Monday, November 12, 2007

Best Defence is a Strong Offense

The Tigers have deployed a small team of fighters, probably around 15 to place the defence establishment in the defensive mode again in the Southern Province. True to its strategy of confusing politicians, the Tigers again launched several attacks in Thissamaharama and Yala in the last few days killing two farmers and one civilian driving a double-cap at Yala Katugamuwa area. The claymore mine attack on the vehicle killed the driver and wounded a 60 year-old man and a civilian engineer on Saturday. Sources indicate the team of LTTE cadres has come from Ampara where around 200 Tigers are shifting from place to place avoiding the STF.

Army Commander Lt. General Sarath Fonseka visited Yala Sunday and gave instructions to the Yala Joint Operations Command. He also met Rear Admiral Weerasekere and DIG Balasuriya who were touring the area the day before along with Basil Rajapakse. The Sri Lanka Army has stationed around 500 soldiers and appointed Brigadier Sudantha Ranasinghe as the head of the newly established Joint Operations Center in Yala. A recruitment drive is now on to enlist 200 men to the Civil Defence Force (Homeguards). 25 checkpoints have already been established in the area. The CDF has around 30,000 personnel already serving in the North and the East many of whom, due to their background coming from villages in rural areas, are ideal candidates to fill the ranks of the Special Forces.

With this latest redeployment of troops on a defensive role and recruitment of more men into the ranks of the CDF, the Army's new recruitment drive and overall strategy in the North will definitely be affected. The LTTE has managed to turn the offensive mentality of the country's leadership into a defensive mode through several small-scale attacks and ambushes in an area earmarked for development projects including an airport, harbour and tourism facilities. It is also the electoral/political constituency of President Rajapakse. The JHU and the JVP has again put pressure on the political and military leadership by highlighting the security dilemma of Sinhala farmers in the South.

If any lessons are to be learnt from previous experiences, it is that the LTTE is cleverly reading the minds of southern politicians and are effectively disrupting the strategy drawn up by the SLA to systematically destroy LTTE by committing large numbers of Tigers to the Northern FDLs with considerable deployment of own troops in an offensive role. Experience also tells us that guarding a large jungle area like Yala against 8-12 man teams is next to impossible. Yala is situated near Kumana, Vilpattu and Lahugala jungle reservations. These areas are difficult to police. This is the comparative advantage that SLA's LRRP operations have benefited from. The Tigers seem to have realized this situation and are now trying to turn it to their advantage. The attack on the Anuradhapura airbase also had similarities of an LTTE LRRP-type deployment in the deep battle space.

In recent months, the SLA had managed to continuously engage LTTE in the Vanni, killing a steady 10-15 tigers on most days. Villages in Adampan, Periyathampanai, Pandisurichchian, Kalmadu etc were systematically drained and small resettlements reestablished in government areas to facilitate the infiltrations and use of heavy weapons on Tiger positions. This however requires strategic focus and commitment to an offensive role.

Meanwhile the Special Task Force attacked a tractor carrying LTTE cadres in Rottana, Pottuvil adjacent to the Northern boundary of Yala Sunday evening killing three Tigers. SLA, whose major infiltrations into LTTE areas in Vavuniya and Mannar has been adversely affected by the torrential monsoonal rains, made several attempts to attack Tigers and succeeded in Adampan, Periyathampanai and Periyapandisurichchian in the last few days. Six bodies of female cadres recovered from the Periya Thampanai attack were handed over to the ICRC on Sunday to be transferred to the LTTE.

Meanwhile pro-LTTE media claimed outrage over the arrest of Tamil Nadu politicians Vaiko (MDMK) from Nedumaaran (TMM) in Chennai after they finished addressing a protest rally against the assassination of 'brigadier' Thamilselvan. No country in the International Community had expressed sorrow at his death. Earlier, LTTE's newly appointed Political Wing Leader Nadesan, in a meeting with the Norwegian peace Monitors had claimed that the LTTE strongly regretted this situation.


hemantha said...

"... small resettlements reestablished in government areas to facilitate the infiltrations and use of heavy weapons on Tiger positions ..."

Would you elaborate.

GoldenEagle said...

The LTTE continues to shoot itself in the foot by carrying out bombings on civilians in the south. The East must be rebuilt at all costs to win the hearts and minds on the people there. Then LTTE infiltration into the region will be more harder.

