Thursday, November 8, 2007

Battle Plans and Human Intelligence

Politics apart, the failure of the SLA to effectively gauge enemy alertness and preparations ahead of a planned offensive is alarming, and may even be an institutional problem. The alarm is also due to the repetition of the problem without solution.

Western systems of warfare, which many Commanders of established armies have adopted without question, stress technological means of collecting information about an enemy. These systems are Network Centric Warfare (NCW) systems similar to those adopted by the United States in Iraq for example. These strategies place emphasis on operation planning using high-tech information and sharing such information with a network of units for operational success.

In modern warfare involving insurgent and terrorist groups, no technology can replace the skill of the infantryman in gaging enemy intent, readiness and critical-mass by actual observations through effective infiltration. In the recent case in Muhamalai, the finger seem to point at a lack of reparation, possibly due to an operational plan put together for a political agenda.

Military operations against insurgents without covert passive surveillance and human intelligence (HUMINT) is doomed from very inception. Mission success is contingent upon last-minute updates on target sets by human intelligence. Special Operations Forces (SOF) and combat scout units that use hide and conceal tactics are the primary sources of tactical information for field commanders. Deployment of such independent units and obtaining necessary information up to the last minute requires investment in time, expertise and experience.

Muhamalai and Kilali, which do not provide adequate natural cover for effective hide and conceal by SOF is further reason for better planning over a longer period of time. Human Intelligence has the crucial task of identifying tactically sound assembly points, fire bases and assault positions for follow-on forces inside enemy territory until the very beginning of the operation. If this procedure was followed to rule, instead of a political agenda as some have observed, the outcomes of last morning's battle would have been quite different.


Unknown said...

can you pls cnfm the ltte casualty figures in yesterdays battle...

my sources in jaffna told that 70 ltte kIA.when you say its only 15.and also how many SLA killed and out of action for good due to injuries...?

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Defencewire said...

15-20max LTTE KIA. 1.5-2.5 hour battle. Army casualties are 23. 20 will never return to battle (mainly loss of limbs due to IEDs and indirect fire). 154 WIA.

Sam Perera said...


I am very surprised to see our political leaders sending our soldiers on ill-planned missions. These young men are the best and the bravest we have and they shall not be treated as LTTE suicide cadre. All the politicians from local councilors to the president are ultimately answerable to their bosses, the people of Sri Lanka. I just want to express my displeasure towards politicians who don't let our forces to do their job. We should not be doing things that can demoralize our forces.

RomeoAlphaFoxtrot said...

Guys, SLN has been quite for some time now.. is it because they are having limited operations due to the lack of recon from SLAF? Or we don't have any more big fish to catch ?

Also the sea tigers are MIA too... maybe they are preserving their boats for a biggie or dont want to give another morale boaster to the SLN, who have been doing all the scoring during the last few outings..

Unknown said...

Don't get me the wrong way i'm not trying to insult anyone but don't you think this is pretty basic thinking. Why on earth would you launch an offensive risking life and limb of the cream of SLDF without having a proper run through of the existing and expected conditions. To me it sounds pretty stupid to say the least. Even if they are aiming for political mileage why risk a disaster and give the enemy any satisfaction at all. It's really frustrating to see that military commanders don't have the guts to stand up to their own judgement and make a call rather than listening to stupid politicians... Politicians have ruined this country for donkeys years and are responsible for almost all of the problems we have today...

Unknown said...


congrads on a very good analysis...

Sandun Dasanayake said...

i think this clearly shows what happened yesterday..

politicians should let forces to decide how to battle

asithrimodaya said...

Two more found dead in Tissamaharama

Two people were found dead in Galara, Tissamaharama this morning. Our reporters at the site said tensions were high following the latest discovery which comes just days after three people were found hacked to death also in Tissamaharama. The latest victims were found some 12 kilometers from the Ranminitenna village, Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakarra said. The bodies were discovered at about 8.45 a.m. this morning during an army search in the area. The bodies have been taken for postmortem at the Tissamaharama base hospital. The police have urged villagers to avoid going into the jungles until the ongoing search operation is completed.

Renegade! said...

defencewire,in your earlier thread,you said over 300 soldiers perished in Muhamalai-1.i thought it was around 140-150 who were KIA..& were 8 T-55 Tanks completely destroyed?i know for sure that atleast 2 were captured by the Tigers..can u please confirm this..tkxz

Illegal.existence said...

Renegade!, Sarath Fonseka admitted in a speech given in the US a few months after the Muhamalai debacle that we had lost around 300 troops.

mottapala said...

As far as I know MR and Gota gives a relatively free hand to Army Commander. You will remember even the defence secratary didn't know when our forces broke out from FDL's last time. This is more like somebody trying to score points. Battle plans made in airconditioned rooms by top brass who out of touch with the reality are not very practical in the ground. Over confidence, trying to score points at the expense our poor boys is a crime.

Responsibility and accountability is seriously lacking in our forces. You bungle up nothing happenes. Or you may even get a promotion. You suceed. Nothing. then may be your throat get slit.

Srilankan said...

mottapala..i agree with you.This has all the hallmarks of some young army officer trying to get noticed at the expense of his men.I dont think the pres or def sec interfered in operations.If this guy wanted to be noticed he shouuld have captured elephant pass.

