PRESIDENT RAJAPAKE AND THE EELAM WAR
Posted on May 29th, 2016

KAMALIKA PIERIS

In Eelam War IV, President Mahinda Rajapakse started off like his predecessor, clinging to the Ceasefire agreement. He sent three delegations abroad for discussions with LTTE.  Lalith Weeratunge, Presidential secretary had made a secret visit to the LTTE in March, 2006 and met Poovannan, a senior LTTE member. Then LTTE closed Mavil Aru anicut and asked the government to negotiate the reopening of the sluice. That would have given LTTE the status of a self governing entity, entitled to water rights. Instead of negotiating, the President went to war.

He was encouraged to do so by his brother Gotabhaya, Secretary of Defence, who knew the capabilities of the army and was sure that LTTE could be defeated. Gotabhaya was an experienced and decorated soldier. He had voluntarily transferred to the Sinha regiment, from s safe position in Signals Corporation, and thereafter joined the Gajaba regiment.  He led his regiment at Vadamarachchi . Those who served under him say he was a good leader. He was senior in rank to Sarath Fonseka.

The government prepared carefully for Eelam War IV.  Large numbers were needed to capture and hold territory, therefore more soldiers were recruited. A dozen fighting formations were created so that the army could conduct large scale operations on multiple fronts. The media portrayed the soldiers as national heroes and defenders of the motherland.  Soldiers felt, for the first time, that the country was behind them. This made a huge difference. There was very high motivation in the army.

In the previous Eelam wars, the soldiers had felt neglected. They expressed their anger thorugh verses written in bunkers, bathing points and other places.  They complained that that they did not have even basic facilities. There was just one well for a hundred of them, while the officers lived in luxury. In Eelam War IV, the soldiers were given salary increments, allowances and loans. Defence secretary ordered that the soldiers be well looked after on the battle front.

A new generation of capable front line commanders were created. 2000 corporals and sergeants were promoted to second lieutenant rank, since more officers were needed. The best corporals and sergeants were selected. They were trained very quickly and given responsibility. They went to the battle front with the soldiers. Their morale was high and they went for targets, risking their lives.  ‘They were the people who caused the victory’ said Commander Sarath Fonseka.

Before 2009, the government   ordered weapons only after LTTE acquired them. After 2009,   weapons became available at the right time, in the right place and the ammunition fired efficiently. Approvals came back sooner than expected.  This encouraged the troops. A mechanized infantry brigade was created. MiG 27 s and C-130 jet planes were bought. A 3D radar station was set up.  The Defence website, which indicated the progress of the war, captured the attention of the public and ensured support for the war.

President Premadasa had refused to take over the Defence portfolio, saying he disliked getting involved in wars. Prime Minister D.B. Wijetunge had to chair National Security Council meetings. President Rajapakse, on the other hand, never missed a meeting of the National Security Council during the war. He closely followed battle field progress and visited Kilinochchi when the war was ending. That was a first by a head of state. A section of the SLFP tried to obstruct the war. President Rajapakse refused to tolerate any challenge to his authority, told them they could leave the party, and withdrew the cabinet positions given to Mangala Samaraweera and Anura Bandaranaike

Eelam War IV finished in 3 years. Unlike earlier operations, this time, the armed forces fought according to a plan, using military strategy. Defying accepted military strategies, they attacked   the LTTE where it was strongest. They used intelligence. They sent small groups to conduct covert operations behind LTTE lines. They sprang surprises on the LTTE. They kept LTTE on the run.

The army attacked on multiple fronts. It had the strength to sustain several offensives simultaneously.. A series of task forces and new fighting divisions were set up, with specific targets for each. The army first took the LTTE territory in the eastern province, using the strongest fighting force ever deployed against the LTTE. Even before the army had completed taking the east a second front was opened in Vavuniya. While fighting was going on there, army was ordered to take Silavaturai and Mannar. LTTE found itself facing three fighting formations in 2007. In 2008 it faced four in Vanni alone. LTTE had no reserves to meet these troops advancing on multiple fronts.

Soldiers were encouraged to participate in battle decisions. ‘In this division we are not told to do this or that. We are asked what we can do and how we can do it. We took two bunds today without losing a single man.’ said a soldier. The fact that the government and the top officers of the forces believed that the LTTE could be defeated made a huge difference to the fighting units. Morale was high and it continued high until the war ended.

Unlike previous offensives, this time, the army held on to the territory they captured. Once the western territory was secured, the forces turned and went towards the east, pushing LTTE before it towards the Mullaitivu sea. LTTE was encircled and driven into one square kilometer in Anandapuram. The operation was meticulously planned. The ground commanders knew it was the last battle before the LTTE collapsed.  Anticipating that the top LTTE leaders would try to escape by sea, the military set up a naval blockade, with a 24 hour watch.  They put over 80 vessels in the sea so that they could swing into action at any time.

