Hostage situation in Algeria ends badly

| January 18, 2013

There’s not a lot of information coming out Algeria on the hostage situation there which involved several US citizens. Al Qaeda terrorists were holding the hostages at a LP gas facility in the Algerian desert. And apparently when they tried to take the hostages into Libya, the Algerian “special forces” struck the group indiscriminately. From the Washington Times;

Algerian officials said their troops and helicopter gunships stormed the gas facility where Islamic extremists were holding foreign hostages, including several Americans, when the terrorists tried to leave plant with their captives.

An unknown number of hostages were killed in the military assault, according to various accounts.

Algerian state media said four foreign hostages had been freed in the raid and at least one of them, Michael McFaul, a Briton from West Belfast, was able to speak by telephone to his family.

There’s a difference between special forces troops in the US and those in the third world. In the third world, they mean people who will kill anyone anytime in the most brutal way available. They’re usually not trained well, except in firepower. NBC broadcast news is reporting that only two Americans survived the attack by Algerian forces, but information is sketchy.

As we ramp up our participation in Africa, I hope the generals, who have recently forgotten every lesson they ever learned, keep this incident in mind when planning for security for the troops there. Other nations won’t protect Americans in the same way that Americans will protect Americans. Another example would be the “Black Hawk Down” incident wherein, US troops were dependent on Pakistani armor to evacuate them from the firefight.

While it’s commendable that the US is letting France lead in Mali, we shouldn’t hitch our little red wagon to them there, because we’re going to be disappointed with the outcome.

Category: Military issues

Comments (42)

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  1. Spade says:

    I have noticed no official comment from our government.

  2. NHSparky says:

    because we’re going to be disappointed with the outcome.

    Understatement, to say the least. But what’s a generation without some clueless Democrat getting us bogged down in a war they could have avoided but didn’t?

  3. USMCE8Ret says:

    @1 – They’re trying to come up with a convincing story since the one they gave about Benghazi didn’t work out so well for them.

    Gotta be careful about these things.

  4. Veritas Omnia Vincit says:

    Not really a shocker that the highly talented special forces troops of Algeria shot everyone that was moving including hostages. The training program for these clowns is a little different than our programs for elite forces.

    When the sh1t hits the fan the guys you want to see coming to the rescue are the ones with the stars and stripes on their sleeves….otherwise be afraid, be very afraid…

  5. NHSparky says:

    Why ya bullshittin, Master Sergeant? We STILL haven’t got a straight story about Benghazi, let alone a convincing one.

    Something tells me that the number of higher ups in this administration who have read Sun Tzu, Clausewitz, or Thucydides is something less than one.

    But I bet they’ve read the fuck outta Marx and Alinsky.

  6. Bam Bam says:

    Algerian Special Olympics more like it…

    Apparently they base their hostage rescue training off of Keanu Reeves in “Speed”.

    – “Shoot the hostage, take him out of the equation”.

    Top notch.

  7. Hondo says:

    NHSparky: sort of like Clinton did by treating al Qaeda and related Islamist groups like a minor law-enforcement issue for about 7 1/2 years? (smile)

  8. The Dead Man says:

    #6 If they’ve even heard of Sun Tzu, Miyamoto Musashi, Alexander, Sherman or hell maybe even Rommel and Patton, I’d be amazed. Algeria special forces is like our current batch of intellectual elite really.

  9. Reaperman says:

    Wow, information must be sketchy. I was half paying attention to this on the news not 20 minutes ago and it sounded generally successful. I wish they’d sort out the news before they report it.

  10. Hondo says:

    Reaperman: the mainstream media? Sort things out before publishing? “Aren’t ye a wee bit auld to be a’ believin’ in Leprechauns, laddie?” (smile)

  11. Ex-PH2 says:

    @7 Hondo, when Zbignew Brzezinski was Jimmy Carter’s advisor, he dismissed the Taliban as a few disgruntled muslims.

    And you know why these people were targeted: the gas plant, and nothing else.