Srilankan said...

well Mr Blake has given the navy a few

Athula Weerasingha said...

don't worry guys... SLA will get rid of LTTE. What I believe, SLDF is lag in using electronic warfare.

We allways think of buying very expensive gadjets, but we have enought people in SL to create simple gadjet to do the task.

sldf said...

"Fighting continues in Omanthai"

"(LeN, 2007 Nov. 08, 3.40 AM) Fighting broke up at the forward defense line (FDL) at Omanthai today (08) morning around 11.15 AM. Government security forces penetrated three kilometers inward of Omanthai FDL and killed three LTTE cadres."

Defencewire, thanks for the info on Muhamalai and Kilali. Always much appreciated.

Hope our commanders learned a good lession. Lost of valuable lives and injuries is quite painful. Do the army provide adequate
assistance/ rehabilitation programs to our brave soldiers who lost limbs or sustained other types of serious injuries?

Renegade! said...

Illegal.existence,300 KIA in last yrs muhamalai battle.that's huge!!..that must have been a serious debacle..

Unknown said...

I think it is foolish to break through a land, where tigers are determined to protect firmly.

Can't Army attack and move from sea side unexpectedly and capture Muhamalai area? Do we have that capacity? That area is a narrow land strip. Any other possibility?

mottapala said...

Andare, I totaly agree with you. It is just common sense. Have you ever seen improvisation by the LTTE. They are very clever. The anti personal mines were made of small wodden boxes, wrapped in polythene to make it water proof. They last for years. Probably made by women.And would have cost Rs10.

One of our commanders could'nt shit in the jungle. Everywhere he went soldiers carried a commode and set up a water tank on a tree. So he could do No 2 in dignity.[This is a true story] Iam not trying to tarnish the image of our forces. But shoun't we point out the mistakes?

When we look at the map it looks like a smll area. But it is vast land area. Mor or less like a desert. try having a look through googleearth or wikimapia.

Srilankan said...

saduni..what u must remember is if we can think of it so can the tigers..and they would have done something to stop it

NOLTTE=Peace said...

Who is the guy in the furthest corner?


anaw said...

Sri Lanka navy gets US radar, boats

Unknown said...

Did you guys see the pics on Tamilnet of the weapons the captured from our bunkers?


I was happy to see the RPO-A Thermobaric RL. Note the camo tube agents the wall, looks a lot like the RPO-A to me.
It means that our boys give tigers hell and cremate them when possible! And that our front line troops have anti fortification weapons.

the Sad down side is that they(LTTE) got one now..and I hate to think of it been used on our boys...
or a civilian bus!..or may be even a hardened AC shelter or on one of our VIPs!

Too bad but…shit happens.. :(

Sanath said...

defencewire, did LTTE overrun our bunkers as mentioned in tamilnet and captured thermobarric stuff..... or these r the wepaons that the retreating soldiers left did we lost heavy weapons or is this false propaganda at its max.......
becos ur eailier posts didnt have any news abt this
pls update us
thanx for ur service

Sandun Dasanayake said...

Warm up ops for Wanni showdown

* Jaffna forces push 5 kms into enemy-held Muhamalai
* Army engage LTTE on two fronts
* More men, material as army readies for new challenge

With the Eastern Province firmly under its control, the security forces are stepping up offensive action in the northern theatre of operations.

This would be a critical part of the government’s overall strategy to pressure the LTTE, a senior Defence official said. "We are at a decisive stage. With the recent target killing of a group of senior cadres including S. P. Thamilselvan at a secret hideout in Kilinochchi, the stage is set for us to undermine them further," he said.

The army is likely to intensify the pressure ahead of the forthcoming Heroes’ Week which would culminate with LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran’s annual speech delivered on November 26th.

Fielding questions, the official asserted that the ongoing ground operations in the general area west of Omanthai, ahead of the Vavuniya-Mannar main road and action at Muhamalai-Kilali area would bring considerable pressure on the LTTE.

"We are engaging them on two fronts, forcing them to commit sizeable units," he said. "For how long could they sustain their firepower given the difficulty in replenishing their depleted arsenals?" Destruction of eight LTTE ships on the high seas and several trawlers and speed boats in the Gulf of Mannar by the navy since September last year had considerably weakened the LTTE’s overseas supply route.

The army mounted a large scale raid into LTTE-held Muhamalai on Wednesday as part of its strategy to test and soften enemy fortifications. Troops backed by armour and artillery have penetrated what a senor military official called well defended strong points at the Muhamalai causeway.

A dozen soldiers died in Wednesday’s battle with over 50 receiving injuries. The majority of the wounded were airlifted during the day to the National Hospital and Sri Jayewardenepura.

In some areas, troops pushed up to 5 kms into LTTE-territory before returning to their bases. Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that they were forced to neutralise the threat posed by the LTTE. Troops assaulted LTTE positions after observing a constant build-up ahead of the Jaffna frontline. The army estimated at least 60 deaths among the defenders and dozens wounded.

