Wednesday, August 25, 2010

More on the Manila Hostage Killings

[ Photo source: NPR news online ]

[ Photo source: BBC news online ]
24 August 2010 Last updated at 15:28 GMT

Ten things the Philippines bus siege police got wrong
[ From the BBC news online ]
A security analyst who has worked in counter-terrorism with the British Army and Scotland Yard, Charles Shoebridge, says the officers involved in Manila's bus siege showed great courage - but they were not properly trained or equipped for the task.
Here are 10 areas where, in his view, they could have done better.

1. Determination
Philippine police end Manila bus hijack
The first officers who tried to storm the bus were driven out by gunshots from the hostage taker, former policeman Rolando Mendoza. "They showed great courage to go on board. It's very crowded, just one aisle down the middle of the bus. But once you get on board it's not unexpected you are going to be fired at. Squads like this have to be made up of very special people, specially trained and selected for their characteristics of courage, determination and aggression. In this case they acted as 99% of the population would have, which was to turn round and get out. They didn't seem to have the necessary determination and aggression to follow the attack through."
2. Lack of equipment
The police spent a long time smashing the windows of the bus, whereas explosive charges (known as frame charges) would have knocked in windows and doors instantly. "They had no ladders to get through the windows. They smashed the windows but didn't know what to do next," Mr Shoebridge says. "They almost looked like a group of vandals." Their firearms were also inappropriate - some had pistols, some had assault rifles. Ideally they would have carried a short submachine gun, suitable for use in confined spaces.
3. Lost opportunity to disarm the gunman
Mendoza's gun was not always raised
There were numerous opportunities to restrain the gunman, Mr Shoebridge believes. "The negotiators were so close to him, and he had his weapon hanging down by his side. He could have been disabled without having to kill him."
4. Lost opportunity to shoot the gunman
The video of the drama also shows there were occasions when the gunman was standing alone, during the course of the day, and could have been shot by a sharpshooter. "You are dealing with an unpredictable and irrational individual. The rule should be that if in the course of negotiations an opportunity arises to end the situation decisively, it should be taken," Mr Shoebridge says. Either this possibility did not occur to the officers in charge, he adds, or they considered it and decided to carry on talking.
5. Satisfying the gunman's demands
"I wondered why the authorities just didn't give in to all of his demands," says Charles Shoebridge. "A promise extracted under force is not a promise that you are required to honour. Nobody wants to give in to the demands of terrorists, but in a situation like this, which did not involve a terrorist group, or release of prisoners, they could have just accepted his demands. He could be reinstated in the police - and then be immediately put in prison for life for hostage taking." The Philippines authorities did in fact give in to the gunman's demands, but too little, too late. One message promised to review his case, while he wanted it formally dismissed. A second message reinstating him as a police offer only arrived after the shooting had started.
6. Televised proceedings
The gunman was able to follow events on television, revealing to him everything that was going on around him. This was a "crucial defect in the police handling", Mr Shoebridge says. He adds that police should always consider putting a barrier or screen around the area, to shield the scene from the cameras and keep the hostage taker in the dark.
7. No element of surprise
It was clear to the gunman what the police were doing at all times, not only because the whole incident was televised, but also because they moved "laboriously slowly", Mr Shoebridge says. The police did not distract him, so were unable to exploit the "crucial element of surprise".
8. Safeguarding the public
This boy, a bystander, was hit by a stray bullet
At least one bystander was shot, possibly because the public was allowed too close. The bullet from an M16 rifle, as carried by the gunman, can travel for about a mile, so preventing any risk of injury would have been difficult, Mr Shoebridge says, but a lot more could have been done. "When you saw the camera view from above, it was clear there was little command and control of the public on the ground," he says.
9. Using the gunman's brother to negotiate
Relatives and close friends can be a double-edged sword, Mr Shoebridge says. While they may have leverage over the hostage taker, what they are saying cannot be easily controlled. In this case, the gunman's brother was included in the negotiations - however, at a certain stage he became agitated and police started to remove him from the scene. The gunman saw this on television, and became agitated himself. According to one report he fired a warning shot.
10. Insufficient training
In some parts of the Philippines, such as Mindanao, hostage taking is not an uncommon occurrence, so the country has some forces that are well trained in the necessary tactics. The detachment involved in Monday's incident clearly was not, says Mr Shoebridge. After smashing the windows, one of the officers eventually put some CS gas inside, though "to what effect was not clear" he says. A unit involved in this work, needs to be "trained again and again, repeatedly practising precisely this kind of scenario," he says.
More on This Story
Related stories:
Britons survive Philippines siege 24 AUGUST 2010, UK
Aquino pledges bus siege inquiry 23 AUGUST 2010, ASIA-PACIFIC
In pictures: Philippines bus siege 23 AUGUST 2010, ASIA-PACIFIC
Unk Dicko's comment:
Point # 5 is moot. As I watched the drama unfolding I said the same thing to D2.
The TOP priority is to ensure the complete safety of everyone inside the bus. The hostage taker
did not even ask for money or anything else other than that he be reinstated to his former rank, position and post.
The President himself or a Minister could have personally come down from the cocoon of their high office to "give him that assuarance in person" or even a Presidential note with his stamp of authority ( all this can be abrogated later ....don't they know it? ).
Rolando the gunman wanted MEDIA ATTENTION for his personal cause.
The media was there but...brains were sorely lacking in this crisis.
So, we need to add another most critical point to the 10 above.
11. Total Absence of TOP QUALITY Leadership
This lack of the Leadership factor is the main ingredient missing from what the whole world
saw "live" on TV.
The President only came after the shooting had ended and he was SMILING to the cameras!
His persona on the scene did not do him any good either. And he was way TOO LATE !