I think the best thing we can do to protect our national parks, is use small LRRP teams with knowledge of the terrain to hunt down the LTTE. They can be aided by UAVs with thermal imaging cababilities flying overhead.

Meanwhile everything must be done to kill VP.

Defencewire said...

Army wants to avoid civilian casualties. In Vanni, LTTE detachments are mixed-in with civilian settlements or are in the line of fire of advancing troops, support fire etc. These villages must be drained out to avoid a humanitarian catastrophe and most importantly to get at the LTTE.

hemantha said...

Thanks Defencewire.

sldf said...

Defencent: Against all odds we must stay course. Not change our main battle plans. They are simply trying to destabilize over all military plans for North. This is a hallmark terrorist tactic.

Air Force Commander Air Marshal Roshan Goonatilake says "We would go for him (prabakaran) and get rid of him somehow'. Even though aim is obvious I don't think he should spell things like this in the national media.

He also says: "It is every easy to work with him (Secretary of Defence) because we are given clear target. So within that framework we are free to make our own decisions without any problem."

Do you know what this timeframe is?

Anonymous said...

sldf, it's framework not a timeframe.

Anonymous said...

"The CDF has around 30,000 personnel already serving in the North and the East many of whom, due to their background coming from villages in rural areas, are ideal candidates to fill the ranks of the Special Forces."

This is very true. SF doesn't need 30,000 and CDF is also required. What about placing some mechanism so that SF can absorb cream from CDF similer to they get guys from other units in SLA?

Anonymous said...

"Experience also tells us that guarding a large jungle area like Yala against 8-12 man teams is next to impossible."

This is very true. Even if SLA put 1000 soldiers it's not enough in Yala. But SLA has done that due to political pressure, I gues, because LTTE's this stretergy is good not only for them but also for UNP. I beleive gov. should take steps for getting public participation in these areas instead of heavy SLA movements. In other words all vilagers should work as an (SLA) inteligence unit.

We have sub-contracted the war to SLDF. This is the time to start taking a part of war by protecting own villages. LTTE can multiply this headache by doing same in other boder areas such as Puththalama, A'pura, P'naruwa, etc. or even Galle, Matara. So need to be pre-active.

The military effect of those killings are null. However here are the plus es for LTTE.

1)Moral booster for tigers as they have shown thier existance in south most (sinhala dominated) areas and still not getting cought.

2)SLA had to deploy 1000s of troops there.

3)LTTE can claim they moved the war to south. Moral booster for tamil diaspora.

4)Think about a guy in SLA from Thissa. He would think I am fighting in wanni but my home town is under LTTE attacks. This may put down moral of many in SLA from southern privince and need to avoid this.

5)This is a pressure to the gov. as it is very much rely upon southern vote base. When a claymore explodes in Colombo (even as a civilian target) no one leaves their houses in Colombo. I think it has become usualised in Colombo. Need same thing in rural areas.

6)This gives time and space to LTTE for another A'pura type attack. (As every one is finding 15 tigers in yala.)

Anonymous said...

BTW, any one knows where are those human rights champions?

SLWATCH said...

Very true DW, offensive focus must be maintained. Given that LTTE's lost its bases in the East they probably won't be able to sustain this geurilla effort for long. Panic reaction by political elements (also there will be politicians and pressure groups who would make use of such a situation to gain power/prominence)must be resisted by the military

Defencewire said...

SF can enlist the cream and they should but clear division exists between the CDF and Army. Its not like an officer or soldier in SLA doing an SF course and transferring to SF mother-unit. CDF is a separate command. However, SLA trains them sometimes. The other point is discipline and morale, which may not be that great in CDF, having been trained in performing defensive duties. Anyhow, its good to have these guys on board first and them figure out how to use them. But a plan must be in place for that. The SF's cream (called 'Kira' in Sinhalese) usually comes from North Western Province, North Eastern Prov. and deep south.

TropicalStorm said...

Does anyone know the type of ordnance used to take out the only barber in the vanni?

Some say it was a US made bunker-buster. Any truth to this?

Anonymous said...

it was a Russian made KAB-500L,that came out of Ukrainian inventory. its 500Kg+ warhead and comes with a laser guidance unit.

