Military Matters

Revamping National Defence Policy

By Tissa Ravindra Perera
Steps are now being taken to bring about a marked change in the country’s Defense Policy, for the first time since independence.
The Defence Policy followed, to date, has been shaped with one objective in view: to meet threats to the country’s unity and stability, arising from within its borders. The hallmark of the proposed change is to widen the policy scope, so as to meet threats from both within and outside.
The government has decided to effect the proposed policy changes after taking into account the pressures from the foreign pro-Eelam lobby that plagued it during the decisive final battle in the Wanni, and also the pressures still coming from the Tamil diaspora.

CDS in overall command

Under the re-shaped policy, powers relating to all operations by the Armed Forces will be vested with one authority. The government took action this week to increase the powers of the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) accordingly.
To date, only the coordination of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Police activity had been entrusted to the CDS. The Military Intelligence has been functioning under the purview of the Defense Secretary. In future, issuance of military commands, directing intelligence relating to national security, effecting structural changes within the Forces, will be responsibilities devolved on the CDS. The Defence Secretary will supervise all these activities. Under the new setup, the CDS will be the authority accountable for the security of the country, after the Commander-in-Chief and the Defence Secretary.

Beefing up the Army

All these changes have become necessary because the cry for Eelam is still much alive, though Prabhakaran is no more, and the need to further strengthen the security forces to prevent a possible re-emergence of an armed struggle for Eelam, is imperative. Army Chief Sarath Fonseka is now taking steps to increase the manpower of the Army to 300,000. Accordingly, several additional Divisions are to be deployed, so that, the Army could face any future contingency. 58 and 53 Divisions have already been re-named as additional Divisions. Meanwhile, a decision has been taken to further strengthen the Special Fores (SF) and the Commando regiment. Establishing Army cantonments in Mullativu and Kilinochchi as in Panagoda, is now receiving the attention of the Army Chief, who is expected to be appointed CDS shortly, to herald the major changes in the offing.

Wanni Op Report

Meanwhile, General Fonseka has submitted the final report on the Wanni operation to the National Security Council. According to the report, the Army had suffered 650 dead and 2,658 injured in 2006. In 2007, the Army suffered the loss of 523 personnel, with 3,237 wounded. In 2008, a total of 2,049 made the supreme sacrifice, while 11,623 were injured. In 2009, the death toll was 2,042 and 10,620 wounded.
According to this report, the Army had initially concentrated on destroying the enemy, and later directed its efforts to re-capture territory. The LTTE had used its maximum firepower in 2008 and 2009. The soldiers had faced enemy artillery and mortar fire in their forward march, demonstrating courage and bravery.

SLAF felicitated

The Air Force led by Air Chief Marshall Roshan Goonetillake were honoured for their invaluable contribution towards the military victory, at a function held on June 12 at Katunayake Air Base, with Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as chief guest.

The attack helicopter gunships and other fighter aircraft used for destroying enemy targets were on display at this function. The Defense Secretary warmly greeted the pilots who were involved and congratulated them for their performance, on behalf of the government.

The enemy within

Meanwhile, the Lieutenant Colonel, who had aided and abetted the Tigers in carrying out strikes in the South, has made more sensational revelations under interrogation. This officer has confessed that he transported in his official vehicle, the Tiger assailant responsible for the attack on the late Jeyaraj Fernandopulle at Weliweriya on April 6 last year. He had picked up the Tiger assailant at Aluthwatte in Mutwal, and dropped him near the venue of the function at Weliweriya, before driving away from the scene. He also admitted to having transported the suicide bomber who attacked the Air Force headquarters on January 2, when President Mahinda Rajapaksa was addressing the nation on the re-capture of Kilinochchi. The Tigers had also launched artillery fire at Palaly airport, when Defence Secretary Rajapksa and Army Commander Fonseka were about to step off their airplane. On another occasion, on information provided to the LTTE by this traitorous military officer, who was attached to the 52 Division in Jaffna at that time, the Defence Secretary, the Army Commander and their entourage escaped being hit, due to inaccuracy of the Tigers fire .However, several security personnel were injured, when the Tiger artillery fire hit the venue of a function that the visiting security authorities were to attend later in the day.

This Army officer had visited some leading LTTE activists twice in Malaysia. It has come to light now, that the LTTE activists there had urged him to lose no time in giving necessary assistance to Tiger hit-men to assassinate President Rajapaksa. The traitor had pleaded for time to organise the assassination of the President, while promising to arrange the assassination of the Army Chief as well, without delay. If there are more traitors in the Army, Military Intelligence is sure to uncover them soon.


Three attempts were made on Rajapaksas’ life: Army

By B. Muralidhar Reddy
(The Hindu) : Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa escaped “by a whisker” at least three assassination attempts by LTTE suicide squads, thanks to “tightened security arrangements”, said the Sri Lankan Army (SLA) on Friday.

