The LTTE is not running large weapons factories in the
However, there is evidence that the Tigers continue to experiment with the manufacturing of improvised Explosive devices (IEDs) while importing other conventional weapons via south India. The Indian government investigated the LTTE arms production in southern
"An estimated 30-40 LTTE cadres led by its leaders including Kiruban and Romeo were found to be controlling the LTTE bases in Tamil Nadu. Their activities included revival of fabrication of rifle propelled grenades ARUL-89 at Coimbatore, Pasilan- 2000, purchase of explosives at Tiruchengode, Salem, receiving injured cadres and providing them medical treatment at Madurai, Salem, Erode and Madras and facilitating ferrying of explosives and raw materials for fabrication of weapons"It is possible that the Tigers are still involved in arms smuggling across the palk straight. One of the glaring possibilities is the use of international waters further from the Indian coast. Recent LTTE activities around Maldives are an indicator of this phenomenon.
Tiger local arms production is a hindrance to the Security Forces particularly in the maintenance of law and order. In the battlefield, trained soldiers can disarm IEDs but when used as roadside bombs targeting civilians in southern areas, security threats become political dilemmas.
The most commonly found LTTE IED is the Claymore Mine.
A claymore is a directional Anti-Personnel mine. The LTTE uses claymore for regular missions or terrorism attempts. Some LTTE made claymores share a lot of similarities with Russian MON series. They may have scratched metal sheets instead of steel balls on the front side, like for example, pineapple grenades. These are different to US made standardized M18A1 directional AP mines.
Last year, during the liberation of the East, the mine killed 4 Special Forces and 8 regular infantry who were traveling in a tractor in Vaharai. The bomb-maker was later captured by Military Intelligence. The same type of IED was discovered by troops from the 58 Division in Mannar last week. The IED weighed over 50kgs. Troops managed to disarm the device safely.
Further confirming our fears of LTTE experimentation with Pasilan 2000, troops in the Vanni front have heard large booms from a canon. This sound was emanating from a crude LTTE experimental mortar/rocket launcher with rockets weighing 15-20kgs called 'Samadanam' meaning Peace.
Experimental weapons and IEDs require explosives, which is the hardest material to find for a device of that nature. Other materials like steel balls, wire, circuitry etc can be smuggled in from civilian areas. The primary focus in counter-insurgency and counter terrorism is to therefore prevent such materials from reaching the insurgents/terrorists.
The Tigers will continue to innovate in secrecy with small batches of practical and tactical weapons, particularly explosives that will harass troops and assist a long-standing insurgency/terrorism.
At present, the effectiveness of these weapons is confined mainly against civilians as seen in the numerous bus bombs in the south. This could have an indirect impact on the Security Forces and the Police and also on the country's political stability and economy.
The hard responses would include SLAF targeting of LTTE assets that will disrupt the experimentation and development of deadlier IEDs.A recent such success was the direct hit on a major factory of the LTTE manufacturing light weapons (including Pasilan 2k) and other IEDs, which was destroyed in an air-raid on 16th January 2008 at Puthukudiirippu.
Success often comes through soft responses combined with hard responses. These include elicitation and analysis of HUMINT, both local and foreign. Investments would have to be made in 'turning' insiders into informants, providing them with advanced communication equipment etc.
It also involves closer ties with foreign agencies, particularly regional and global maritime security agencies. In some instances, Sri Lanka may have to bribe corrupt foreign officials assisting LTTE weapons smuggling or raid their logistical points with support from other foreign intelligence agencies. A section of Military/Naval Intelligence may have to be redeployed to seek and destroy the sources of Tiger arms smuggling, depending on the requirement.
The Navy's activities in curbing the importation of weapons and explosives in fishing trawlers is under scrutiny. Their recent blue water escapades must not be overshadowed by domestic failures. They are up against an innovative foe who will invent new ways of smuggling in the required military hardware. For example, the ship blasted in International Waters off Kirinda many months ago had loaded weapons onto fishing trawlers to be later unloaded in Chalai.
These are important lessons for the Navy. There are valuable lessons that foreign Navies, coastguard units and maritime intelligence units all over the world have learned throughout the years. They can help the Sri Lanka Navy, having successfully prevented deep-sea piracy, smuggling and transnational criminal networks for generations. Technology is also a weapon at our disposal, although we might not possess the means to procure them ourselves.
The Navy, as the first line of defence in the island, must be bold enough to challenge smuggling of weapons into the island despite potential losses to its fleet. There are much simpler remedies like aggressive patrolling and surveillance of certain areas of the sea for example. This may require additional vessels and men or a redeployment of existing resources strategically.
The annihilation of the floating warehouses alone is insufficient to win the war. Losses of Gun Boats and Fast Attack Craft in dangerous maritime operations could be minimized through intelligence, proper equipment and training.
The Sri Lanka Air Force must also upgrade its maritime surveillance and strike capabilities through cost effective means and must not limit itself to acquiring ground-based targets alone. If recent trends are neglected, the Tigers, armed with both locally manufactured terrorist/insurgent weapons and internationally reputed infantry weapons, could stalemate the war and again gain the upper hand.