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Bravery of the Commandos and the Soldiers

We all need to understand that the bravery of all the people- the police,
the NSG, MARCOS, the Army etc etc needs to be saluted. But in
the process of saluting the bravery of these men and women, we should
not forget to highlight the total ill preparedness of the forces- and
for that matter even of what we call the elite special service forces-
the NSG and MARCOS. In my opinion these forces went into the action as
if fighting a urban war and not a rescue or hostage situation. Do not
get me wrong. The bravery is applauded, not the tactics.

There are so many weapons and stealth tactics- like gas bombs,flash
bombs, pepper bombs, chloform bombs etc- and any military or defence
expert will give you a big list which could have been used to
neutralise (not kill) the terrorists and maybe also save hostages. The
amount of firepower that was used in the Nariman House encounter right
from the beginning indicated that the NSG was acting as if there was
no hostage situation. It was for 3 nights, so stealth night tactics
could have also been used. Cut off electricity to the building, make
it pitch dark- use night vision goggles, thermal cameras (things that
you see being abundantly used in nighttime wildlife videography) so
that the terrorist sees nothing and you have a much better view. I did not
see a single gas mask or a singe night vision goggles in any NSG commando.
You would know better from your sources. No such tactic was used. There
are so many stealth techniques that could have been used to help save
hostages and if the hostages had already been killed you could have
got the terrorist alive- that would have been a prized catch- to help
you finish the investigations quickly and learn more from them, gather
intelligence so that future attacks could be prevented. I think this
aspect of the operation was totally mishandled and we have lost a
great opportunity in terms of saving us from future attacks. In the
heat of the moment, the knee jerk reaction to kill rather than capture
will be something that we may regret later.

And when you had the terrorist cornered during the last stages of the
action, such incapacitating tactics could have been used. The Taj
being a five star had centralised air conditioning. Which means that
incapacitating gases- tear gas, chloroform etc etc could have been
injected through the ducting. The NSG being a elite force should
obviously been trained in such tactics- there must have been mock
drills carried out in urban buildings, hotels situations etc.The
question being raised is why were such strategies not employed. The
attack on an urban building was not something that would not been
envisaged in the training manuals. So accordingly strategy and tactics
would also have been studied, trained, practiced and perfected. From
the visuals of the operation it seems that no such tactics or strategy
was used.

Look at the NSG themselves. They came in a bus from the airport- which
means that 1 hour was lost in that travel- in which time they could
have been properly briefed about the hotel layout, etc etc had they
been carried in a more relevant vehicle having TV screens, projectors,
drawing boards and such modern briefing equipments. It was pathetic to
see that precious time was lost to brief them properly after they had
reached the encounter site only. And that one hour journey from the
airport was only a bus ride!!

Secondly look how the hostages were simply let go once they had come
out of the hotel premises. Some went away by public transport, some
with the police, some with their friends and relatives. Every hostage
rescued was a wealth of information about the encounter. Each needed
to be debriefed and information collected in a professional manner and
the same relayed back to the commandos. That did not seem to have
happened from what i could understand.

Thirdly, look at the use of communication equipment being used by the
commandos- walkie talkies- these are of 70 vintage. Nowadays, each
commando had to have had earpieces and microphones strapped on to the
head/helment so that hands are free and he is in constant touch with
his team and superiors. The way the commandos went in and came out
from the operation – it did not look that they were using modern
communication tools.

Also look into the Nariman House encounter- i saw commandos going in
with rocket launchers and bazookas. You definitely do not fight a
hostage situation that way. In fact in my opinion what differentiated
the NSG from the army was the dress- one in black and the other in
olive green. The equipment was the same- nothing elite and modern to
tackle such a situation. And don’t get me wrong- the tactics and
strategy of using brute force to eliminate the enemy was also the

Therefore the notion that the NSG is a elite force to tackle such
situations need to be looked into again. The training, the equipments
provided, the tactics etc has to be seriously looked into. We need to
hire or take the services of the Americans and the Israelis to train
our people in urban anti-terror and hostage situations. More
importantly we need to have modern equipments etc to tackle such
hostage situations and our elite forces should be trained to use them.
Not just firepower and lots of bravery. More of technology,
equipments, and tactics. For in the end the objective of any such
situation should be as follows- first the hostages, second the
capturing of the terrorists alive and finally if all else fails (after
use of the modern available options), the killing of the terrorist.
For the final kill is a given- it is only a matter of time. And that
should be the last objective- for there is no incentive to kill the
terrorist. With him dies the entire chain of events- the support base,
the masterminds, the training methodologies, the logic of choosing
targets and locations etc etc. A host of information and intelligence-
intelligence that would otherwise have taken lots of time and effort
to garner, is lost with the death of the terrorist. And such
information is invaluable when it come to preventing future attacks.