I’ve been sick over this atrocity in Mumbai. We call what happened here on 9/11 “the 9/11 tragedy”… like it was a natural disaster or something. But it wasn’t. It was an evil act perpetrated by evil men. The same type of evil man who later struck Spain, England, and now India.
As a pastor with a tactical police background, I see these attacks through a unique lens. There are obvious spiritual issues at play… but a pastor is also called to be the shepherd of his sheep, and for most of us that means paying attention to physical security in our churches (still the most vulnerable spaces in this country). Attacks in churches are increasing at an alarming rate…
So, the tactical part of me sees these observations about what occurred in Mumbai that could be relevant to any large gathering here in CONUS (continental US)… other pastors, that means these things could happen in church and we should pay attention:
1. The attackers were organized into buddy pairs, allowing one to shoot while the other moved, and so forth. The buddy pair, or “Two Man Team” is a development of small unit tactics very prevalent in SWAT operations. For urban close quarters battle, where areas tend to be compartmentalized (like inside churches and office buildings), it makes sense for each room to be “taken” by two men. It is not hard to develop the skills of a two man team. Those skills are taught to law enforcement, military, and civilian in this country routinely and without much background investigation.
2. While we don’t know for sure, it appears the two man teams operated autonomously. That means that while they had an overall objective, how they achieved that was up to the individual team itself. These two-man teams were well drilled, practiced, each with its own set of objectives, and apparently in contact with one another. If you think about it, this was tactically similar to the Columbine event, save being better planned, with multiple teams, and much better prepared shooters.
3. Until the “special operators” showed up, it doesn’t appear that the “police” did much to stop them at all. I have never been to India, but if the training and pay of their local police is anything like what I have studied in many Third World nations, I don’t expect the terrorists would have met much resistance from anyone in authority. The average patrol officer in many like countries are issued an old WW1 rifle with no ammo and $150 per month to live on. Does that really prepare anyone to jump into the lion’s den? Even here in the US, the police are not in the protection business. They are responsive – they respond AFTER the incident and their goal is containment and control. Police cannot PREVENT or SPECIFICALLY DETER violence. On-site (church) security is required for that.
4. India is a very restrictive place as far as civilian ownership of weapons, and the likelihood of anyone present being armed was slim (the bad guys knew this). Personally, I think this is once again indicative of how an armed civilian may have been able to stop at least one of the two man elements. I refer to the British reporter who commented that if he’d had a gun he would have killed both of the terrorists he saw (because no one else was even trying to do so!)
5. There is evidence that many of the victims were tortured and executed. Let that one soak in good.
6. There is evidence that the terrorists were “strong, trained, and well toned”, and that they were using steroids and other drugs to fight better (AP). If attacked in church, in your home… wherever – your adversary will not necessarily be the push-over some think he will be. Look at the photo I posted above. You see a fit young man with an apparent Romanian AK. He has two magazines taped together, made popular by the Russian Spetsnaz , and his trigger finger is off the trigger – all indications of training and discipline. These guys were serious, dedicated, and did their homework.
Pastor – who is doing the same work on behalf of your church security?