Thursday, October 11, 2007

Combined Armed Forces Package

The Sri Lanka Army has been engaged in an interesting program to create specialized Divisions of men and machines for strategic purposes. Until recently, the military was relying on Motorized Infantry Units which would transport men into the battlefield in APCs, trucks etc during operations. The recent establishment of the 57th and 58th Divisions signals a need to combine the specific areas of strength of the Army into one Division to increase mobility and sustainability. The Mechanized Infantry Division comprises of seasoned men from the regular infantry units and Armored Units.

The Mechanized Infantry Divisions of WWI and II indicated certain weaknesses with regard to sustainability. Although highly mobile and fully capable at fast tactical infiltration into enemy territory, the Mechanized Infantry Units required a large team of support units to maintain the Mechanized Units (machines) and the infantry (men). Often the infantry has to keep up with the Mechanized Units and in warfare involving guerilla tactics, infantrymen have the added burden of defending its mechanized units. The battle for Muhamalai was an example of how Mechanized Infantry Units could fall prey to Guerilla Tactics.

The 57th and 58th Divisions of the Army have to rely on the Sri Lanka Air Force and the Army’s Artillery Units for fire support. A significant problem in using the Air Force is that it is another separate organization. Several past experiences of friendly fire and other issues of cross functional failure between the three Armed Forces have indicated that joint action can become time consuming, politicized and visible to the enemy. In an article written by DefenceWire it was revealed that the LTTE obtains early warnings of Air Attacks from sources at Katunayake. There is also very little to indicate close coordination between the 57th and 58th Divisions and the Air Force's Number 10 Fighter Squadron for example. Increased compartmentalization betwen the Armed Foces also eliminates knowledge and appreciation for the services of each particular Force. Communications systems, weapons systems, tactics and leadership styles of prominent Officers all differ significantly across the board.

An alternative to this problem is provided by the United States Marine Corp. The Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) is a balanced combined Armed Forces Package with an Organic Command with capacity to launch sustainable Ground and Aerial Attacks on an enemy. The MAGTF teams train and live together and is therefore highly cohesive. This allows Commanders to move at short-notice without revealing exact destinations, intentions or preparations for battle. These units, which have mobile Headquarters, do not rely on traditional bases or airfields and can be deployed within six hours of notice.

The capability of MAGTF is being recognized by the US Army in its role in Iraq’s Anbar Province. MAGTF could possibly replace the US Army in Afghanistan due to its Combined Armed Forces capability. Although Sri Lanka as a developing country cannot sustain a large expeditionary force, the need for Combined Armed Forces Packages could increase overall strike-power. The resources already available for such a transformation would include the new Mechanized Infantry Units, The Number 10 Fighter Jet Squadron and Number 09 Attack Helicopter Squadron of the Air Force, the Artillery/MBRL Units of the Army, in addition to the Elite Infantry units of the three forces and the Navy's FACs.


hemantha said...

I have a doubt about the following comment in your previous article.

"Fighter jets were unable to cause maximum damage as the sonic booms heard just before the attack alerted the LTTE in advance"

According to my understanding, sonic boom occurs at the point when the speed of the aircraft is increased beyond the speed of sound in the air. Now this sound called sonic boom travels with a speed approximately 330 m/s. But the aircraft travels faster than that. That means the aircraft reaches the LTTE camp before they hear the sonic boom. So I don't think they were alerted by the sonic boom.
Please don't take me wrong here. I am just trying to do a constructive criticism. I like the way you guys present the facts. Political point of views are as equally important as the military point of views. Actually they are so blended together it's impossible to separate them. You are trying to present the mix in a very professional manner filling the existing vacuum of such articles. Good luck and continue the good work.

Anonymous said...

Hemantha, i believe DefenceWire means the noise of the aircraft alerted them.

Even though light is faster than sound, the small time delay is enough to unfortunately warn the LTTE.

Still plenty of them would have been fried while they scurried into the jungle to squat and pray to Praba they don't get barbequed.

Anonymous said...


You are trying to present the mix in a very professional manner filling the existing vacuum of such articles. Good luck and continue the good work.

Couldn't put it beter myself.

Brilliant work DefenceWire.

Keep it up guys at DefenceWire. We need impartial and well written articles badly! I believe you are filling this vacuum excellently.

Anonymous said...

Even though light is faster than sound, the small time delay is enough to unfortunately warn the LTTE.

Just to clear that up,

Even though the airfcraft may have sped ahead once they hear it, its not that far away...plenty of time for them to give a warning and try and hide.

hemantha said...

Light has nothing to do with this. If the aircraft is flying ultrasonic, neither the noise of the aircraft nor the sound of the sonic booms will reach the tigers before the first bomb hit them. If I am missing something here like to be corrected gladly.

