WINNING THE EELAM WAR
Posted on June 13th, 2016

KAMALIKA  PIERIS

The first three Presidents of Sri Lanka made no effort to win the war, though victory was possible.  J.R. Jayewardene halted the Vadamarachchi operation (1987) which would have permanently ended the LTTE offensive. .Premadasa handed over arms, ammunition, cement and cash to the LTTE. The LTTE used the ammunition and arms to kill 600 policemen in 1990. In Kumaratunga’s time, the army was almost wiped out at Mullaitivu (1996). A weeping soldier said the men had nothing to resist the LTTE with except a pistol and few grenades. .   Four years later, soldiers   died of dehydration at Elephant Pass.

These Presidents helped to strengthen the LTTE and weaken the army. LTTE was able to bring in large shipments of arms, ammunition and equipment since coastal defence was neglected.   Unsatisfactory military equipment caused chaos in the battlefield. Sia Marchetti and Pucara planes bought   in 1993 were soon grounded.  By 2005, around 26,000 soldiers had died.

The person primarily responsible for Sri Lanka ‘s victory over the LTTE in  May 2009  is Mahinda Rajapakse,  the current President of Sri Lanka and Commander in Chief of the armed forces. Rajapakse did not get on an elephant and go to war, but he was the force behind the war. He withstood enormous international pressure   and pursued the war with determination. .He monitored its progress and took necessary decisions.

He managed   international relations skillfully. He strengthened diplomatic ties and persuaded several countries to sell arms to Sri Lanka .Israel replaced two UAVs shot down by LTTE without any charge. When India refused to sell arms, Sri Lanka turned to China.  A bilateral body was set up to maintain continuous dialogue with India and keep it supportive. India was kept briefed at all times    Sri Lanka could have won the war three weeks before May 19th. But this would have affected the election prospects of India’s Congress Party in Tamilnadu.  Rajapakse therefore held back the troops. Once Tamilnadu went to polls, he ordered the army to finish the job before the next government was installed in New Delhi.

The next person responsible for the victory was Defence Secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapakse, brother to the President. Lalith Weeratunga said that he had never seen such a tech-savvy, resolute, no-nonsense Defence Secretary as Gotabhaya. Gotabhaya had been a career officer in the Sri Lanka army. He had received training in India, Pakistan and USA and had won two awards for bravery in action. .He had been a commander at    Vadamarachhi and   Operation Thrividabalaya

Gotabhaya was the mastermind behind the war .As early as 2006 he had submitted a long list of expensive war equipment he wanted purchased because he wished to be well prepared.  He said I knew that if we had a committed team, right planning, required numbers and the weaponry we could achieve our goal .I was not ready to give in to anything or anybody.”  He sued a newspaper that made defamatory allegations regarding the purchase of MiG 27s and refused a settlement out of court.

He had unreserved access to the President and was the link between the President and the armed forces. He was a good tactician and personally handled intelligence.  Wiratunge observed that Gotabhaya cared about the lower ranks of the armed forces… He said most Defense Secretaries did not know the plight of the soldiers and did not bother about things like houses for them but Gotabhaya did. He knew their problems and looked into them.

Gotabhaya selected the Service commanders including Fonseka and ensured that the three armed forces worked closely together.    He was in close contact with the ground commanders at all stages of the battle. He sorted out their logistical problems and at times directly intervened to facilitate coordination between the different forces. Details were looked into and requests processed quickly. His leadership style included supporting as well as directing.

For the first time, the government followed a carefully planned strategy against the LTTE .War operations, from 1976 to 2002 were studied to find what had gone wrong. .They found nothing wrong with the armed forces and concluded that they could win. The armed forces were increased    to 450,000 with 300,00 for the army..   A dozen new fighting formations were created    ”LTTE thought that we didn’t have sufficient troops to hold the east and we lulled everyone into believing this” said Gotabhaya. When Mavil Aru was blocked, we were ready”

The government somehow managed to purchase the necessary military supplies despite cash flow problems and the need to keep the economy afloat. It set up a company, Lanka Logistics and Technologies for arms purchases. The directors were Secretary to Treasury, Secretary for Defense, chief of defense staff, the three service commanders and IGP. Local agents of foreign arms dealers were excluded. The company dealt directly with   foreign governments.  Purchasing procedures were trimmed and purchase approvals speeded up.   This had needed some heavy handed measures by Gotabhaya. . Arms purchases were based on recommendations of the military with Gotabhaya making the final decision. Fighter aircraft were purchased. Also, different bombs for different targets.. Earlier there was only one type of bomb for all targets. Sri Lanka could have saved a lot of money if it had set up this organization decades earlier.

