-terrorist units, Rangers and Special Forces, within the current U.S. Army structure, as applied to a standardized testing scenario. Therefore, if a hijacked Boeing 747, together with its passengers and crew, was being held hostage at an airport by fanatical revolutionaries, would an anti-terrorist unit formed for a rescue and recovery mission by Rangers or Special Forces succeed better?

Ranger Option

    Forces / Equipment Committed:
    If the Rangers went in, they would send a regular Ranger company of 120 men with standard Army-issue weapons and equipment.
    Mission Preparation:
    The Ranger company First Sergeant would conduct a hair cut, uniform and boots inspection prior to deployment.
    Infiltration Technique:
    The Rangers would insist on double-timing in company formation, wearing their combat equipment, and singing Jody 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, re-apply their face cammo, and conduct final preparations for sustained 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 Boeing 747 would be worthless to anyone except a scrap dealer. All of the soldiers would receive a promotion and an Army Commendation Medal with Valor device, while the leaders would receive Bronze Stars with a Valor device.

Special Forces Option

    Forces / Equipment Committed:
    If Special Forces went in, they would send only a twelve man team (due to some obscure mystical or arcane historical reason, all SF units are divisible by 12), however, due to the exotic nature of their highly specialized weapons and equipment, the SF team would cost as much to deploy as the entire Ranger company.
    Mission Preparation:
    The team Sergeant would immediately request relaxed grooming standards for the SF team so as to enable assimilation.
    Infiltration Technique:
    The SF team would insist on separate travel orders with maximal per diem allotments, and each team member would get to the hijacking site by his own means. At least four-twelfths of the team would insist on a HALO infiltration, and probably another two-twelfths would expect a FRIES or SCUBA insertion.
    Actions in the Objective Area:
    Once they arrived , the SF team would cache their military uniforms, establish a top-secret Team Room in a safe house, use their illegal slush fund to stock the unauthorized armory and barroom with non-appropriated essentials, check-out the situation by interviewing the locals in their own language, and then conduct 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 (leaving signed confessions), the passengers would be ruined psychologically for the remainder of their lives, and all of the women passengers would be pregnant. The Boeing 747 crew would be traumatized but essentially unharmed, and the airplane would be undamaged, needing only a good cleaning. The SF team would have taken no casualties, but would have used up, lost, or stolen all of the high speed equipment that had been issued to them. At least four-twelfths of the team would write bestselling books about the daring operation, and another four-twelfths would compose popular songs about the classified action or the beautiful women they encountered. The Army would reassign all team members to other groups in hopes of quashing rumors and disguising fiscal losses. Everyone would receive Silver Stars and an expeditionary medal.