Battle strategies suitable for the east were not suitable for the north since the terrains were different. In the east, the army fought on sand, in beaches and lagoons. In Kilinochchi, it was jungle. In Jaffna it was semi desert conditions, scarce water, limited shade and temperatures of 40C. The monsoon added to the difficulties. Soldiers fell ill. In Mannar trenches got water logged and several soldiers drowned. The LTTE were eventually defeated, and on 18. May 2009 television showed that magnificent shot of two lines of soldiers, coming triumphantly forward from opposite sides, national flags held proudly aloft and embracing on the Mullaitivu seashore, to indicate that victory was complete.

18 Responses to “PRESIDENT RAJAPAKE AND THE EELAM WAR”

  1. Charles Says:

    Excellent article. Exciting and readable.

  2. charithsls Says:

    Isn’t it the best a grateful nation can do to Gotabaya is to elect him as our next President.

  3. Ananda-USA Says:

    The rise in the morale of the country as a whole, created by efficient organization and conduct of the war effort, created a climate in which tens of thousands of rural youth rushed to join the armed forces. This was a key to the final victory.

    In stark contrast, in the past, army soldiers had deserted by the thousands, and new recruits could not be found to refill the ranks regardless of the incentives offered to them. The people of the country were not prepared to send their sons and daughters to be abandoned without food or weapons, sacrificed in interminable battles without an overall plan for achieving a total victory, while the entire nation as a whole was not marshalled to support the war effort.

    Under President Mahinda Rajapaksa, and Defence Secretary Gothabhaya Rajapaksa, there was TOTAL COMMITMENT to winning and ending the war MILITARILY: No MORE TALK a LITTLE, FIGHT a :LITTLE! And that made all the difference to the long-suffering people of Sri Lanka who were then rallied to sacrifice in blood and treasure the price needed to achieve that goal.

    The resulting improvement in the nation’s morale was electrifying; it made possible the rapid recruitment of soldiers to SIMULTANEOUSLY attack the LTTE on multiple fronts diluting their strength, and making it impossible to protect their rear area safe havens!

    This was the TOTAL MOBILIZATION of the Nation to support the war effort that many of us Patriots had begged for, but had been ignored in the past!

    In fighting wars, there is NEITHER PROFIT NOR HONOR to be gained by fighting an enemy on EQUAL TERMS, only more and more deaths, greater destruction and the onset of war weariness leading to the abandonment of goals essential to the survival of the nation.

    With Mahinda Rajapaksa at the helm of the National Government, and Gothabhaya Rajapaksa leading the Armed Forces, Sri Lanka achieved TOTAL MOBILIZATION and LASER FOCUS on the war effort, and it SUCCEEDED BRILLIANTLY!

    Sri Lankans could hold up their heads once again, and PROUDLY PROCLAIM to the World: “We are the Sons and Daughters of the Martial Forefathers of our beloved Mother Lanka”!

  4. Wetta Says:

    Great article, well written, well timed.

    Well suited for the time we are about to face another war soon thanks to the stupidest government Sri Lanka ever had, thanks to millions of gullible people who believed all the lies created by the west and told on stage by the low lying local thieves.

  5. aloy Says:

    The role played by JHU not mentioned and that of SF has been under valued. Didn’t JHU started a fast demanding the prez take on LTTE rather than negotiate. Didn’t SF got JVP to recruit volunteers for the army. For the first time the army had the glimpse of success and what did the current PM and the Pamankadas do?. SF was imprisoned and the other two are also enjoying power now. What a reversal of fate?. All because of MR the opportunist; he should leave the scene with his family embers.

    I feel this whole drama is nothing but a bring back campaign.

  6. mario_perera Says:

    To what Aloy has said I would like to add two factors that fell from the skies in MaRa’s favour.They were:

    1. the 7/11 Twin Tower attack that created a terror psychosis in the mind of the USA. It was the modern version of the Pearl harbour attack that drew the USA into World War 11. Consequent to 7/11 and the all our USA war on terror, the LTTE was banned as a terror organization in the USA as well as in the countries of its Western allies.

    2. The terror attack by Pakistani terrorists on the Bombay Taj, a siege that humiliated India by its duration, indicating the length of time a very small terror group could hold up against the armed might of India. India was shocked and its army took days to get organized.

    Further to these two events the Western Powers and India literally gave MaRa a CARTE BLANCHE to go the whole hog against the LTTE.

    Two other factors need to be stated:

    1. The conquest of Jaffna under CBK that drove the LTTE to the periphery of the North

    2. And the revolt of Karuna during the government of Ranil which tore away the LTTE Eastern command.

    Mario Perera
    Kadawata

  7. Dham Says:

    How about JR’s Elam war ?
    It too brought everything to almost to the end but the advantages fell from the skies were not available to JR. Cond war too was still on to some extent.
    Had JR been indifferent to death of Sinhalese soldiers (and even civilians in Colombo from Indian bombings) he could have carried on with the war and finished LTTE.

