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Could a Mumbai-Style Attack Happen Here?

NCJ Number
Homeland Defense Journal Volume: 7 Issue: 2 Dated: February/March 2009 Pages: 8,10,12
David Axe
Date Published
March 2009
4 pages
This article discusses measures that are and should be taken to reduce the threat of an infantry-style terrorist attack in the United States similar to what occurred in Mumbai, India, in November 2008.
U.S. police and Homeland Security officials, along with the elected representatives who oversee them are focusing on security awareness training; security exercises that focus on soft targets (public areas and facilities that are not protected by elaborate security defenses) and improved information-sharing regarding potential threats. Among the threat issues posed by the Mumbai attack is terrorists' access to targets from waterways. In April 2008, the U.S. Coast Guard published a new "Small Vessel Security Strategy," which developed from a year of research. The proposed strategy calls for a "coordinated effort of Federal, State, local, and tribal authorities, together with international partners, private industry, and recreational users of the waterways" to "enhance maritime security." In the event that someone spots a suspected terrorist boat, the Coast Guard has new weapons for interdicting the vessel before it can reach land. Big cities with bordering waterways, such as New York City, are particularly vulnerable to Mumbai-style attacks. Aware of this threat, within hours of the end of the Mumbai attacks, the New York Police Department notified the Indian Government that it would be sending personnel there. Three senior officers were assigned to travel to Mumbai and collect information on the tactics used in the attack. The team leader briefed government and private security managers in New York about what they had learned. The basic methods of responding to Mumbai-style attacks are to enlist citizens as "eyes and ears" for surveillance, equip and train frontline law enforcement personnel for basic military-style combat, and increase cooperation among private security professionals and public safety personnel/agencies.