Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Lessons from Mumbai

Lead and Gold has a link to a report, short and concise. I'd like to quote one bit:
One of the most important lessons of this attack is the continuing importance of an earlier operational form: the firearms assault. While the counterterrorism world has been focused almost exclusively on explosives, this attack demonstrates that firearms assault, while not as deadly as mass-casualty bombings, can be an effective tactic in creating prolonged chaos in an urban setting.
Put bluntly: in a city full of mostly unarmed people, a small group of terrorists with nothing but some guns, unless law enforcement or security forces are right there and capable, can cause an ungodly mess. Which brings me to something Lawdog wrote a while back:
"But, LawDog, I'm a CCW, not a cop. I'm not going to be responding to bank robberies."

Given that terrorism isn't going away any time soon, I'd not bet the ranch on that, but that's a discussion for another time
Which is as nice a way as you'll hear of pointing out 'something like Mumbai could happen here. And you might be right there in the middle of it.' A flat-out terrifying thought, ain't it?

One of the things that surprises a lot of (sometimes stupid) critics of CCW is that they'll make some snotty comment about "Got to shoot anybody yet?" and the response is something on the lines of "I devoutly hope I never have to." And, in most self-defense uses of a gun, no shot is fired; bad guy finds out the intended victim is armed and ready to shoot, and decides to exit stage left as fast as possible, or surrenders. But here?

If this happens, and you're there, you've got terrorists who plan on dying; they hope to use their own death to further terrify us. Which means, you get caught in that, it's very simple: you may die if you fight, but you- and maybe a bunch of other people- will die if you don't. And you cannot count on the police. Most cops in the US, I think, will not have a problem with 'shoot the bad guys', but if the bad guys are smart, they'll first shoot any cops they see. Or just strike in an area away from them. And that means, if all goes to hell and you're there, you're it.

In the June issue of Guns, in the Odd Angry Shot column, there's this:
Significant numbers of police officers and other public officials resign or are fired- some, because they realize and admit they are not psychologically equipped to deal with events like this, others because their incompetence or cowardice were spotlighted and magnified by it.
Afterward, scads of citizens complained the police hid and huddled right alongside them, refusing, sometimes profanely, to take action against the shooters.
...He saw two gunmen "calmly stroll across the station concouirse shooting both civilians and policement," who, he said were armed but did not return fire- they only took cover and hid.
As I say, I think the average cop in the US is more likely to draw and shoot; if nothing else, they've had far more training for such than the Mumbai police. But if they're not there when it happens, it doesn't matter if the guy with the badge is William Butler Hickock reborn.

I'll tell you flatly, when I seriously run through "What do I do if-?" in my mind, about a restaurant or mall or store, it scares hell out of me. And I really, really hope those plans/thoughts are never needed. But I'd rather think them through and sweat, than consider it happening and me not be ready because "It was just too terrible to think about."


Anonymous said...

I always think about those kind of "what ifs" and I train for them accordingly, so if the time ever comes...it's rock-n-roll time.

Joe said...

My basic thoughts are summed up by Heinlein.

"We don't expect kittens to fight wildcats and win -- We just expect them to try."

I hope that I try, anything beyond that will be gravy

Anonymous said...

My understanding, regarding the police in Mumbai, was that many of them had no ammunition for their firearms.

the pistolero said...

"Something like Mumbai could happen here." Well of course, why couldn't it? Anyone who says it couldn't is deluding themselves It'd be interesting, though, to see the chances of it happening in, say, Chicago, New York or L.A. as opposed to Houston, Atlanta or Memphis.

Anonymous said...

you are trying to take a alien population, that has no commonalities with a west-european derived culture, and explain their behavior/lack of behavior, based on what is our norm..
what you fail to understand is- the actions of the police and soldiers in the initial Mumbai attack WERE NORMAL in their cultural context.
All asian, african, basically all non-european derived christian societies operate on AMORAL FAMILIALISM as their social norm-
GOOD is what is good for me, my immediate family, and my tribe, in that order.
A cop in a context of amoral familialism is not to put his own future or the earnings he brings to his family and tribe, to risk by stopping a attack on others, who are not in his caste/tribe..
that is what was going on in India.

This was something far more than mere cowardice, it was a calculated act of self-preservation in a population whos nationalism is secondary to tribalism..
It is also why they will as immigrants generally do well for themsleves and their immediate families, but will not benefit the remainder of the population in the communities they immigrate to.

Firehand said...

That may be part of it, but lousy to nonexistent training was a big part. It takes training to make someone an effective fighter in anything; like lots of people have said, having a weapon does not make you a fighter, and it doesn't really make you 'armed'.

And a lot of immigrants from those areas have been of great benefit to their communities; not all, but I've known people born and raised here who weren't worth a damn to anyone except their close family.

Anonymous said...

"And a lot of immigrants from those areas have been of great benefit to their communities; not all, but I've known people born and raised here who weren't worth a damn to anyone except their close family."

you WILL fight like you train.. that much is true.
however this population you reference here has had first class miltary and anti-partisan training.. going back hundreds of years to the British Raj,
a period that most american police agencies were still aspiring to a 'Mayberry' level of competency..

you have a tendency to identify individual cases/persons and draw far ranging conclusions about them based on very cursory assessment.
If you err on the side of caution, you will be 'less wrong' to do the opposite, and identify group commonalities that pervade, instead of outliers that are not generally representative..
it may not be fair to the rare outlier individual who deviates from the norm, but it is more accurate to that group norm.

The reason the British in india uses gurhkas and certain tribal offshoots of bengals as their loyal guards and enforcers is that the many cultures and tribes of india except for a few (gurhka) share one commonality, which is they will NOT fight if it will benefit another group other than their own.
They have a long history of NOTHING BUT tyranny and invasion, and their coping method is to accede to it, and to only fight when their own tribal division can gain by it or is left with no other choice. The result of this societal norm today pervades their culture.