Wednesday’s push came after a series of confrontations between the army and the LTTE in the Muhamalai-Nagarkovil area on the Vadamaradchchi East coast causing minor damages to both parties.

The army is in the process of strengthening, re-organising and establishing fresh fighting formations to face fresh challenges. Once this process is finalised, the army, The Island, understands would have the required strength to engage the LTTE simultaneously at several fronts.

Major ground battles are expected in the Vanni region in the coming months unless the LTTE unconditionally returns to the negotiating table. The LTTE quit the Norwegian-facilitated talks in April 2003 during Ranil Wickremesinghe’s tenure as Prime Minister and in August last year triggered all out war by attacking the strategic Trincomalee harbour and the Jaffna frontline.


Renegade! said...

Man,those tigers have captured a shit-load of serious make up for what they lost in the east,perhaps?

nemesis,was that a SHMEL thermobaric RPG weapon?the one which became notorious during the millennium city fiasco?I hear these weapons are banned in several it true?

Unknown said...


Yes it looks like the RPO-A which made headlines in the LRRP case.

to my mind Thermobarics are not banned but moves are afloat to do so even at the UN, but it is highly unlikely since even americans make them and love them and use them a lot in Iraq, afgan and maybe even in Iran if it happens.

The fact is it is a prtty nasty weapon type...but hey this is war and Counter terrorism not...cops and robers!!

It could be a LTTE phyOp to miss lead our troops and people...we need conformation by some one as to if indeed we had RPO-A's in that area and if all are accounted for.

May be DW can help us out

Jambudipa said...

Its not the fault of the politicians but the army generals whose biggest ever tactical innovation is the "two pronged" assault. Contrast that with LTTE operations in EP, and the most recent one they hopped over the outlying islands to mount an assualt on the heart of Jaffna. You need a risk taker and a creative thinker to make any gain in Jaffna FDL without suffering enormous casualties. They have mined, booby trapped every inch of land front of their FDL. Full frontal assault movements are predictable on that sector and vulnerable to set piece defense tactics. Something else has to happen such as multiple amphibious landings behind enemy lines for example.

jiffy said...

i think the idea now is just about right. hit their leadership and wear down their fdl morale with regular incursions. but we need a third prong..a world class intelligence body. this needs to be active in sri lanka and also working with other agencies overseas. weapons alone wont win the war. i hope the war budget $$$ are going into the establishment of an air tight info gathering web.

colombo likewise needs to be wired with more cctv. this and other measures now need to play a bigger part. the terrorist bitches bleed too. we just need to hit them where it really hurts- in the head. end of the day it's about connecting the dots and at the moment too much vital info is just not getting linked, analysed and acted on.

Unknown said...

I think the best military tactic we can use is to win the hearts and minds of the tamil people in those areas...
that's the biggest blow we can deliver to the ltte...
and this won't happen if we don't accept and rectify the hardships faced by those people

MathaMathica said...


Why does SL remains at the receiving end since 1300 years ? Simply the failure of intelligence.

It bgan with the fall of Thakshila and Nalanda .

The begining of the fall of the Indian Buddhist civilisation was the beginning of the fall of SL, the begining of the Chula Vamsa.

Why did it fall. Exactly due to the reasons that SL is falling today.

Buddhism is a philosophy of the intellect (Buddhi), intellectual excellence is the minimum necessity for a Buddhist civilisation. It has no place for complacency, it is in fact a philosophy of combat, no less than the combat against death itself. Nirvana is attaining the Deathless.

Buddhist India excelled so much in fine intellectual excellence that the most refined and proud Chinese empire adopted Buddhism .

But the Buddhist India did not know how to face the barbarians attacks from the North-West. They were not united as to the method of facing the barbarians: very few were ready to kill even in self defence, very few were ready to invest in military technology, military preparations. They were all massacred in thousands.

To face the barbarians and to defeat them completely, use of less than 0.001% of the intelligence/curiosity/training of mind necessary to combat death is more than enough.

It is very difficult to achieve that in SL because most of the current SL "Buddhists" consider Buddhism to be a joke good for keeping women and children docile at home. And the booze and womanising has become the most refined form of SL culture!

If you have Buddhist leanings, please go back to the basics and train yourself to face any obstacle, any enemy. When you are supposed to vanquish the death itself, do you think a tiger is a big deal ?

A man who is alert, vigilant and diligent can never be subjugated.

A man who is not alert, vigilante and diligent, is as good as dead.

GoldenEagle said...


Despite it's troubled history, the buddhist Sinhalese still managed for over 2000 years to beat back all attempts by invaders to convert the entire island into another Hindu kingdom.

Whenever the Sinhalese were is getting hammered by invaders a hero would rise up somewhere in the island and liberate it from invaders. This cycle continued throughout Lanka's history as many world historians point out.

We Sinhalese always unite to form a better army with a more determined spirit when we are under seige from invaders(expect with the British). Thats why the Sinhalese Buddhist culture still survives to this day while the Buddhist cultures in India pretty much faded away.

Sandun Dasanayake said...

. Commander Takes Stock of Ground Realities

[COLOMBO, SinhalaNet 2007.11.09 03:22M] Commander of the Army Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka in a bid to boost the morale of the soldiers and review their welfare measures visited Jaffna peninsula this morning (8) in the aftermath of the Muhamalai gun battle that killed dozens of Tiger terrorists in the past 48 hours.