Unknown said...

CDF has been an effective force from its very inception becoming a force to be reckoned with over the years. It has been able to neutralize the terrorists’ attacks on boarder villages at an alarming rate. It got a new lease of life under the command of Admiral S. Wijesekara. The idea of changing the earlier uniform to a better uniform with good training has given the men a new confidence. The idea of integrating them to other forces with better training is a good idea

Unknown said...

cant we use thurmal imaging facility for tracking these small ltte groups in isolated areas and send some SF or SBS team?

Anonymous said...

Dear Defencewire,
lets get some thing very clear here.. SF Kira comes from North-West,North-Central and North-East and never from the so called 'deep south' ...
you can ask this from any SF or Army Officer with access to stats on SF/Army in general.
bulk of the SL forces, including the KIAs are from North-West and i'm sorry its not exterme poverty or lack of jobs that made them join.

Jambudipa said...

/*Experience also tells us that guarding a large jungle area like Yala against 8-12 man teams is next to impossible. */

Experience also tells us, unless you never think beyond the convention, you can never get the upper hand with thing.

Don't we have aerial thermal imaging capability? Why not send the aircraft in the night to scan the area for small groups? Are we saving these equipment until something better pops up?

Jambudipa said...

We must also put ourselves in such a position to imagine their mode of operation. If I was in Yala jungles, I would need to come out of the jungles for food and other supplies. I would also make my base near a river or a water hole. Unlike LRRPs, these guys will need to live there 24/7. That is their weakness. Fight their strength and exploit their weaknesses.

shay said...

"Don't we have aerial thermal imaging capability? Why not send the aircraft in the night to scan the area for small groups?"

I dont think whatever thermal imaging equipment we have is suitable for strip searching a very large area like Yala. Yala also has lots of animals, which also emit heat, so checking out/zooming in on each sighting will be impossible.

There are lots of watering places in Yala and the terrorists can also poach animals for food.

Jambudipa said...

Hey Shay,

Since its a large area, some basic analysis required to narrow down the areas to search.

I can imagine army Generals with this kind of dismissive attitude even before considering all possibilities.

Jambudipa said...


tangara said...


Please read the other article...

There were some speed boat activity by the LTTE in Tangalle..

tangara said...

My guess is, LTTE presence in the South is a diversionary tactic..It is definitely LTTE caders who killed those farmers...LTTE wasn't using guns to attack those civilians..That way they can easily slip away from the crime scene..

Someone said, that Black tigers asked people in Mannar to vacate the areas around SLA camps..

It is possible that they will mount a massive attack around that area while keeping the SLA busy in the South...

It is possible they are going to show up in hundreds around FDL's in Vauniaya..If that happens it is going to be too late...

We need to check the TIGER communications..Before any major operation they have to assemble men and material..Hope we are using our UAV's to check everything behind enemy lines.


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..

tangara said...

Renegade! said...

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

Defencewire said...

The reason i mentioned this is not because of poverty but ability to live in terrain outside of concrete jungles. In fact some of these officers come from wealthy agricultural families. The majority come from Northwestern province. This I have indicated by giving that region priority. I know some very good officers and men from the deep south also in the SF mother unit, air mobile etc. One went to Mulaithivu with Col. Lafir and perished. One can't speak to this day due to a head wound. Its not where they come from and why? its the quality of men and exposure to life as it really is which is missing in the cities and suburbs. Its been naturally oriented inside rough terrain and ability to hold your nerve when the going gets tough. its about many such things.

we don't know about 36 BMP-3s, but there are some. Not sure of the exact strength.

Anonymous said...

Not CIA renegede... I would love to work for SLDF MI. I am not a person related to military atall.

But I know, I can give a very big blow to LTTE with in very short period, if I am allowed execute my plans.

We need more and more military leaders, who think like a Terrorist ( not to kill civilians, as a stratergy wise), and acting fast and precisely.

This is what, I would have done, if i am the military leader for hambantota.
I would have not setup lots of military post in the area, but I would have done following as the first thing.

Ex : Do a search operation in the area with a big military crowd and anounce the world (publicity is very important), that area is very safe and people can continue to do their living.
then I will select a group of good pistal men and mingle them with villagers with normal srong+ shirts and ask them to go for chenas and wood cutting with villagers.
Because of the publicity given, who ever that gang (if not deploied my that media giant) would try to do a another crime quickly to discredit the SLDF and further create the fear factor on villager.
So there can be a very high probability of meeting a DF pitol men as soon as they come out to do another one.

