Tuesday, March 25, 2008

The difference between now and then...


The main fighting in the West Coast, as of now, is concentrated in the outskirts of Adampan and Pallaikuli. Other areas like Uylankulam entry-exit point and Sirikulam are almost entirely under Security Forces control. Brief skirmishes continue in Parappakandal and Giant's Tank West (8 GW) and East, Mud Spill and Ittikandal to the west (not shown in map).

The above map indicates the small tanks scattered across the terrain. The tanks west and east of Adampan are under SLA control. The Giant's Tank is to the east of Uylankulam and is slightly larger.

The weather, as it is customary, has worsened. The ground is soggy and the small tanks shown in the above map that act as barriers are full of water. Only tractors, some captured from the LTTE, can travel in the muddy jungle routes cleared by troops. The houses in Adampan have underground bunkers in them where Tigers hide and launch attacks.

Foot bridges, culverts, trees, bushes, abandoned Tiger bodies are booby-trapped. The uniforms of the officers and men get wet in the rain and become heavy. The boots have to be sealed for many days in the mud. The muddy ground conditions makes stealthy reconnaissance and group attacks a formidable challenge.

A comparison between the situation then and now

Back then...

In May 1997, Operation Jayasikurui advanced towards Mankulam via Omanthai. Operation Rivibala launched in December 1998 captured Oddusudan and made further inroads into Mulaithivu.

In 1999, Operations Ranagosha I,II and III captured Sinnapandivirichan, Periya Pandivirichian, Thatchanamaranthamadu, Periyamadhu, Thampanai, upto Palampiddi. The operations managed to capture over 800 square Kilometers in Mannar, Weli Oya and Mulaithivu. The Army relied on Sri Lanka Air Force and Navy troops (example Walagamba Camp) to man the area. It also established small bases inside the jungles.

Barely a year after, in November 1999, the LTTE launched Oyatha Alaikal III (Ceaseless Waves-3) under the leadership of its Military Wing leader Balraj. The offensives were led personally by Karuna (Field Commander) and his Jeyanthan Regiment troops. Charles Anthony, the Karum Puli (Black Tigers), 'Leopard Commandos' Victor Anti-Armour unit etc were also involved.

The Navy and Air Force personnel broke ranks with the Army (example Oddusudan). The Army was forced out of Mankulam and fell back all the upto 'Lanka Handiya' in Vavuniya. The Mannar and Weli Oya ranks also fell back. The total loss of life, although not revealed was close to 1000 troops killed. Over 800 square kilometers captured painstakingly from 1997 to 1999 were lost in November 1999.

Between now and then..

In Operations Jayasikurui(also Watershed), Rivibala and Ranagosha, the elite units of the 53 Division were heavily involved, both in breaking through LTTE defenses and in defending against Oyatha Alaikal. As a result, 2 and 3 SF for example had lost a lot of men and the defence establishment thought of collapsing the 3 Regiments into one. This is no longer the case.

The most prominent regiments involved in the fighting today are the regulars from Gemunu Watch (GW), Gajaba IR, Vijayaba Regiment, Singha Regiment and on occasion, 2 and 3 Commando. The Armoured Corp also chips in. The Brigades now in operation are additions to the Army. These include the 57, 58, 59, Mechanized Infantry and soon, the 61 Division. This is a remarkable achievement.

This has also freed up the Special Forces to carry out specialized missions in the deep and medium battle-space (LRRP), raids, reconnaissance, decapitation strikes (example Charles) etc.

The fighting is planned and executed by the Sri Lanka Army and the Army alone. No Naval or Air Force detachments have been deployed. No bases have been established in jungles infested by the LTTE.

In 1999, the small satellite camps established in jungles in Jayasikurui, Rivibala and Ranagosha Operations were surrounded and overrun one after the other. In 2007-8, the satellite camps existing in the area are those of the LTTE and they are being overrun by the SLA (Don't die for your land, let them die for theirs).

The Operations of today have no name. They have no superficial goals like grabbing land or roads, but have the objective of killing a minimum number of Tigers a day. The results speak for themselves. From 22nd September 2007 todate, over 1300 Tigers have been killed in Mannar alone.

The most important aspect of the entire Operation by the Army is the leadership and morale. General Fonseka has been studying the LTTE since he joined the Army's 3rd Officer Intake. His thesis/'doctoral dissertation', unlike his predecessors, has been the LTTE. His knowledge of the terrain is remarkable and no officer serving can challenge it.

The Army under General Fonseka has a no-nonsense policy in making promotions , which are based primarily on merit, rather than saeniority. he is also a survivor of an LTTE suicide attack!

