Monday, February 25, 2008

An (Im)Balance of Power

Original Chart by Risk Management Solutions Ltd.

The LTTE's strength in numbers is a much contested issue of late. It is only appropriate that we at DefenceWire contribute our analysis and information regarding the topic.

The Commander of the Army claimed the man/woman-power of the Tigers was around 5000. He was referring to the hardcore fighters. Sources close to the Tigers estimate it at around 25,000. Our estimate is that it has a hardcore fighting force of around 10,000 fighters.

LTTE may also have around 10-15,000 more second line fighters and a militia/home guard of 40-50,000 (lightly trained civilians), of whom they might have the capacity to deploy around 5,000 as auxiliary forces at a time.

The 10,000 hardcore fighters could be composed of those indicated in the chart above. Of these the SLA has to deal with Charles Anthony, Jeyanthan and to some extent in future, Imran Pandian Regiments. The Malathi Unit was also engaged by the Army, until majority of them were withdrawn recently from the battle field through Vidusha's intervention.

The second line fighters are youngsters or new recruits who are suffering casualties at the hands of Task Force I. According to latest information we have, LTTE has also deployed the remaining Jeyanthan Regiment cadres who withdrew from the East to face Task Force I. Mingled among these are more experienced Charles Anthony Regiment Tigers.

The lightly trained civilians have a potential for disbanding fast under light pressure due to the loose organizational structure without a proper rank and file. Of those, 5000 could be mustered by the LTTE into a considerable auxiliary force for defensive operations, for example against LRRP units, deep inside LTTE areas. But the question is whether these cadres could remain intact and resist a full assault.

The second-line fighters have demonstrated they cannot withstand attacks from normal SLA infantry units for long. Normal infantry units from GW, GR, SR, VIR etc., have been successful against them continuously without any support from Special Forces, Commando or Air Mobile Brigades.

Unfortunately for the LTTE, normal infantry soldiers from Task Force I have not discriminated against any LTTE units and have attacked, killed and wounded tigers from all respective units sent to fight them.

In a scenario like this, LTTE might turn to its hardcore fighters in the Sea Tigers, intelligence unit as well as the Black Tigers for force multiplication purposes. Their plan would be to hit the government at its rear and force the Security Forces to collapse. This they will do while maintaining defence-in-depth strategies using a mixture of hardcore, second-line and auxiliary force members along the frontlines.

The SLA has also developed a force multiplier in the form of a Mechanized Infantry Regiment. SLAF is reversing LTTE gains in the south through bombings inside LTTE terrain. The SLA will attempt to further increase its troop strength for defence-in-depth in the south. The next few months would be the time when these preparations and predictions would start unfolding, one-by-one.


CASC said...


Thank you for the graphical illustration of LTTE's command structure.

Panhinda said...
According to latest DBS Jeyraj column, LTTE recruited 15,000 to 18,000 last year.

I would not give much credence to DBS's numbers. He is a good journalist but he has a tendency to exaggerate. Perhaps he is unwittingly buying into LTTE propaganda. His description of
of the recent deaths of LTTE "Lt Cols" Charles and Thavan make it sound like these were purely accidental.

"According to reports, he was conducting a field workshop in combat cinematography for new Tiger recruits on February 17 when an Army shell exploded close by. Lt. Col Thava and Major Pugalmaran were killed."

SnakeVI said...

if you have the time, can you explain a bit about all these LTTE regiments. I see all these names but I dont knw the differences or their significance.(Jeyanthan Reg, Leopard Commandos, Charles Anthony SF, Imran Padian etc.)
could you please spread some light as to what they are supposed to be? do?
a little history lesson too if possible.

machang said...

I second snakevi's request.

Thanks guys.

Anonymous said...

Defencewire estimates make sensse. From 2008 around 30 caders get killed daily and if trend continue around 1000 per month and 10,000 per year get killed. This may include 100 hard core caders per month and 1000 per year. If LTTE can't recruit any more within 2-3 years man power reduce drasticaly.

At what rate LTTE can recruit is the question. If fighting continue at this level for few years (say 10) either LTTE has to stop fighting and come to negotioations or there will be no tamils between 8-55 in wanni except LTTE top level leaders. This doesn't seem realistic, just tecnical calculation.

TropicalStorm said...

The most stark reality in the organizational chart is the distrust of anyone by an absolute control-freak. This creates a compartmentalization effect in the organizational operations which in many ways helps to retain its secretive nature, while the risk of losing the leader leading to complete fragmentation and dysfunction is high.

