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6040My article in Hindustan Times on attacking buildings, published after Akshardham

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  • Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad
    Dec 1, 2008
      In view of the attacks in Mumbai, my old article, published in
      September 2002 in Hindustan Times, on attacking urban buildings, may
      be of interest. It was published just after the attack on the
      Akshardham temple in Sept 2002.

      Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad

      p@... r@...

      Tel: {91} 9990 265 822, 98 118 36 331


      My article on attacking urban buildings, published in Hindustan Times
      in Sept 2002

      My article on attacking urban buildings, published in Hindustan
      Times after the attack on the Akshardham temple in September 2002.

      Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad

      Submitted to Hindustan Times on Friday, 27 September 2002

      By Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad

      Urban Warfare in India

      1500 words

      Published in Hindustan Times, Edit Page

      <BLURB> India’s paramilitary forces are among the few worldwide
      that have operational experience in urban warfare and
      fourth-generation warfare. However, DRDO should immediately begin to
      develop urban-warfare technologies. </BLURB>

      Following the attack at Akshardham Temple, it is clear that India
      is going to be subjected to many more incidents of urban guerilla
      warfare from suicide fidayeen of Al-Mansoor, Al-Afreen,
      Tehreek-e-Kassas, Al-Umma, Al-Mujahideen and other home-grown
      organizations inspired by Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Muhammed, and
      Hizbul Mujahideen.

      India’s security planners of the early 1980s had the foresight to
      envision that prominent Indian buildings, especially religious
      shrines, would be subjected to hostage-taking terrorist attacks. When
      they established the National Security Guards, only Israel had
      comparable agencies specializing in urban warfare, and Britain’s SAS
      and USA’s Berets had not had any operational experience whatsoever.

      For over fifteen years, the Indian Army had already been
      practicing in Kashmir, Punjab and the North East what General Charles
      C. Krulak, Commandant of USA’s Marine Corps, articulated in 1997 as
      the Three Block War of the Future: “In one city block, a Marine will
      provide food and medicine to an emaciated child. In the next block,
      this Marine will be separating two warring tribes. Then, in the third
      city block, this same Marine will engage in intense house-to-house
      fighting with hostile forces.”

      Compared to India and Israel, other armies lagged far behind in
      urban warfare doctrines and operations, being stuck in the Cold War
      and Gulf War mentality of fighting in open terrain. USA’s last
      experience of fighting inside cities was during its unsuccessful
      campaign at Hue during the Vietnam War. After the US Marines’ lack of
      experience of fighting inside buildings showed up in their many
      bungled operations against Aideed’s forces in Mogadishu, Major General
      Robert Scales decreed that USA would engage in warfare in built-up
      areas only as a last resort. In contrast, Indian forces had already
      successfully carried out Operations Blue Star and Black Thunder at the
      Golden Temple.

      But it was the humiliating defeat of Russia’s army in Grozny which
      jolted western military planners into developing Urban Warfare
      Doctrines, Tactics and Procedures. Still stuck in the World War II
      mindset of artillery and tank assaults on city buildings, the Russian
      Army found that (according to Colonel Timothy Thomas of the US Army’s
      Foreign Military Studies Office) “its armored thrust into Grozny was
      anticipated by Chechen guerrillas who ambushed them from the sides,
      rear, and above….Grozny’s narrow streets were soon blocked by burning
      Russian vehicles, making it impossible for the embattled Russian
      armoured columns to advance, counter-maneuver, or even withdraw.”

      During wargaming simulations, the US army was shocked to discover
      that its field commanders would have acted exactly as the Russian ones
      did in Grozny. Lieutenant General Paul K. Van Riper then formulated "A
      Concept for Future Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain" in 1997.
      The Pentagon also found that US Marines had difficulties in adapting
      the Close-Quarters Battle Techniques that they had been taught to
      fighting inside built-up areas, which turned out to be the cause of
      their deaths in Somalia. The Marine Corps Combat Development Command
      then developed “Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures for Military
      Operations on Urbanized Terrain” in 1999.

      While the training programme of the NSG compares with world’s
      best, those of state police commandos, who would be the first to
      arrive on the scene, need to be enhanced greatly. A useful guide would
      be USA’s Marine Corps Warfighting Publication (MCWP) 3-35.3 which
      contains detailed Tactics, Techniques, and Procedures (TTPs) for
      Military Operations on Urbanized Terrain (MOUT). It describes detailed
      TTPs for offensive and defensive operations in five types of urban
      layouts, which are also found in Indian cities: (a) Dense, Random
      Construction (eg. Chandni Chowk); (b) Closed Orderly Blocks of
      Buildings (eg. DDA SFS Flats); (c) Dispersed Residential Areas (eg.
      Friends Colony, Civil Lines); (d) High-Rise Buildings (eg. Nehru
      Place); and (e) Industrial / Transportation Areas (eg. Naraina, Okhla).

      The four-day training course conducted for the US Marine Corps
      contains several useful guidelines which are also applicable to Indian
      conditions, such as:

      · Helicopter assaults are vulnerable to shoulder-fired
      surface-to-air missiles and rocket-propelled grenades….

      · Artillery and air-to-ground shells fall at too-shallow an angle
      to be effective in densely built-up areas….

      · It is preferable to attack at night since terrorists do not
      usually possess night vision equipment….

