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Emergency Response

Bade
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Re: Emergency Response

Postby Bade » 12 Aug 2008 08:16

Closer to home, Thane district had to bear the brunt of the incessant rains over the past few days. By Monday afternoon, the state machinery had evacuated 200 families from Bhiwandi, 250 from Kalyan and 150 from Ulhasnagar.

With the weather department forecasting continuous rain in the affected region for the next 24 hours, state government officials said three teams of the National Disaster Response Force have been kept on alert. These teams have been posted at Kolhapur, Lonavla and Chandrapur, said officials.

Officials said each of these teams comprises 35 members, including a doctor, and are equipped with jeeps, trucks and two boats.

Parts of state sink, city afloat

The response to predictable events are not bad however. There is more all round effort planned integrating various resources for weather and other non-random events.

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Re: Emergency Response

Postby ramana » 12 Aug 2008 08:33

Look at response in Hyderabad. The GHMC and the Commissioner have done a great job. It could have been worse.

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Re: Emergency Response

Postby enqyoob » 12 Aug 2008 08:39

Hey, wasn't that where they were doing training under World Bank (or something like that) sponsorship? They seem to have lots of boats for the police, at least.

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Re: Emergency Response

Postby Dileep » 12 Aug 2008 09:12

The trekking pathways to the temples are always accidents waiting to happen. Places like Sabarimala. The very first thing to focus on is the prevention of human avalanches. When you climb on an incline, either a ramp or steps, even one person falling down can cause an avalanche. On the sabarimala trek, I have stepped away from the flow, being scared of an avalanche. Once we had to wait for an hour for the flow to reduce to a safe level. The babus add GI pipes, but those will topple if five limp bodies get piled up on them.

You need to provide flat landings and switchbacks with concrete barriers to begin with. Some places in the sabarimala trek do have them. Whoever did that, kudos.

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Re: Emergency Response

Postby ramana » 12 Aug 2008 20:33

From Hindu June 11, 2008

Disaster management act to be in effect in six months

Disaster management Act reality in six months





Mumbai has set up real time rain gauges





--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

GHMC, NDMA hold workshop on ‘Urban flooding’

Response mechanism required to prevent loss of lives, property, says M. Sashidhar Reddy


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------



HYDERABAD: The National Disaster Management Act will come into force in the next six months and according to it the Centre and States will have to come up with their own respective implementation plans, said NDMA member M. Sashidhar Reddy here on Tuesday.

“We are preparing the guidelines for disaster management mitigation plans for cyclones, floods, industrial and chemical mishaps after holding discussions with all the stakeholders concerned,” he said.

Urbanisation


Mr. Reddy was talking to presspersons after a day workshop was held on ‘Urban flooding’ jointly by GHMC and NDMA. Pointing out that urban floods was distinct from rural floods; he said with increased urbanisation, it was vital for every city to have a proper response mechanism to prevent large scale loss of lives and property.

“Hyderabad had experienced heavy flooding in the year 2000 but does not have it. The Government as well as the local body should take the initiative on this regard as development planning is very much part of disaster management,” he said.

Cities were centres for growth and any disruption due to natural or man made disaster would lead to a setback in economic growth. With urban population set to increase from the current 29 crore to 40 crore, it was essential to have an adequate response system during calamities, explained Mr. Reddy, also Sanatnagar MLA.

Regulation and enforcement issues of storm water drains, inter-agency coordinated work, protection of water bodies to serve as balancing reservoirs, solid waste disposal, etc., were needed.

Mumbai which was flooded in 2005 has for instance now set up real time rain gauges for better management of relief and rescue operations.

Similarly, on the east coast more than 50 Doppler radars were being set up for advance information on cyclones as against four such radars earlier.

Earlier, GHMC Commissioner C.V.S.K. Sarma, felt the need for a single window emergency response system in the city to attend to any emergency – natural or man made.

Water bodies should also be linked with storm water drains. The Forum for Sustainable Development’s J. Rama Rao said that constructions were allowed in water bodies against norms everywhere.