The LTTE's capacity, or lack of it, an independent analysis

  • No capacity to launch Ceaseless Waves after significant losses since 2002 (perhaps over 6,000 due to disbanding, death, serious injury)
  • Experienced field commanders and 2nd and 3rd line leadership like Karuna, Ramanan, Charles, Rabat, Reggie, Mangalam, Riyaseelan, Ineya Parathi are either dead or defected
  • Prabha, Balraj, Sornam, Soosei, Jeyam, Bhanu etc are now older by 9 additional years and less energetic
  • The experienced rank and file is also getting old. Younger rank and file is less experienced
  • Decapitation strikes and LRRP operations restricting Tiger leaders mobility and command
  • Defensive mindset in contrast to the offensive mindset of 1999
  • Heavy use of artillery in 1999 has drastically subsided after destruction of arms ships
  • Heavy use of trappings. Less conventional and tactical warfare than in 1999
  • Loss of key intelligence personnel like Charles
  • Loss of political strategists like Balasingham and Thamilselvan

22 comments:

mavKFIR said...

DW,

Though i fully acknowldge that our airforce need to modernize specially when we have phase out our aging fleet of kfir's and some of the mig27's, I think the cost of going for fulcrums be not feasible for a small economy like us.
I personally think the money spent on fulcrums would be far more useful if it were to be invested in the Navy or the Army, giving them small air planes to manouver themselves in their times of need rather than relying on the airforce all the time. This would significantly lower the response time in times of emergency as airforce has to undergo a lot of procedures before they make a strike.
Especially since the primary objective of the airforce is to decapitate the tiger leadership, allthough we have seen some CAS recently.

I know buying the fulcrums would nevertheless boost our morale, and if it were to be put in to much use, would help us in lot of ways, but we also need to increase our intelligence gathering better service and morale support for out forces.

Also in another note - is it possible that the recent pulling out of STF has some influence due Islamic jihad in eastern province?
After all, one of our STF soldier was killed by those people. May be, in my opinion, some muslim politician might be behind the withdrawal of STF from Ampara. As a political gain. Since with the removal of STF, the muslim politicians can manipulate casting of vote.???

Both the government and the main opposition are in desperately seeking an alliance with the muslim politicians. so that may be one of the reasons ???

Navindran said...

Defencewire, good article. I tend to agree that the military is leading a good campaign. However they should change the motto (not the startergy) of "Don't die for your land, let them die for theirs" as it sounds like the LTTE are defending their homeland and SLA are conquering their country.

I do not see an importance in secondary leaders in the LTTE as ever so often they can wiped out. Without a soultion at hand a victory against the LTTE could still result in Tamil Eelam. Just like in Vietnam where the Americans won every battle but lost the war.

Mahindha should really formulate a solution which is accepted and push it through. Once established it will lower the support down.

The best general during world war 2was Rommel. Yet his side lost the war. If the combatants on both sides do not see the legitemacy of their fight, then they will lose their will to fight.

As the article shows, the LTTE is still in a better position in terms of land they hold. The army needs to go for a major push sooner or later as they "Don't die for your land, let them die for theirs" is being countered by the LTTE. Neither the economy or the people of Sri Lanka can bear it if the war continues to go on this way past this year. War Stories cannot feed the stomach.

lankanews said...

.... but have the objective of killing a minimum number of Tigers a day....

????

lankanews said...

anyway thanks for the great article.

Suresh said...

Lanka news,
It means each brigade Commanders are given a daily target.They must kill atleast 5 - 10 LTTE Caders. One of my buddies told me he was given a target of 5 Caders per day, But my Buddy Killed 10 - 15 Some days.
Got It? So imagine at the end of the month from 5 Brigades.

Thats why LTTE is trying their best to get the attention of the international community,Specialy India.

Attack is the Best Defence said...

sniper kill rate has exceeded 200 and most ofthe ponnamman land mine dudes have been hit bu the SLA snipers seriously hampering the LTTE mining process

Calvin said...

good article.!

Guns said...

GOSH!!
its looks Vidattalathuv is long way away

perein said...

DW-

THANK YOU mate.
Keep up the good work.

NOLTTE=Peace said...

Good work Defencewire!

I agree with Navindran, Army should change their motto (but not the objective).

As Navindran has mentioned, we need some political initiatives (I like to call it as a initiatives, because I do not see there is any genuine problem that Tamils face in Sri Lanka owing to their ethnicity) too. Those initiatives should solidify every ethnic group to have equal rights in every common aspect in the society.

No Ethnicity based initiatives. We are a multi-ethnic society. There should not be initiatives that favor one or the other.

We need to be Sri Lankans and push our nation forward together as a single nation.

Division in whatever the angle is a killer of a country. Unity matters.

Maga Maniac Prabha and his blind followers are still in the ancient tribal stages. We have to reject that mindset.