May be these terrorists are comming from home town of our commander of army.
There is a area very near to that town totally occupied by tamils and normally sinhalas are not allowd/welcome to that area. There are lots of youths working for LTTE in wanni, who has gone from that area and most dangerous thing is they are very very fluent in sinhala and they will never be suspected, if they have a sinhala identity cards.

sohona said...

this is a large area and to hunt down these infiltrators we need to rely on intelligence a lot. they can be depending on the porchers in the area for food/supplies and sooner or later they are going to get things difficult.

Renegade! said...

andare-wow! big ambitions..

Unknown said...

"then I will select a group of good pistal men and mingle them with villagers with normal srong+ shirts and ask them to go for chenas and wood cutting with villagers."

Sorry to dash you hopes a little but the military is already doing this :)

"Then he immediately added that army personnel were roaming the area dressed as civilians and that the villagers had to be careful not to mistake them for suspicious elements." - Daily Mirror

Srilankan said...

DefenceWire..when you have the there really no way to flush these LTTE cadres from yala?

Defencewire said...

The important thing is not to make a spectacle involving hundreds of troops, checkpoints, joint operations commands etc. These will be ridiculed if LTTE strikes again. The approach must be low key. The importance is not the number of troops but the quality of them deployed.

First step is to reduce the number of available targets. This involves a reduction in defensive posts, convoys, civilian vehicle movements, farmers infiltrating jungles etc. The other thing is to go to the source from which they come from. They operate from a base and that base is Ampara. Only then should the hunting begin. This will take time since locating a team like that needs specially skilled officers and men. They need to locate their food dumps and weapons dumps. Lay ambushes. engage in offensive patrolling. increase armed civilian patrolling, civilian vigilance etc. Once this framework is created, its only a matter of time.

Anonymous said...

Hey Renegade... I know you are a LTTE guy... it is obvious from the questions you are asking...
But your FAT BRABAs dates are numbered man...

Jaks.. theory is anyone can be fooled once very easily. if you do the first thing last, outcome is very different.

That is why I am saying, think like a terrorist and act fast and precisely.

Anonymous said...

Thermal imaging is a good technique... definitely there can be systems with pattern recognition software to easily locate human beings among animals...

Srilankan said...

Many thanks DefenceWire for the Excellent comments

hemantha said...

Out of topic. Sorry. But this is an interesting article (The Island).

Truth, lies and foreign journalists
by Kath Noble

We live in a military state. Mahinda Rajapaksa somehow got himself appointed President, handed out plum jobs to three of his presumably hitherto underprivileged brothers and, overcome by rage at an attempt on the life of one of them by the LTTE, started killing Tamils. Peace has never seemed so remote. This is the news I heard while I was at home in England last week and happened to catch a documentary about Sri Lanka.

The programme was produced by two Irish women with the help of a Sri Lankan attached to the BBC in Colombo. It went out at primetime on one of the five main television channels in the UK.

It is a smoke and mirrors job. The reporter starts with the worry that the conflict is getting worse again. She says that so many civilians are being killed in the crossfire, and that hundreds of thousands lost their belongings when they were forced to leave their homes in the affected areas. It sounds perfectly reasonable until she blames it all on the Government. We are told that they started the fighting with the LTTE. It is the big lie, and it is blatant.

The reporter goes on to say that a lot of civilians are also being targeted. Again, she is only interested in accusing the Government. She says that people are being abducted and killed by death squads associated with the Army because of a suspected association with the LTTE. Well, maybe, but this is also a bit of a fudge.

The action starts as the reporter moves into Mannar. She talks to a priest who has just buried twelve of his parishioners. They died in an attack on a bus. He says that there was no proper investigation, and we are left to assume that it must be because the perpetrators are from the Army. She meets the Bishop. He says that there are plenty of massacres in the area, and we are shown grisly photographs of a family of four. He insists that the LTTE is not to be found anywhere near Mannar.