Wonder how GHMC response to recent floods matches the plan?

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Re: Emergency Response

Postby ramana » 20 Aug 2008 03:48

A response to my question above.

From Deccan Chronicle, 20 August 2008

Disaster plan for city


Hyderabad, Aug. 19: Greater Hyderabad may finally get a comprehensive disaster management plan to contain flooding in the low-lying areas besides tackling disasters. The state government has decided to study the disaster management plans of Mumbai and Ahmedabad before scripting its own plan.

The plan will cover the catchment areas of Osmansagar, Himayatsagar, Musi, Hussainsagar and several other lakes and nalas that overflow during heavy rains and inundate several localities in its downstream. The minorities welfare minister, Mohd Ali Shabbir, who is also the minister in-charge for the city, chaired a district review meeting on Tuesday and assured that the issue will be discussed during the next Assembly session.

Echoing similar feelings, a number of MPs, MLCs and MLAs from the city felt that a disaster plan has become the order of the day to save the city and its outskirts from being flooded. The Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen MP from Hyderabad, Mr Asaduddin Owaisi, said, "We all should be practical when it comes to preparing a plan." He was replying to a remark by an MLC that all elected representatives will stand together to widen the nalas and improve the rainwater discharge capacity.He wont allow in his areas}

Meanwhile, officials of the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation came under severe criticism from MPs, MLCs and MLAs for failing to complete projects worth crores of rupees. "According to information obtained through the RTI, there are 6,000 vacancies in the GHMC. The monsoon emergency squads comprising 400 staff have been disbanded. How can one expect the corporation to work with only 50 per cent staff. The state government should fill up these vacancies," MIM MLA Akbaruddin Owaisi said at the district review meeting.

"Desilting of nalas were not done properly which led to the overflowing across the city," he added. He said though there are over 230 lakes in and around the city, the full tank level of most of the water bodies were yet to be declared. The minorities welfare minister said he would bring the issue of staff shortage to the notice of Dr Reddy along with the BC welfare minister, Mr M. Mukesh Goud. :?:


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Re: Emergency Response

Postby Rahul M » 20 Aug 2008 04:19

what is GHMC ?

enqyoob
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Re: Emergency Response

Postby enqyoob » 27 Aug 2008 02:54

CNN finally finds something "newsworthy" about India :roll:

Flood rages through 1,000 Indian villages

NEW DELHI, India (CNN) -- Floodwaters raged through more than 1,000 villages unaccustomed to high water after a river in northeast India burst its banks, UNICEF India and government officials said Tuesday.

UNICEF said 33 deaths had been reported since the mile-long (2 km) breach in the Kosi River on August 18, and more fatalities were expected.

The water flowed through places normally not deluged during the monsoon season, which lasts from June to September.

The aid agency said more than 1.4 million people are affected in 13 districts of Bihar, and more than 225,000 homes have been destroyed. Hot weather was adding to the misery, UNICEF said.

Video showed residents in Bihar state seeking refuge on low-rise buildings, and standing in waist-high water in the streets. Many villages were wiped out, said Nitish Mishra, Indian minister for disaster management.

Mishra said 2 million people were displaced, and the government was trying to evacuate at least half that many. VideoWatch survivors find safety on roofs »

The worst hit districts were Araria, Madhepura, Supaul and Purnea. He said there was no official death toll, but local reports placed it at more than 30.

"Roads have been damaged and water and electricity supplies in the affected districts have been seriously disrupted. Railway tracks have been submerged and essential commodities, including food, are being transported by boat," said a statement from UNICEF.

"Those displaced by the flooding are not expected to be able to return to their homes for another two or three months when the embankment is repaired and the river moves back to its normal course. Until then, these people will need to stay in relief camps," the statement added.

Several India air force helicopters were air-dropping relief supplies, Mishra said, and relief camps were set up in the Araria district.

Weather forecasters were predicting more heavy rain over the next four or five days.