In a report posted on its website, the Army said the information came to light in the course of a court inquiry into the Wellawatte (Tamil dominated area in Colombo) suicide bomber’s death.
The Army said state intelligence wings had unravelled several “intended terrorist bloodbaths”.

“The most recent arrest of an LTTE mastermind who has been operating with the support of several others in Colombo revealed that all three attempts made on the lives of President and Defence Secretary have failed by a whisker due to tightened security network,” it said.

The Army said information provided by an arrested Tiger, who had received special training in Kilinochchi for VIP assassination plans, led State Intelligence Service (SIS) to four LTTE suicide jackets hidden in the ceiling of a luxurious residential apartment in Wellawatte on May 14.

“As the SIS officers in the company of the said arrested terrorist surrounded the 7th floor of the residential complex, one more youth, an undergraduate in engineering in the Moratuwa University who was also to be arrested for his links with Tigers, suddenly ran and committed suicide by jumping off the building. The deceased was later identified as Thamodaram Pillai Sujindran,” said the Army.

It said investigations confirmed that the dead terrorist’s brother, who was now living in London, was one of the three owners of the Wellawatte residential complex. “Findings confirmed he is a hardcore LTTE operative who has been actively involved in the LTTE’s international network. SIS investigators later on took his sister, mother and three more youngsters studying in a private school into custody for interrogation.”

The first assassination attempt on the President, according to the arrested Tiger, was made while he was attending a passing-out parade at Diyatalawa military academy on December 20. A military officer who had been involved in the plan has also been arrested.

The second attempt was to be carried out when he was participating in the “Deyata Kirula” exhibition here on April 4. “The suicide bomber had sought permission to enter the premises in the company of the arrested military officer, but the senior police officer in charge of security did not allow them.”

The third attempt was of a “complex nature”. LTTE suicide bombers executed a suicide attack on a group of Ministers attending a Muslim religious function at Godakapitiya in Akuressa, Matara on March 10. “Tiger terrorists, presuming that President would be coming to see [the] hospitalised Ministers, dispatched a suicide cadre to the hospital premises, but the target did not meet its fruition.”


Sinha Regiment’s lionhearted bravery
kills Charles Anthony

The leadership provided by 12 Sinha Regiment (SR), to kill Prabhakaran`s son Charles Anthony, has come in for much praise.

12 SR was commanded by Major Anil Perera. The second-in-command was Major Lakshman Wedagama.

At the time the Tiger hierarchy were planning to escape to the Nanthikadal lagoon from Wellamullaivaikkal, 12 SR’s Bravo Company led by Captain Sumedha Nayiduwa, were guarding the camp of the second defense line, where the fleeing IDPs were being screened.

Around 2:45 am on May 17, a group of top Tiger leaders posing off as civilians, were moving along the bank of the lagoon, towards the camp. Three 8-member groups under the command of Major Thushara Silva were on duty at the IDP screening point at the time. Cpl. Liyanage, who was fluent in Tamil, went forward and advised the advancing group to turn back, as IDPs fleeing in the night were not welcome. Despite the warning to return after daybreak, the group kept advancing, when troops of 17 Gemunu Watch fired into air to scare them away. This seemed to be the signal for the Tigers posing as civilians to rush forward firing at the troops. About 100 Tigers led by Charles Anthony managed to breach the forward defense line.

While troops fought the advancing Tigers, three 8-member groups went into action to block their access to the jungle. A 4-member group led by LCpl Madhusankha Kurundugahapitiya, meanwhile, managed to close in on a small group of cornered Tigers, including Charles Anthony. Kurundugahapitiya was ably assisted by gunners A.P. Sri Lal, A.N. Upayanga and Sampath. Sri Lal and Upayanga were killed in the ensuing firefight. However, Kurundugahapitiya along with Sampath kept advancing while firing with their MPMG machine guns. The machine gunfire felled the Tigers like slashed plantain trees.
Once the guns fell silent, LCpl Kurundugahapitiya took a count of the Tiger bodies and recovered their weapons, A state-of-the-art pistol used only by top Tiger leaders and a satellite phone were among the items LCpl Kurundugahapitiya had collected.

The LCpl learnt for the first time that the pistol and the satellite phone he had recovered belonged to Charles Anthony, only when he handed them over to his superior officer around 5:30 am.

LCpl Kurundugahapitiya from Kegalle, was a comparatively new recruit with two years in the Army. He had joined the Army as a gunner and promoted LCpl, for his prowess with his MPMG machine gun at the battle at Wishwamadu. Thanks to the bravery of this soldier who fought with great valour, despite the death of two of his colleagues, a much wanted Tiger like Charles Anthony was killed. Among others who brought honour to the Sinha Regiment were Cpl Liyanage, Sgt Nimalsiri and gunner Kumara, who will also be remembered as great heroes for years to come.