Commander after meeting the Jaffna Security Forces Commander, Major General G.A.Chandrasiri took stock of the ground realities following the fierce gun battle that erupted on Wednesday (7), just three days after Thamilselvan’s death.

After talking to a section of ground commanders Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka issued further instructions to the senior officers regarding how they should counter any eventualities.

The Commander flew back to Colombo, the same day.

MathaMathica said...


Dont forget that the Buddhism almost vanished from Sri Lanka and it was Kirthi Sri Rajasingha ( !!! ) who re-established it with 5 monks who came from Thailand. It is that doubtful royally sponsored Buddhism that we believe in.

The reality is that today’s temples are not the centres of intellect. If Buddhist, these temples should be leading in computational knowledge also, thus heading the information revolution.

Know that, originally mathematical equations were written without symbols. At that time, people engaged in such activities were called Matha (Concept) Mathicas (Conceptor).

The activity of Matha Mathicas later became known as Mathematics which was very much practised in monasteries like Thakshila and Nalanda .

Please read more about Hinduism. There was never a Hindu invasion of SL. They were mostly the greedy Tamil business who came to plunder this rich land, starting from Sena&Gutthika, the Tamil horse traders. (FYI, the president of the Visva Hindu Prasad is Mr. Ashok Singhal.... )

The whole purpose of my writing is to show that only option available to us is to make SL invincible by the use of intellect,. And the Buddhism is Buddhi itself. Each citizen should be good enough to be the king – that was our ideal.

Since you are an eagle, fly over India and study the country. India rises, we rise. India falls, we fall.

Your belief in Messiah coming to save us does not hold ground. Keppetipola said at the moment of his death that if he had 10 like him, he would have kicked the Brits out of SL. If we had the reputation of being an invincible people, nobody would have dared to invade us.

See the lamentable situation today – few smuggler thugs from Kilinochichi are challenging the SL state itself.

GoldenEagle said...


Lets clear a few things.

First of all, it was the Sinhalese who introduced Buddhism to Thailand during the Sukhothai period. Thats why the Thais to this day call their Buddhism "Lankavamsa".

They only repaid the favor when Buddhism was under threat in Lanka during Portuguese/Dutch colonial period. So in a nutshell, they just re-introduced us to our own version of Buddhism centuries after we introduced it to them.

You are right, there was no official Hindu invasion of Lanka. But lets not forget that once the South Indian armies invaded they usually destroyed the Buddhist centers and temples. This would not be the case if they were Hindu temples instead of Buddhist ones. Hindu soldiers usually never destroyed Hindu temples even if they did belong to the enemy.

We never did have a reputation as a invinsible because we usually were not interested in conquering other lands. But we always managed to beat back all the foreign invaders who did not take too kindly at Sinhala/Buddhist culture. True, there are no messiahs in Lanka history, but there were certain individuals who always rose to the occasion to fight back the invaders(except the British).

BTW, I agree knowledge equals power, just look at the Romans in the Ancient world.

Sam Perera said...


I have been following what you write here for a while and I have a few questions for you.

Let’s start from what you said,

“Why does SL remains at the receiving end since 1300 years ? Simply the failure of intelligence. It bgan with the fall of Thakshila and Nalanda. The begining of the fall of the Indian Buddhist civilization was the beginning of the fall of SL, the beginning of the Chula Vamsa.”

Beginning of Chula Vamsa is 4th Century CE and 1,300 years ago as you say is 7th or 8th century. Nalanda fell in the 12th Century CE. Thakshila fell in 6th Century CE. Sri Lanka was at its prime during the time of Emperor Parakramabahu in 12th Century CE. The real decline only happened after Prakaramabahu. In essence, your time line talk about events happened over a period of 8 centuries. I am having a hard time here to see a coherence in your points noted above.

“But the Buddhist India did not know how to face the barbarians attacks from the North-West. They were not united as to the method of facing the barbarians: very few were ready to kill even in self defence, very few were ready to invest in military technology, military preparations. They were all massacred in thousands.”

I agree with you about the nature of the religion and how it contributed to self demise. However, it is not just the religion that has hand in this, the culture also has a hand in this. The best example flashing in front of me is Thailand, if I need to point out. It survived all the foreign invasions including Brits by acting smart.

A man who is alert, vigilant and diligent can never be subjugated.

A man who is not alert, vigilante and diligent, is as good as dead.”

Nevertheless what you quote is very appropriate for this war even though it was used in a different context.

Now what I want to understand is whether you are trying to apply Buddhism, which originally could not stop invasions from the west, to save us today? Please elaborate

Renegade! said...

nemesis,the USA is gonna get clobbered & spanked pretty badly,if they attempt any 'adventure'over iran,bcoz unlike iraq,the iranians are pretty clever..

iranian F-14 tomcats & Mig-29's are gonna shoot down pesky AWACS aircraft,EA-6 prowlers,& maybe an F-15 or 2..i wanna see the USA get its shit together,& stop being a global 'police'

Renegade! said...

defencewire/guys,do we have any BMP-3 ifv's? & if so,why cannot we deplo these in the frontlines..they operate as virtually light tanks,rite?with their 100mm gun..