All AboutWeather • Floods • India
Find this article at:
http://www.cnn.com/2008/WORLD/asiapcf/0 ... index.html


How come there wasn't any prediction that this was coming, I wonder....
levees breach wherever there are rivers, but I would have hoped that there was some correlation of weather prediction to river height to stress on levees to possibility of breaches. Once the breach occurs, I agree that there seems to be very little that can be done to stop the water.

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Re: Emergency Response

Postby ramana » 27 Aug 2008 03:22

Rahul M wrote:what is GHMC ?

Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation.

Its now the second largest metro area after Delhi. The plan is to make it a truly world class city as it was when it was founded.

Yesterday the Hyderbad Metro Development Authority (HMDA) was reconsitiuted.

Urban Flood Control is now a top priority with the Union ministry of Urban Development realizing the impact on urban areas growth and the economy.

The problem is that irrigation works are state subject so they have to work together with Center for funds from HUDA ministry.

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Re: Emergency Response

Postby harbans » 27 Aug 2008 20:11

Kosi river changing course is a major disaster. Some satellite pictures in todays newspapers show extensive flooding. Are there any viable solutions to capping, dredging channels, storing waters on a war footing available? Looking at pics it does'nt seem the water is too deep, more spread out. Can't high capacity pumps (10,000 t/hr) be used to pump water into some dry canals/ storage facilities? Since flooding is a recurring event should it be a difficult thing pumping water away from fields and residential areas to dry storage units. I'm certain the tech exists today.

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Re: Emergency Response

Postby ramana » 27 Aug 2008 20:49

Kosi is a major river and fairly young geological time wise. When a jmajor river changes course nothing much you can do except to get out of its way.

The Deccan Chronicle has good lessons learned about the recent floods in Hyderabad. There are preventive steps like clearing the weeds in the runoff channels, not issue permits to builders in tank and river beds etc. Poor quality and fraud in the recent irrigation canals builds by contractors. Roads and bridges to isolated villages to give an exit path for evacuation. The biggest is to ensure there are drainage canals to channel the flood waters. I think this is a big item.

However the report is buried in a lot of tu-tu type of accusations.

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Re: Emergency Response

Postby enqyoob » 27 Aug 2008 21:10

The more I see these, the stronger I believe that there is a desperate need for HIGHways - meaning roads built literally 15 feet above the surrounding ground level, like a dike. Put storage spaces under the roadway at intervals, which will still have floors 6 feet or more above the mean ground level. These can be used to put in emergency supplies, and shops carrying all sorts of things. The roadway will serve for emergency evacuation and for sending rescue fast, plus people will know to run here and gather for safety and evacuation, and maybe even shelter.

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Re: Emergency Response

Postby harbans » 27 Aug 2008 21:42

Ramana Ji i was thinking along those lines. I do wonder however what leadership politicians like Nitish Kumar could give to provide relief. I doubt they have basic management or engineering skills to chalk out relief measures or plan for another rainy wet flooded day. But Bihar desperately needs a network of pumps and lines linked to dry canals or drainage areas. Instead of making HIGHways one could have pipelines along highways of some capacity linking to dry canals or storage areas. If we can think of pumping gas under the sea for thousands of miles i fail to understand why one can't pump excess water to storage units or canals a hundred kms away. This is all after all fresh water..

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Re: Emergency Response

Postby ramana » 27 Aug 2008 22:42

Two reports from Deccan Chronicle, 27 August 2008 shwoing the situation in Hyderabad. The big issue is lack of drainage of the rainwater due to various reasons.

130 died in AP floods: Minister


Hyderabad, Aug. 26: The revenue minister, Mr Dharmana Prasada Rao, said at least 130 people had died in the recent floods in the state in 15 districts. Replying to the discussion in the Legislative Assembly on the recent floods and heavy rains and relief measures taken afterwards, Mr Prasada Rao said, "At least 31 died in Guntur followed by 19 in West Godavari district and 11 in Warangal and nine each in Khammam and Nalgonda districts."