Risk comes with the territory, when you are a terrorist and velu has proven that the risk was worth for over 25 years.

The inherent inability for someone like that to trust anyone at a time of successive failure and defeat must be manipulated in the Psy-ops.

mottapala said...

Continuing demise of front line cadrres at a contunious rate is bound to cause or already a huge problem for lTTE. Only way to replenish the establishment is to tap into what is left of the civillian population. That includes women and children invariably.

This effectively destroyes the Sri Lankan tamil nation present and future.If the LTTE and its supporters are blaming the government and racist sinhala community of oppression and genocide against tamils they are helping them covertly to achieve their goal.

Tottering LTTE's goal no longer is for freedom, the dream homeland or a power struggle. It has essentialy become a struggle for survival.

'kotiyage walge alla gatta wage'

mottapala said...

tropical storm

I total agree with you. A decapacitation will make the organisation fall apart. And then will the infighting begin.

A similar sinhala leader was the Premadasa. A control freak. After he is gone the UNP never raised its head.

From the diagram you could clearly see once the top goes all else become equal. There is no proper chain of command.

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NOLTTE=Peace said...


Thanks for the analysis. Day time operational UAVs and Night time operational UAVs with Thermal imaging can reduce the LTTE goons into hundreds when combined with precision attacks.

There are hundreds and thousands of terrorist supporters who freely live in foreign countries and help terrorizing Sri Lanka. GOSL should put them in "Wanted Lists" and publish in the web. That would alone will stop them funding and supporting terrorism in Sri Lanka.

NOLTTE=Peace said...

Take the blood thirsty maniac and few surrounds him out..then there will be no more LTTE.

Government should offer amnesty to any existing LTTE top level leaders to abandon the arms and come to the democratic route -similar offer given to Karuna.

Karuna realised that Prabha's wet dream is unrealistic and the proper winning is in unity as a nation.

There could be many LTTE top-level people thinking in the same lines too. They should be given the opportunity to correct their mistakes.

One meglamaniacs wet dream destroyed millions of lives. It is now time for correction.

Unknown said...

Nice article DefenceWire. Keep it up!

Defencewire said...

Jeyanthan- Commanded by 'Lt Col' Jeyarthan, the regiment comprises of mostly Eastern Cadres from Trinco, Batti and Ampara. Involved in Oyatha Alaikal and attacking SLA during jayasikurui, the unit used to wear a cama similar to SLA in battle, making it difficult to identify them in the heat of battle. They even copied our arm band which we changed daily with a different colour.

When Karuna defected, majority of Jeyanthan defected. This included fighters like, Mangalam, Vannalan, riya seelan, ineya parathi, reagan, reggie (Karuna's brother), raabert, jimkelly thaththa, wawa, jeyam (not 'Col' Jeyam), pillaian etc. Some died fighting LTTE, others surrendered through intervention of bishop Kingsly Swamipillai and were executed.

About 500 cadres that remained in Jaffna performing various duties were sent to attack Karuna. There was a situation where brother was fighting a brother. The remaining cadres of this regiment were closely followed by Northern Cadres from Charles Anthony because Prabha didn't trust their commander Ramesh. They were and are still misfits after Karuna's defection. Contrary to what people believe, their method was mainly psy-ops than actual fighting.

The regiment was LTTE's best. Charles Anthony is majorly overrated as it was the first structured battalion similar to a regular army. If jeyanthan was in tact, capturing East would have been very difficult. It comprised of tough tamil youth from sea faring villages like Mutur, Kinniya, echchalampattu, and from paduwaankarei, eluwaankarei and also various parts of Ampara. This is the second oldest regiment in LTTE. 'colonel Ram is the so-called 'colonel commandant' of the unit.

Charles Anthony was one of LTTE's first organized regiments (Padai Pirivu. Padai means force) It was under Swarnam, Col Nagulan, lt. col Nakulan etc. Swarnam's presence in Mannar now would also indicate the presence of this regiment. There could be as many as 1000-1500 cadres in this unit. Hardcore cadres could be around 500. They are almost entirely northern Tamils. It was one of Prabha's earliest 'creations'. It is about 15 years old. The unit has also been trained by Balraj.

The Vithusha regiment comprises of Malathi, sothia and kutti sri mortar units of the women's regiment and commanded by Vishu alias vithusha. it is about 12 years old. Earlier, tamil women fighting was a novelty. So women were given mortar gunnery positions. Since then. they have participated in many battles performing supporting roles and even active duty.