Defying accepted military strategy the army attacked the enemy at their strongest points, not the weakest. This took LTTE by surprise. . The army fought on several fronts simultaneously.  Nearly all assaults were made in heavily mined areas. The momentum was never allowed to slacken. Instead of the large formations used in the past, the army was trained to fight in small teams of four and eight. These teams were trained to go forward on their own. They succeeded in advancing 8 to 12 kilometers per day.

Initially they did not go for territory but went for the LTTE itself, killing and injuring as many as possible.   LTTE were harried in all directions  and eventually lost their most experienced fighters and also their morale.    The army then started taking territory. In ten months, it reached Pooneryn in the north west and neared Mullaitivu on the east. The air force and navy were sent to hold this  territory  leaving the army free to go forward. Air force was sent into the jungles, the navy to the coastal belt along Trincomalee.

Modern wars are not won solely on the ground. Navy and air support are essential. LTTE had eight merchant ships that were bringing in ammunition. They were floating warehouses carrying an arsenal which would have sustained the war for years.  These ships were destroyed in 2006 and 2007. This task, which took years to plan, was executed to perfection by the aging Sri Lanka fleet.  LTTE could not land a single shipment of arms thereafter and started retreating on all fronts.

The air force took on several LTTE targets from the air. .They destroyed strategic locations and artillery positions.  They went at bunkers,   camps, munitions dumps and     fuel dumps. Some dumps had two or three hundred thousand liters of fuel.  They attacked Sea Tiger bases, hit concealed vessels and boat building yards.  They forced the LTTE to shift their daytime training to night.  LTTE leaders also had to go underground.  Planes provided air support for the ground attacks, clearing the way for advancing troops. At Puthukudirippu the helicopter squadron flew many sorties, day and night. It was like 31st night”.

The Air force never gave in. When LTTE attacked Anuradhapura air base in Oct 2007, they went after Tamil Selvam and killed him. This stunned the LTTE and damaged its morale. The LTTE acquired air capability, with light fixed wing aircraft.  This was the first ever air threat to a conventional air force by a terrorist organization. Air force countered it with an air defense network, put together within the record time of one year. It usually took 5 to 8 years to set up such a network.

After every LTTE attack in Colombo the facilitators and supporters who provided intelligence, finance and housing for the attack team were arrested.  The government set up checkpoints and roadblocks, raided lodges, conducted cordon and search operations.   These measures were unpopular at the start, but they helped break the rich LTTE support network in Colombo and elsewhere. Collaboration between the military, police, and intelligence service led to the strangling of the LTTE in the south, reducing their ability to operate effectively specially in Colombo.

Sri Lanka took 2 years and ten months   to eliminate the LTTE. Paranthan, Oddusuddan, Elephant Pass, the administrative centre, Kilinochchi and the naval headquarters, Mullaitivu    fell in succession in 2009. The LTTE leaders were not allowed to get away. They were cornered and killed.   There was a naval blockade at Mullaitivu and planes at China Bay to prevent them escaping.  On May 18 Army Commander, Fonseka had told President that the end could not be achieved within the day. This was contradicted by the field commanders and victory was declared on May 19 2009.

http://www.island.lk/2010/06/13/features6.html

3 Responses to “WINNING THE EELAM WAR”

  1. Christie Says:

    LTTE is the terrorist arm of the Indian Empire in the island nation.

  2. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Catholic run UNPatritoic party didn’t want to end the civil war since catholic tigers of tamil drealam aka
    ltte were killing Sinhalese mainly, destroying Buddhist temples in the north and the east. Why stop it?
    Instead they were quietly encouraging the catholic tigers of tamil drealam with the help of catholic west.
    They had army commander, inspector general police, defence sec. etc. etc. catholics. So the catholic-run
    UNPatriotics were sacrificing more and more Buddhists. Contrast this with Buddhist jaathiya vinashakarana
    party aka jvp. They were burnt in tyres, heads severed etc. etc.

    Catholic traitor chief pol pot ponil
    wickramasinhalakiller even had a camp in Batalanda with his catholic police officers (douglas peiris, merryl,
    etc. etc. All in Batalanda report) to torture and kill Sinhalese. Some of the victims’ eyes were gouged out while
    they were alive. That’s how they dealt with Sinhalese uprising. But Sinhala modayas won’t understand
    these simple truth. Catholic run UNPatriotic party is for the destruction of Buddhism, Sinhalese race and
    Sri Lanka. Their aim is to create a catholic country in Sri Lanka. Size doesn’t matter. If they can carve out a
    country for the catholics, then with the west’s help and money they can overwhlem the rest. This is the plan.
    Thanks to MR grand plan scuppered. For that they want to punish him through UNHCR.

  3. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    Useful links for Sinhala modayas to see catholic run UNPatriotic party’s handy work.

    http://ltte-christian-ties.blogspot.com/

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cV6_o9txURc

    http://www.lankagrid.com/soma-thero/

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