Also,do we still operate our saracen APC,saladin armored cars?bcoz they are a regular feature at military parades,,

Unknown said...


mate, i didnt say uncle sam would have it easy in Iran if he goes in..but if the US attacks Iran..then the Thermobarics and Incindiary weapons would probly be used...

i for one dont like anyone (inc. the USA and the nuke 7) having nuclear weapons. I think they are far too much.

as for the BMP-3 no, i dont think we have them...but it would be great if we did!

MathaMathica said...

Sam P,

As to the time line, my point is that there is a direct link of SL being cut from Buddhist India and its down fall. It seems to me that our Vansa started effectively becoming Chula only around 7th century when our links with N India started becoming useless.

The Colas occupied Sri Lanka until 1070. Please read carefully the Vijayabahu, Prakramabahu epoch. It was a short lived period of glory where we could count on South East Asia before their fall to the same invaders. Our N Indian links had been completely cut by then.

Now what I want to understand is whether you are trying to apply Buddhism, which originally could not stop invasions from the west, to save us today? Please elaborate

What pains me is when our young soldiers die in our name, they have 2 words in their minds : Budu and Ammo.

Thus it is our duty as Sri Lankans, irrespective of our religions, to encourage them and equip them mentally to face these neo-Cholas. Further, I am convinced that the Buddhism has been misunderstood as a philosophy of inaction for too long a time, starting from the 7th century when N India was subjected to invasions from the North West.

Quest for Nirvana is compared to a single handed combat with million demons. May I repeat again that, to face the barbarians and to defeat them completely, use of less than 0.001% of the intelligence/curiosity/training of mind necessary to achieve Nirvana is more than sufficient.

Note that after the fall of India to Brits, there was no hope of SL remaining independent. China was not completely overcome because India acted as a buffer. If China had fallen, Thailand would have fallen also.

Human civilisation is driven by Buddhi, why not read again to see what Buddha really said.

Appamado amatha padam
Pamado machchuno padam
Appamaththa Nemeeyanthi
Yee pamaththa yatha matha

Prince Siddhartha fought a war billions times tougher than any war one can imagine, to become Buddha. Above verses refer to that war. Let’s be inspired.

If our Universities are to do something better, they should study such subjects.

tangara said...

Protecting the remaining AIR assets and naval assests must be the top priority with the Colombo Harbour..

If we loose any of these assests, we will loose the advantage we have over the LTTE..

Protect them now or NEVER...

Athula Weerasingha said...

biggest broblem is, we use muscles than brain to fight LTTE, becuse getting muscles is not a problem for us.

tangara said...

Well said Andare,

From Sri Lanka Cricket Team and its management to all other major establishments, this is the biggest problem..

It looks to me Brain Drain is wrecking havoc in Sri Lanka...

tangara said...

This is how LTTE is getting disel..

Perhaps, avaiation oil....

Defencewire said...

We have some russian and ukranian BMPs and BTR80s. So does the LTTE. A T-55 seized from us blew-up a Dvora once.

asithrimodaya said...


Civilian killed in Yala blast

By Chris Kamalendran

A civilian construction worker was killed and another injured when a cab carrying six people was caught in a claymore mine blast inside the Yala National Park last evening, Military spokesman Udaya Nanayakkara said. The explosion, believed to have been triggered by the LTTE, took place around 6.45 p.m. at Katagamuwa.

Brig. Nanayakkara said the security forces had gone to the area but were moving cautiously as there could be more mines in the area. The wounded person was brought to the Hambantota hospital around midnight. The incident took place on the very day the government set up a joint operations command in the south to oversee security in the Tissamaharama and Yala areas, after five farmers were hacked to death last week.

Parliamentarian and Presidential Advisor Basil Rajapaksa and Police Chief Victor Perera visited Tissamaharama yesterday and met with villagers who expressed concern about their security. On October 15, LTTE cadres launched an attack on an army detachment at Thalgasmankada in Yala, killing seven soldiers.

asithrimodaya said...


Once bitten twice bloodied

Army’s sudden rush of blood, to discard tried, tested and proven tactics, sheds more of it in its latest fiasco

Coconut plantations, paddy fields, sparse vegetation and patches of sand, not to mention the two km wide and 25 km long lagoon, mark the terrain across the 12 km wide southern neck of the Jaffna peninsula.
To the east of this stretch is the blue sea and to the west is the lagoon.

The Forward Defence Lines (FDL) of the military and the LTTE, run across Kilali on the west, Muhamalai in the middle and Nagarkovil towards the east. The lines are extended, not only across the neck but also, a small distance up and down along the lagoon and sea, to prevent an amphibious attack by the enemy.

The location is not suitable for offensive military operations, as there is no chance of assailing the flanks of the enemy or reaching its rear depth.

Also, the terrain is not very suitable for military operations, given the limited manoeuverability in the open stretch.
On top of that, with the North-East monsoonal showers lashing the area, the stretch has become very boggy, making Main Battle Tanks and even Infantry Carrying Vehicles (ICVs) difficult, if not impossible, to be deployed.

