Planning the Wanni Battle
By Tissa Ravindra Perera
Clearing, Tiger earth bunds, security rings, death traps, poison gas, heavy weapons, missiles, tanks and air attacks, the security forces advanced taking over in addition to Tiger fortresses, Thampanai, Periyathampanai, Villaththikulam, Mullaikulam, Periyamadu, Matalampiddi, Madu, Thunukkai, Mallavi, Addampan, Uvilankulam, Yodawewa, Vedithalathivu, Illuppakadavai, Vellankulam, Akkarayankulam, Mankulam, Olumadu, Nedunkerni, Ampakamam, Puliyakulam, Kanakarayankulam, Kilinochchi, Pooneryn, Paranthan, Elephant- pass, Pallai, Soranpattu, Vettilaikerni, Chundikulam, Challai, Nayaru, Allampil, Kulamulamunai, Mullaitivu, Iranapallai and Pudukudyirruppu, within a short period of thirty two months.
Out of an Eelam concept and 13,000 km of claimed traditional homeland, not even an inch of populated land belonged to the Tigers, after May 2009. By February 12, 2009 our forces were able to restrict the Tigers within 12km of the No Fire Zone (NFZ) in Pudumathalan, Valayarmadam.
Thereafter the Army Commander was able to send brave troops on the biggest civilian hostage release mission in the history of wars.
The cause for the unprecedented loss faced by the Tigers during the fourth Eelam war, was the unconventional strategies used by the Army Commander Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka according to Cone’s armoured operational unit. Known to be a brave officer since his junior stages rising up in seniority he continued in this vein to go down in the history books as a Heroic Soldier. His plans of fighting this war since his junior days stood in his good stead.
The concept he put into action as the Commander of Jaffna, training Special Infantry Operations units with small companies, stood out in the battle field.
Under this concept soldiers were trained to be confident when going to battle. In this regard they got special training in carrying modern arms, including heavy guns and mortars, including targeting and to target aircraft with air missiles, also signals for getting aid from crafts. Mining and de-mining operations were included in the training programme. Troops without heavy gun operations became a thing of the past. The successful training programme for units began to give soldiers confidence due to the trust invoked in them. This developed a sense of security as well as a public acceptance of the soldier.
Believing in the trust invoked in them by a trustworthy leadership the soldier went to battle with the aim of winning at any cost, even paying with their lives.
The Deep Penetration Unit of the Army’s SF and Commando’s who crept into Tiger controlled areas, managed to mysteriously make senior and the middle leadership of the LTTE disappear. Aiming the vehicles at Tiger supply routes and blasting them put awful fear into Wanni Tigers.
This fear made them to load, the A-9 from Pulliyankulam to Muhumale, A35 from Paranthan to Mullaitivu, Pudukudyirruppu – Oddusuidan - Nedunkerni - Pulliyankulam road and Oddusudan – Mullaiavelli – Paranthan – Pooneryn and Pooneryn – Vedithalathivu roads, with additional cadres for security. The Army that had only one attack division in the first time in its history, the Army Commander added 7 more attack divisions to it, and three Divisions for security. The 55 Division was turned into an attack division. In the past, with Jayasikuru, when the Army went out with one battle unit, the LTTE managed to bring all its forces together and attack. During this battle the Army using several units attacked from different points and made things difficult for the Tigers.
The Tigers facing this situation could not fathom which point needed to be secured. While the war was on, small units were given training and sent to the front, having gained new techniques, and this caused the Tigers irreparable damage.
The main tactic adopted by the Army Commander was not gaining territory, but taking out the maximum amount of enemy cadres. Not moving into strategic points, his aim was to get the Tigers to come at the Army and vanquish them.
While Mullaitivu, Pudukudyirruppu, Elephant-pass, Mankulam, Ottusudan and Killinochchi were strong Tiger fortresses, he was not keen to rush into action there. He was not interested in moving troops on the Jaffna – Kandy A9 road. Instead he opted to first take the Western coastal belt in the North, then strategically took other areas. Here, bringing down troops from the North – West and taking the wounded to their hospitals in Killinochchi created the Tigers severe problems. The Deep Penetration Forces taking pot shots at them created them further problems.
Head- Army’s strategy
The Army’s strategy was to draw the Tiger cadres into the jungles and kill them. The Tigers could not cope with attacks at night from small units. They were scared of mystifying blasts of Claymore bombs weighing 12.5 to 35 kilos.
They were able to search and destroy LTTE members at large gatherings that came via pictures 24 hours of the day, given by the Beach craft and UAV’s.
The heavy fire, Multi-barrel Rocket launcher regiment and Armoured Tanks were real assets to troops. Facing Multi-barrel fire was a grave problem to the Tigers as was confirmed by analysis and is said to have caused losses to the enemy engaged in battle.
In the final battle at Pudukudyirruppu the Army arrived much ahead of the time expected by Prabakaran. Time management was a problem to the Tigers in all battles. The choosing of Pudukdyirruppu as the battle scene by Prabakaran may have been due to its locality both as an urban as well as a lagoon and infested with jungles. While Divisions 58 and 55 took the jungle route the Tigers would not have believed 53 division and Special Task Force 8 would come upon the uplands. Ultimately they lost the Eelam Kingdom.
The Civil Defence Force cannot be ignored in this Victory; they rendered the Army immense support. They were able to bring under control the possible attacks as seen through out history in villages under threat. Its Director General Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera said, they not only saved these villages but were able to capture Tiger agents sent to southern villages to carry out terror attacks. Coming together with specially trained units that were the eyesore of the Tigers, they secured roads in the South (Katunayaka – Kataragama) and were also deployed to secure main roads in Wanni.
The Civil Defence Department has performed many services to the war effort by training their troops well enough to be deployed by the Armed Forces to carry out security work in Welioya, Pooneryn, and Mulaitivu. 2000 more of their men passed out beginning of 2009.
Police Special Forces under their Commander DIG K.L.M. Sarathchandra has been on top of Tiger activity in the East and Wanni areas and securing the roads there. In 2009 in an operation in the South they managed to kill a Tiger leader and his company doing damage in deep South.
The Western Province intelligence unit, the Terrorist Investigation Department, Special Bureau, State Intelligence Services, CID, and Military Intelligence unit under IGP Jayantha Wickramaratane have managed to control terror activity in Colombo and the South and support the war through their efforts.