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Archive for October 23rd, 2007

A group of LTTE cadres, including suicide bombers in civilian clothing, infiltrated the Anuradhapura Airforce base around 3.20 a.m. yesterday and launched a ground attack using small arms. Later, two LTTE light aircraft, which arrived from the Wanni bombed the airbase killing two Air Force officers and four airmen. Two MI-24 helicopters and a K-8 aircraft were damaged in the attack, Air Force sources said.

A Bell-212 helicopter, which was sent from Vavuniya airbase to Anuradhapura to support an Air Force counter attack, since the MI-24 helicopters at the base couldn’t take off due to continuous Tiger attack, crashed in Doramadalawa, Mihintale while trying to intercept the enemy aircraft which was returning to Wanni after the mission.

The two pilots and the two gunners in the helicopter were killed.

Twenty military personnel, injured in the attack, have been admitted to the Anuradhapura Hospital.

Asked whether the radars installed at the Anuradhapura airbase detected the enemy aircraft moving towards Anuradhapura, Air Force spokesman Group Captain Ajantha Silva said “The officers there had spotted the two enemy aircraft when in close proximity to the base.”

How the Bell- 212 was shot down is being interrogated. Group Captain Silva said “the helicopter was not that close to the enemy aircraft.”

An Air Force-Army combined operation recovered 20 bodies of LTTE cadres. TamiNet, the LTTE website, claimed that 20 Tiger cadres were missing.

In the attack on the airbase two officers and six airmen were killed. The two officers were Fl Lt. Ruwan Wijeratne and Flying officer Siyamblapitiya.

Air Force sources said there was an unidentified body which they believed was that of a soldier.

The pilots of the ill fated Bell- 212 were Squadron Leader Ruwan Wijeratne and Flying Officer A. B. M. Silva while the two gunners were Leading Aircraftman Gunawardane and Corpral Preethikumara.

Sri Lanka Air Force planes attacked some identified LTTE targets at Iranamadu around 5.30 a.m.

The LTTE light aircraft made two unsuccessful attempts within one month to bomb the oil and gas installations of Kolonnawa and Muturajawela in April and the bombs they dropped fell off target causing no damage.

There was suspicion that the LTTE cadres could have infiltrated Anuradhapura area during the annual Gajaba Motor Cross held on Sunday where the army said over one hundred thousand spectators flocked to Saliyapura on the outskirts of Anuradhapura to witness the event.

(http://www.island.lk/2007/10/23/news1.html)

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On the last 15th, a container belonging to the army crashed near Koswatte junction. Although there were no injuries nor any serious damage to the transported goods, the incident immediately drew local media attention. However most of the media reports that surrounded the incident were inaccurate.

The container was transporting uniforms, weapons and other supplies to SLA positions in the Northern FDL. Transport missions such as these are usually performed in utmost secrecy. Therefore the army immediately cordoned off the crash site, making it off limits to pedestrians and journalists alike. Even the mobile phone services in the area were temporarily suspended. This was all done to prevent the enemy gaining access to critical intelligence information. However several local and international media institutions  interpreted this move as ‘a threat to media freedom’. Some local news bulletins even mentioned that the SLA personnel deployed at the site ‘harassed’ the journalists.

If any video footage of the incident was released to the public, it could have put army’s next move in northern FDL in jeopardy. Anyone with a fair knowledge on defense matters could have determined the army’s battle plan if they saw what was on board the container. We do not have any hatred towards media institutions but it’s our belief that “Media freedom” should never be exploited to aid the enemy.

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The commandoes, divided into groups, infiltrated into the air base from two directions and, within 20 minutes, took the security guards by surprise, overwhelmed them, seized their weapons and communication equipment, neutralised a radar and an anti-aircraft gun position and then intimated their headquarters that they were in effective control of the air base. Only then the two aircraft of the LTTE’s air wing flew to Anuradhapura and dropped two bombs on the base and flew back safely to their hide-out.

