Conduct After Capture / SERE



Conduct After Capture (CAC) training for most military personnel comes down to an yearly lecture on the Geneva Convention and a quick reminder on what you’re allowed to tell the enemy: name, rank, number and date of birth. There’s always been a need for some units to get more specialised training. Special forces, intelligence gatherers and pilots are a lot more likely to find themselves deep in enemy territory or in the hands of terrorist groups, and experience in both Gulf wars, Sierra Leone and Afghanistan has helped refine this to meet the needs of modern combat.


The global challenge is that in recent years the terror threat has changed where terror organisations such as ISIS/ISIL/IS are now directing their barbaric focus on NGO’s, civilians, PSD operators or anyone that doesn’t share their unrealistic fantasies.  These terrorists are incredibly difficult to rationalise with as they are not particularly interested in any kidnap and ransom / extortion end game.  These terrorists attempt to strike fear into the hearts of the civilised western world with their spiral of barbarity.  This type of terrorism is unprecedented.



If you fall into the hands of a group like the Taliban, the normal rules don’t apply. You’re not going to find yourself in a prison camp, with daily parades, work details for enlisted men, Red Cross parcels and an escape committee. Instead it’s likely you’ll be badly treated, pressured to denounce your government and nation, and made the unwilling movie star of a series of propaganda videos. Your treatment, and possible release, will be used as bargaining chips to pressure policymakers and public opinion. Worst of all your fate is uncertain; you might be released or rescued by special forces. Worst case you might be murdered. What’s not very likely is that you’ll be held humanely until the war ends, then sent home. Capture by an irregular or terrorist group is no joke, and for the last few decades it’s been one of the worst nightmares of any military professional.


Well, now we can look back on the Taliban or Saddam loyalists almost with affection, because a few months of being preached at in an Afghan goat pen seems like fivestar treatment compared to what our latest enemies might do. The world is already getting used to ISIS beheading videos, but the recent burning alive of F16 pilot Muath alKasasbeh raised things to a whole new level of horror and made one thing very clear: Islamic State are utter barbarians whose behaviour is not limited by any standards we’d recognise as human.



The type, intensity and duration of reactions to captivity (in war or operations other than war /OOTW) vary dramatically across individuals. Individual differences are due to many factors including training. On average, personnel with little or no training in coping strategies for captivity experience several predictable reactions:


  • Initial / primary phase. Shock, disbelief, denial, confusion, a sense of unreality, and fear usually characterise the first moments after capture. This phase is predominantly the most violent and dangerous for the intended detainee. After the individual has been taken against their will and therefore has become a hostage, he or she will be moved to a makeshift hide for a short period of time whilst the terrorist re-orgs.  The terror group /hostage taker who are conducting this phase are often very low level operatives and probably don’t speak very much English.  The detainee will still have orientation at this point and this is their best opportunity to escape.  N.B. it is incredibly dangerous and every individual will make or take a command decision at that point in time.


  • Intermediate / secondary phase. Emotional numbness, apathy, social withdrawal, scapegoating, complaining, bickering, irritability, hysteria, crying, generalized anxiety, anger, extreme talkativeness and reflection upon one's life are common reactions during the first hours and days after capture. At this point the detainee will be less orientated and have less chance to escape as the hostage takers at this point are far more organised and will probably speak English.  At this point the terrorist in charge will use tactical questioning in an attempt to ascertain if you are worth the risk in moving to the final prison camp.  The hostage/prisoner will be held at a better equipped transit camp and will sit and wait until the final prison camp gives them a green light to move them to their final location.


  • Long­term / tertiary phase. If captivity extends more than a week, the following may occur: depression, fatalistic thinking, deliberate self­injury, sleep disturbance, vivid dreams, mental confusion, ritualistic behaviours and loss of emotional control and general ill­health that may be partly stress­induced (for example, asthma, diarrhoea, skin disorders, stomach complaints, aches and pains).  At this point the captors will be of a very high level and will have much experience in dealing with captives / prisoners.  The detainee will have no orientation what so ever and have virtually no chance of escape as this final destination / prison camp will be well concealed and hardened to incredible levels with a far higher level of terrorist / commanders. The detainee / hostage will be at this point subjected /encouraged to produce propaganda footage.  Torture, rape, humiliation, ridicule and physical beatings as well as sleep deprivation are not uncommon for the prisoner to experience.  This is a tactic adopted by many terrorist organisations and is a direct attempt to destroy your spirit and resolve.  Should your captors be of any other terror group out with ISIS then many countries have negotiated on the financial demands by way of ransom for the hostage.  Should you be unfortunate to be in a ISIS held area / caliphate then unless a SF extraction team is instructed to free you from your captors then the probability of a very public execution is highly likely.



