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Author Topic: Mumbai: Security forces out-armed, out-trained  (Read 942 times)

Mumbai: Security forces out-armed, out-trained
« on: December 02, 2008, 08:58:23 PM »
Security forces out-armed, out-trained

MUMBAI: As more details of the response to the Mumbai attacks emerge, a picture is forming of woefully unprepared security forces out-trained, out-coordinated and out-armed by the terrorists.
'These guys could do it next week again in Mumbai, and our responses would be exactly the same,' said Mr Ajai Sahni, head of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management.

Security experts say individual police officers and national guard personnel performed bravely during last week's stand-
off, and the vast Taj Mahal and Oberoi hotels would challenge most security organisations. These factors, though, were far outweighed by deep structural problems, poor intelligence, inadequate equipment and limited training, they add.

Mumbai lost three of its top anti-terrorism officials almost immediately when the violence began. They were gunned down as they rode together in a van. The three should not have been in the same vehicle, experts said. Their loss badly handicapped the early response.

With no Swat team in this city of 18 million, the authorities called in the only unit trained to deal with such crises.

But the National Security Guard, which largely devotes its resources to protecting top officials, is based outside of New Delhi, and it took its commandos nearly 10 hours to reach the scene because they had no helicopter.

That gave the gunmen time to consolidate control over two luxury hotels and a Jewish centre, said Mr Sahni.

At the two hotels, a few militants kept hundreds of commandos at bay for two days. At the Jewish centre, which is in a five-storey building known as the Nariman House, onlookers were allowed to watch from a few feet away, hampering police operations.

Commandos rappelled from a helicopter onto the roof and slowly went down the building in a 10-hour shooting and grenade battle with the two gunmen inside. All the hostages were killed.

Mr Assaf Hefetz, a former Israeli police commissioner, said the commandos should have swarmed the building in a massive, coordinated attack that would have overwhelmed the gunmen and ended the stand-off in seconds.

Also problematic was the lack of equipment. Elite forces did not have night-vision goggles or thermal-imaging equipment that would have helped them engage the terrorists at night and distinguish the terrorists from the hotel guests.

Ordinary policemen on the front lines had rifles of the sort used in World War I. 'We are talking about an early 20th-century police system trying to deal with a 21st-century threat,' Mr Sahni said.

Mr J. K. Dutt, the director-general of the commando unit, defended their tactics.

'We conducted the operation in the way we were trained and in the way we like to do it,' he said.

The government has promised to create an agency styled after the United States' Federal Bureau of Investigation and to assign specially-trained forces to four cities in addition to New Delhi.

Professor Brahma Chellaney of the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi said he would be 'surprised' if the incident served as a wake-up call.

'The government has proven quite adept at making statements after every act of terror and going back to business as usual,' he said.

LOS ANGELES TIMES, ASSOCIATED PRESS
« Last Edit: December 31, 1969, 07:00:00 PM by Guest »