Extraction (military)

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A UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter performing an extraction of United States Army troops in Iraq

In military tactics, extraction (also exfiltration or exfil), is the process of removing personnel when it is considered imperative that they be immediately relocated out of a hostile environment and taken to a secure area.

There are primarily two kinds of extraction:

  • Hostile: The subject involved is unwilling and is being moved by forceful coercion with the expectation of resistance. Essentially, it is kidnapping by military or intelligence forces.
  • Friendly: The subject involved is willing and is expected to cooperate with the personnel in the operation.

An example of a hostile extraction was the capture of the German Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann, by Israel's Mossad agents on May 11, 1960 and was forcibly transported to Israel for trial. An example of a friendly extraction was the joint U.S. Central Intelligence Agency-Canadian government operation to smuggle six fugitive American diplomatic personnel out of revolutionary Iran in 1980 in an operation later known as the Canadian Caper. Another notable exfiltration is Operation Entebbe in 1976, when Israeli forces raided Entebbe Airport in Uganda to rescue 102 hostages.

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