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Monthly Archives: November 2008

Better than nothing

November 30th, 2008 - 6:04 pm
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A Marine Officer on the Mumbai tactics

November 29th, 2008 - 6:49 pm

A Marine infantry officer sends these observations on the terrorist tactics used at Mumbai.

From what I can gather there are a few interesting observations to be made of the tactics in use in Mumbai:

It appears the attackers were organized into buddy pairs, allowing one to shoot while the other moved, and so forth. Interestingly, the buddy pair has is a later innovation in small unit tactics and has only been slow to trickle through regular infantry formations. In World War I, the smallest element of maneuver (on paper) might have been a battalion or company. The Germans, in developing “storm troop tactics” then innovated even smaller maneuver elements, which we might call squads today. The role of platoons and squads became only greater in WWII. After WWII, General S.L.A. Marshall conducted a massive study of the reactions of men in combat (See “Men Against Fire”) and the result of his work was the genesis of the Fire Team. The Fire Team is now the smallest doctrinal unit of maneuver in the US military. In the Marine Corps, it is led by a Corporal, includes an automatic rifleman with a Squad Automatic Weapon, and two more riflemen.

During the Iraq War, two innovations have taken place: first, within the Marine Corps, the concept of the “buddy pair” or “buddy team” has spread dramatically, though it is still not doctrinal (it should be). The idea may have begun in the special forces, though I am not sure. The advantage of smaller and smaller units of maneuver is that if they rehearse their actions and build cohesion within the unit, they develop ever greater levels of capability *at that level*. A well-trained buddy pair with the right mindset and enough ammo can take over a city block, house by house, while under fire. The other innovation that has taken place in Iraq is to take the Fire Team and make it into a motorized element, inside one vehicle. This is less in favor now that everyone realizes that moving around in vehicles makes you seem more like robots to the locals and they then have less of a problem with killing you. In any case, all of these changes have one large thing in common — a decentralizing of decisionmaking and maneuver.


Economy of Force

November 29th, 2008 - 4:45 pm

The number of men who terrorized Mumbai was surprisingly small. Reuters reports that there may have been as few as ten gunmen, though I personally believe that the number was much larger when their support cells are taken into account.

Indian officials have said most, perhaps all, of the 10 attackers who held Mumbai hostage with frenzied attacks using assault rifles and grenades came from Pakistan, a Muslim nation carved out of Hindu-majority India in 1947.

Sebastian D’Souza describes how the gunmen walked through the Mumbai train station platform like a pack of raptors through a kindergarten outing. The photographer stalked the gunmen, dodging among the train carriages photographing them covertly and watched, horrified, as the “teenage gunmen” dealt out death like lollipops.

Sebastian D’Souza hears the gunfire at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus from his office across the street at the Mumbai Mirror tabloid. He follows the sound through the sprawling station, slipping unseen through parked trains. When he first catches sight of the young men, he doesn’t realize they are the gunmen. They look so innocent. Then he sees them shooting. “They were firing from their hips. Very professional. Very cool,” says D’Souza, the newspaper’s photo editor. For more than 45 minutes he follows as they move from platform to platform shooting and throwing grenades. Often, D’Souza isn’t even 30 feet away. The few police at the station are either dead, in hiding or had long fled.

The routine machinery of the great city fed more victims into the maw. Trains filled with new passengers disgorged yet more victims into the line of fire. Later D’Souza would reflect upon the blind panic which paralyzed the beat cops. Perhaps we shouldnt be too hard on these Mumbai flatfeet. They had probably never encountered something that shot back with an automatic weapon. In its own way the Mumbai event underlines what the NRA has been saying for years. Guns don’t shoot themselves. People are needed to pull the trigger. Without anyone willing to open fire, the police pistols which stayed in their owner’s holsters might as well have been bouquets of flowers.

But what angered Mr D’Souza almost as much were the masses of armed police hiding in the area who simply refused to shoot back. “There were armed policemen hiding all around the station but none of them did anything,” he said. “At one point, I ran up to them and told them to use their weapons. I said, ‘Shoot them, they’re sitting ducks!’ but they just didn’t shoot back. … ‘I told some policemen the gunmen had moved towards the rear of the station but they refused to follow them. What is the point if having policemen with guns if they refuse to use them? I only wish I had a gun rather than a camera.’”


