Saturday, December 8, 2007

Attrition, Maneuvers and Phrrhic War

The Sri Lanka Military has significantly altered its tactics of conventional war against the LTTE. The Army seems to have changed its decision to march large columns of men into Kilinochchi, Mullaithivu, Mannar (LTTE controlled) and Pooneryn. The LTTE’s strength was defence in depth. This strategy is to yield space, buy time, attack logistics, weaken by forcing Army to spread-out and to ensure that the longer the advance, the more the resistance. In the past several months and maybe due to a long Cease-fire, the LTTE seem to have entered a bunker-war defensive-mentality. However, the LTTE’s defence in depth ability still stands.

The Military is avoiding what is termed a Pyrrhic War where victory is assured at tremendous cost to the victor. For example, the Battle of Vukovar, which was an 87-day siege of a village in Croatia by the Yugoslav People’s Army (JNA), assisted the Croatians from obtaining independence even though the JNA won the battle. The Military seems apprehensive of this fact and instead have resorted to a type of war which is a cross between Attrition Warfare, Manoeuvre Warfare, Force Concentration and Ambush.

The objective of Attrition Warfare is to wear down the enemy’s men and materials over a period of time until the party with the greatest manpower and materials win. The concentrated attacks on LTTE assets at sea and land demonstrate this strategy. The LTTE too struck back by destroying some Air Force assets. In Attrition Warfare, Victory is usually decided on the capacity of the victor to sustain the replacement of lost assets and manpower. In Manoeuvre Warfare, the objective is to incapacitate an enemy in a shocking series of attacks and through disruptive movements. The strike on Thamilselvan and the continuous movement of troops in Vanni FDLs by the Army is an indication of this. LTTE is also using the same strategy in attacks in the south and elsewhere. Force concentration is an old habit of the Military with large bases and numbers of troops stationed in areas close to enemy territory. Ambush or the element of surprise has been a vital strategy for both sides (particularly LTTE).

In the coming months, there will be considerable strain on both sides to replace their losses over a long period of time. The patience, maneuvers, strategies and tactics of both sides will be tested to the maximum. At the doorsteps to Kilinochchi, Pyrrhic War or not, the Military would not abandon the concept of defeating the LTTE anytime soon. With much of its Deep Sea weapons smuggling operations disrupted, the LTTE would have to work harder at replenishing its men and material losses. The Military would have to demonstrate results to ruling politicians who, in turn must demonstrate the success of their policy to the people. Currently the Military is riding high on a series of victories but have suffered a setback in Anuradhapura. The targeting of civilians is another lateral expansion of the war, which has already claimed a large number of civilian lives. Whatever the result maybe, the signs are that the fighting is to escalate further and would last longer than many assume it would.


Anonymous said...

Can you comment on removing road blocks?

Unknown said...

Defencewire, you give a well balanced and good synopsics of the present situation. I actually read defencewire first then defencenet. Keep up the good work.

Unknown said...

DefenceAnalyst I always enjoy your posts very enlightening in the art of military science. Thank you.

Unknown said...

DW, Defenceanalyst.

A very in balanced and in depth analysis. Thank you.

Any thoughts on if the tigers could create a "bulge" like counter attack ?
They might not have the reserves & supplies to pull it off right?

The Sea Tigers ahve been silent for some time, so has the Navy...wonder whats in the pot :)

Srilankan said...

Nice to have you back Navindran..

Defencewire said...

ninja bandara,
We have never been in favor of road blocks. They cannot guarantee safety. There are other creative ways of doing a better job.

NOLTTE=Peace said...

LTTE's best medium of transporting its leaders was using ambulances.

With the killing of very senior leader who was traveling in an ambulance few months back, LTTE lost that advantage.

Now, they deliberately targeted an Ambulance that carried school children to create a huge scene around ambulances. LTTE organised several protests using civilians and health workers in Killinochchi, Vavunia and elsewhere as a part of the same campaign.

The objective is to secure the same medium of secure transport for its leadership, knowing that ambulances will be spared by the army.