We set off for Batticaloa. The reporter says that she has heard that people are being taken from camps by the Karuna Group with the full knowledge of the Government. A woman describes how her husband disappeared from their home, which is located between two Army camps. It must therefore be the work of the State. She meets a local politician. He tells her that he has been threatened by Karuna.

The reporter returns to Colombo. She comes across Mano Ganesan. He gives a figure of 2,500 people disappeared during 2007. They have not been stopped by the Police, so it must all be the work of people at the top of Government.

The film concludes with a brief journey to Jaffna. The reporter is only allowed a short and supervised stay, which she says prevented her from looking into allegations of abuses by the Army. They must therefore be true, although the large number of people she finds seeking help from the Human Rights Commission are somehow also added to the list of those under threat from the State.

I am sure that we all believe that there are bits of truth in all of this, but there are also a fair few lies, and there is certainly far too much conflation and inflation with the clear objective of building up as black a picture as possible of the Government. It is allowed about 25 seconds of the 25 minute programme to defend its record, in which the reporter interviews Sarath Fonseka. He says that the issue of abductions is exaggerated by interested parties, but she does not seem bothered about pursuing the matter, and proceeds to request an explanation of why it is that the Army cannot prevent the Karuna Group from killing people suspected of sympathising with the LTTE in the now liberated East, although she does not think to wonder what else the Army might have to do in Sri Lanka, or why the Karuna Group might fear the LTTE. That is it.

The programme also employs some pretty cheap tactics along the way. Mahinda Rajapaksa is made to sound like a dictator rather than an elected leader, helped along by the obsession with his brothers, which has always seemed to me to be rather misplaced when the alternative is Ranil Wickramasinghe and his best buddies.

We are also shown plenty of shots of soldiers walking the streets, looking at papers and patting people down. It is supposed to encourage us to believe that this is a military state, which is one of the maddest statements I have ever heard in the British media. However, there is no sign of what the soldiers are there to prevent, by which I mean assassination attempts and bomb blasts by the LTTE.

The reporter adds to the atmosphere by adopting an air of anxiety, bordering on fear, at all times, even as she walks the streets of Colombo. The highlight of her performance comes as she sits huddled over the camera in her hotel room in Jaffna, slightly sweating and glancing furtively over her shoulder from time to time, saying that the military escort is waiting outside, that the guesthouse owners are afraid, that she also feels intimidated, and that she does not know what is going to happen next, as if she might well be done away with at any moment by one of those death squads.

Except that she is then told that she will have to stay on the nearby Army base for the night for her own protection, rather undermining the idea that she faced any threat from forces allied with the Government.

In fact, we might almost forget that there is such a thing as the LTTE. I would not necessarily expect a full history lesson, but a few basic facts would certainly help in understanding the situation, especially when we are talking about civilians. They are, after all, and for no reason, regular targets of the LTTE. I remember Kebithigollewa and Mavil Aru, but both incidents would be news to the British public.

I watched and worried. It presents us with somewhat of a puzzle. These journalists were allowed to come to the country and make a fiercely anti-Government film. It is a sign of media freedom for which you can bet your bottom dollar that no credit will accrue to the Government. In fact, the Government is still being crucified for insisting that the journalists be accompanied as they travelled around Jaffna, and for making them return to Colombo after one day instead of four. The issue was picked up by the Free Media Movement, the International Federation of Journalists and Reporters Without Borders. However, the Government should just grin and bear it, while the rest of us must condemn those members of the foreign media who abuse their freedom.

It is a bad documentary. Claims were made without bothering to back them up with credible evidence or even compelling argument, fact was mixed with fiction, and a whole lot of the story was left out. It was done either in the ostensibly objective process of simplification to make the issues comprehensible to the British public, or in the increasingly employed practice of sexing up the story to make the film more exciting for British audiences. I would not be surprised if the idea originated with an NGO. The big organisations now spend a massive amount on their press offices and increasingly employ former journalists tempted out of their profession by higher salaries. They constantly feed the foreign affairs and features sections of the British media. It certainly sounds like the kind of propaganda, in the worst sense of the word, which continuously pours out of a lot of NGOs.

It is maddening but, before anyone gets carried away, we should remember that there is still actually very little coverage of Sri Lanka in the British media. The vast majority of British people associate Sri Lanka with sunshine and beaches, and occasionally cricket, not with killings and conflict, nor even with the LTTE. Long may that situation last.

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