In the military, we called it E&E — Escape and Evasion. It was how we were trained to deal with a situation in which we became separated from our team behind enemy lines. But how can that possibly relate to a survival situation in civilian life?
Almost every day, somewhere around the country, innocent people are taken hostage. It happens during home invasions. It happens when banks are robbed. It happens to women who are snatched in the store parking lot. It happens to carjack victims. It happens to children who are kidnapped off the street or out of their yard.
In every case, there is a certain amount of overlap between the military E&E situation and the civilian counterpart. In every case, the victim is separated from friendlies, ends up behind "enemy" lines, and needs to employ escape and evasion techniques.
Make no mistake, it a hostage or kidnap situation, the bad guys are the enemy — every bit as much as in a theater of war. The enemy means to harm or kill you. Or he means to use you as bait to extract ransom from your loved ones. So he not only means to harm you, but your loved ones as well. That makes him an enemy. And once you end up under his control, you are behind enemy lines.
So let's analyze what to do to get out of this predicament. Your goal is to escape from your captors and return to "friendly lines." That sounds easier than it really is. But you either need to take action to free yourself or end up a captive until the enemy decides he's done with you.
In a military operation, the enemy probably has a lot of guys in the area that you need to deal with (avoid, outrun, or kill). A soldier separated from his team behind enemy lines might have to hide out, negotiate rough terrain in bad weather, and cover hundreds of miles to return to friendly forces, all the while surviving off the land.
In a civilian situation, the opposing forces are not nearly so numerous. But that doesn't mean they aren't dangerous…or even deadly. Urban enemies are often lunatics who do unpredictable things. I'd rather face a disciplined enemy soldier whose motives I can understand than a whacked-out urban nut job any day.
In a civilian hostage taking, the enemy is usually interested in something other than body count. It's probably cash, jewelry, or other stuff that can be stolen and peddled to feed his drug habit. In rare cases involving wealthy or otherwise important victims, the enemy is interested in taking you as a hostage to be ransomed.
Here's the deal — if the enemy allows you to see his face, he probably intends to kill you after he gets what he came for. Keep that in mind, because it will help decide your E&E actions. If, on the other hand, he keeps his identity concealed, he might intend to turn you loose when the gig is over.
So, if the bad guys don't take precautions to hide their identity, you might decide that you have little to lose by attempting to escape. If you don't escape, you're probably dead anyway. If you get hurt or killed in your escape attempt, you haven't lost much. Sounds harsh, but it's the truth.
Strategically, the best time to escape is at the very moment of capture. There's a lot of chaos going on right then, and the enemy hasn't had a chance to get organized and herd you into a secure location. That's the moment when you have a decision to make. Do you let yourself be taken? Do you run, hide, or fight?
A lot of this decision depends on who's there with you at the instant you're taken. If you're alone, at least you can figure nobody else you care about is going to get injured if you resist. But if you're in a room full of family members, it's a different story. The enemy will use leverage to gain your cooperation, threatening your loved ones to get you to do what they want.
In Part 2, we'll take up the subject of how to escape and how to evade your enemy. Come on back.