The significant observation of recent health-worker protest was no one who protested against attacks on ambulances protested against LTTE requesting LTTE not to use Ambulances as a medium of transport, despite all the clear evidence of their tactics.

This shows clearly that the recent Healthcare worker protest were part of the LTTE's master-plan.

However, this master-plan was very weakly done and executed. First it showed that LTTE Administration wasn't fully aware of the communications strategy.

"Selvi", LTTE's appointed spoke-person said that the Army DPU has attacked an ambulance with children who participated in a first-aid campaign -similar story that they gave when the Sencholai LTTE training camp was attacked.

Contrary to the same, Rasaia Illantharan -the LTTE Spoke Person issued a statement saying that school children who were coming back from attending a Maveer ceremony (LTTE leader Prabhakaran's birthday ceremony) was attacked.

Army clearly denied their involvement claiming it was happened within 15Km of Killinochchi the heavily guarded LTTE territory which is more than 50 Km away from the Army FDLs.

The well-respected Tamil politician , Mr. Ananda Sangaree, who is also from Killinochchi clearly mentioned that this attack was another LTTE propaganda attack. LTTE lost lot of face there too.

Nevertheless, it shows that LTTE was using all the government hospital facilities for LTTE causes. Clearly, the ambulances should be there to transport patients and not anyone attending Maveer ceremonies.

This is a great example of how LTTE's own propaganda attack back-fired on their own face.

Similar thing happened few years back when LTTE killed an hanged the whole family of an LTTE renegade cadre in Vavunia. They used those photos all over the world claiming that the security forces were behind the attack. But, the family's relatives and neighbors mentioned that it was the LTTE who killed the family. Later, Army hunted and killed the LTTE area intelligence leader who planned and executed that brutal attack.

Even though that killing was clearly a PR killing by LTTE, LTTE is still using the pictures of that brutal killing to mislead unsuspecting international prominet people. These were the photos that the Mannar Bishop Rayappu Joseph looking innocently handed over to the Al Jazeera News Woman giving the impression that the killings were made by Army. This again shows who Rayappu Joseph is.

All and all, GOSL should have a well thought out plan to face LTTE PR traps, and false campaigns. This occasion, with the ambulance incident, government was saved, because of LTTE's own mis-coordination and PR blunders. Future will not be the same.

Unknown said...

DW, guys,

Did you hear anything about a SUb off Mulathivu? I know DW ran a story about possible sea tiger sub and many of us have bloged our ideas about it...could the fears have come true?

With the Navy day tomorrow wonder whats in store...?

Srilankan said...

Nemesis..lets not jump to any conclusions yet.IF submarine present i hope the navy has some plan to handle it.It however shows these guys are running short of AMMO..

NOLTTE=Peace said...

India has sent a support sub and it is around Trinco Batti area.

tangara said...


Well said bro...

Relik said...

NOLTTE=Peace look at the entry on wikipedia about the family that was killed in vavunia. it almost says sla killed them

Jambudipa said...


Its as if you read my mind. Those are exactly my own sentiments.

Bishop Ryappu showed those photos to a Al JAzeera journo fully knowing it was a staged killing by LTTE. The family was killed, the guts of one of the kids were even disemboweled and strung up to be used for propaganda. That photo is still used widely by LTTE. The father of the family had connections with EPDP. The photos were taken by LTTE and posted on TamilNet. The LTTE area leader responsible was later blown up by a LRRP team. This is how low these sick bastards would go to gain some political millage.

Here's the link in TamilNet. Unless you were involved in the murder, you simply cannot take photographs with this level of detail.

Jambudipa said...

Australian investigators build cast iron case against arms procurers

Srilankan said...

Panhinda..Thanks for the link.This is great news since it shows the Australians are finally doing something after 30 years.I hope their efforts are not hampered by another unknown would be australian politiican's speech.

Jambudipa said...