peter said...

Did you observe that the Filipino police force has a problem? All those who took part in the rescue mission were so fat (XXX size at least), thick shoulders and big arse and I saw many had problems walking a straight line. I saw many policemen were scared for their lives - many took cover (behind the shield) and pretended to move sluggishly. You dont find this with in Thailand for sure.

Commonsense tells one that when the police stay so close beside the bus for 10 hours and using sledge hammers to break the "laminated glass", this mission already failed. Remember when our SAF Commandos (before the days they had this SPF SWAT team)stormed the SQ hijacked aircraft in just 3 mins and they stood "miles away from the aircraft"?

This is really bad publicity for the police law enforcement agency.

unk Dicko said...

Everything that should be DONE PROPERLY in such a hostage situation...they did not do.
Everything that should be AVOIDED in such a crisis...THAT THEY DID FOR ALL THE WORLD TO SEE.
The Filipinos may not realise it yet. They have written an online best seller manual of " The 3 stooges method of tackling a hostage crisis."
And it's free!
Just click and watch!
On a serious note, I'm most saddened for the poor victims and their family.

Anonymous said...

Uncle Dicko,

I happen to visit the blog of Ewen Boey : Fit to Post and was surprised and shocked at the "war of words" between fellow Singaporeans and Filipinos under their 'comments'. So far, 391 comments.


Icemoon said...

Peter, the actual storming of SQ117 was only 30s, not 3 mins.

It is unbelievable if the Filipino cabinet was watching the drama unfold in their hideout (remember Donald Tsang couldn't contact Aquino) and they just sat back, nobody took charge or tried to put things right. Anyone could see on TV the situation was not very right, much less their politicians. Aquino and his cabinet must account for their actions during the 10 hours.

I think because of their internal turmoil (fighting maoist and muslims), the politicians are desensitized already.

Agree with Unker Dicko the C3 was horrible. My condolences to the victims.

peter said...

Thanks Icemoon. I recall one of the SAF Commando friend telling us that after the "break-in" into the aircraft via the plane door, it was all over in 3 mins. 30 mins including FUP? Still better than 10 hours FUP right? If I count the storming including using that sledgehammer, I dont call that storming the bus.

unk Dicko said...

I think it was in seconds if I'm not mistaken. Icemoon may be right.
All S'poreans felt a great sense of pride by the unheard of success of our own Commandos.
Btw, I just might have the original news clipping on that saga.
Will locate and share it soon.

Icemoon said...

I suppose 3 mins include securing the whole plane; the four? jokers were finished in 30s.

SQ117 was a textbook example of hostage rescue done right; Manila one was the opposite.