The LTTE's strength in numbers is a much contested issue of late. It is only appropriate that we at DefenceWire contribute our analysis and information regarding the topic.
The Commander of the Army claimed the man/woman-power of the Tigers was around 5000. He was referring to the hardcore fighters. Sources close to the Tigers estimate it at around 25,000. Our estimate is that it has a hardcore fighting force of around 10,000 fighters.
LTTE may also have around 10-15,000 more second line fighters and a militia/home guard of 40-50,000 (lightly trained civilians), of whom they might have the capacity to deploy around 5,000 as auxiliary forces at a time.
The 10,000 hardcore fighters could be composed of those indicated in the chart above. Of these the
The second line fighters are youngsters or new recruits who are suffering casualties at the hands of Task Force I. According to latest information we have, LTTE has also deployed the remaining Jeyanthan Regiment cadres who withdrew from the East to face Task Force I. Mingled among these are more experienced Charles Anthony Regiment Tigers.
The lightly trained civilians have a potential for disbanding fast under light pressure due to the loose organizational structure without a proper rank and file. Of those, 5000 could be mustered by the LTTE into a considerable auxiliary force for defensive operations, for example against LRRP units, deep inside LTTE areas. But the question is whether these cadres could remain intact and resist a full assault.
The second-line fighters have demonstrated they cannot withstand attacks from normal
Unfortunately for the LTTE, normal infantry soldiers from Task Force I have not discriminated against any LTTE units and have attacked, killed and wounded tigers from all respective units sent to fight them.
In a scenario like this, LTTE might turn to its hardcore fighters in the Sea Tigers, intelligence unit as well as the Black Tigers for force multiplication purposes. Their plan would be to hit the government at its rear and force the Security Forces to collapse. This they will do while maintaining defence-in-depth strategies using a mixture of hardcore, second-line and auxiliary force members along the frontlines.