I was pleasantly surprised to hear the Navy actually bothered to investigate and collect evidence after the suicide attack. Without parts from the suicide vessel recovered from the sea bed the case against the LTTE operatives in Australia could not have been successful. The level of sophistication used in the investigation seems very high. It could I guess make into an episode from CSI. :)))

Although, as someone also said in earlier post, the LTTE naval wing have been too quiet for my licking. I feel major action by LTTE on naval assets may come coinciding with 57 years ceremonies. They could concentrate force on one of the deep sea OPVs that has done them a lot of damage in the recent months.

tangara said...


Good point mate...

tangara said...

My guess is LTTE will try to aquire a submarine or built one of their own...
The other possibility is the LTTE to aquire Surface to Air Missiles.
That will have domino effect on everything from SLA to SLN.

We can't afford another AAB style attack on our assets.

Unknown said...


no panic mate, just wanted to know what was happening...I agree the aussi have at last got their act togeater..thats good news.


great comment, I know we need indian help and im glad we are geting it..but all the same,i dont like indian forces in our area..may it be land, air or sea.

As for underwater combat swimmer the singaporeans make a small grenade like depth charge! But our navy makes some sort of depth charge of their own..

Renegade! said...


wats the scene with a sea tiger submarine spotted making manoevers off mullaitivu coast?..probably this is a "sang-o-class" mini-sub acquired from the North Koreans?..I feel this tilts the naval seapower balance slightly towards the tigers..I mean,they already do operate "stealth" attack boats,so what next?..In fact,the SLN has been able to recover one or two "human torpedo" submersibles & stealth attack boats,with a really innovative auto-cannon..they were displayed at the exhibition @ BMICH in feb this year..The naval officer whom i spoke to,admitted that the SLN was usually a step BACKWARD,from the sea tigers,whose innovation & tactics,took some time to get accustomed to..

In fact,today's sunday observer,had a photo of a "sukhanya-class" OPV,which for its great size,was ONLY equipped with just a few machine guns,& a 40mm cannon!!..True,it has greater endurance for deep-sea ops,but atleast upgrade the friggin weapons!!..c'mon why cannot we fit a 76mm or higher gun to this ship?..and the radar/fire control-systems?..well,virtually non-existent!!..a sea tiger "wolf-pack",could easily send this sitting duck to the bottom of the ocean,in case they are able to evade the escorting FAC's & Gunboats..

Unknown said...

LTTE aircrafts piloted by an Australian

(Lanka-e-News, 2007 December 09, 2.30PM) An international intelligence service has informed to Sri Lanka that the LTTE used two aircrafts in each air raid and the first one piloted by an Australian guided the second that dropped bombs. They have also pointed out that the bombing craft cannot shoot the bomb but drop them using a lever system. They say that the aircrafts are airlifted from water and LTTE does not maintain a runaway. The aircrafts are parked in a reservoir hidden in vegetation.

Meanwhile, the said intelligence service says that the Government responded less to the information they provided. They pointed out that they alarmed on the attack on Anuradhapura Air Force camp on October 16 and the LTTE launched the attack on October 21.

The intelligence service further says that the competition of the Sri Lankan bank agents provide ample opportunity to the LTTE to send money despite restrictions of the European countries.

Unknown said...

Renegade where is this story on LTTE sub, someone else also mentioned it??

TropicalStorm said...

I tend to think the next stage of the war is going to depend more on infantry quality and efcetiveness in deep-penetration style warfare than air power. This may be a scenario where we need to look at the prospect of being able to land and extract a strike force for clearly defined limitred operations. The air assets we now possess may quite well provide the cover to open a corridor of safety for eggress, while close air support pins down or neutralizes enemy reinforcements attempting to get thru.

I haven't heard of what happened to the Air Moble Brigade which once did a fantastic job with the use of just 3 Mil-17s to support 100 troops that were sent into to liquidate a terror camp.

This may be an effective way to take out more than one hard core terrorist in a single operation. Establishing that type of capability would necessitate greater secrecy among the tigers and in the case of the top heirarchy, even greater numbers of bodies providing protection, producing greater body heat for air borne infra-red sensing.

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