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RAND: The Lessons of Mumbai

Authors: Angel Rabasa, Robert D. Blackwill, Henry A. Kissinger Senior Fellow for U.S. Foreign Policy, Peter Chalk, Kim Cragin, C. Christine Fair, Brian A. Jackson, Brian Jenkins, Special Adviser, International Chamber of Commerce, Seth G. Jones, Nathaniel Shestak, and Ashley J. Tellis
January 23, 2009

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This RAND Corporation report analyzes the November 26, 2008, Mumbai terrorist attack and draws preliminary conclusions on what lessons can be derived from the incident, as well as its implications for India, Pakistan, and the world at large.

This study of the Mumbai terrorist attack of November 2008 is part of the RAND Corporation Occasional Papers series. The research for this report was completed in December 2008 and updated as of January 9, 2009. Much of the information available for this necessarily preliminary analysis comes from reporting by the news media, which in such circumstances is often inaccurate, and from information provided by well-placed Indian and U.S. government sources, which sometimes is incomplete. For a thorough, and hopefully accurate reconstruction of events, we must await an official inquiry or government-sponsored independent investigation.
With these caveats, this paper
-identifies the operational and tactical features and technical capabilities displayed by the terrorists-the extent to which the means employed in the attack were innovations or built on previous experiences
-evaluates the response of the Indian security forces
-draws out the implications of the incident for India, Pakistan, and the international community
-derives the lessons learned from the attack and the Indian response.

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