    I can see a strike on Libyan or other oil fields before too long. If there’s a refinery nearby, even better.

  12. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    That Entebbe thing worked out pretty well, too, VOV.

    Algerian Press Conference:

    Jaylal Carneyaziz (Spokesman): “In a daring mission conducted by our elite special forces, the terrorists were destroyed and their goal denied to them.”

    Reporter: “How many hostages were killed and by whom?”

    Jaylal Carneyaziz: “No more questions? The next update is not yet scheduled. We’ll let you know when we have a date and time. Thank you.”

  13. USMCE8Ret says:

    @6 – Nah, Sparky… not bullshittin’, just waiting on a plausible explaination like everyone else is, because the first one the State Dept and WH gave about Benghazi just didn’t fly.

    Merely stating the WH and State are probably drumming up a lame-ass excuse about Algeria, like they did about Benghazi.

    It takes real talent to come up with real BS, because everybody knows the WH and State Dept are smarter than the rest of us, right? (SARC)

  14. Devtun says:

    The 1985 “hostage rescue” attempt by Egyptian commandos of a hijacked Egypt Air 737 in Malta might have been one of the worst blunders ever. Scores of passengers were killed in the rescue attempt.
    “A request for intervention by the US Delta force was refused by the Maltese authorities and the aircraft was eventually stormed by Egyptian commandos.”

  15. ObamaGirl says:

    @2 Your hypocrisy knows no bounds what war in the last 20 years has a democrat gotten us bogged down in? I can think of 2 that your heroes Bush and Cheney got us bogged down in, you’re a joke and a right wing hack.

  16. Hondo says:

    ObamaGirl: you’re likely not old enough to remember 20 years ago. Further, had Clinton not treated al Qaeda like a minor criminal matter – and turned down offers to take into custody or take out bin Laden 3 different times – we wouldn’t be in Afghanistan because 9/11 would not have happened.

    [Yeah, I know – here I am trying to talk sense to one of the Kool-Aid crowd from DU. But it’s fun to watch them squirm when they’re challenged with facts. (smile)]

  17. O-4E says:


    Bosnia (“We’ll be out by Christmas Clinton”)


    No Fly Zone over Iraq instead of enforcing UN mandates allowing Saddam time to re-arm

  18. Hondo says:

    Now, O-4E – those don’t count. They were merely efforts at peacekeeping, not wars.

    Yes, I’m being sarcastic.

    By the way, ObamaGirl: we’re still conducting operations in the Balkans. That one has turned into Clinton’s “permanent gift” to the US.

    Oh, and don’t forget Haiti in 1994.

    But I’ll give him some credit. At least when things turned to crap in Somalia after Clinton and his cronies changed the original mission, he had the good sense to do what he should have after the first 90 days and leave. Too bad that he couldn’t have figured that out before he changed the mission to “nation-building” and stayed there an extra year or so.

    Refresh my memory: what party was Clinton, again?

  19. ObamaGirl says:

    @18 How many KIAs and casualties were there in the Balkans? So now Afghanistan is Clintons fault? Maybe your hero dubya should have read his intel brief terrorists poise to strike U.S. with airplanes and 9/11 would have never happened.. You’re just another republican hack..

  20. O-4E says:


    Notice none of us here have a politician’s name affixed to our handle.

    Fairly certain no regular poster on here worships any given politician or party

    Good luck trying to pay back those student loans with your PhD in Orca research

  21. Hondo says:

    ObamaGirl: well, since you asked: per Wikipedia, casualties in Kosovo during 1998-1999 were

    – 5000-8000 insurgent (FARK/UCK) deaths
    – up to 5000 FRY forces deaths
    – approx 500 civilian deaths outside Kosovo
    – approx 9,000 civilian deaths inside Kosovo
    – 2 NATO noncombat deaths
    – 16 total aircraft shot down (both sides)
    – 3 Chinese diplomats killed
    – 3 US soldiers taken POW

    and close to 1,000,000 civilians displaced.