Since 2008, the following countries have paid Al Qaeda the following amounts (given in 2014 US dollars) for releasing kidnapped citizens:

  • France: $58.1 Million

  • Qatar and Oman: $20.4 Million

  • Switzerland: $12.4 Million

  • Spain: $11 Million

  • Austria: $3.2 Million

  • Undetermined Countries: $21.4 Million

Here are the top 20 countries for kidnap-for-ransom in absolute terms for 2013 (as of September 30) are Mexico, India, Nigeria, Pakistan, Venezuela, Lebanon, Philippines, Afghanistan, Colombia, Iraq, Syria, Guatemala, Yemen, Libya, Egypt, Brazil, Kenya, Nepal, Malaysia and South Africa.

N.B. it would be prudent to mention that in the last two years to 2015, that the global terrorism has changed dramatically and Syria and Iraq, due to the IS influence may well be far higher up the scale.

Conduct After Capture Course (CAC)


Aims and objectives

The aim of this course is to introduce or refresh military, PSD operators, NGO’s journalists, UN observers and companies who operate in austere/hostile environments into the world of conduct after capture.  Much of what is written on the subject of conduct after capture often reads like a thing of mystery and myth so we at Plural Group have designed a course to dispel these romantic notions.  Traditionally the military CAC course has been reserved specifically for special forces personnel and fighter pilots due to their modem operandi deep in enemy territory.  The challenge is that various other groups and individuals and companies are operating in these regions and therefore could effectively require similar training. 


The CAC course aims to furnish and prepare such individuals who potentially will find themselves in austere theatres where the threat of kidnapping is very high.  Our course is performed and instructed in both a classroom and laboratory environment. We also involve the candidates and expose them to various controlled techniques utilised by various terror groups under interrogation.  We ensure student mastery of course objectives by using experienced CAC lecturers/instructors, demonstrations and guided hands on instructional methodologies.


Course outline


  • Threat assessment

  • Conduct under fire

  • Weapon awareness

  • IED awareness

  • Radio comms/voice procedure

  • Interrogation techniques

  • Hostage laboratory

  • Hostage resolution and psychological coping strategies

  • Surveillance introduction

  • First aid

  • Intro to tactical trauma

  • Cultural awareness training

  • PSD convoy drill awareness

  • Intro to maps

  • SERE phase

  • Physical training

  • Basic medical and drug test

  • Hogan psychometric profile


Target audience

Military, PSD operators, NGO’s, journalists, UN observers or anyone who could potentially work in an austere/hostile environments.



Prior to the CAC commencement all potential candidates will have to be vetted via telephone interview and satisfy all questions asked. Candidates will be asked various questions as to why they would need this course and if they satisfy the criteria for selection.  Unsuitable candidates will be stopped at the phone interview stage, however, as with any course some individuals who are not suitable get through the net, if during the course a candidate is found to be unsuitable or undesirable then they will be extracted from the compound with immediate effect.  This is a no nonsense course with incredibly high standards set out to meet the aims and objectives for the candidates / students learning experience. 


When a student / candidate is accepted for the selection programme, then he or she will have to complete disclaimers, waivers, confidentiality forms and non-disclosure agreements.  A kit list will also be issued with joining instructions should the candidate be sucessful at this stage. 


Here are some questions the candidates could be asked during the telephone interview:


  • Will you ever operate in a theatre where there is a real threat of kidnap?

  • Have you ever had any form of hostile environment awareness training before? - (this is not a pre-requisite for doing this course)

  • Can you swim and do you have a fear of drowning?

  • Are you physically fit?

  • Do you have any medical conditions that we should be aware of?

  • Are you dependent on anything – alcohol, drugs, medication, etc.?

  • Are you afraid of enclosed spaces, being hooded or partial nudity?

  • Do you have a nervous disposition or suffer from anxiety?

  • Are you naturally pessimistic?

  • Have you ever suffered depression or severe melancholy?


N.B. should you feel that you cannot satisfy the above questions comprehensively for Plural Group's D.S. then you will be strongly advised not to proceed with the CAC programme. Much of the CAC programme will not be shown in text, photos or video footage and we recommend only serious candidates need apply.  Further points to note - on average 50% of the candidates do not complete the CAC programme.



5 days



£2000 + VAT, includes accommodation.