      · Streets and open spaces between buildings are killing zones. Use
      smoke cover when moving through these areas….

      · Avoid windows, doors, and hallways….

      · Deciding where to enter a building is critical. The rule of
      thumb is to enter at the highest floor possible to minimize the amount
      of upstairs fighting and to avoid enemy heavy-weapons positions, which
      will usually be located on lower floors….

      · Avoid entering through doors and windows because they are
      usually covered by sniper fire or boobytrapped. It is preferable to
      breach walls by explosives, and then enter….

      · Once inside the building, the first task is to cover with
      automatic weapons the staircases leading to upper floors and the
      basement; and, secondly, to seize rooms that overlook approaches to
      the building….

      · Avoid, unless absolutely necessary, throwing grenades at upper
      windows or upstairs; they may bounce back….

      · Frequently, stairways will be boobytrapped…Stairs are usually
      covered by enemy fires, and defenders can throw grenades into the
      stairwell…Avoid stairways whenever possible….Select rooms that have
      ceilings intact and place an explosive charge against the ceiling…The
      resultant explosion should kill or stun defenders and provide access
      to the next floor….

      · When entering a room do not open doors by hand or attempt to
      kick them open…Shoot the door open by firing several rounds through
      the lock or blow the door in with explosives…Throw a handgrenade into
      the room…After detonation, one man should quickly enter, spray the
      room with automatic fire, and take up a position from where he can
      observe the entire room…. A second man should then conduct a
      systematic search….

      Another indicator of the NSG’s expertise is the extremely low
      number of casualties it has suffered. During the ten-day Operation
      Black Thunder at the Golden Temple in May 1988, the NSG killed 38
      members of the Khalistan Commando Force and captured over 200, without
      suffering even a single casualty. Only three security personnel were
      killed at Akshardham. In contrast, during exercises and simulations
      performed by USA’s Marine Corps Warfighting Laboratory, Marine
      casualties were projected to range from 30 to 75 percent of the
      defending forces. Operation Black Thunder is now regarded by urban
      warfare units worldwide, especially Britain’s SAS, as a paradigm to be

      Where India can learn from the US is in development of UW
      technologies and equipment, advance scenario planning, and
      coordination of rescue and medical plans with civilian authorities.
      Fortunately, the priests of the Swaminarayan temple were able to
      immediately provide the NSG with layout maps. The temple authorities
      also had the telecommunications facilities to alert worshippers to
      immediately shut several doors. But how many buildings in Indian
      cities have their blueprints readily available? Or how many of them
      have sophisticated communications, firefighting and medical facilities
      installed? While it is heartening that the Delhi government has got
      its commandos familiarized with the layout of prominent buildings in
      Delhi, this procedure should be immediately carried out in all major
      Indian towns and religious shrines.

      The Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) should
      immediately begin to develop new technologies suited to Indian UW
      conditions. Colonel Robert F. Hahn, director of the US Army’s Urban
      Warfare projects, listed the futuristic technologies that have to be
      developed and provided to the US Urban Warfighter Corps by 2025
      (quotes are his words):

      1. C4ISR: “The Urban Warfighter of 2025 should be provided with
      comprehensive situational awareness capabilities, easy-to-use
      integrated communications and navigational systems that can provide
      him real-time updates, the capabilities to connect with and employ a
      wide variety of robotic systems, unmanned aerial vehicles, and other
      sensor systems to determine who or what is in the buildings or streets
      around him -- day or night. He needs to be able to communicate and see
      through walls.”

      2. Lethality: “The Urban Warfighter of 2025 must possess precision
      lethal fire assault weapons, and should be able to access digital,
      voice-activated fires from a variety of robotic systems operating
      semi-autonomously…He also must have direct access to precision fire
      support from distant platforms.”

      3. Mobility: “The Urban Warfighter of 2025 will require enhanced
      individual mobility in both the horizontal and vertical dimensions.”

      (US defence researchers are already working on developing unmanned
      ground vehicles, individual aerial assault systems, and a Vertical
      Assault Urban Light Transporter that will give a soldier the ability
      to leap to the top of a four-story building.)

      4. Survivability: “By 2025, uniforms themselves must guarantee
      survival. Uniforms must be light, offer protection from bullets,
      chemical-biological agents, cold, and heat; they must also provide low
      signature and chameleon camouflage.”

      5. Sustainability: “The Urban Warfighter of 2025 needs to carry
      lighter and more concentrated rations, and individual water
      purification kits, enabling him to subsist for at least a week.”

      DRDO should immediately begin to develop similar technologies
      which are specifically suited to Indian UW conditions, as well as
      strong, flexible, light-weight body armor; acoustic sniper detection
      devices; and optical equipment that will allow commandos to look
      around corners.

      By Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad

      The author heads a group which analyzes fourth-generation warfare
      and C4ISRT (Command, Control, Communications and Computers
      Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance and Targeting) in South Asia.
      Friday, 27 September 2002

      Published in Hindustan Times, Edit Page

      1500 words

      Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad

      Mobile: {91} 98 118 36 331, 9990 265 822

      rvp@..., rvp@...

      Mail : Ravi Visvesvaraya Prasad

      19, Maitri Apts, A - 3 Paschim Vihar

      New Delhi, 110 063
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