Symphony of blood

November 28th, 2008 - 2:19 pm

Amir Taheri, who describes radical Islam as a beast with an extraordinary ability to mutate, discusses the modern world debut of its new attack tactics in Mumbai. But the tactics themselves are ages old, and were, like the “airplane” attack used on 9/11, practiced on a smaller scale.

it looks as if the perpetrators were trying to imitate the tactic of ghazwa, used by the Prophet against Meccan caravans in his decade-long campaign to seize control of the city. The tactic consists of surprise no-holds-barred attacks simultaneously launched against a caravan or settlement with the aim of demoralising the enemy and hastening his capitulation.


Both ends and the middle

November 27th, 2008 - 10:49 pm

The New York Times notes the inconvenient truth. Barack Obama’s plan to enlist Pakistan in the fight against al-Qaeda in exchange for improving its relations with India has become one of the potential casualties in Mumbai.

The terrorist attacks in Mumbai occurred as India and Pakistan, two big, hostile and nuclear-armed nations, were delicately moving toward improved relations with the encouragement of the United States and in particular the incoming Obama administration.

Those steps could quickly be derailed, with deep consequences for the United States, if India finds Pakistani fingerprints on the well-planned operation. India has raised suspicions. Pakistan has vehemently denied them. …

Reconciliation between India and Pakistan has emerged as a basic tenet in the approaches to foreign policy of President-elect Barack Obama, and the new leader of Central Command, Gen. David H. Petraeus. The point is to persuade Pakistan to focus less of its military effort on India, and more on the militants in its lawless tribal regions who are ripping at the soul of Pakistan.

A strategic pivot by Pakistan’s military away from a focus on India to an all-out effort against the Taliban and their associates in Al Qaeda, the thinking goes, would serve to weaken the militants who are fiercely battling American and NATO forces in Afghanistan.


It’s on TV!

November 27th, 2008 - 2:51 pm

Wouldn’t you know? The attack on Mumbai is already being spun as a retribution for Hindu oppression and a stinging rebuttal to the “so-called” War on Terror, a phrase implying the bankruptcy of even the thought of resistance.  And notice the not-so subtle connection of events in Mubai to the Jew.  The message is clear. Get rid of the Jew, return Kashmir. Stop struggling. And the pain will stop.

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The Shloky Twitter Page

November 27th, 2008 - 1:06 pm

Shloky follows the the Mubai attacks on Twitter, which Pundita describes as Web 2.0 coming into its own. Shlok Vaidya is currently the Energy Security Analyst with the Center for Terrorism Research at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Here are some of the entries on the page.

Just done with a major outlet interview in DFW, back on a flight, in Austin in an hour. about 3 hours ago from TwitterBerry
Several interviews lined up on this topic over the next couple days. One TV potential tonight. Been helping response to some small degree. about 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry
#mumbai If the cargo ship is true, it was sloppy and from and old era of terrorism. Points to legacy thinkers – governments, major org etc about 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry
#mumbai Just off phone with an ACP in Mumbai. Told him same as I tell you – I think its going to be over soon and not as bad as potential. about 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry
#mumbai The boats ridden into the bay were launched from a cargo ship. MV Alpha is primary suspect. about 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry
#mumbai NSG is finishin up operations. about 4 hours ago from TwitterBerry
Flying until mid-day. about 10 hours ago from TwitterBerry
#mumbai Hostages were a byproduct. Arguably because the escape vector was shutdown. If they were the focus, there would be more and sooner. about 10 hours ago from TwitterBerry
#mumbai I don’t suspect the hostages were part of the plan. No demands, and thus far no catastrophic second order events. about 10 hours ago from TwitterBerry
#mumbai If you want to understand the full scope and context of this attack, read www.naxaliterage.com about 15 hours ago from web
#mumbai Operations are in full swing. Simultaneously across three major points. Tear gas in Narmin, 4′th floor. about 16 hours ago from web
#mumbai Ugh. No one’s trying to shut down #mumbai except for a few overzealous supporters. Keep twittering if you want, don’t if you don’t. about 16 hours ago from web
#mumbai If you want to understand the full scope and context of this attack, read www.naxaliterage.com . about 16 hours ago from web
#mumbai Karkare wasn’t assassinated. Any terrorist claims to that are information operations designed to pump up their achievements. about 16 hours ago from web
#mumbai Taj has been cleared of noncombatants. about 16 hours ago from web
#mumbai Then a crescendo of gunfire, flashbangs, smoke grenades. IF executed successfully, it will be rapid, loud, and very short. about 16 hours ago from web
#mumbai It will be slow and boring for the next short time period. Sporadic gunfire. Ambulances running in and out. about 16 hours ago from web
#mumbai Media blackout. What that means: NSG are clearing rooms. Police are taking out prisoners and hostages. This ends pretty soon. about 16 hours ago from web
#mumbai Timing’s about correct. They’re creeping in. Police will start hauling hostages out. NSG will keep going in. about 16 hours ago from web
#mumbai This isn’t a result of Mumbai being a complex powderkeg. This is an attempt to take advantage of that dynamic. about 16 hours ago from web


