You Can't Make This Up

Can you guess where this comes from?

Equally also, our thrust has been founded on our unwavering belief that extraordinary circumstances must be confronted through extraordinary interventions and not through halfbaked or even wholesale 16th century economic dogmas that have been long discarded in their founding countries.

As Monetary Authorities, we have been humbled and have taken heart in the realization that some leading Central Banks, including those in the USA and the UK, are now not just talking of, but also actually implementing flexible and pragmatic central bank support programmes where these are deemed necessary in their National interests.

That is precisely the path that we began over 4 years ago in pursuit of our own national interest and we have not wavered on that critical path despite the untold misunderstanding, vilification and demonization we have endured from across the political divide.

(h/t Naked Capitalism)

Things that make you sick

From the New York Times….

Sharpshooters had neither protective gear, nor the high-powered telescopes that their counterparts in Western countries would most likely use in a standoff with terrorists. On Saturday afternoon, a sharpshooter who had spent over 60 hours perched outside the Taj Hotel said neither he nor his partner had fired a shot because they were not sure how to distinguish the gunmen from ordinary civilians trapped inside the hotel.

I realize that India is a poor country. But you would think that a nation that is buying an aircraft carrier for billions of dollars would be able to afford some few high powered telescopes for their commandos.

The more I read, the more I realize how difficult it was for the commandos due to their lack of equipment. Take this story from the Telegraph for example….

A group of exhausted commandos who had engaged the militants for two nights inside the cavernous hotel after their deployment, reclined exhausted in one corner of the hotel’s lobby.

They ate listlessly from lunchboxes. It was the first cooked food they had seen in three days, but they found it difficult to swallow as their nostrils were still assailed by the stench of charred flesh and choking cordite from thousands of rounds expended in battle.

Most of them had survived without food or water for nearly 60 hours, lying motionless by the side of putrefying bodies for hours waiting for the next burst of fire from the militants. “It was sickening. But there was no option,” a commando said, declining to be named.

One commando said that in the corridors above the ground floor there were corpses decaying in the city’s oppressive heat, the floors slippery with congealing blood.

On top of all their other problems, I don’t think the commandos had any good night vision equipment. I have read nothing that comes right out and says that. But in all the interviews the commandos complain about how hard it was for them to fight in the dark and in all the pictures you never see night vision equipment on the commandos.

If you think about the problems involved in hunting terrorists in the dark down hallways covered with dead bodies and at the same time not being sure how many hostages are all around you, you can understand why it took so long for them to clear the hotel.

But there is no excuse for Indian’s top commandos to be so poorly equipped. As I said before, this is a nation that is spending billions of dollars on crappy aircraft carrier that will do nothing to help India’s security (The Chinese will sink it in a heartbeat and they don’t need it to hunt pirates). To make matters worse, the Russians are making the Indians pay through the nose for the carrier.

I think it just goes to show how badly Indian’s defense budget is managed.

Only 10?

From the Washington Post……

Indian officials said Saturday that they had killed or captured 10 gunmen responsible for the three-day assault on India’s financial and cultural capital. Nearly 200 people died in the attacks that began Wednesday.

Everybody is saying that their were only 10 attackers in total. I can hardly believe it. Only 10 men to take down a city of 18 to 19 million people. It makes it hard to understand why the Indians took so long to get everything under control. I mean granted, they needed time to bring troops into the city. But 3 days to take care of 10 men?

Of course, some British officials are defending the Indian response. But in the process they invite the whole world to try the same thing in Great BritainFrom the Telegraph…..

“It was always the doomsday scenario which Peter Clarke and I both recognised as the most challenging. In the early stages of such an attack there would a lot of death and chaos. Our unarmed police would be able to do very little except report in. There would be many hours of chaos before the police, backed by the military counter-terrorist response teams were in a position to contain, let alone neutralise, the terrorist threats.”

The former officer added that British armed response teams are not as numerous, well trained or equipped as they should be to deal with a fast moving and violent a scenario as that which occurred in Mumbai.

I guess the bottom line is that a government that expects its police force to hand out flip flops and give out safe sex advice can not expect those same policemen to handle a real crisis.

