Friday, October 2, 2015

Surviving A Hijacking

When I was in the military in the 80’s the military used lots of commercial airlines to move military members. If you were PCSing (permanent change of station, being assigned to another fort or base) going overseas for training, you would often fly with civilians. We would receive several briefings travelling overseas. They had a guide that we had to read about certain situations. One situation was an aircraft hijacking. This info applies today as well and for everyone. The State Department eventually put this info out for anyone flying abroad.

Why Terrorists Perform Hijacking
Terrorists hijack aircraft and other public transportation in order to gain media attention and demand something from the government. As seen in the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks, a hijacking could also be done so terrorists can cause damage, sow fear and relay an ideological message. They will not hesitate to use you and other hostages to achieve their objectives.
What to do When a Hijacking is First Announced
• Stay calm, and encourage others around you to do the same.
• Remember that the hijackers are extremely nervous and are possibly scared.
• Comply with your captor(s) directions.
• If shooting occurs, keep your head down or drop to the floor.
• Remain alert
After initial hijacking phase, there will be a negotiation phase between the hijackers and authorities, and this period could see passengers used as a bargaining tool.

What to do During the Negotiation Phase of a Hijacking
• If you are told to keep your head down or maintain another body position, talk yourself into relaxing into the position; you may need to stay that way for some time.
• Prepare yourself mentally and emotionally for a long ordeal.
• Do not attempt to hide your passport or belongings.
• If addressed by the hijackers, respond in a regulated tone of voice.
• Use your time wisely by observing the characteristics and behavior of the hijackers, mentally attach nicknames to each one and notice their dress, facial features and temperaments.
• If you or a nearby passenger is in need of assistance due to illness or discomfort, solicit the assistance of a crew member first — do not attempt to approach a hijacker unless similar assistance has been rendered by them for other passengers.
• If you are singled out by the hijackers, be responsive but do not volunteer information.
The final phase of the hijacking is the resolution phase, which can be a result of intervention by a hostage rescue team or a successful negotiation. In the case of a rescue operation which could involve noise, chaos or shooting, you should observe the following.
What to do During a Hostage Rescue Operation
• If you hear shots fired inside or outside the aircraft, immediately take a protective position — put your head down or drop to the floor.
• If instructed by a rescue force to move, do so quickly, putting your hands up in the air or behind your head; make no sudden movements.
• If fire or smoke appears, attempt to get emergency exits open, and use the inflatable slides or exit onto the wing.
• Once you are on the tarmac, follow the instructions of the rescue force or local authorities; if neither are there to guide you, move as quickly as possible away from the aircraft and eventually move towards the terminal or control tower area.
• Expect to be treated as a hijacker or co-conspirator by the rescue force; initially you will be treated roughly until it is determined by the rescue force that you are not part of the hijacking team.
After the hijacking crisis is resolved, you are advised to cooperate with local authorities and other relevant agencies in relating information about the hijacking.

The military also told us to keep our military ID in our luggage and not to wear any clothing that could be considered military or T shirts with American slogans or advertising. They advised us to blend in as much as possible and to not let anyone know you were in the military.
Situational awareness and being calm will take you a long way in a hijacking.
I hope to avoid ever having to experience a plane or other hijacking. These are just tips to help you survive one.
Semper Paratus
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