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TMCNet:  Fear over the city ; Could such covert attacks and irregular warfare be the future of armed conflict between nation states? More importantly, what... [India Today]

[March 18, 2014]

Fear over the city ; Could such covert attacks and irregular warfare be the future of armed conflict between nation states? More importantly, what... [India Today]

(India Today Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Fear over the city ; Could such covert attacks and irregular warfare be the future of armed conflict between nation states? More importantly, what were the lessons that could be learned from the brazen attack on Mumbai that exposed India's vulnerabilities? Three domain experts answer 'What India needs to fight its war on terror'.


The last war between two armies wearing uniforms was in August 2008 when Russia fought Georgia for 10 days. Just three months later, 10 heavily-armed Pakistani civilians, trained as commandos and motivated to fight unto death, landed on the coast of Mumbai from Pakistan. They held the city under siege for over two days, killing over 160 civilians. Could such covert attacks and irregular warfare be the future of armed conflict between nation states? More importantly, what were the lessons that could be learned from the brazen attack on Mumbai that exposed India's vulnerabilities? Three domain experts answer 'What India needs to fight its war on terror'.

The nature of war has changed Hooman Majd, Iranian-American journalist and author Terrorism and asymmetrical warfare have existed throughout history. Iran is a perfect example. It knows that if the US were to invade, it would probably meet the same fate as Saddam Hussein because no conventional force in the world can withstand the onslaught of US forces. So they use asymmetrical warfare. Iraq has proved that no army can control a country any more. The 'war on terror' is a Bushism; it is former president George Bush's expression. You cannot have a war against a tactic. Because it is unwinnable.

The New York Police Department has probably been more successful than the CIA and the military in protecting New York from terror attacks. Their counter-terrorism division is the world's largest. Fighting terrorism is the job of the police. When countries sponsor terrorism against other countries, fight so-called proxy wars, that is a problem.

India is unprepared, there is no 26/11 postmortem Adrian Levy, Co-author of The Siege, a book on the 26/11 Mumbai attack The first major failing of the Government was the failure to appoint an open, honest, wide-ranging inquiry after the 26/11 attacks. This inquiry would possibly have excavated facts about sensitive military and national security material being sold out of India (to terrorists). The attacks were a complicated operation using fidayeen on Indian soil, VoIP networks and an American agent. Yet, the Government got a whitewash that was a 64-page Pradhan Committee report. There has been no adequate postmortem. The Indian security services are not fit for the purpose. This is because they have inherited a colonial methodology which revolves around placing IPS officers at the core rather than a multi-disciplinary force.

LeT does a postmortem of every operation. It films what it does and debates it. It has a department in Muzaffarabad which analyses the failures of operations. It breaks apart every aspect of its operation including the psychology of recruiting fidayeen.

Mumbai is well-prepared for a terror strike Himanshu Roy, Chief of Maharashtra Anti-Terrorism Squad India is geopolitically in a sub-optimal situation. We have a neighbour that exports terrorists into India. The failure to anticipate the 26/11 was a failure of imagination rather than a failure of intelligence. A seaborne fidayeen-type commando attack was unique. There was no specific mention of a seaborne attack on the Taj or the Oberoi. Today we have the luxury of hindsight, we can look back and piece them together and say that is the picture which should have been formed at that time. What matters is the predictive value of intelligence inputs, not postmortems.

To suggest that we have learnt nothing after the attack is contrary to facts. Not just us, but counter-terrorist agencies across the world have learnt several lessons post 26/11. We have a much more structured system with better collection, collation, analysis, dissemination of intelligence. better coastal security, coordination of marine police with navy and coastguard, better Standard Operating Procedures to deal with fidayeen attacks, better technology, equipment and training. Most important, better resolve. We have hardened the target. It won't be so easy next time.

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