What a Shocker

From the New York Times…

The surprising news made headlines in December 2002. Generic pills for high blood pressure, which had been in use since the 1950s and cost only pennies a day, worked better than newer drugs that were up to 20 times as expensive.

The findings, from one of the biggest clinical trials ever organized by the federal government, promised to save the nation billions of dollars in treating the tens of millions of Americans with hypertension — even if the conclusions did seem to threaten pharmaceutical giants like Pfizer that were making big money on blockbuster hypertension drugs.

Six years later, though, the use of the inexpensive pills, called diuretics, is far smaller than some of the trial’s organizers had hoped.

The biggest problem in the way health care is done in America is that consumers generally have no incentive to watch costs. To be sure, some people still argue that diuretics are not as effective as the new drugs as the article above points out. But the bottom line is that they are both pretty close in effectiveness and yet one cost 20 times as much as the other. Even granting that the new drugs are better, one has to wonder if it is worth paying 20 times more for a marginal improvement in effectiveness.

All Credit To Their Bravery But….

From the Telegraph….

On Thursday night, officials had claimed the Taj Mahal Palace Hotel was safe but on Friday it became the centre of the conflict once again, with furious firefights between the terrorists and the military.

It is pretty bad when you say an area has been cleared and yet you turn around and have major gunfight 24 hours later. It leads credence to this grousing in from another Telegraph article….

A second British official said that, although the India’s Black Cat commandos have a fearsome reputation for efficient antiterrorist operations, their deployment was botched.

“They are supposed to set-up a command centre in complete control as their first priority,” the official said. “Instead they arrived and went in guns blazing.

“It was blind. They didn’t have maps of the hotels, yet there terrorists had done enough reconnaissance to use the service facilities to manoeuvre.”

There was also criticism of a midnight announcement on the first day of the crisis by a cabinet minister that 200 commandos were deployed in the area within two hours.

The British official said: “The terrorist were forewarned by the government itself.”

The whole article is riddled with tales of gross incompetence on the part of the Indian government. The Indian solders and police have demonstrated their bravery, but their leadership left a lot to be desired.

And on the subject of the terrorists being forewarned…..

A senior officer in the country’s elite Black Cat commando unit told the Telegraph, the gunmen were able to trawl the internet for information once they lost cable television feeds to the two luxury hotels and office block.

The men looked beyond the instant updates of the Indian media to find worldwide reaction to the events in Mumbai.

Their analysis of at least five BlackBerry mobile phones recovered suggested the terrorists had links to England.

“There was a lot of content from the English media, not just in London but the Urdu and Arabic sites that are very strong in the north of England,” the Commando leader said near the site of the city’s third siege at Nariman House. “We have some analysis started on this and we will pass it on to Scotland Yard, no doubt.”

The availability of news updates and live TV streams from Indian and foreign media is though to have given the hostage takers an advantage in the two day siege. By early yesterday army commanders had realised the extent of the problem.

Lieutenant-General Noble Thamburaj, head of India’s southern command, said: “I want to pay tribute to the brave army and Indian forces who have died but I will not put a figure on it because that will sustain the terrorists.”

As the above story seems to demonstrates, the killers seemed to have better command and control then the Indian government. According to Bill Roggio (h/t The Belmont Club) they had command and control rooms set up ahead of time. So that gave them an advantage that they exploited to the full.

Still, there does not seem to be any good excuse for the Indian’s sloppy command and control.

Indians Lead From The Front

From the Times of Indian….

MUMBAI: Two NSG personnel, including an officer, were today martyred and six other commandos injured during operations against terrorists in Mumbai, the first casualties suffered by the elite force during the siege. ( Watch )

Major Sandeep Unnikrishnan, 31, was martyred while engaging terrorists this morning at the Taj hotel, an NSG spokesperson said.

This is just the latest in a long string of high ranking Indian police and army personal dying on the front lines. I am sure this is a great credit to their bravery but it strikes me as kind of odd. Don’t the Indian’s have any good NCOs? It seems like a major is a rather high rank to be leading from the front in a close quarters combat situation.

Also what is up with this? This is not the way i am use to seeing elite unites handle a gun. But this is not an isolated incident. I saw similar tactics being used on a video clip of the assault on Nariman House. Unfortunately, I can’t find that clip now.