    Sounds kinda like a war to me. And I’m pretty sure Clinton was President in 1998-1999. He got the US involved.

    Try again, petulant child.

  22. ObamaGirl says:

    @20 I am glad that you said that about my “handle” I decided to give up politics after the election I was deeply saddened how both sides in the media conducted themselves and learned that this country will never truly move forward because of all the racism and bigotry here mostly manafactured by the republican machine but that isn’t the point I would have changed my name to OrcaGirl but I believe in transparency so I kept to my old name on this site.. But I have lost all faith and hope in our political process..

  23. ObamaGirl says:

    @21 since when do you care about foreign casualties? I doubt you have ever referenced them once in Iraq but that is a war that we had to have right? Iraq probably makes more sense to you then any of the interventions in the Balkans because a republican president started the Iraq war.. You are just another chicken hawk republican who will send somebody elses kids to go fight but were nowhere to be found when it was your time to go..

  24. ObamaGirl says:

    @20 leave it to a conservative to insult orca research I am sure if it were up to you they would all be dead the funny thing is most orcas are probably smarter than you are..

    It pains me there are still people like you and the others on this board in this country who prevent the nation from moving forward just because of all your bigotry and racism 30 years from now when you have all left the earth this country will really be a great place.. It just sucks now you ruin it for everybody.

  25. Hondo says:

    ObamaGirl: you asked a question about Kosovo; I answered it. If you want to restrict the question to “US casualties”, well, you need to specify that.

    And to answer that question: as far as I can tell, US casualties were limited to 3 POWs and several aircraft losses. Might have been a few others. We were lucky; we never had to fight on the ground in that war. Virtually everything we did was via air operations – which caused some of those foreign casualties I listed previously.

    Frankly, I do care about foreign casualties. I want to ensure that, to the maximum extent possible, whatever casualties occur happen to our foreign enemies vice the troops of the US and its foreign allies. That’s generally the best way to break the enemy’s will and end the war – thus reducing total casualties (friendly + enemy) overall.

    Sheesh, you really do drink too much of the DU Kool-Aid. If someone on DU told you otherwise, I doubt you’d admit that 2 + 2 = 4.

  26. RandomNCO says:

    Hey now, speaking as a former high level investigations member of SeaWorld, those PhDs in Orca science can pay you very well. Only problem is…you’ll be stuck making 8.50 an hour for ten years waiting on someone to retire before you can get the real job…

  27. USMCE8Ret says:

    Wow. Just 2 posts and out comes the presumptuous race/bigotry card.

    That’s some sort of new record on TAH, isn’t it?!!!

  28. O-4E says:

    @Obama Girl

    So now we are bigots huh? Simply because you do not like what we think? Funny…when I look back over my 24 year career in the Army so far…from PFC to Field Grade Officer…I attribute my success to 3 people…2 of them black NCOs. My closest friend? My old First Sergeant when I was a Company Commander. A black NCO.

    So you can go fuck yourself with your race baiting.

    My education? BS in Enviro Engineering, MS in Biology and MA in History…stuff that actually benefits humanity.

    Seems the only thing you have learned is to pull the race card when all else fails.

  29. 2/17 Air Cav says:

    Just use big words. She won’t have a clue what you’re talking about. She probably figures that she’s been away from here long enough to find new people to piss off. And, I guess, to a certain extent that is true. She is like a modern Typhoid Mary. She taints all she touches.

  30. Hondo says:

    USMCE8Ret: for a couple of our “liberal brethren” who comment here regularly – sadly, no. A few of them walk around seeing a racist behind every tree and racist intent in every statement whether it’s there or not.

    And I’d guess she’s not seen photos of Jonn’s family, either.

  31. Anonymous says:

    ” I decided to give up politics after the election I was deeply saddened how both sides in the media conducted themselves and learned that this country will never truly move forward because of all the racism and bigotry here mostly manafactured by the republican machine ”

    Seems like she hasn’t given up politics at all. Little girl, the only one who mentioned race here is YOU. If you want to find bigotry I think you better look in the mirror.

