Essay: 2011 Norway Attacks Effectiveness of the Response

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¶ … 2011 Norway attacks

Effectiveness of the response of the Police response in conjunction with emergency services and other key stakeholders

Flawed communication system

Bureaucratic failings as a source of security risk

Weaknesses in the police information sharing system

Effectiveness of the police and other stakeholders

The command challenges this event presented

Operational opportunities that arose from the event

The 2011 Norway attacks at Oslo and Utoya Island that left 77 dead indicated heightened expectations of police leadership and response to terrorist attack in the post 9/11 era (NOU,2012). The global community is living at a time when lack of communication and coordination coupled with the lack of police leadership standards can lead to an unprecedented loss of lives through acts of terrorism or natural calamities. In this paper, we analyze the effectiveness of the response of the Police response in conjunction with emergency services and other key stakeholders. This is coupled with a critical discussion of the response of the key command personnel involved in terms of their operational effectiveness. This paper also highlights the command challenges this event presented, operational opportunities that arose as well as practical opportunities commanders had available to mitigate the impact of those factors.

A brief overview of the 2011 Norway attacks

The 2011 Norway attacks at Oslo and Utoya Island were two separate but sequential terrorist attacks executed by a lone wolf against the Norwegian government, the Norwegian civilian population as well as a summer camp ran by the Workers' Youth League (AUF) (Criscione,2012).The attacks took place on 22nd of July 2011 with a fatality of 77 innocent lives.

The attacks started by the a car bomb explosion in the city of Oslo within the executive government quarter of Norway at around 03:25:22 PM (CEST) (Norsar,2011). The bomb that was used in the attack was made from a mixture of fuel oil and fertilizer and then placed in the back of Breivik's car.The car was the placed at the front side of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg's office. This particular explosion killed 8 people and injured two hundred and other nine people. The second attack took place about two hours later at a summer camp located on the island of Utoya in Tyrifjorden, Buskerud.The gunman, Bevrik dressed himself as a policeman and then armed with a fake identification, gained acess to the island and the opened fire on the participants at the camp.He killed 69 of them and injured at least one hundred and ten with fifty five of them being injured seriously. This attack was the deadliest one in Norway since the 2nd World War (Park,2011,p.1). The Norwegian Police eventually managed to arrest the killer Anders Behring Breivik aged 32 on the island and the charged him with the attacks. This was however after he succeeded in killing 77 people.

Effectiveness of the response of the Police response in conjunction with emergency services and other key stakeholders

A review of the events indicates a general failure or lack of effectiveness of the Police response in conjunction with emergency services and other key stakeholders. This is very clear from the general opinion that the killings could have been prevented if the police would have been proactive against the attacks or had they responded quickly to the situation after they were alerted within minutes of the unfortunate events. According to the official report, the Norwegian terror attacks could have been effectively prevented or at least interrupted had the Norwegian police as well as the nations intelligence services had not made a series of blunders (NOU,2012;Lewis,2012).

This is true because despite receiving a very clear and detailed description of the attacker (Anders Behring Breivik) about 10 minutes after he set off a car bomb in Oslo, a "catastrophic" communication breakdown within the police communication system allowed the terrorist to make a 2-hour journey to his final place of terror, Utoya Island even after passing 2 police cars before eventually boarding a boat with a cache of assault rifles with which he murdered sixty nine children and young adults.

Flawed communication system

An effective communication system is one of the main elements of an efficient counter-terrorism police network (Bjelopera,2011).The Norwegian Police communication system was visibly flawed on the day of the attack from the very beginning. For instance, the note containing Breivik's description was unintentionally left on the table in a police operation's room. This is one of the blunders that added to the unnecessarily high death toll.

The Gjorv Report clearly indicated that the attack on the Norwegian government complex in the city of Oslo could have been appropriately prevented through an effective implementation of the security measures that had earlier on been approved for government buildings (Gustaffson,2012). A quicker police action and operation to protect lives on Utoya Island was very realistic and possible and the terrorist could have been stopped earlier than the date of terror. The report also indicated that more emergency and security measures aimed at preventing further attacks as well as mitigating the attack's adverse effects should have been implemented on the 22nd of July (BBC,2012a).

According to the commission that was formed to investigate the incident, the Norwegian police suffered a series of shortcomings prior to and during the time when the Utoya shooting was taking place. These were evident from the tardiness with which the terrorist's description as well as vehicle were released coupled with other factors such as the communication breakdown, failure to follow the standard operating procedure, the inadequate means as well as other factors (BBC,2012a).

The commission observed that in a nutshell, the events of July 22nd, 2011 highlighted the serious shortfalls in the Norwegian society's emergency preparedness as well as their ability to avert threats (Koranyi,2012).

The Norwegian police should have automatically engaged drills that are aimed at safeguarding against any cases of multiple attacks but due to the weak leadership coupled with disorganization, delays resulted which resulted in the unnecessary/preventable loss of innocent lives. The Norwegian military was never informed immediately and the police too could not find a working helicopter to use in reaching Utoya Island.The police boat which was to be used for ferrying the Special Forces across the waters to the Utoya Island too could not carry the entire necessary load. These logistical challenges were attributed to poor leadership and poor communication as opposed to the lack of adequate response from the necessary personnel.

As the chairman of the commission, Alexandra Bech Gjorv, noted, the failure to effectively mobilize the helicopters, accept help from the private citizens who wre prepared to drive their boats to the island as well as the failure to share information contributed to brutality at an inconceivable level (Lewis,2012).Even though there were good plans for reacting to such an incident, the Norwegian authorities had not learned adequately from the drills or even implemented the approved measures. This prompted the commission to recommend for radical change of the nation's emergency preparedness routines.

Bureaucratic failings as a source of security risk

The ability of a nation to respond to disasters as well as reel from its effects in a quick manner is noted by Cook (2009) to be hampered by the bureaucratic failings that often dog our police and emergency service departments. In this case the bureaucratic failings that existed between the departments is what left the main government building in the center of the city to be vulnerable to the terrorist attacks.Earlier on, the building had been considered a potential target for terrorist in a previous security exercise that had effectively recommended the closing of the main street where the terrorist (Bevrik) had packed the explosive-laden van (Lewis,2012).

The Gjorv Report clearly indicated that the car bomb at the government complex as well as other coordinated attacks had been recurring scenarios in the nation's threat assessment and exercise as well as safety scenarios for several years (the Globe and Mail,2012).The government building should have therefore been better protected due to the fact that it had earlier on been identified as a potential security risks several years earlier. However, due to the Norwegian government's tendency to squabble over very minor security details, very little was done to protect the building and its occupants (Koranyi,2012). The street immediately outside the office of the prime minister too was not closed to the general traffic as recommended earlier in 2004 (BBC,2012b).A parking ban in front of the prime minister's office building area too was not enforced (Ritter & Amland,2012).

The Gjorv Report also gave details of a tip off phone call by a pedestrian about ten minutes after the bombing of the prime minister's official building at Oslo. Even though the pedestrian gave a vivid description of the assailant carrying a weapon and wearing protective clothing to the operator who passed it on to the police, the tip-off information was never acted on for about 2 hours (BBC,2012). This indicated a total failure of the Norwegian nationwide message service. The police could not act on the information which even indicated the… [END OF PREVIEW]

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