Reliable details of the combined air and land attack launched by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on the Anuradhapura air base of the Sri Lankan Air Force early in the morning of October 22, 2007, indicate that it was neither an act of desperation as projected by the embarrassed Sri Lankan military spokesmen nor an act of needless dramatics as suggested by others. It was an act of unbelievable determination, bravery and precision successfully carried out by a 21-member suicide commando group of the Black Tigers—significantly led by a Tamil from the Eastern Province— with the back-up support of two planes of the so-called Tamil Eelam Air Force.

Reliable Western sources say that no other terrorist organisation in the world would have been capable of organising such a raid, which had been preceded by painstaking intelligence collection, planning and rehearsal. The commandoes, divided into groups, infiltrated into the air base from two directions and, within 20 minutes, took the security guards by surprise, overwhelmed them, seized their weapons and communication equipment, neutralised a radar and an anti-aircraft gun position and then intimated their headquarters that they were in effective control of the air base. Only then the two aircraft of the LTTE’s air wing flew to Anuradhapura and dropped two bombs on the base and flew back safely to their hide-out.

The commandoes remained in effective occupation of the base from 3 AM to at least 9 AM. During this period, they blew up three helicopters, two fixed-wing aircraft—one of them a trainer— and three unmanned drones. After losing communication with the air base, the Sri Lankan Air Force base at Vavuniya sent one of its helicopters to Anuradhapura to find out what had happened. As it was approaching the air base, it was shot down by the LTTE commandoes manning the anti-aircraft gun in the air base.

The commandoes also blew up an ammunition storage depot in the air base and damaged its runway. It is learnt that the Black Tiger commandoes remained in communication with their headquarters till 9 AM. Thereafter, all communications ceased, indicating thereby that all of them had either been killed by the Sri Lankan Security Forces or had committed suicide to avoid falling into the hands of the Sri Lankan security forces, who had counter-attacked the base. Thirteen SLAF personnel were killed, nine inside the base and four in the helicopter crash.

The LTTE has been silent on the fate of the commandoes. However, it has released their personal particulars. Two Lieutenant-Colonels, six Majors, 12 Captains and one Lieutenant rank Black Tiger members took part in the operation. A Lieutenant-Colonel who led an attack team was from Trincomalee, two of the members, a Major and a Captain, were from Batticaloa, one from Mullaiththeevu, one from Mannaar, three from Ki’linochchi and eleven members from Jaffna .Three Captains were women.

Initial reports of the raid had indicated that the raid started with an air attack by the LTTE’s aircraft and that it was only thereafter that the commandoes had infiltrated into the air base by taking advantage of the confusion. Subsequent reports, however, indicate that the Black Tigers initially infiltrated the base and took control of it and that it was then that the air raid was launched more to test the capability for co-ordination between the air wing and the Black Tigers than to cause damage to the base. Since the Black Tigers were already in effective control of the base, they did not need any air support.

Embarrassed by the spectacular display of the LTTE’s prowess, the Sri Lankan authorities have been trying to play down the successes of the LTTE operation. They claim that only two helicopters and one fixed wing aircraft were damaged and another helicopter was destroyed when it crash-landed due to technical reasons. The Colombo correspondent of the “Daily Telegraph” of London has reported that the Black Tigers destroyed an expensive Beechcraft surveillance plane worth £14 million, two Mi17 helicopters, two Mi24 helicopters, three unmanned aerial vehicles, a K-8 jet and eight PD6 propeller trainer aircraft.

The Anuradhapura air base was essentially used by the SLAF as a training base. The training command of the SLAF was located there. In addition, it was also providing intelligence support to the SLAF and the Navy through the sophisticated Beechcraft plane fitted with equipment for aerial photography and the collection of electronic and technical intelligence and the unmanned drones. Instructors from Pakistan, China and Israel were periodically attached to the base.

The helicopters destroyed by the Black Tigers were being used as helicopter gun ships or for VIP transport. While the damage sustained by the SLAF is considerable in money terms and reduces its capability for intelligence collection for air and naval operations, its impact on the SLAF’s capability for air strikes over the LTTE controlled areas would be limited.

The successful operation would seem to have been launched by the LTTE in retaliation for the recent operations of the Sri Lankan Navy against the transport ships of the LTTE and the air strikes of the SLAF over LTTE positions in the Northern Province. It once again underlines the LTTE’s reputation as an organisation with a tremendous tenacity of purpose, grit and sophistication in thinking and planning. Its recent set-backs have not weakened its morale. They have only redoubled its determination to keep fighting for its political objective unmindful of the losses in the Eastern Province.

LTTE Attacks Anuradhapura Air Base

“Since May, the LTTE has been going through serious operational difficulties. The flow of funds from its overseas supporters has declined due to action taken against them by their host governments. Its arms procurement network has also had a number of set-backs due to actions taken against them by foreign governments. Its sea transport capability has been damaged by some successful operations mounted by the Sri Lankan Navy. “

Despite bad weather, two aircraft of the so-called Tamil Eelam Air Force of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) managed to provide air cover to a ground attack launched by a specially-trained commando unit of the LTTE on a Sri Lankan Air Force base at Anuradhapura, 212 kilometres north of Colombo, on October 22,2007. The LTTE aircraft first appeared over the air base and dropped two bombs. Taking advantage of the resulting confusion in the air base, the LTTE commandoes infiltrated the base. The resulting exchange of fire between the Sri Lankan forces guarding the base and the LTTE commandoes lasted about two hours between 3 AM and 5 AM.

While the LTTE disseminated its version of the joint operation shortly after it had ended, the Government version came about an hour later.Both versions said that two Russian-made MI 24 helicopters parked in the air base were affected. While the Government version said the helicopters were damaged, the LTTE version said they were destroyed.

The two versions also said that a third helicopter ( Bell 212) was destroyed when it crashlanded at Doramadalawa, 13 kms east of Anuradhapura. The Government version said four airmen were killed during the crashlanding. It also said that the helicopter had taken off to take action against the LTTE commandoes, but it developed technical trouble. According to the LTTE version, two pilots and two engineers stationed in the air base tried to flee in the helicopter when the LTTE launched the attack. They were killed when they lost control of the helicopter and crashed on the ground.

Neither side has given any further details. Some Pakistani Air Force pilots are based in Anuradhapura to train pilots of the Sri Lankan Air Force. None of them appears to have been affected by the LTTE attack. This is the fourth air strike launched by the LTTE since March 26,2007, when the LTTE brought its long-concealed aircraft into the open and used them for its operations. Two of the previous attacks were on targets in Colombo and the third was on a target in the Jaffna area. All the four attacks were at night. The last attack from the air was on the Delft naval base in the Jaffna area on the night of May 24,2007. Since then, the LTTE has not used its air power despite its repeated threats to attack economic and other strategic targets in the Sinhalese areas. This had given rise to speculation that it might be facing spare parts or fuel procurement problems.

Since May, the LTTE has been going through serious operational difficulties. The flow of funds from its overseas supporters has declined due to action taken against them by their host governments. Its arms procurement network has also had a number of set-backs due to actions taken against them by foreign governments. Its sea transport capability has been damaged by some successful operations mounted by the Sri Lankan Navy. It has practically lost control of the areas in the Eastern Province, which were previously under its control.

Despite this, the morale, the motivation and the determination of its cadres remain strong. Its resilence as an organisation is intact.There has been no decline in their ability to innovate and take the adversary by surprise.However, the attrition in resources suffered by it is having an impact on its operations. It is now taking a longer time than in the past to plan and mount a major terrorist strike. This is because mobilisation of resources—-human and material—is taking a longer time.

