The Hostage Recovery Fusion Cell marks its fifth anniversary on June 24.
Established in 2015 under Presidential Policy Directive 30 (PPD-30), the HRFC is the U.S. government’s team that coordinates efforts dedicated to recovering Americans held hostage abroad. A critical part of this effort is supporting the families of hostages during captivity and the hostages and their families after release.
“Every day, hour, and minute an American remains a hostage abroad, that American’s family must endure unspeakable anguish,” said Kieran Ramsey, HRFC director. “The HRFC understands this acutely and operates with a resolute sense of urgency to ensure the safe and rapid recovery of all Americans held hostage abroad and the constant care of their families at home.”
The HRFC, based at FBI Headquarters, comprises hostage recovery experts from across the U.S. government to include the FBI, intelligence community, and the departments of State, Defense, Treasury, and Justice.
“The HRFC brings to bear a suite of interagency capabilities that are not found resident in any other organization within the United States government,” said Ambassador Roger Carstens, Special Presidential Envoy for Hostage Affairs. “Their ability to rapidly adapt to challenges, surge on critical issues, and provide compassionate care to the families of Americans held captive overseas has enabled the hostage recovery enterprise to be greater than the sum of its parts.”
A key aspect of the HRFC is the Family Engagement Team. This multi-agency, multi-disciplinary team coordinates support to family members of hostages during times of agony and uncertainty and supports hostages and families after the hostage has been recovered.
“The voices of hostage families on their interactions with their government were the driving force behind the White House hostage policy review and the creation of the HRFC,” said Kathryn Turman, assistant director of the FBI’s Victim Services Division and a member of the White House policy review team for PPD-30. “The families’ experiences drove home the critical importance of a focused effort on family engagement and support. We realized that if we got that piece wrong it wouldn’t matter how successful we were in other ways. Over the last five years, the Family Engagement Team has provided coordinated, comprehensive, and compassionate assistance to families of hostages and to returning hostages.”
The team continues to serve as the U.S. government’s liaison to the families of hostages, working alongside interagency partners to provide referrals to mental health counseling services, legal assistance, and non-governmental organizations, as well as other services.
The HRFC also leads hostage-taking prevention efforts, working with faith-based institutions, non-government organizations, journalists, and others who travel to dangerous regions where there is an elevated threat of kidnapping.
The HRFC encourages all Americans to learn what hostage-taking threats exist wherever they plan to travel abroad. The HRFC also highly encourages those traveling abroad to enroll in the U.S. State Department’s Smart Traveler Enrollment Program. This free service enables the appropriate U.S. Embassy to contact them in emergencies.