Opinion: Critique of the French hostage rescue (VIDEO)

Recently a couple of murderers claiming to be terrorists operating under the auspices of Islamic radicalism, shot and killed a dozen people in Paris.  Afterward, they decided to harm more people by taking hostages at two different locations and got killed in the process.  The first location was a printing press near the airport, and the other was a kosher supermarket called Hyper Cacher.

Handling simultaneous hostage situations would be taxing to any agency.  However, it appears that the two locations were far enough apart that multiple agencies were involved and enough personnel and tactical resources were allocated to both situations.

The media crew, armature cameramen or both, filmed the hostage rescue at the grocery store.  I’ve only seen one side of the event (the video above and the ones here and here).  Apparently, the hostage takers were wearing GoPro cameras, and possibly live-streaming.  At this point, video from the hostage taker’s point of view is not available.  I also have not seen any other footage other than video taken from the front part of the store.  I have not seen anything happening around back.

With that said, here are a few crucial points I observed from this perspective alone.  Please note that there’s often a lot we cannot see or know when it comes to viewing video footage alone.

Explosives and Distraction Devices

There were some pretty large KABOOMs prior to the room entry.  Those weren’t Noise/Flash Diversionary Devices (NFDD) or DDs for short (more commonly known as flashbangs).  There may have been some DDs used after entry, but the first explosives were big enough to knock the “H” from the Hyper Cacher sign down.  No DD would have done that.

Although there were team members in the back who likely entered the building from another point, I’m not sure whether the initial explosives were part of a deliberate breach or something used by the hostage takers.

Overwhelming entry and multiple entry points

Hostage rescues are the most dangerous type of building entry.  When it comes to rescuing hostages, flooding the room with a lot of shooters can prove beneficial.  Doing so overwhelms the senses of the hostage takers.  It also creates more angles from which to shoot at the villains.   Moreover, having multiple breaching points or entry points is important to achieving both of these advantages.

While another entry team may have come in from the rear of the structure, I only saw one guy enter—and he was totally alone.  With all the guys in black standing around, they could have flooded that place and gained an overwhelming tactical advantage rapidly.

Never enter a room alone

I don’t fault the lone guy for going in, even if it was part of the plan for him to stay outside.  There were innocent lives hanging in the balance and decisive action was needed at that moment.  In my opinion, the other team members should not have let him enter alone.  At the very least, one other team member should have gone in with him so they could advance as a pair.

With only one guy going entering the room, it left about five cops in shooting position outside around the door and a couple of dozen standing around waiting.  I can’t stress that enough, at least one person, if not more, should have gone in with him.  Working in teams, or at least as a pair, is the best bet to the win the fight.

Dangerous cross fire

I noticed two incidents of this.  Right after the guy goes in alone with a ballistic shield, another shooter from behind a car, and several yards away, shoots into the building.  While there may be a time for that, it can be very dangerous or even fatal,  if a team member moves out fast in front of his muzzle.  To the point, be absolutely sure of your target and be sure of who is beside your target or near your line of sight.

The other is when the murderer fell.  The hostage taker wanted to kill himself (or rather have police kill him so he could rationalize himself as a “martyr”), so he aggressively ran towards the opening provoking police to shoot him.  He was almost out the door when he hit the ground and at that point police were on both sides of the door firing at him.

Whoa!  I understand it was a high stress moment but watch your muzzle boys!  Friendly fire isn’t friendly.

Medical attention

There were a lot of rounds being exchanged.  Some officers got shot.  But there doesn’t appear to be anyone specifically identified as tactical medics with gear and identification, nor does there appear to be a predesignated casualty collection point.

When it comes to emergency medical attention, those who work in the field say there’s a “golden hour”, but when it comes to hostages or buddies getting shot, it might be a “golden minute”.  Preparing for singular and mass casualties triage is paramount.  Self-aid and buddy-aid measures can truly be life saving.

In the end, had there been a better view into the store, it would have been preferable to have a sniper-initiated entry.  Boom!—a .308 takes out the hostage taker with a t-zone or ocular cavity shot and the team makes entry.

On a separate note, if the initial explosives were not placed or activated by police, the rescue response sure was slow, at least in the front of the building.  Assuming the worst, when people start dying or getting injured, police need to get in there quick.  But, overall, there were a lot of hostages safely rescued and that, of course, is a very, very good thing.

The views and opinions expressed in this post are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the position of Guns.com.