  32. Twist says:

    #31 was me.

  33. kp32 says:

    @22- Was it the ‘republican machine’ that were on CNN and MSNBC stating that anyone who didn’t vote for Obama was a racist?

    Trivia question: What is liberal about wanting the government to control every aspect of people’s lives?

  34. Mike says:

    Where’s the SEALS? Where’s SF?

  35. UpNorth says:

    @#20, it isn’t Orca studies that OG majored in, it’s wimmen’s studies.
    Oh, and OG, 30 years from now, if you haven’t been blown up in an Occutard bomb factory, you’ll be on the barricades protesting that your Obamaphone doesn’t work anymore, your sec.8 housing is falling down, and your bridge card no longer pays for your abortions and/or your Mad Dog 20/20.

  36. NHSparky says:

    OG, I’m gonna use small and simple words because I know you can’t read real fast, and this way when you mouth the words you might sound semi-intelligent to the guy next to you on the fryolator as you read this on your EBT-financed Obamaphone.

    When fighting an enemy, it’s better to use overwhelming force, which in fact can deter an enemy. For example, if I assault a beachhead defended by a batallion with a company, they’d likely be wiped out; with a battalion/brigade, they’d still suffer some casualties, but if I showed up with a division, I might be able to achieve my objective without having to fire a shot.

    This is my criticism of the Bush administration with regards to Iraq and Afghanistan, in that they did not consider that the Republican Guards and Fedayeen would simply melt back into the population and reemerge as AlQ in Iraq, along with the Saudi, Syrian, Chechen, et al, fighters.

    Only when Bush committed the extra troops to Iraq in 2007 and the surge (over the howling objections of the Democrats) did we see a marked reduction in violence.

    Obama also fell into that trap, when his generals told him they needed 70,000 additional troops into Afghanistan. Instead, they got less than half that, with predictable results.

    In Vietnam, LBJ escalated the number of troops in the war, but hamstrung his generals/admirals into where they could and couldn’t go, to the point the White House, not the JCS or theater commanders, were picking the daily targets.

    Clinton also micromanaged the fuck out of a declining military, (mostly at his hand) and deployed them to more world hot spots than the previous five presidents COMBINED.

    So again, my ire isn’t reserved for a single party or side, since BOTH parties have had administrations that failed to understand you can’t fight an all-out war with half-assed tactics.

    But at least I’m willing to call out people when they deserve it. You? Not so much.

  37. Hondo says:

    Precisely, NHSparky. Use a walnut to crack another walnut, it can take a while – and it’s even odds that both come out somewhat the worse for wear. Use a sledgehammer, and I’ll guarantee you the sledge takes no appreciable damage.

    Vietnam IMO isn’t exactly a good example, though. Even overwhelming force (which we employed in Vietnam) doesn’t compensate for a fundamentally flawed strategy. In Vietnam, our initial strategy was so badly flawed that IMO victory was impossible. And by late 1967, we were so completely committed to that flawed strategy (and the American public so split) that changing to a winning strategy was then impossible.

    Democracies don’t in general win wars of attrition. Wars of annihilation, yes – but not of attrition.

  38. TopGoz says:

    I guess these Americans didn’t get trained in counter-terrorism. I recall being trained that if you find yourself as a hostage and an attempt to rescue is made, hit the ground and do not move until told to do so. Everyone is a terrorist until the rescuers can prove otherwise.

  39. NHSparky says:

    I used Vietnam not as an issue of manpower so much, but of fucked up ROE and tactics, somewhat like what we see now in Afghanistan with the Taliban just over the border in “untouchable” Pakistan, much like the NVA/VC used Cambodia and Laos as a safe haven.

    What we’re seeing is nothing new–even in a “popular” war like WWII, the American public tired of war relatively quickly (3 1/2 years) and to think we could maintain support for over a decade in Afghanistan would be laughable.