(http://lankaguardian.blogspot.com)

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The commandoes, divided into groups, infiltrated into the air base from two directions and, within 20 minutes, took the security guards by surprise, overwhelmed them, seized their weapons and communication equipment, neutralised a radar and an anti-aircraft gun position and then intimated their headquarters that they were in effective control of the air base. Only then the two aircraft of the LTTE’s air wing flew to Anuradhapura and dropped two bombs on the base and flew back safely to their hide-out.

Reliable details of the combined air and land attack launched by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on the Anuradhapura air base of the Sri Lankan Air Force early in the morning of October 22, 2007, indicate that it was neither an act of desperation as projected by the embarrassed Sri Lankan military spokesmen nor an act of needless dramatics as suggested by others. It was an act of unbelievable determination, bravery and precision successfully carried out by a 21-member suicide commando group of the Black Tigers—significantly led by a Tamil from the Eastern Province— with the back-up support of two planes of the so-called Tamil Eelam Air Force.

Reliable Western sources say that no other terrorist organisation in the world would have been capable of organising such a raid, which had been preceded by painstaking intelligence collection, planning and rehearsal. The commandoes, divided into groups, infiltrated into the air base from two directions and, within 20 minutes, took the security guards by surprise, overwhelmed them, seized their weapons and communication equipment, neutralised a radar and an anti-aircraft gun position and then intimated their headquarters that they were in effective control of the air base. Only then the two aircraft of the LTTE’s air wing flew to Anuradhapura and dropped two bombs on the base and flew back safely to their hide-out.

The commandoes remained in effective occupation of the base from 3 AM to at least 9 AM. During this period, they blew up three helicopters, two fixed-wing aircraft—one of them a trainer— and three unmanned drones. After losing communication with the air base, the Sri Lankan Air Force base at Vavuniya sent one of its helicopters to Anuradhapura to find out what had happened. As it was approaching the air base, it was shot down by the LTTE commandoes manning the anti-aircraft gun in the air base.

The commandoes also blew up an ammunition storage depot in the air base and damaged its runway. It is learnt that the Black Tiger commandoes remained in communication with their headquarters till 9 AM. Thereafter, all communications ceased, indicating thereby that all of them had either been killed by the Sri Lankan Security Forces or had committed suicide to avoid falling into the hands of the Sri Lankan security forces, who had counter-attacked the base. Thirteen SLAF personnel were killed, nine inside the base and four in the helicopter crash.

The LTTE has been silent on the fate of the commandoes. However, it has released their personal particulars. Two Lieutenant-Colonels, six Majors, 12 Captains and one Lieutenant rank Black Tiger members took part in the operation. A Lieutenant-Colonel who led an attack team was from Trincomalee, two of the members, a Major and a Captain, were from Batticaloa, one from Mullaiththeevu, one from Mannaar, three from Ki’linochchi and eleven members from Jaffna .Three Captains were women.

Initial reports of the raid had indicated that the raid started with an air attack by the LTTE’s aircraft and that it was only thereafter that the commandoes had infiltrated into the air base by taking advantage of the confusion. Subsequent reports, however, indicate that the Black Tigers initially infiltrated the base and took control of it and that it was then that the air raid was launched more to test the capability for co-ordination between the air wing and the Black Tigers than to cause damage to the base. Since the Black Tigers were already in effective control of the base, they did not need any air support.

Embarrassed by the spectacular display of the LTTE’s prowess, the Sri Lankan authorities have been trying to play down the successes of the LTTE operation. They claim that only two helicopters and one fixed wing aircraft were damaged and another helicopter was destroyed when it crash-landed due to technical reasons. The Colombo correspondent of the “Daily Telegraph” of London has reported that the Black Tigers destroyed an expensive Beechcraft surveillance plane worth £14 million, two Mi17 helicopters, two Mi24 helicopters, three unmanned aerial vehicles, a K-8 jet and eight PD6 propeller trainer aircraft.

The Anuradhapura air base was essentially used by the SLAF as a training base. The training command of the SLAF was located there. In addition, it was also providing intelligence support to the SLAF and the Navy through the sophisticated Beechcraft plane fitted with equipment for aerial photography and the collection of electronic and technical intelligence and the unmanned drones. Instructors from Pakistan, China and Israel were periodically attached to the base.