He added that 80 per cent of the deaths had occurred due to collapse of mud walls which were soaked by rain. Regarding the incident where a lorry was washed away in Guntur district, the minister said, "People knew the danger but tried to cross the overflowing rivulet in Amaravati in Guntur district that resulted in the tragedy," "We have a far better official machinery than the United States. :rotfl:

They are pirkipandalu (cowardly people) who dare not come out during floods but our officials moved everywhere." MLCs criticised officials and ministers for not visiting the flood-affected areas. Mr B. Kamalaker Rao said, "one minister did not visit the affected areas. The relief commissioner failed to visit these places. The Central team has not come in yet. Mr G. Rudra Raju (Congress) said, "Drains in coastal areas were blocked by weeds. This resulted in floods." There are no bridges to connect villages which makes evacuation difficult during floods, he said.

The CPI floor leader, Mr Puvvada Nageswara Rao, said, "To avoid flooding of colonies in Khammam district, the Muneru bund has to be constructed. Due to poor quality the irrigation project on Palem rivulet was washed away. It is worth Rs 40 crore. Strict action has to be taken against the contractor."

Mr K. Yadava Reddy (Congress) said that buildings have come up illegally on tank bed land. Several lakes were grabbed leading to flooding of colonies. "There is a nexus between officials and realtors," he said. Mr Mohan Reddy suggested that the government lock all manholes during floods to prevent the deaths of road users. :eek:

Heavy rains cripple city


Hyderabad, Aug. 26: Heavy rains lashed the city in the early of hours of Tuesday, throwing life out of gear. Several areas included LB Nagar, Chaitanyapuri, Moosarambagh were flooded and students and office-goers were stranded in several places. Those living in low-lying areas suffered the most. The sudden rains and floods once again exposed the lack of preparedness of the administration.

Traffic went haywire in several places between LB Nagar and Miyapur and several motorists were stranded for more than three hours in the route. Motorists trying to negotiate the Secunderabad-Tarnaka route also had a bad time because of flooding. Several schools declared a holiday following the rains, and children who reached schools with difficulty had to go back.

However, there were not many police personnel on the road to manage traffic since majority of traffic constables were posted in and around the Assembly area. "It would be helpful if the city administration informs people through the electronic media about holidays so that people do not have to go through all this trouble," said Ms Y.Bhargavi, a resident of Moosarambagh.

"Roads resembled lakes during the rains," complained M. Raghava Kumar, a motorist "The GHMC authorities have taken no steps to set right the drainage problem. It is very difficult to drive." Meanwhile, GHMC officials decided to meet on Wednesday to discuss how to manage water stagnation in the city. The city is seriously struggling to cope with heavy downpour.




A common theme runs through all the reports - lack of drainage. All others are information measures and self awareness. Its seff defeating to try to cross a flooded area unless you have boat.

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Re: Emergency Response

Postby Dileep » 28 Aug 2008 11:43

My village in the midlands is in the floodplains of river periyar. The max level of water during the great flood of 1924 is a well known geographical feature around there. My grandfather, who was then a youth was stuck on the roof of the two story house (whose core still stands, still house no 1, and called 'maaLika veedu'). Before getting away paddling in a big copper tub, he and his cousin made engraving marks on the rafter at the water line. They still exist. He paddled right to the point where my house was later built. My mom used to say that we live just above the MWL of the flood. When the Idukki project was commissioned, there was serious discussion about what happens if it burst, or worse, if the Mullapperiyar burst, and take Idukki with it. The next dam have no chance of taking it, so everything will come crasing down. So, we kind of mapped the elevation of the place and charted course of evacuation, sticking to the high ground. The only problem was 'what do we eat?'

After all the scare of the Mullapperiyar recently again, I did the same excercise for my current location near the city. Google earth helped a lot. Found that trying to run away is futile. All the roads have low lying stetches that will be submerged or washed away. Absolutely no hope. Both the airports will be unserviceable, so relief any should fly in from TVM.

I think at least in interest of flood readiness, we should build a 'high' road to the east.