Our view of the world

November 27th, 2008 - 2:36 am

If you really, really try it’s possible to turn even a tragedy into a comedy. The Australian’s lead paragraph on the recent attacks in Mumbai is so breezily politically correct that it’s almost like a retro commercial.

An Adelaide woman in India for her wedding is lucky to be alive after teenage gunmen ran amok, shooting a man, just metres from the restaurant where she was holed up. Fashion designer Kloe Papazahariakis – in Mumbai to wed Bollywood star Puneet Vasishtha – was with a group of about 100 people trapped in a restaurant, metres from a hospital that was bombed during a wave of attacks across the city that have killed at least 82 people. Ms Papazahariakis was having dinner with friend when she got a phone call saying there had been a shooting at the popular restaurant Leopold’s.

So there you have it folks, watch out for teenage gunmen running amok the next time you visit India. Popular culture’s a great thing and educational too. I once asked my son to name four famous painters and he swiftly responded with “Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Raphael.” And you know, he was right. All together now.


Stranglers in paradise

November 26th, 2008 - 3:27 pm

Get away from it all. Vacation abroad. But maybe that’s not far enough. Wired reports a series of coordinated terror attacks on “luxury hotels, train stations, and tourist attractions in India’s financial capital”, Mubai.

“A little-known group, the Deccan Mujahideen, has claimed responsibility,” the AP reports. The strikes “come after a series of blasts attributed to Islamist terrorists over the summer and autumn in other cities around India,” the Wall Street Journal notes.  …

“Bellboys could be seen rushing the injured out on luggage trolleys,” according to DNA Mumbai. The victims “included three senior police officers, including the head of [the state's] anti-terror squad,” the Wall Street Journal reports.

More bloodshed could come from the Taj attack. The gun-toting terrorists who hit the landmark hotel also took 15 people, half of them foreigners, hostage on the roof of the luxury Taj Hotel, an escaped hostage tells the Times of India. The attackers, men in their early 20′s, honed in on “anyone with British or American passports,” an eyewitness said.

Survivors of the attack on the Oberoi hotel told a similar story. A British restaurant-goer tells Sky News television that “the attackers were singling out Britons and Americans.”

My guess is that the “the Deccan Mujahideen” is one of those Saturday-night special terrorist groups, good for one or two operations only before it too fades into the mists of deniability. Now maybe if Israel just withdrew from Gaza, the West Bank or simply vanished from the face of the earth, none of this would happen. Or maybe if the West apologized for something, anything, name it … then none of this would happen. Try anything, because the alternative is to resist. And that will never do.


Betting the farm

November 26th, 2008 - 2:57 pm

When is the cure worse than the disease? But hey, if government intervention is good for fixing the financial crisis, then maybe more is better. Bloomberg reports:

Nov. 24 (Bloomberg) — The U.S. government is prepared to provide more than $7.76 trillion on behalf of American taxpayers after guaranteeing $306 billion of Citigroup Inc. debt yesterday. The pledges, amounting to half the value of everything produced in the nation last year, are intended to rescue the financial system after the credit markets seized up 15 months ago.

The unprecedented pledge of funds includes $3.18 trillion already tapped by financial institutions in the biggest response to an economic emergency since the New Deal of the 1930s, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The commitment dwarfs the plan approved by lawmakers, the Treasury Department’s $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. Federal Reserve lending last week was 1,900 times the weekly average for the three years before the crisis. …

Regulators hope the rescue will contain the damage and keep banks providing the credit that is the lifeblood of the U.S. economy.

Most of the spending programs are run out of the New York Fed, whose president, Timothy Geithner, is said to be President- elect Barack Obama’s choice to be Treasury Secretary. … The tally doesn’t include money to General Motors Corp., Ford Motor Co. and Chrysler LLC. Obama has said he favors financial assistance to keep them from collapse.

Never has so much potential power been put in the hands of an incoming President — Barack Obama. Even the New York Times is hinting at a reason to fear. Peter J. Solomon, the head of the Peter J. Solomon Company writes in an Op-Ed: