As the Avenues of Approach led by the 53, 58 and TF-8 troops make the treacherous journey north to south along Valairmadam and Vellamullaivaikkaal, the 59 Division, which is the closest Division to the LTTE Leader Prabhakaran’s final hideout, seems to be gearing for a surprise.
The recent temporary transfer of Brigadier Prasanna Silva, undoubtedly the best soldier among all the military commanders on the ground, last Friday as the field commander for the 59 Division is a classic case of the Army Commander winning the game of wits and guts over his ‘counterpart’.
The 59 Division ended their offensive operations soon after the capture of Mullaitivu Town where they are positioned todate. The coastline from Mullaitivu Town north towards Vellamullaivaikkaal is a challenging terrain.
The Nanthikadal lagoon has to be crossed via the Vattuwaan bridge immediately north of Mullaitivu Town, which is booby trapped. Any attempt to cross this lagoon requires exceptional military genius; one that Prasanna has demonstrated again and again starting from a surprise amphibious assault on Vakarai to the 65km advance from Nagarkovil, via Chalai with very low casualties.
One of the very few, true Special Forces officers available to us (Direct enlistment as a young officer), Brigadier Silva has excelled in the use of 2 and 3 Special Forces units, specially the Combat Divers for sea-borne attacks.
The decision by the Army Commander to hand-over the reigns of the 59 Division comes as no surprise. The LTTE leadership, undoubtedly, is quite weary of this officer, particularly the Sea Tigers, who despite many attempts, were unable to set foot on the 65km coastline Prasanna captured and retains until today.
The move to appoint Brigadier Silva is particularly interesting given recent intelligence reports that the LTTE leadership was planning a daring escape towards the Mullaitivu Jungles, particularly to the Kumburupiddi Jungles north of Trincomalee Town. A platoon from 4 SF has already been deployed in the area as a precaution.
It is thought that Brigadier Prasanna Silva, as the head of the 59 Division, would be the best deterrence against such a move. If the LTTE was indeed planning such a move, it is high time they reconsidered their decision.
Brigadier Silva’s little known (publicly) exploits included the coordination of LRRP/LRS operations from Vavuniya when he was a Lt. Colonel. A particularly camera and publicity-shy individual, Prasanna Silva is highly respected by the Special Forces and also by Military Intelligence.
A simple and down-to-earth man, Brigadier Silva often performs his own observations of enemy lines before any major assault and can often be seen making battle preparations under a tree or at some other location from within the battlefield itself. Any other one-star General would consider this unsuitable or unfitting his status.