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Re: Emergency Response

Postby Philip » 30 Aug 2008 17:27

The failure of the GOI to react swiftly to th Bihar floods is inexplicable,considering that we have floods and catstrophes like this every year,the scale of this one the worst for half century.Years ago when a student,I travelled just after the annual floods in the region.Fortunately Patna was not flooded ,On the drive to Nepal one saw a virtual sea of water stretching as far as the horizon.Why we still sleep every year and do not make any pro-active emergency preparations remains a mystery.We need boats in the thousands,helicopters in the dozens if not hundreds,both for miliatry and diaster relief.Not all our politicos are concerned is about the comnfort of their precious backsides.Mayawathi is unhappy with her fleet of aircraft,the PM "always" flies to assess the damage.CM's galore are in the news for ordering new helos and aircraft.They are unsatisfied with our local airlines.To give Uncle George (Fernandes) credit,he always flew economy it is reported when a minister.For how many decades now must we put up with a picture of the PM/CM looking down on the desparate survivors from the comfort of his aircraft?Couldn't that flight have been better used to provide relief?WE are in the satellite age when one can easily assess the damage sitting in Delhi.What about relief supplies pre-packaged and positioned like military suppplies?

The greatest loss of life in India is from natural disasters and road accidents not terrorism.A grim statistic ,in one city,the Commissioner supposedly reported that there were 800 fatalities that month due to road accidents! We have the highest death rate in the world for road accidents and it is only getting worse.When a terrorist bomb claims lives,the people react with anger,nut what about this licebsed murder on the roads and the loss of life due to inefficient handling of natural disasters that we experience year after year?Who should be responsible and who must be held responsible? Where is the so-called disaster mangement committee or whatever and what is it doing?

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Re: Emergency Response

Postby ramana » 04 Sep 2008 04:09

Related story from Deccan Chronicle, 3 Sept 2008

State likely to get Rs 400 crore


Hyderabad, Sept. 3: The World Bank is contemplating providing about Rs 1,800 crore to India, including Rs 400 crore to Andhra Pradesh, under a project to reduce the threat to life posed by cyclones. The project will be set up in nine coastal states and four union territories including Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Orissa, West Bengal, Daman and Diu, Dadra and Nagar Haveli and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.

It will have four major components: Last mile connectivity to connect to all vulnerable areas along the coast, use of VHF technology, road connectivity to every village besides training personnel to handle the aftermath of cyclones. World Bank officials have held discussions over the project with the representatives of the Centre, National Disaster Management Authority (NDMA) and state governments.

If all goes well, the funds will be released before March next in this financial year and work will be taken up immediately. "The project will cover the entire coastline of 7,500 km and all vulnerable areas in the country," Mr Marri Shashidhar Reddy, NDMA member incharge of cyclones, told this correspondent.

"The idea is to ensure minimum life risk to people living in coastal areas, particularly those prone to cyclones," said Mr Reddy who participated in the discussions with the World Bank team. He said four states — AP , Orissa, Gujarat and Maharashtra — had submitted proposals in the format prepared by the World Bank.

"The AP government focused on road connectivity to habitations having less than 500 population like fishermen’s villages which were not covered earlier," he said. About 450 habitations within 5 km of the coast would be covered. AP has earmarked Rs 229 crore for road connectivity in coastal areas besides building tidal bunds and for non-structural projects like planting of mangroves to check tidal waves.

"While the Centre will bear 75 per cent of the cost, the state’s share is 25 per cent. The project will also include damage assessment," he said. He said that current measures to assess damage lack scientific methodology, which results in the Centre provide meagre aid. "There is always a charge that states bloat damage figures," he said.

The World Bank has reportedly asked states governments to prepare guidelines for disaster management besides creating of a cyclone disaster management information system. The Centre sought the World Bank aid since one-third of the country’s population is affected every year by cyclones, though technically only eight per cent of the land is affected, Mr Reddy said. The east coast is highly vulnerable to cyclones. "Though life risk has come down due to various steps, the risk exists," he said. The World Bank team had also suggested uniform preparedness by all coastal states in dealing with cyclones.


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Re: Emergency Response

Postby Philip » 04 Sep 2008 18:33

Another kind of emergency!

Flash:
Aircraft carrying Sonia Gandhi and P. Chidambaram makes an emergency landing at Bangalore Airport.
http://www.hinduonnet.com/

BANGALORE: A private aircraft carrying Congress President Sonia Gandhi and Finance Minister P Chidambaram made an emergency landing on Thursday at the airport here following a technical problem.

Gandhi and Chidambaram were flying in a Falcon aircraft to Coimbatore in Tamil Nadu, sources at the Bengaluru International Airport said.

Gandhi is scheduled to address a public meeting at Erode later this evening.

An aircraft from the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited was sent to the airport for taking them to Coimbatore, they said.

Sonia Gandhi and Chidambaram later left in the aircraft sent by HAL, for Coimbatore, the sources said.

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Re: Emergency Response

Postby enqyoob » 13 Jan 2009 18:44

Apparently there is something called the "Emergency Management and Research Institute". Or there WAS. They seem to have an emergency too.

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Mitigating Mumbai

Postby rahulranjan » 15 Jan 2009 15:08

Mitigating Mumbai
On Jan. 8, the U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs heard testimony from a number of experts about the lessons learned from the Nov. 26 Mumbai attack. According to Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine), the Mumbai attack deserves attention because it raises important questions about the plans of U.S. authorities to prevent, prepare for and respond to similar attacks directed against targets in the United States.

As we’ve previously pointed out, the tactics employed in the Mumbai attack were not new or remarkable, although the attackers did incorporate some tactical innovations due to their use of modern technology. As shown by a long string of historic terror attacks, armed assaults can be quite effective. There are a number of factors, however, that would reduce the effectiveness of a similar attack inside the United States or many Western European countries.

Armed Assaults
Armed assaults employing small arms and grenades have long been a staple of modern terrorism. Such assaults have been employed in many famous terrorist attacks conducted by a wide array of actors, such as the Black September operation against the Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympics; the December 1975 seizure of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries headquarters in Vienna, Austria, led by Carlos the Jackal; the December 1985 simultaneous attacks against the airports in Rome and Vienna by the Abu Nidal Organization; and even the December 2001 attack against the Indian Parliament building in New Delhi led by Kashmiri militants.

In a particularly brutal armed assault, a large group of Chechen militants stormed a school in Beslan, North Ossetia in September 2004, taking more than 1,000 hostages and booby-trapping the school with scores of anti-personnel mines and improvised explosive devices. The attack, standoff and eventual storming of the school by Russian authorities after a three-day siege resulted in the deaths of more than 320 people, half of them children.

In some instances — such as the December 1996 seizure of the Japanese ambassador’s residence in Lima, Peru, by the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement — the objective of the armed assault was to take and intentionally hold hostages for a long period of time. In other instances, such as the May 1972 assault on Lod Airport by members of the Japanese Red Army, the armed assault was a suicide attack designed simply to kill as many victims as possible before the assailants themselves were killed or incapacitated. Even though Mumbai became a protracted operation, its planning and execution indicate it was intended as the second sort of attack — the attackers were ordered to inflict maximum damage and to not be taken alive.

When viewed as a part of this historic trend, perhaps the most revolutionary aspect of the Mumbai attacks was the assailants’ use of modern technology to assist them with planning the attack and with their command, control and communications during the execution of their operation. Technology not only assisted the Mumbai attackers in conducting their preoperational surveillance, it also enabled them to use satellite imagery of Mumbai and GPS receivers to reach their assigned landing spots by water and move to their assigned attack sites. (Mumbai was not the first instance of militants using boats to reach their targets; several Palestinian groups have used boats in attacks against Israeli coastal towns, while other groups — such as the Abu Sayyaf group in the Philippines and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in Sri Lanka — have long used watercraft to transport teams for armed assault missions.)

Modern technology also allowed the tactical commanders and even individual team members to use satellite and cell phones to place calls to their strategic commanders in Pakistan, as demonstrated by some of the chilling audio captured by the Indian government. In transcripts of some of the conversations released by the Indian government, an unidentified commander reportedly exhorted the exhausted militants at the Nariman House to continue fighting. In another conversation, an off-site commander allegedly ordered the militants holed up in the Oberoi Hotel to kill their non-Muslim captives. From the transcripts, it is also apparent that the commanders were watching news coverage of the siege and then passing information to the attackers on the ground.

In the past, when a facility was seized, police tactics often called for the power and phone lines to be cut off to limit attackers’ ability to communicate with the outside world. Such measures have proven ineffective in the era of cell phones and portable satellite communications.

Mitigating Armed Assaults
Stratfor has long held that the United States and Europe are vulnerable to armed attacks against soft targets. In an open society, it is impossible to protect everything. Moreover, conducting attacks against soft targets such as hotels or malls can be done with ease, and can prove quite effective at creating carnage.

In fact, as we’ve previously pointed out, Cho Seung Hui killed more people with handguns in his attack at Virginia Tech than Jemaah Islamiyah was able to kill in Jakarta, Indonesia, in the August 2003 bombing of the Marriott Hotel and the September 2004 bombing of the Australian Embassy combined. Clearly, armed assaults pose a threat.

That said, while militants can use this same modus operandi and technology to attack targets in the United States or Europe, several factors would help mitigate the impact of such armed assaults.

First, reviewing the long history of armed assaults in modern terrorism shows that the tactic has forced many countries to develop specialized and highly trained forces to combat it. For example, it was the failed rescue attempt of the Israeli athletes in Munich that motivated the German government to create the elite Grenzschutzgruppe 9 (GSG 9), which would become one of the best counterterrorism forces in the world. The activities of the Provisional Irish Republican Army likewise helped shape the British Special Air Service into its role as an elite counterterrorism force.

While some developing countries, such as Singapore, have managed to develop highly trained and extremely competent counterterrorism units and effectively use such units, India is not one of them. In spite of the long history of terrorist activity directed against India, Indian security and counterterrorism assets are simply too poorly funded and organized to comprehensively address the militant threats the country faces. Even the elite National Security Guards (NSG), also known as the Black Cats, provided a sluggish response to the Mumbai attack.

When we view the entire spectrum of counterterrorism capabilities, however, the greatest gap in capability between Indian and European or Indian and American forces is not the gap between elite counterterrorism forces, but the gap at the individual street cop level. This is significant because street cops are a critical line of defense against terrorists. The importance of street cops pertains not only to preventing attacks by collecting critical intelligence, noticing surveillance or other preoperational planning activity and questioning or arresting suspects, it also applies to the tactical response to armed attackers.

Among the most troubling aspects of the Mumbai attack were accounts by journalists of Indian police shooting at the attackers and missing them. Some journalists have said this failure can be explained by the fact that many Indian police officers are armed with antiquated revolvers and Lee-Enfield rifles. But the Lee-Enfield is an accurate and reliable battle rifle that shoots a powerful cartridge, the .303 British. Like the .30-06 Springfield and the .308 Winchester, the .303 British is a man stopper and is deadly out to long ranges. The kinetic energy produced by such cartridges will penetrate body armor up to the heavy Type III level, and the amount of kinetic energy they impart will often even cause considerable shock trauma damage to people wearing heavy body armor.

The .303 British is a formidable round that has killed a lot of people and big game over the past century. Afghan sharpshooters used the Lee-Enfield with great success against the Soviets, and Taliban are still using it against coalition forces in Afghanistan. There is also nothing wrong with a .38 revolver in capable hands. The problem, then, lies in the hands — more specifically, in the training — of the officers so armed. If a police officer does not have the marksmanship to kill (or even hit) a suspect at 20 or 30 meters with aimed fire from a battle rifle, there is little chance he can control the automatic fire from an assault rifle or submachine gun effectively. In the end, the attackers outclassed the Indian police with their marksmanship far more than they outclassed them with their armaments.

By and large, U.S. and European police officers are better-trained marksmen than their Indian counterparts. U.S. and European officers also must regularly go to the shooting range for marksmanship requalification to maintain those skills. This means that in a Mumbai-type scenario in the United States or Europe, the gunmen would not have been allowed the freedom of movement they were in Mumbai, where they were able to walk past police officers firing at them without being hit.
The overall tactical ability of the average street cop is important. While most large police departments in the United States have very skilled tactical units, such as the New York Police Department’s Emergency Services Unit, these units may take time to respond to an incident in progress. In the case of a Mumbai-style attack, where there are multiple teams with multiple attackers operating in different areas of the city, such units might not be able to tackle multiple sites simultaneously. This means that like in Mumbai, street cops probably not only will have the first contact with the attackers, but also might be called on to be the primary force to stop them.

In the United States, local police would be aided during such a confrontation by the widespread adoption of “active shooter” training programs. Following a series of attacks including the highly publicized 1999 Columbine school shooting, it became apparent that the standard police tactic of surrounding an attacker and waiting for the SWAT team to go in and engage the shooter was not effective when the attacker was actively shooting people. As police officers waited outside for backup, additional victims were being killed. To remedy this, many police departments have instituted active shooter programs.

While the details of active shooter tactical programs may vary somewhat from department to department, the main idea behind them is that the active shooter must be engaged and neutralized as quickly as possible, not allowed to continue on a killing spree unopposed. Depending on the location and situation, this engagement sometimes is accomplished by a single officer or pair of officers with shoulder weapons. Other times, it is accomplished by a group of four or more officers trained to quickly organize and rapidly react as a team to locations where the assailant is firing.

Active shooter programs have proven effective in limiting the damage done by shooters in several cases, including the March 2005 shooting at a high school in Red Lake, Minn. Today, many police departments not only have a policy of confronting active shooters, they also have provided their officers with training courses teaching them how to do so effectively. Such training could make a world of difference in a Mumbai-type attack, where there may not be sufficient time or resources for a specialized tactical team to respond.

In the United States, armed off-duty cops and civilians also can make a difference in armed attacks. In February 2007, for example, a heavily armed gunman who had killed five victims in the Trolley Square Mall in Salt Lake City was confronted by an off-duty police officer, who cornered the shooter and kept him pinned down until other officers could arrive and kill the shooter. This off-duty officer’s actions plainly saved many lives that evening.

One other factor where European and American law enforcement officers have an edge over their Indian counterparts is in command, control and communications. Certainly, an armed assault is very chaotic no matter where it happens, but law enforcement agencies in the United States have a lot of experience in dealing with communications during complex situations. One such example is the February 1997 shootout in North Hollywood, where two heavily armed suspects wearing body armor engaged officers from the Los Angeles Police Department in a lengthy shootout. Following that incident, in which the responding officers’ handguns and shotguns proved incapable of penetrating the suspects’ heavy body armor, many police departments began to arm at least some of their units with AR-15s and other high-powered rifles. Ironically, the LAPD officers almost certainly would have welcomed a couple of old battle rifles like the Lee-Enfield in the gunfight that day.

Hindsight is another huge advantage European and American law enforcement officers now enjoy. Police and security agencies commonly examine serious terrorist attacks for tactical details that can then be used to plan and conduct training exercises designed to counteract the tactics employed. As evidenced by the Jan. 8 testimony of NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Mumbai has gotten the attention of police agencies around the world. The NYPD and others already are studying ways to rapidly deny attackers the communications ability they enjoyed in Mumbai during future attacks. The preoperational surveillance conducted by the Mumbai attackers is also being closely scrutinized to assist in countersurveillance operations elsewhere.

A seen by the Fort Dix plot and actual armed attacks against targets, such as the July 2002 assault on the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles International Airport and the July 2006 attack against the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle, the threat of armed terrorist assaults against soft targets in the United States is quite real. However, the U.S. law enforcement environment is quite different from that in India — and that difference will help mitigate the effects of a Mumbai-like attack.


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