Muhamalai an Army graveyard
The weather is also not conducive for ground attack Mi 24 gunships of the air force to take on the enemy.
It was in this backdrop that a large-scale raid was undertaken by the military on Wednesday, November 8. Incidentally, today marks the 13th month anniversary of the army debacle in Muhamalai on October 11, 2006, when the military launched a similar offensive.

Some 175 security forces personnel perished and 400 more sustained injuries in last year’s military operation just before the monsoon set in.

The Tigers’ offensive at Muhamalai on August 11, 2006, also turned out to be a disaster on its side.
The moral of the lesson from the two attempts last year suggests that this particular stretch is better suited for defence than offense.

The military’s advantage in air and armoured support could not be made use of.
In recent months, Senpathi has warned that the accuracy of the Tigers’ artillery strikes was a matter for the security forces to worry about. Even Security Forces Commander (Jaffna) Maj. Gen. G.A. Chandrasiri was unsuccessfully targeted a few months back, while the Mechanised Infantry Brigade Commanding Officer Lt. Col. Ralph Nugera was successfully targeted early this year.

More than anything else, the battle theatre is an open stretch, making retreating soldiers easily vulnerable to Tiger artillery and mortar fire.

In this backdrop, why did the military undertake the operation on Wednesday, despite the adverse weather conditions the security forces had to grapple with?

Various reasons are trotted out from different quarters, for the military operation this week.
But, before we get to them, let us consider another important development.

The military has been consistently claiming that all its actions were counter operations to LTTE offensives or at least pre-emptive, to prevent Tiger strikes. This Wednesday, too, the military propaganda centre wanted to take the same path.

The truth and not the whole truth
But, Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa was keen on proclaiming the truth, admitting that the military undertook the operation. The reason: It was too obvious that the whole affair could not be concealed. Previously, the LTTE posted pictures of security forces personnel taken hostage, guns and other military equipment left behind on its websites. These exposures only undermine the credibility of the security forces. This time too it posted pictures of arms and ammunition left behind by the security forces.

The Defence Secretary also knows that the Cease-Fire Agreement (CFA) is almost a dead letter in terms of violations and the respective lines of control. Hence, no qualms about violating the CFA.

But, unknown to Rajapaksa, there is another development. The whole operation is made out to be a political blunder, by ordering an operation on that scale, to, hopefully, announce at the Budget, a new line of control along this neck.

On a previous occasion, too, the current administration has sought to obtain political mileage out of a military operation. The announcement of the completion of the Sampur operation in September 2006 was also delayed by a few days till the SLFP Party Convention for maximum mileage.

To coincide with the deadline for abolishing the Executive Presidency, President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s government ordered Operation Leap Forward that returned to base faster than it took off.

Learning from the lessons following the first misadventure at Muhamalai last year, the army is keen to keep the death toll and casualty figures as low as possible.

But, the truth is that an operation in this theatre was likely to have high casualties for lack of cover, unlike in the Wanni jungles. Accordingly, small teams of elite forces and infantry did the trick in the eastern jungles and continue to do so in the Wanni, where the LTTE is finding it increasingly difficult to prevent the security forces eventually from penetrating.

Tigers wait for the kill
Since the terrain along the Kilali-Muhamali-Nagarkovil axis is more suited for defensive warfare, than staging an offensive, the casualty figures of the retreating side in an open theatre were likely to be higher.

With artillery positions in Pooneryn and mortar positions at Pallai still secure, despite air force claims of pounding them time and again, the military should have anticipated that level of counter action.

The LTTE is clearly having a manpower problem and would prefer to take on the military using indirect fire, than go for face to face confrontations. But, in defending territory, this was inevitable. The LTTE is also in no mood to attack the army’s FDLs across this southern neck.

The Tigers would prefer to attack high value targets with limited cadres or resort to suicide bombings, than undertake large-scale offensives, until its morale is high. Sections of the military believe that the Tigers, in late November, were planning to take on the FDLs along this axis and push forward to Jaffna. Hence, the pre-emptive operation that was also meant to destroy bunkers.

The Tigers are aware that the security forces have, besides the artillery and mortars, the deadly multi barrel rocket launchers (MBRLs) that would be put to good use, as in April 2001.

If the Tigers failed in their tracks in April 2001, when their morale was high, and at the beginning of the undeclared ‘Eelam War IV’ in August, 2006, it is unlikely when they are fighting with their backs to the wall.

They would rather dig in and prevent the military from advancing through the Wanni. So, the pre-emptive action was uncalled for. Destroying of bunkers could have been done with limited operations by small groups as observed during the past several weeks. It was a slow, but steady, and safe approach that was making a dent in the Tiger defences.

This should have continued until the Tigers were worn out so that they could be taken line after line and when they were burnt up with no power to push, the army should have gone for the Tiger’s jugular, once the monsoon subsided.

Army rushes in where Tigers fear to tread
Instead, throwing caution to the wind, the army, like a batsman who has lost his patience, had a fling, skying the ball for an easy catch that the fielders and bowler were expecting.