The helicopters destroyed by the Black Tigers were being used as helicopter gun ships or for VIP transport. While the damage sustained by the SLAF is considerable in money terms and reduces its capability for intelligence collection for air and naval operations, its impact on the SLAF’s capability for air strikes over the LTTE controlled areas would be limited.

The successful operation would seem to have been launched by the LTTE in retaliation for the recent operations of the Sri Lankan Navy against the transport ships of the LTTE and the air strikes of the SLAF over LTTE positions in the Northern Province. It once again underlines the LTTE’s reputation as an organisation with a tremendous tenacity of purpose, grit and sophistication in thinking and planning. Its recent set-backs have not weakened its morale. They have only redoubled its determination to keep fighting for its political objective unmindful of the losses in the Eastern Province.

LTTE Attacks Anuradhapura Air Base

“Since May, the LTTE has been going through serious operational difficulties. The flow of funds from its overseas supporters has declined due to action taken against them by their host governments. Its arms procurement network has also had a number of set-backs due to actions taken against them by foreign governments. Its sea transport capability has been damaged by some successful operations mounted by the Sri Lankan Navy. “

Despite bad weather, two aircraft of the so-called Tamil Eelam Air Force of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) managed to provide air cover to a ground attack launched by a specially-trained commando unit of the LTTE on a Sri Lankan Air Force base at Anuradhapura, 212 kilometres north of Colombo, on October 22,2007. The LTTE aircraft first appeared over the air base and dropped two bombs. Taking advantage of the resulting confusion in the air base, the LTTE commandoes infiltrated the base. The resulting exchange of fire between the Sri Lankan forces guarding the base and the LTTE commandoes lasted about two hours between 3 AM and 5 AM.

While the LTTE disseminated its version of the joint operation shortly after it had ended, the Government version came about an hour later.Both versions said that two Russian-made MI 24 helicopters parked in the air base were affected. While the Government version said the helicopters were damaged, the LTTE version said they were destroyed.

The two versions also said that a third helicopter ( Bell 212) was destroyed when it crashlanded at Doramadalawa, 13 kms east of Anuradhapura. The Government version said four airmen were killed during the crashlanding. It also said that the helicopter had taken off to take action against the LTTE commandoes, but it developed technical trouble. According to the LTTE version, two pilots and two engineers stationed in the air base tried to flee in the helicopter when the LTTE launched the attack. They were killed when they lost control of the helicopter and crashed on the ground.

Neither side has given any further details. Some Pakistani Air Force pilots are based in Anuradhapura to train pilots of the Sri Lankan Air Force. None of them appears to have been affected by the LTTE attack. This is the fourth air strike launched by the LTTE since March 26,2007, when the LTTE brought its long-concealed aircraft into the open and used them for its operations. Two of the previous attacks were on targets in Colombo and the third was on a target in the Jaffna area. All the four attacks were at night. The last attack from the air was on the Delft naval base in the Jaffna area on the night of May 24,2007. Since then, the LTTE has not used its air power despite its repeated threats to attack economic and other strategic targets in the Sinhalese areas. This had given rise to speculation that it might be facing spare parts or fuel procurement problems.

Since May, the LTTE has been going through serious operational difficulties. The flow of funds from its overseas supporters has declined due to action taken against them by their host governments. Its arms procurement network has also had a number of set-backs due to actions taken against them by foreign governments. Its sea transport capability has been damaged by some successful operations mounted by the Sri Lankan Navy. It has practically lost control of the areas in the Eastern Province, which were previously under its control.

Despite this, the morale, the motivation and the determination of its cadres remain strong. Its resilence as an organisation is intact.There has been no decline in their ability to innovate and take the adversary by surprise.However, the attrition in resources suffered by it is having an impact on its operations. It is now taking a longer time than in the past to plan and mount a major terrorist strike. This is because mobilisation of resources—-human and material—is taking a longer time.