  8. stanley perera Says:

    We have forgotten to say thank you Pakistan, China not forgettin Karuna Amman and also Jackson Anthony. If not the pin point accuracy by the Pakistani Pilots nondi barbaraya tamil chelvam would be hounding us still. Jackson Anthony used the radio to give life to the soldiers. Gota I love my son. Wish you become our next president. Dare devil Gota you deserve my thanks. My good Paharaya Phony you are great. My beloved handfulof expatriots like Charles, Asoka and all others who fought with the Anti Sinhala International community and patriats like shenali you are also great.

  9. nilwala Says:

    Thank You, Kamalika! – For once more putting on record the history leading up to the final Eelam War that led to Nandikadal and the LTTE’s final routing by the TriForces, as well as the MR/GR political leadership’s role in bringing the 30-year terror to an end.

  10. Fran Diaz Says:

    Thank you, Kamalika.

    ————–

    What was most wonderful about the win against near 30 yrs of LTTE terrorism was that Pres MR & Gota brought the country together in this effort. The whole country pulled together to win the war against the terrorist outfit.

    What happened AFTER the war finished ?

    After the war, even though Pres MR and the Govt did so well in Development and also care of injured soliders (both mental & physical sicknesses, including care and helping Army Commander Fonseka who was a victim to a suicide terrorist attack), that govt was displaced, and today faces War Crimes charges from the UNHRC.

    Where is the countrywide Defense for these Heroic Armed Force & the MR govt ?

  11. Fran Diaz Says:

    In addition to defeating the terrorist outfit the LTTE, the Armed Forces rescued over 300,000 Tamil Civilians held hostage as a Human Shield.
    Over 11,000 LTTE cadre were rehabilitated and released by the past GoSL. Only the few hundred hard core LTTE cadre remain in custody.

    Kamalika, please do write if time permits, a short article on the rescue of these Tamil Civilians. Thank you again for great articles to the Lankaweb.

  12. Ananda-USA Says:

    Fran Diaz,

    Good point …. where is the countrywide defence of the great leaders and war heroes who defended and reunified our Motherland?

    They DEFENDED US in OUR HOUR OF NEED, why are we forgetting them in THEIR HOUR OF NEED?

    Are we so UNGRATEFUL? Is it NOT GRATITUDE that DISTINGUISHES MAN from BEAST?

    If so, are we Sri Lankans HUMANS or BEASTS?

  13. Dham Says:

    Can someone who loves the ex-preZ more than the country please correct his name typed in the title of the article ? Sounds like Wigneshwaran’s brother in law’s parliamentary language, very disrespectful and ungrateful.

  14. Fran Diaz Says:

    Ananda,

    I think, unfortunately, the Floods have got in the way …..

    We hope the People & the Country recovers fast from the Flood disaster and manages to get on with the business of defending our War Heroes in their hour of need. We hope leaders at intermediate level are making plans for the defense of our War Heroes. Ranil has already said that it will be local inquiry re the UNHRC charge – he should be held to that promise. The Missing Persons office will be shifted to Geneva (per Island, 30 May 2016).

  15. Ananda-USA Says:

    Hey do-loop man,

    Why don’t you correct that title; that should challenge you and keep you occupied debugging code for a week or two!

  16. Fran Diaz Says:

    Dham,

    I notice that these days there are many typos in the articles in the L’web. Never mind – it’s the content that matters.

  17. Senevirath Says:

    ඊලාම් යුද්ධ 1 2 3 4 වශයෙන් යොදන්න පටන් ගත්තේ දයාන් ජයතිලකගේ තාත්තා මෙර්වින් සිල්වා යුද්ධ නීති කදුවායය් චෝදනා එන්නට එක හේතුවක් මානුෂික මෙහෙයුම යය නොයොදා යුද්ධය යය යෙදීම ත් .ත්‍රස්ත විරෝධී මෙහෙයුමක් මිස අපි යුද්ධයක් කලායය් නොකියා සිටීම වඩා හොඳය ජවිපෙට විරුද්ධව කල මෙහෙයුම යුද්ධයක් යය හැඳින්වුණේ නැත . යුධ්ධයෙදී වුනත් දේශද්‍රෝහීන් මියයාම ගැන අපි කාටවත් වගකිවයුතු නැති නමුත් වඩා ප්‍රවෙසම්වීම හොඳය් බටහිරයෝ අපි මරාගන කන්න බලාගෙන ඉන්න නිසාත් එකට උඩගෙඩි දෙන්න එජා පයත් ඉන්න නිසා

  18. Ananda-USA Says:

    Fran,

    I make a lot of typos when I usd my smartphone to write rather than my laptop. Perhaps that is why we see a lot of typos from everyone.

    The keyboard is too small for my fingers, my eyes strain a lot, and the autocorrect feature does not recognize Sinhala words and change them without letting me know.

    But, I love my smartphone because it does everything I want everywhere I go!

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