LTTE's 'equal opportunity' employment policy came as the cadre decreased in major battles. They were then allowed to start wearing trousers and taking on active duties.

Charles Anthony was one of Prabha's earliest bodyguards. Others included Karuna, swarnam, Thamilselvan etc. Charles anthony is also the lethargic son (known to be a couch potato) of Prabha and head of the IT division.

The leopard commando unit is a specially trained unit capable of some amphibious warfare as demonstrated in their attack inside thenmarachchi box when they captured the navatkuli bridge during the jaffna seige. Its a reserve unit, usually heavily armed and trained, comprising the most battle hardened guerrillas from other units.

The Victor anti-tank regiment, named after a famous Tiger from Mannar, was formed as an RPG unit (initially called RPG Commando) They dig sand pits, trenches, set traps and mines at armoured columns but mostly use anti-tank weapons with high explosive anti-tank (HEAT) warheads on RPG-7 variants. They use large anti-tank mines also. Their leader was Lt. Col Akbar killed in a sla attack. Their most famous victory was very recent in Muhamalai. Until then they were marginalized. The unit is deployed almost entirely in the Muhamalai and Nagarkoil sectors.

The sea tigers and air tigers are a creation of 'Col' Shankar alias vaithialingam sornalingam killed by LRRP while driving a cab in the general area oddusudan using a 15kg claymore. He was a dual diploma-holder in nautical and aeronautical engineering from, Chennai. A poet, engineer and ruthless operator, shankar was right-hand man of Prabha and number two in LTTE.

The sea tigers are top of the rung in LTTE and are rated higher than all land-based regiments. Their higher profile is due to the dangers of operating at sea requiring courage, facing the attacks by Dvoras and the importance of smuggling in weapons and ordnance in floating warehouses from all over the world which all fall on them. There are many 'eelam songs' dedicated to them.

The Black Tigers originally comprised of young tamils affected by 1983 riot (Black July). combined with the martyrdom concept imported from lebanon (Hizbollah) about which prabha was fanatic at the time, the unit first saw action thrugh 'captain' Miller. Majority of blask tiger attacks target political, military leaders, economic targets and military targets. They are usually screened before selection. usually, the more disgruntled you are or sexually abused you are or more fanatic you are, they will turn you in to a black tiger. you will be trained everything from jumping at a target, body posture, concealing suicide jackets, putting it on, assembling and disassembling the jacket,trailing a target, unarmed combat etc. This unit is under Prabha and Poddu. majority of their attacks have come in the sea. They also use cripples for the attacks.

calm down. Fools Rush In Where Angels Dare To Tread. You are no fool i am sure, but think like an angel. no reason to hurry, none what so ever!

NOLTTE=Peace said...

Good stuff!

Castro of LTTE is heard to be living in the city.

SLAF should find him.

kurikaatuwan said...

Defencewire : you have missed a few parts of LTTE :

Kanini pirivu ( technology department ) which develops new weapons, booby traps e.t.c

International contact and fundraising department - headed by Castro

Thileepan medical unit

Political section

Supply unit "Valaangal pirivu"

Also recently there has been massive abduction and conscription drive in Vanni. There are instances of child conscription in case of older sister being abducted then a younger brother (below 18) can take her place.

However if the people between 18 - 40 join by themselves then they can select which brigade to join.

All abductees are sent to a giant underground bunker complex called

"Anbu Muhaam" or "caring base" located somewhere in Vaddakacchi, Kilinochi district.

here the youth are kept in total darkness packed up like logs for upto a month during which they are allocated to go to a training base

Defencewire said...

We wanted to focus on the main battle formations of LTTE. But thanks for pointing that out to us.

TropicalStorm said...


Your idea of listing known terrorism supporters abroad was taken up by a team of us here in the US sometime ago and we have been advocating for it for quite sometime. Check this out;

For some reason or the other, SLG has been on the back foot so far in taking the final decision on how to deal with these bastards. We have plenty of irrefutable information abt individuals who've been financing terrorism in SL. Some of it can be simply submitted to the FBI and the rest would be decisive. Unfortunately there's some inertia in the bureaucracy holding them back.

If you guys in SL can influence it to move forward, that would be a great service to your motherland.
Try something..make it happen.
There's a limit to what we expats can do to help Sri Lanka. It's upto the Sri Lankans to make what we offer, work of you.

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