The government should facilitate not hundreds, but thousands of initiatives to uplift the livelihoods of people. Economic development brings in prosperity. It makes people forget about divisions.

Limitations of resources and fear push people to fight or to be tribal. That's what we should be aiming to resolve.

The real problem in Sri Lanka is lack of rural development.

We are still being benefited by what Premadasa did when he was in power (Premadasa - lost his mind when he became President, but was great as a Prime-minister).

Premadasa initiated the 1000 Garment Factories. Decentralised many government institutions to divisional secretariat level. Earlier, people had to come to Colombo for everything. Now they can get many things done at the Divisional Secretariat level.

Premadasa's Gam Udava built hundreds of thousands of houses for the poor. The Electricity to Villages initiatives brought light to many families who were in the dark.

The "Cluster School System" brought many benefits for poor students who did not have adequate facilities in their schools.

I consider above type of initiatives as "real" solutions that Sri Lanka needs.

If you would take an inventory of what LTTE did, they are the total opposite. All those what LTTE did for the last 25 years were aimed at taking the country to the dark ages. They started with burning of government factories situated in North and the East. Started from Paranthan Chemical factory, and expanded to Kankasanthurei Cement factory and so on. They destroyed the very institutions provided much needed jobs to the Tamil communities. They did not allow Premadasa era Garment Factories to be built in LTTE controlled areas depriving people more opportunities of life. It is like a maggot in excrete not allowing the other maggots to go out their cesspit while making it bigger and deeper.

No Corruption and waste, Law and Order, Adequate and facilitative infrastructure, and prominent focus on Education and Higher Education will bring prosperity to Sri Lanka.

We have to start Premadasa type broad initiatives that have 'across the country impact'.

Take a moment of your time. Think about such initiatives and promote them. Then Sri Lanka would be a better place.

In the mean time, we will keep our trust on our security forces to eliminate the maggot who tries to keep others also in excrete.

onecountry said...

Very nice article

LKDOOD said...

Wow !

very good article DW

100/100

:)

LKDOOD said...

Two Sri Lanka police killed escorting Japanese

LINK

Sri Lanka violence kills 22: Government

LINK

Srilankan said...

The target here were the jap envoy

sldf said...

Defencewire, very good analysis of current situation and a good comparison to previous military operations. However, I don't see Army's strategy/target of killing atleast 10 LTTE cadres a day going to work in the long run. LTTE is going to if not already have adapted to this strategy by hiding and pulling back to it's secondary lines when SLA offensive formations move in and at times counter our troops with indirect fire, traps and sniper fire. They have already adapted to this strategy and saving their cadre strength to fight for rainy days. How do you see army strategy of 10 per day going to work in the long run?

Also Army's gains in the next two years will be short lived if our political elite don't launch the right "political" offensive against the LTTE. Army can surely destroy LTTE. However, they will always survive if GOSL don't launch the political offensive against LTTE. If you know what I mean.

CASC said...

DW,

Great article.

Question:

When comparing then and now, the army now has a night fighting capability. In the past the LTTE used to exploit this weakness of the army to launch attacks in the night. How significant do you think this capability has been towards shifting the tide ?

CASC said...

Navindran,

You mentioned that despite the Germans having good generals like Rommel they lost the war. Perhaps you don't know what happened to Rommel. He was involved in a plot to asssinate Hitler, which involved many German senior officers. He was given a choice of committing suicide or being executed. Having good lower tier leaders is of no value if the leader at the top is an autocrat, just like Hitler. Also, having forcibly conscripted people is of no use when dealing with highly motivated troops like the Sri Lanka Army. In Vietnam, the US Army was a conscripted army (the U.S. had a lottery system where all males between a certain age group were picked at random). Romel last act of building up the atlantic wall was a failure becase many of the troops were second or third rate troops from Eastern Euope and else where (photo attached). The LTTE is no different. The LTTE has forcibly conscripted women and children who have no interest in dying for its failed cause.

http://www.answers.com/topic/freies-indien-legion-france-jpg-1

GoldenEagle said...

I agree with the posters here. We need to have a genuine political package at hand when we plan to destroy the final LTTE stronghold in the north. The LTTE will never disappear, it will exist in one form or another. So we need a political package to drive the war weary Tamil civilians into the fold of the government.

Navindran said...

casc, romel was never involved in the plot. He was a patriot, he never killed civilians or surrended enemy combatants. However hilter was paranoid and fnished him off.

The conscripted armies of the US won in world war 2.

Ranil said...

noltte=peace
great post mate...100% with ya :)

Srilankan said...

Navindran,
Rommel was involved in the plot indirectly.You can be invloved in plots in various ways.why dont you subscribe to the history channel?

Srilankan said...

noltte=peace,
Great post bro..keep the great posts coming!!

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