    Then again, the North Vietnamese knew that as well. They’d use our own left to erode support, and damned if they didn’t do a hell of a job at it.

  40. NHSparky says:

    TopGoz–it’s also entirely possible (although I of course have no way of proving it) that the terrorists were trained to start killing hostages if they ever came under attack.

    Certainly wouldn’t be the first time.

  41. Hondo says:

    NHSparky: other than the air ROE in place for most attacks on North Vietnam prior to mid-1972, I’m not sure the ROE and tactics in Vietnam were particularly bad. (The pre-1972 air ROE were indeed, to speak plainly, stupid.) But our strategy was abysmal from about 1965 on.

    Harry Summers (this link gives a good summary of his career and work: ) wrote an excellent analysis of how we failed in Vietnam called On Strategy. His central thesis was that our strategy of attrition in South Vietnam was completely inappropriate for that war. Rather, implementing a strategy of taking the strategic defensive – as we did in Korea – would have given us a very good chance to accomplish our overall goal of a free and independent South Vietnam. IMO, he’s right.

    That strategy would have entailed occupying some of the southern parts of both North Vietnam and Laos (neutral nations have a responsibility to prevent other nations from using their territory as a highway for supplies and equipment; if they don’t, they are not neutral). We would hav ethen deployed US forces along the northern portion of this area and in Thailand along part of the Mekong, establishing a front line while cutting the Ho Chi Minh Trail effectively (we never did with air power alone). We then would have supplied and had the South Vietnamese military take care of the Viet Cong, plus assist as they were able in operations along the northern “front”.

    Summers estimated that this would have taken about 5 or 6 divisions and somewhere around 175,000 troops or so – total. It would also have eliminated the destruction of South Vietnamese society that we perpetrated during the Vietnam war as we were forced to destroy village after village “to save them” while simultaneously screwing up Vietnam’s economy by vastly overheating it with US $$$ and a massive US-run logistical complex.

    That exact strategy (a strategic defensive, establish a front, let our ally “clean house” among his own population while helping fight the front-line war as they were able) worked quite well in Korea from 1951-1953. (Remember: like Vietnam, the goal in Korea after 1950 was not to conquer the north but to achieve a military stalemate that preserved an independent democratic government in the south.) We never tried it in Vietnam, because we were afraid of the repercussions of violating Laotian “neutrality” – when in fact they were hardly neutral at all. The Pathet Lao, who controlled most of eastern and southern Laos, were working hand in glove with the North Vietnamese.

    Would it have worked? Dunno. By 1963, Diem was a fool living in an ivory tower and under his brother’s and wife’s thumb – and both of them IMO were idiots. But he was also better than anyone else likely to lead South Vietnam. He and/or his successors might have been able to fornicate fido completely enough to lose control even under Summers’ recommended strategy. But IMO he’d/they’d have had a much better chance had we adopted the strategy Summers’ recommended.

    And, notwithstanding leftist propaganda to the contrary, Vietnam was NOT lost to any Communist “popular rebellion” in the South; it was lost to an invasion from the north, using primarily North Vietnamese forces. By 1966 (if not late 1965), the fighting in South Vietnam was dominated by North Vietnamese units. That became even more the case in 1967 and later. Why? Because the VC were ineffective against South Vietnamese and American units. Add to that the fact that the North was able to use the Ho Chi Minh Trail to move sufficient personnel south with impunity, plus supplies south to support them, and you can easily see why. (Light infantry doesn’t need much in the way of supplies to fight if you’re willing to take horrific casualties – which the North Vietnamese were.)

  42. NHSparky says:

    Sorry for my overly simplistic analysis/view. I just never understood how the White House and Pentagon thought they could prosecute a war knowing the enemy was using “neutral” territory from which to supply and launch attacks. Even with the Air Force/Navy bombing the Ho Chi Minh Trail, it wasn’t going to be enough to stop the North from coming in short of ground troops getting involved.