Friday, November 28, 2008

Thanksgiving Day...

Our friends and neighbors, Jim and Michelle, invited us to join them and some family members for Thanksgiving dinner – tempting us with tales of table-bending quantities of traditional Thanksgiving fare. And so it was! From memory, there was a grand roast turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, sweet corn, string beans, homemade cranberry sauce, pasta salad, macaroni-and-cheese, and a lovely butternut squash soup. Oh, and unlimited quantities of a very nice local cabernet.

After an appropriate period of stomach-resting and pleasant conversation, then there was dessert. The traditional pumpkin pie was there, along with an apple pie, a sweet potato pie, and a delectable concoction of chocolate and caramel whose name I don't know. The sweet potato pie (with real, homemade, unsweetened whipped cream) was my hands-down favorite – the cloves and cinnamon that permeated it tickled my fancy.

Today we are promised a fine turkey soup, to be ready around noon. Even our weather is perfect for such a feast: it's misty, cool, crisp, and partly cloudy. A perfect turkey soup day!

Mumbai Attacks Are Something Different...

Bill Roggio is one of the finest analysts reporting on the war on terror; his work shows up in numerous online and print outlets. Whenever I see his byline, I take a little extra time to read and understand it – he's been right far more often than not.

So this morning when I visited the Long War Journal (an online publication that Mr. Roggio both edits and contributes to), I paid special attention to this article on the Mumbai attacks. In it, Bill paints a vivid picture of the attacks, full of information I've read nowhere else. It's clear the Mumbai attacks represent a ratcheting up of the enemy's capabilities, a sobering thought indeed. The attackers apparently arrived in the area of Mumbai on ocean-going ships, then disembarked and landed using inflatable (Zodiak-style) boats. Here's an excerpt from the middle of Bill's piece:

While the exact size of the assault force and the support cells is still not known, police estimate about 25 gunmen were involved in the attack. The number of members of the supporting cells that provide financing, training, transportation, and other services could be two to four times this number. Operational security for such a large unit, or grouping of cells, is difficult to maintain and requires organization and discipline.

To pull off an attack of this magnitude, it requires months of training, planning, and on-site reconnaissance. Indian officials have stated that the terrorists set up "advance control rooms" at the Taj Mahal and Trident (Oberoi) hotels, and conducted a significant amount of reconnaissance prior to executing the attack. If the news about the "control rooms" is accurate, these rooms may also have served as weapons and ammunition caches for the assault teams to replenish after conducting the first half of the operation.

The planners of the Mumbai attack appear to have chosen able military-aged males. Witnesses have described the men as young and fit. Some of the gunmen appear to have been well trained; some have been credited with having good marksmanship and other military skills.

A witness who saw one of the teams land by sea adescribed the gunmen as "in their 20s, fair-skinned and tall, clad in jeans and jackets." He saw "eight young men stepping out of the raft, two at a time. They jumped into the waters, and picked up a haversack. They bent down again, and came up carrying two more haversacks, one in each hand."

Now go read the whole thing.