(http://lankaguardian.blogspot.com)

Read Full Post »

The commandoes, divided into groups, infiltrated into the air base from two directions and, within 20 minutes, took the security guards by surprise, overwhelmed them, seized their weapons and communication equipment, neutralised a radar and an anti-aircraft gun position and then intimated their headquarters that they were in effective control of the air base. Only then the two aircraft of the LTTE’s air wing flew to Anuradhapura and dropped two bombs on the base and flew back safely to their hide-out.

Reliable details of the combined air and land attack launched by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) on the Anuradhapura air base of the Sri Lankan Air Force early in the morning of October 22, 2007, indicate that it was neither an act of desperation as projected by the embarrassed Sri Lankan military spokesmen nor an act of needless dramatics as suggested by others. It was an act of unbelievable determination, bravery and precision successfully carried out by a 21-member suicide commando group of the Black Tigers—significantly led by a Tamil from the Eastern Province— with the back-up support of two planes of the so-called Tamil Eelam Air Force.

Reliable Western sources say that no other terrorist organisation in the world would have been capable of organising such a raid, which had been preceded by painstaking intelligence collection, planning and rehearsal. The commandoes, divided into groups, infiltrated into the air base from two directions and, within 20 minutes, took the security guards by surprise, overwhelmed them, seized their weapons and communication equipment, neutralised a radar and an anti-aircraft gun position and then intimated their headquarters that they were in effective control of the air base. Only then the two aircraft of the LTTE’s air wing flew to Anuradhapura and dropped two bombs on the base and flew back safely to their hide-out.

The commandoes remained in effective occupation of the base from 3 AM to at least 9 AM. During this period, they blew up three helicopters, two fixed-wing aircraft—one of them a trainer— and three unmanned drones. After losing communication with the air base, the Sri Lankan Air Force base at Vavuniya sent one of its helicopters to Anuradhapura to find out what had happened. As it was approaching the air base, it was shot down by the LTTE commandoes manning the anti-aircraft gun in the air base.

The commandoes also blew up an ammunition storage depot in the air base and damaged its runway. It is learnt that the Black Tiger commandoes remained in communication with their headquarters till 9 AM. Thereafter, all communications ceased, indicating thereby that all of them had either been killed by the Sri Lankan Security Forces or had committed suicide to avoid falling into the hands of the Sri Lankan security forces, who had counter-attacked the base. Thirteen SLAF personnel were killed, nine inside the base and four in the helicopter crash.

The LTTE has been silent on the fate of the commandoes. However, it has released their personal particulars. Two Lieutenant-Colonels, six Majors, 12 Captains and one Lieutenant rank Black Tiger members took part in the operation. A Lieutenant-Colonel who led an attack team was from Trincomalee, two of the members, a Major and a Captain, were from Batticaloa, one from Mullaiththeevu, one from Mannaar, three from Ki’linochchi and eleven members from Jaffna .Three Captains were women.

Initial reports of the raid had indicated that the raid started with an air attack by the LTTE’s aircraft and that it was only thereafter that the commandoes had infiltrated into the air base by taking advantage of the confusion. Subsequent reports, however, indicate that the Black Tigers initially infiltrated the base and took control of it and that it was then that the air raid was launched more to test the capability for co-ordination between the air wing and the Black Tigers than to cause damage to the base. Since the Black Tigers were already in effective control of the base, they did not need any air support.

Embarrassed by the spectacular display of the LTTE’s prowess, the Sri Lankan authorities have been trying to play down the successes of the LTTE operation. They claim that only two helicopters and one fixed wing aircraft were damaged and another helicopter was destroyed when it crash-landed due to technical reasons. The Colombo correspondent of the “Daily Telegraph” of London has reported that the Black Tigers destroyed an expensive Beechcraft surveillance plane worth £14 million, two Mi17 helicopters, two Mi24 helicopters, three unmanned aerial vehicles, a K-8 jet and eight PD6 propeller trainer aircraft.