This attack came hot on the heels of the air force scoring a bull’s eye, when its bombers swiftly targeted the eastern Kilinochchi bunker that Thamilselvan, the Tigers’ de facto No. 2, was putting up in. This success was preceded by the navy’s unprecedented destruction of four Tiger vessels in this war of attrition.

The army, which has had its fair share of success in the East, suddenly had a rush of blood, instead of patiently penetrating the Wanni. In the north, the prudent course of action is a series of limited operations until the right time.

More to it than meets the eye
Other reasons are attributed for forcing the pace and the tempo.
In as much as, ‘war is too serious a matter to be left in the hands of the generals,’ waging war and selecting battles for political expediency is another dangerous exercise.

Last year’s Muhamalai operation was executed despite President Mahinda Rajapaksa assuring the international community that the army would not initiate offensives.

The military is an extension of the government. Therefore, the defence minister, the defence secretary, the chief of defence staff and the service chiefs must plan and execute strategy, after the government lays down general policy.
On war and peace, ideally there must be continuity in policy even with change in administrations.

It doesn’t mean that all battles can be won in a war. For instance, in Vietnam, the US army won most of the battles, but lost the war. Sometimes, you have to pay the price of taking a decision. As in this latest case, you might have to take a beating. That is fine, provided there is a rationale for each strategy, not, however, based on petty party gain.

The vote following the Second Reading of the Budget stands as a Sword of Damocles over the head of the Rajapaksa Government. A defeat here would mean an automatic dissolution of Parliament.

The JVP is the key political party on whom the Government depends for its survival. The Marxist party is also bent on defeating the Tigers and fully endorses the government’s military strategy. Hence, was it a politically-motivated military decision to take on Muhamalai on the day the 2008 Budget was unveiled in parliament? The failure at Muhamalai, should open the eyes of one and all, given that Rs 165 billion for defence is unprecedented?
In the end, the purpose was defeated by the Tigers but, at a cost to them as well.

‘Mourners’ more than a match
Did the Security Forces expect the Tigers to be still in mourning for Thamilselvan, when they undertook the large-scale raid? At the time of his death, Thamilselvan was overlooking Pooneryn.
Mourning or no mourning, the counter plans were in place and well executed in the end by self styled “Colonel” Thileepan
Contrast this with the army at Saliyapura and the air force at Anuradhapura. They were all in a jubilant mood with Super Cross and Super Star when the Tigers struck.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty, they say. How true!!!
In launching military operations, there should be proper planning and examples from the past must be taken.
When taking the fight to the enemy’s area of control, another point must be considered. The area could be booby trapped, as was the case not just on Wednesday, but several times before, during the operations in the East.

Anti-personnel mines and those that set off claymore mines, Improvised Explosives Devices, trenches, false frontages must be guarded against, as you are fighting a top guerilla organization with conventional capabilities.

After Operation Jayasikuru, the army learnt it the hard way. Columns of infantrymen advancing into enemy-held territory, could be disastrous. Hence, a different strategy of small groups of elite forces was used to beat the Tigers in their own lair. But, in the southern neck of the peninsula, this is not possible. At least, not during the monsoon, and not as long as the LTTE gun positions are in place at Pooneryn and Pallai. Hence, another strategy must be mapped out.

asithrimodaya said...

Another defence column...

Offensives timed for budget

Budget and Wednesday’s military mission-was it a coincidence?

By Ranga Jayasuriya

It is still a mind boggling question as to whether the military operation ahead of the security forces Forward Defence Lines (FDL) on Wednesday, on the eve of the budget was a pure coincidence.
Only a handful of the men - both in the political and military echelons- will know the truth. The rest of the nation, including the men who fought a pitched battle in the Tiger territory in the early hours of Wednesday could only hope their sacrifices are not in vain.

Read the rest of the article.

sohona said...

attempting to cross these highly fortified areas can be deadly

sohona said...

SLDF should in fact never attempt to cross these areas. This is simple as fact that is very visible.

Unknown said...

We have some russian and ukranian BMPs and BTR80s. So does the LTTE. A T-55 seized from us blew-up a Dvora once."

Defencewire, I had known they set up a T-55 as a 'shore battery' but enver knew they actually used it successfully? When was this? And was that T-55 taken out?

GoldenEagle said...

We need ERA armor for our tanks. The Chinese offer a good ERA armor upgrade package in which they also completely revamp the inside of the T-55 type tanks to make in more computerized.

This would make our existing tank fleet more effective on the battle field.

Defencewire said...

The incident occurred several years ago along the Mullaithivu-Pulmudai coastline. One dvora was destroyed when it came close to the shore and fell prey to a T-55 hiding along the shore. I can give you actual dates if you prefer.

Sam Perera said...


If you look at those events in South, killing of civilians and speed boats in Tangalla, it seems that LTTE is preparing for another surprise attack elsewhere. This is a classic LTTE tactic to divert attention. Well, the million dollar question is where. However, we know that Velu wants something for Nov-23rd. MOD, please take another look at our weak points. Could this be a big assault in Colombo agains a political or military target. be vigilent everybody.

tikira said...

