Training module help officers to effectively control various threats quickly

Anticipating a 26/11 Mumbai attacks-type incident in the US, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has developed the “Multiple Assault Counter-Terrorism Action Capabilities” (MACTAC) training module to deal with coordinated terror attacks.

After having put in place the mechanism to provide tactical response to multiple organised and sophisticated critical (terror) incidents in Los Angeles and Las Vegas, at least 50 other police departments across the U.S. are gearing up to implement this training module.

“The concept of MACTAC provides the means to allow officers to spontaneously and effectively control various threats as quickly as possible by using small unit infantry tactics to immediately apply pressure on assailants versus waiting and holding a perimeter. The greatest impact of MACTAC is that it allows prompt, cooperative training and response among multiple agencies,” Michael P. Downing, LAPD’s Deputy Chief and Commanding Officer of Counter Terrorism and Special Operations Bureau told a group of visiting South Asian journalists.

Mr. Downing, who visited India after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, was tasked to develop strategy to counter such incidents in the U.S. After long brainstorming sessions and meticulous planning, the LAPD’s training division came out with MACTAC in which dynamic squads are created with specific cross-training to effect “assault, support, rescue, and force protection missions.”

“The MACTAC programme provides the LAPD with the ability to provide high-impact squads that will respond to multiple, simultaneous critical incidents in Los Angeles and the surrounding area...It provides for cross-training and training with other agencies,” Mr. Downing said. The LAPD has also developed supplemental courses to help supervisors and team leaders apply the MACTAC concept during critical field incidents, he added.

This highly commended training module is the most-sought-after programme across the U.S. with all major police departments including those in New York, Washington, California, Chicago and Boston are planning to introduce it. “We have already made presentations about the MACTAC before 64 police departments...The plan is to implement it in cities that have a population of over 5,000 and a police force of over 1,000,” Mr. Downing said.

The MACTAC has also become an integral part of LAPD’s ‘Hydra’ programme that was adopted from Metropolitan Police Service, London’s developed after the Hillsborough Disaster where police mismanagement led to death of 96 spectators attending the Liverpool versus Nottingham football match in 1989. “Post Mumbai terror attacks, MACTAC has become a part of Hydra programme where practical application of the concept is incorporated in the training,” Michael Menegio, Officer in Charge of Hydra operations in the LAPD told The Hindu.

Talking about “lessons learnt” from the Mumbai attacks, Sergeant Menegio said: “We are training our personnel to expect anything and everything with focus on resource mobilisation and its utilisation. Now, we do not focus on just one [terror] incident as it could be diversion tactics of terrorists...We reserve our resources for more difficult situations [that may emerge simultaneously]. We also focus on recovery efforts, which could be week and month-long. It is now all part of our training.”