The Anuradhapura air base was essentially used by the SLAF as a training base. The training command of the SLAF was located there. In addition, it was also providing intelligence support to the SLAF and the Navy through the sophisticated Beechcraft plane fitted with equipment for aerial photography and the collection of electronic and technical intelligence and the unmanned drones. Instructors from Pakistan, China and Israel were periodically attached to the base.

The helicopters destroyed by the Black Tigers were being used as helicopter gun ships or for VIP transport. While the damage sustained by the SLAF is considerable in money terms and reduces its capability for intelligence collection for air and naval operations, its impact on the SLAF’s capability for air strikes over the LTTE controlled areas would be limited.

The successful operation would seem to have been launched by the LTTE in retaliation for the recent operations of the Sri Lankan Navy against the transport ships of the LTTE and the air strikes of the SLAF over LTTE positions in the Northern Province. It once again underlines the LTTE’s reputation as an organisation with a tremendous tenacity of purpose, grit and sophistication in thinking and planning. Its recent set-backs have not weakened its morale. They have only redoubled its determination to keep fighting for its political objective unmindful of the losses in the Eastern Province.

LTTE Attacks Anuradhapura Air Base

“Since May, the LTTE has been going through serious operational difficulties. The flow of funds from its overseas supporters has declined due to action taken against them by their host governments. Its arms procurement network has also had a number of set-backs due to actions taken against them by foreign governments. Its sea transport capability has been damaged by some successful operations mounted by the Sri Lankan Navy. “

Despite bad weather, two aircraft of the so-called Tamil Eelam Air Force of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) managed to provide air cover to a ground attack launched by a specially-trained commando unit of the LTTE on a Sri Lankan Air Force base at Anuradhapura, 212 kilometres north of Colombo, on October 22,2007. The LTTE aircraft first appeared over the air base and dropped two bombs. Taking advantage of the resulting confusion in the air base, the LTTE commandoes infiltrated the base. The resulting exchange of fire between the Sri Lankan forces guarding the base and the LTTE commandoes lasted about two hours between 3 AM and 5 AM.

While the LTTE disseminated its version of the joint operation shortly after it had ended, the Government version came about an hour later.Both versions said that two Russian-made MI 24 helicopters parked in the air base were affected. While the Government version said the helicopters were damaged, the LTTE version said they were destroyed.

The two versions also said that a third helicopter ( Bell 212) was destroyed when it crashlanded at Doramadalawa, 13 kms east of Anuradhapura. The Government version said four airmen were killed during the crashlanding. It also said that the helicopter had taken off to take action against the LTTE commandoes, but it developed technical trouble. According to the LTTE version, two pilots and two engineers stationed in the air base tried to flee in the helicopter when the LTTE launched the attack. They were killed when they lost control of the helicopter and crashed on the ground.

Neither side has given any further details. Some Pakistani Air Force pilots are based in Anuradhapura to train pilots of the Sri Lankan Air Force. None of them appears to have been affected by the LTTE attack. This is the fourth air strike launched by the LTTE since March 26,2007, when the LTTE brought its long-concealed aircraft into the open and used them for its operations. Two of the previous attacks were on targets in Colombo and the third was on a target in the Jaffna area. All the four attacks were at night. The last attack from the air was on the Delft naval base in the Jaffna area on the night of May 24,2007. Since then, the LTTE has not used its air power despite its repeated threats to attack economic and other strategic targets in the Sinhalese areas. This had given rise to speculation that it might be facing spare parts or fuel procurement problems.

Since May, the LTTE has been going through serious operational difficulties. The flow of funds from its overseas supporters has declined due to action taken against them by their host governments. Its arms procurement network has also had a number of set-backs due to actions taken against them by foreign governments. Its sea transport capability has been damaged by some successful operations mounted by the Sri Lankan Navy. It has practically lost control of the areas in the Eastern Province, which were previously under its control.