A correction for my earlier comment:
If an aircraft flies at supersonic speeds it continually drops sonic booms along it's flight path.

Anonymous said...

Hemantha...dead on right mate...i was wondering the same thing.
if sonic boom is an early indicator what's the point in having stealth etc etc... one of the advantages of supersonic flight is that your enemy will not hear you until it's way too late...
only chance they have is for visual/electronic early warnings

Further on continious boom droppings...this will only happen if you fly at the the spped of sound and maintain that...once you pass over mach 1 you can't hear a sonic boom...
pls correct me if i'm wrong

Defencewire... we might be wrong but would like to clarify with you whether this sonic boom warning is true or not

Anonymous said...

on the's great news that SLDF is creating a multi pronged combined force...
i was wondering why this was not done much much earlier but i guess better late than never :o)
It's shameful that there's red tape and politics in different branches of SLDF...we're all fighting for a common fighting only helps the enemy...
If we have teams like US Seals, Marines...we should be able to capture ltte ships rather than sln only sinking them :o)

hemantha said...

"Further on continious boom droppings...this will only happen if you fly at the the spped of sound and maintain that...once you pass over mach 1 you can't hear a sonic boom..."

That's what I thought initially too. But I am not sure anymore. Please read the following article.

Anonymous said...

I want to write something that may be relavent to this on going discussion.

Some where it says, even the changes to forces such as making combined forces are an attempt to prevent certain short comings.

One such was the LTTE knew when Jets got the command to come to Wanni or when Jets began the journey from KIA.

So, I think, even though SLAF bombs it may be possible that LTTE is listening to these signals.

Also they have instruments to check whether the Jets are coming. So, they begin to spread in order to minimize the destruction.

Defencewire said...

We have reason to believe that LTTE was alerted to jets taking off but didn't know exactly where they would hit. Somewhere along the bombing path, natural assumption is en route to Kilinochchi or while circling for bombing approach, a sound was heard from a Kfir, not MIG 27 because its subsonic.

Anonymous said...

Hemantha chill ok, i was just giving my two cents.

My knowledge on this is extremly limited, im happy to see and read what you all have to say as it also furthers my own knoowledge about the subject, but sheesh don't take for an Athas :)

Anonymous said...

don't take me for an Athas*

Anonymous said...


This is a good place to start. There are 156 pages of it. Good leisure time reading.

NOLTTE=Peace said...

We need combined forces in small teams, else as described in the article, logistics of supporting these troops would be a nightmare.

It is all to do with innovation. In this regard, mainly it is process innovation.

If there is a strategy, there is always a way to implement an efficient process to support the same. A process expert is required to analyse the whole gamut involved in this strategy, and perform a process design to suit the strategies and objectives. Then it becomes a possibility.

Guys, someone in Telco intel should analyse regular calls internet communication etc takes place whenever attack aircraft are taking off from Katunayake.

There are neat tools in the market that use Artificial Intelligence to pinpoint any suspicious activity.

SLDF should have MRLs that can reach 70 - 100kms. Then, we will not need to find the spies who alert LTTE when the planes take-off. We can use a salvo of rockets instead of dropping a bomb or two using aircraft.

Anonymous said...


I've read it all :)

The phyisics of sound, light and military aircrafts is something i never found there though, unless i missed it.

Its just an interesting topic and i never saw it come up at LNP. :(

NOLTTE=Peace said...

The credit of recommending SLDF to acquire 70 -100 Km range MRLs should go to one of the colleagues I think it was Golden Eagle who is a contributor

hemantha said...

Neither the Kafir nor Mig 27 is subsonic. Sonic speed is approximately 1220 km/h. But the Maximum speed of Kafir is 2285 km/h and the maximum speed of the mig 27 is 1885 km/h at 26000 feet (1320 km/h at see level). If they had heard a sound as you said then the aircrafts may have been circling around before the bombing.

Defencewire said...

Mig27 max speed is 1,170 mph (1,885 km/h) at 26,250 ft (8,000 m), or Mach 1.5. At sea level it is 840 mph (1,335 km/h) or Mach 1.1. This is barely above Mach one or 'supersonic speeds. Mig27s randomly achieve such speeds in this war. Mach numbers for aircraft can change. over water supersonic can be considered as any speed greater than 1,440 m/s or 4,724 ft/s.

hemantha said...

"Mig27s randomly achieve such speeds in this war"
That's news to me. Thanks for the information.

Defencewire said...

Mig27s are brutes in the air carrying heavy payloads. Kfir (Kafir, kafeer) jets modeled on blueprints of Mirage 2000 are more sophisticated but cannot carry heavy PL. SLAF uses other tactics than sheer speed in this war. I will leave it at that.

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