Defence Wire, whats up mate? r u in trouble after the comment about the attack? your report was bit different from what couple of others have mentioned,i think yours was bit paradoxical,

tikira said...

sorry brov ,i didnt see that you have posted a comment,i thought some thing was wrong because there hasnt been any updates since 8th,
keep up the good work mate

defenceAnalyst said...

We are here. Observing the situ. In no trouble as yet! but thank you for inquiring.

Unknown said...

"I can give you actual dates if you prefer."

No that's fine I am sure you are busy enough, just wanted a general idea. Thanks.

but how hard is it to operate a tank? Is that something they could pickup on their own like this?

Defencewire said...

Its not the operation but the maintenance, procurement of parts etc. This too is not that hard if you really think about it.

Unknown said...

does our army use Drgunov SVD or T79/T85?
i have seen ltte has(T79 i think)

tangara said...

Sam Perera,

You are spot on again...

I don't like this silence of LTTE and diversion tactics...

Some thing massive may be on the way...

NOLTTE=Peace said...

LTTE may launch simultanous attacks on two Naval camps.

Else, Katunayake will be their next-big thing!

Renegade! said...

tkx,defencewire/nemesis..could you please confirm whether we operate the BMP-3 version of infantry fighting vehicles & if so,how many of these?

GoldenEagle said...


I think we brought 36 BMP-3 from Russia in 2001.

Renegade! said...

defencewire,i thought that dvora was blown up by a truck-mounted 106mm RCL fact 2 were blown-up.the 2nd dvora,which came to the assistance of the first was targeted as well..these 2 dvora's were patrolling in a fleet of 3,if i'm not mistaken..could you confirm,pls.

Renegade! said...

goldeneagle,tks mate,but i have never seen these BMP-3's in action videos,let alone in parades..

Unknown said...


sadly no one has seen "our" BMP-3....i wish we had them and plenty of them too....but where are they mate?

Im not sure we got them?

Athula Weerasingha said...

LTTE is definitely planning a devastating attack on our valued military installations.
That most probably can be sequential attacks on to near by installations.
Ex :
1. Attack a navy installation near to the Colombo port and when navy and air force is busy with that, they might come for the harbor attack disguised as NAVY boats.
2. LTTE will try to hijack a big vessel destine to Colombo port, with the help of some internal crew and come to the port as a normal ship and suddenly come in to the important target by small boats.
3. come to Jaffna disguised as fishing boats directly from Tamilnadu and do a major assault or use permitted fishing boat to smuggle terrorist with weapon to Jaffna and hide them in safe places and when the number reach to a good one do a surprise attack on SLDF.

Sam Perera said...


Good imagination. Our forces need to put them in Tiger boots and think of ways to attack and takeover installations vital to defence and economy, yet minimal damage to civilians. Civilians are noted mainly becuase the terrorist lable they try to get away from.

Defencewire said...

You are referring to the Nagarkoil incident in 2000 when a recoilless gun was used to destroy a dvora some 500m off shore. That is different to the LTTE MBT attack.

GoldenEagle said...


Does the SL military have BMP-3s?

Many don't think so, yet certain sources claim we have them.

Athula Weerasingha said...

Some time I suspect, that this site may be maintained by LTTE inteligence unit to gather information.
Guys be careful, when you open your heart!!!!

Defencewire said...

This site is maintained by four of us who are certainly not LTTE!

We do have BMP-3s of Russian and Ukranian make. These are infantry fighting vehicles and weren't involved in any of the publicized successful campaigns like Thoppigala etc. T-55AM2s and BTR80s are often paraded, but not the BMP-3s. To our knowledge they have been used in Muhamalai I.

Unknown said...


Thanks, so our armor has a a few shadow troops of BMP-3s! Great.

Funny thing is no international arms trade report (other than IISS) places SLA as the end user for the BMP-3s...which means we must done it very covertly! thats the way to do it!

BTW i dont think BMP-3 are made in UKRAINE. They are only made in Russia.

I just hope we dont lose a few to the LTTE!!

Renegade! said...

thanks for confirming that dvora incident,DW..also the fact that we indeed operate 36 BMP-3's(i feel they are more mobile than our T-55AM2's)is indeed a cause of great satisfaction.these are indeed 3rd generation armour,but the fact that they were not paraded-why is that?i mean,the BMP-2 & chinese-built IFV's like Type-63 were shown @ parades/xhibitionns..

Don't u yhink we should replace the T-55AM2 with a new,more effective one?maybe the Pakistani AL-khalid,oe the latest chinese MBT's,at a decent price.moreover,the T-55's transmission is manual,using a stick to steer it & it's extremely uncomfortable for our boys..suspension is not that good either..

Renegade! said...

andare,i think you would have A good career in the American CIA,which is NOT a compliment,considering their intelligence blunders!! he.he

tangara said...


You are thinking ahead...
At times, I am thinking, if we disclose different ways of LTTE attacks on our assets, LTTE might infact use what we discuss here..

That is why I guess most of us are refraining from that sort of a thing...

Please use the email address of these blogs to warn them directly withouth disclosing that in public. i have done it couple of times...

First point 1) attacking harbour...
is the most likely cenario you discussed here is chilling and a stark possibility..

We need to protect non-millitary targets by using civilians...

Keep up the good work Sir Andare...

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