Sunday, November 4, 2007

Scenario-Building for More War on the Cards

Amidst the speculation following the Thamilchelvan killing and the Army's stepped-up attacks on the Vanni FDL are several hypothetical scenarios being built by Pro-LTTE sources and others. These include the following;

1. SLA is planning a major upward thrust from Mannar, Vavuniya and Weli Oya FDL
2. Military will continue attacks on LTTE leadership
3. SLA is planning an operation to capture Pooneryn
4. LTTE will launch Kamikaze-style attack to kill The President, Secretary Defence etc.
5. LTTE will attack the Colombo Habour

Given the existing scenario, the following analysis can be made for the moment;

1. SLA has intensified confrontations with LTTE along the Mannar, Vavuniya and Weli Oya FDLs. In any of these confrontations they have not attempted to seize control of land. The attacks are aimed at maximizing LTTE casualties and minimizing own casualties. These have been backed by air-strikes on identified LTTE assets. Such aerial attacks, according to information we have received, have bewildered LTTE to some extent. In recent months SLAF has bombed newly-built LTTE camps. The significance of these attacks is the fact that LTTE builds camps in secret and in locations that cannot easily be spied at. They are masters at using the terrain to camouflage their camps. The fact that the SLA and SLAF have attacked these camps indicates information leaks in the LTTE. This is very clearly 3rd Generation war where the objective is to collapse the enemy from within.

2. The latest attack on Thamilchelvan was made following technical details of his departure from Pooneryn and arrival in an unknown location in Kilinochchi. From that point onwards, military planners seem to have narrowed down his exact domicile using a mixture of pre-gathered and real-time information. They have also developed, from the likes of this attack, a detailed map of Thamilchelvan's movements and routine while in Kilinochchi. This type of information was almost non-existent prior to the Cease-Fire Agreement, thus indicating that Military Intelligence has done some homework during the CFA to cultivate sources within the LTTE. The likelihood of similar plans existing for the LTTE leader Pirapaharan is also high. This suddenly changes the perspective of the war. It increases the number of direct threats to the lives of LTTE leaders by 100%. Previous to this, only the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol was effective against such targets. Ironically Thamilchelvan's assassination mirrors LTTE's own detailed planning to assassinate leaders in the south.

3. Thamilchelvan was engaged in leading an assault team in Pooneryn before he returned to Kilinochchi. Pro-LTTE media has also claimed of an imminent attack by SLA to capture Pooneryn. Pooneryn is an area crucial in the battle for Jaffna. It is an area, if captured by SLA, could increase the safety of areas like the Palaly Military Base Complex housing men and assets of significant military value. It is also the existing 'guaranteed' transport route available to troops in the case the sea route is made unavailable. What is not clear is whether the Army is willing to open two front-lines, one in Vanni, the other in Jaffna preemptively. This could be a significant burden on troops as the area would have to be held. This comes at a time when large numbers of troops, including elite troops have been deployed elsewhere on defensive roles. Our estimate is that it could be a defensive preparation to proactively diffuse any LTTE attempt to capture the area along the Kilali Lagoon and northwards along areas guarded by the 55th Division.

4. LTTE launching Kamikaze attack on a key southern leader is a possibility but not a probability. There are certain limitations to this attack. The first is the LTTE's willingness to sacrifice its assets that have been their psychological advantage in recent times. The assets also include trained pilots. The Zlin Z-143 aircraft is not an accurate bomber. It can however be used as a suicide craft. Again the limitation is for the attack craft to travel during daytime when many leaders are active politically or militarily. Traveling from Mannar, Mullaithivu or Kilinochchi to Colombo or any other southern city in broad daylight would be a serious challenge. Obtaining such accurate targets at night when the leaders are not active is also a considerable challenge.

5. An attack on the Colombo Harbour is tricky. The area, including the small islets are well guarded. the attack could however come in the form of a stealth submarine as indicated by this site previously. This would limit the number of infiltrators as a small submarine cannot carry an 8 or 12 man team in one go. All other possibilities have been taken into consideration and preparations made. The LTTE would have to discover the chink in the Navy's armour for this. The Navy, to its credit, has never lost a base to the LTTE in the recent past.

1 comment:

SLWATCH said...

Thanks DW. I hope civil population reads these analyses.
Int'l media and so called experts are attempting to create unease by trying to say killing of LTTE 'political leader' is a reason for LTTE to escalate. Sri Lankan media must make clear that LTTE actions are determined by their goal NOT by any action the Government may or may not take.

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