Despite this, the morale, the motivation and the determination of its cadres remain strong. Its resilence as an organisation is intact.There has been no decline in their ability to innovate and take the adversary by surprise.However, the attrition in resources suffered by it is having an impact on its operations. It is now taking a longer time than in the past to plan and mount a major terrorist strike. This is because mobilisation of resources—-human and material—is taking a longer time.

(http://lankaguardian.blogspot.com)

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Strategic Vision

“Presence of mind . . . is nothing but an increased capacity of dealing with the unexpected.”- Clausewitz

The attack on the Anuradhapura Airbase once again brings us back to the stark realities of war. Unforeseen events in war will surprise even the most season generals and policy makers. Hence, this attack should be a wakeup call to both military thinkers and policy makers and an opportune time to reflect on a strategic vision.

Sun Tzu one of the greatest military strategists warned his political masters “ know your enemy and know your self” Even centuries after Sun Tzu this maxim is still the primary principal for all who go to war. The combined air and ground offensive by the “black tigers” has several tactical purposes and warrants a careful study before policy makers embark on any rash moves.

This attack by the LTTE invites the GOSL to make several tactical and strategic blunders, which could be detrimental to the overall strategic military thinking that has produced significant results. This attack is essentially an attack behind enemy lines for the LTTE and is a deep penetration attack that is aimed at destabilizing the current offensive mindset of the military to readjust the current military positions and deployment. After three decades of vacillating between different conventional warfare tactics the armed forces have now adjusted to mobile Special Forces warfare tactics with close air support. This strategy produced exceptional results during the last few years for the military and the LTTE wants a reversal to semi-conventional warfare so that they have better access to information and fixed targets to take aim at. Therefore, this attack should not be a catalyst to change the way we have been conducting the war. It would be utterly irresponsible for the policy makers to change course and fight a semi conventional war based on a political agenda right now. The lesson is “ Stay the Course”

The second tactical blunder that the LTTE has invited the GOSL to make is the needless propaganda bombing raids in LTTE controlled areas. Arial bombing undoubtedly has its pros and cons. However, insight of the LTTE using human shields it becomes impossible to distinguish between civilian and military targets and civilians will be targeted. The implication of this is far reaching in terms of the current pressure that is mounting on the GOSL about humanitarian concerns in the North and the East. Last week UN issued a strongly worded confidential note to the government and warned that the humanitarian situation in Sri Lanka continues to deteriorate with possible devastating consequences.” Any offensive against the LTTE in northern Sri Lanka would have major humanitarian consequences, including displacement of up to 400,000 civilians,” This comes in the backdrop of the US ambassador and the EU raising humanitarian concerns of the civilian population in the North and the East. GOSL does not operate in a vacuum and we cannot defy the international community this is the reality of this war for all developing countries. It is better that the GOSL realizes this now whether they like it or not and play within these constraints. The aim of a secessionist insurgency is to show that the government cannot govern and protect its people but the government has the herculean task of governing and protecting the population with internal and external constraints. This is the reality and GOSL must deal with it.

The third strategic blunder that the LTTE wants the GOSL to make is relying on statistics and figures of success that has been circulating in policy circles last week. Measuring success is important but it should not be the deciding factor in guiding policy in counterinsurgency efforts. Success in counterinsurgency efforts should not be measured by the amount of physical infrastructure destroyed but by the number of hearts and minds won. This is essentially a political effort. Moreover, it is a HUMIT effort. All military policy makers should take this seriously, in their policy planning. The attack on the Anuradhapura base was carried out with small arms and light weapons. It is impossible to destroy such weapons through offensive military action. The only way to neutralize this is to gather information through the population and through informants on the ground. GOSL’s current emphasis on territory captured and physical infrastructure destroyed should not be allowed to distract the overall strategic planning and throw away the strategic advantage that the military possess.

In war, more than anywhere else things do not turn out as we expect. In times of war when unforeseen events take place it takes courage, determination and a strategic vision to stay the course and not to succumb to the tactical ploys of the enemy.

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