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Military Matters


Tying up post-war loose ends

By Tissa Ravindra Perera
Having vanquished the most ruthless terrorist outfit the world has known, the security forces (SF) are on the double arranging for the resettlement of all displaced persons in their former places of residence.

First on the agenda is the unearthing of arms and ammunition hidden by the terrorists. Then the forces also have to ensure that the areas thus cleared are free of landmines, improvised explosive devices and other booby traps left behind by the terrorists.
For this task, the Wanni has been divided into four sectors, with each sector assigned to a separate Battalion, to carry out thorough clearing operations.

The spoils of war

Meanwhile, on information elicited from Tiger cadres in custody and from informants, the SF continued to recover large hauls of Tiger weapon caches even this week.

On information provided by a terrorist captured in Vavuniya, 11 Artillery Regiment of Task Force VIII, recovered a torpedo shooter, two torpedoes and a 130mm artillery gun last Monday (29) from a jungle in Chundikulam south, Pudukudyirrippu .
The torpedoes capable of sinking even large ships, were found for the first time in Sri Lanka. This type of torpedo does not exist even in the SLN armoury, and had been obtained from a breakaway country of the former Soviet Union.

Each torpedo is 26 ft. long and weighs 1200 kilos. The torpedo launcher is 28 ft. in length, with a circumference of 5.7 ft. It has been confirmed that these two torpedoes and the launcher had been manufactured with the latest technology, and could have been fitted to an ocean going vessel.

The costly torpedoes had been transported to the North on a barge in July 2007, according to the informant. According to investigations, the consignment had been purchased towards the end of June or the beginning of July 2007 from arms runners in the Black Sea area.

There had been intelligence of the vessel ‘Matsushima’ bringing torpedoes to the LTTE in 2007. It was destroyed by the SLN in October 2007. It is suspected that the torpedoes may have been unloaded onto a barge and brought ashore.
Due to their failure to acquire the technical know-how to put the weapon into use, it is thought that these weapons were left idling and not used against SLN vessels.

The SF suspect the tunnel found by 58 Division at Vellamullivaikal shore had been built for the purpose of taking the torpedoes out to deep sea. There are two ways of targeting torpedoes: one is to  home in on sound waves emanating from an ocean going vessel, while the other is its capability to go after  the target it is aimed at.
There is evidence that the 130mm cannon found had been used in the final battle, and the enemy had taken it apart and hidden in the closing stages.

On information gathered, 56 Division troops unearthed the latest diving gear made in America, underwater torches, underwater signal equipment, multi barrel rockets, hand grenades, pressure bombs and other arms and ammunition in a fresh search at Vellamullaivaikal. Among this consignment were a quantity of imported spear guns, and a large number of barrels for peddle operated guns.

In addition to these, Lt. Col. Kithsiri Kottawatta of 17 Gemunu Watch (GW) found 4 kilos of gold buried  at Karayalaimullavaikal. Cpl. Priyantha and Pvt. Ratnayaka of Delta Company of 17 GW, probing the ground with long steel spikes found the gold jewellery buried five feet underground. Later that day the same group also found RPGs, grenade launchers, suicide kits and 38,000 detonators.

Redeployment of Units

As these searches in the Wanni are being completed, the troops there are being redeployed. Accordingly, the Army Chief has made plans to bring the fighting Divisions and other Divisions engaged in the Wanni battle under Headquarters (HQ).

Following the new changes, 57 Division under Brig. Rohana Bandara, Task Force III under Col. Sarath Wijebandara and Task Force VIII under Col. G.V. Ravipriya have been brought in as fighting units of the newly created Kilinochchi SF HQ headed by Maj. Gen. Channa Goonatileke, while Task Force V under Col. Athula Galagamage and Task Force VI under Col. Channa Kodituwakku too have been added to Killinochchi HQ as defensive units.

Similarly, the new Mulativu SF HQ under the command of Maj. Gen. Nandana Udawatta will now oversee 59 Division headed by Brig. Chagee Gallage,  Task Force III headed by Col. Nishantha Wanniarachchi and Task Force II led by Col. Jayantha Gooneratne as attack Divisions. The Welioya Area Commander’s HQ too has been placed under the command of the new Mulativu SF HQ.

The Wanni SF Commander  Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya has been tasked the function of overseeing 61 Division headed by  Brig. Nissanka Ranawana, 56 Division headed by Brig. Priyantha Napagoda, 21 Division headed by Brig. Senaka Wickramaratne and Mannar Command HQ headed by Col. Tissa Nanayakkara under the new changes.
53 Division under the command of Maj. Gen. Kamal Guneratne and 58 Division under the command of Brig. Shavendra Silva have been placed directly under the Army Commander.

The Army Chief has also taken action to place under the command of Jaffna SF Commander Maj. Gen Mendaka Samarasinghe, in addition to 51 and 52 Divisions, 55 Division headed by  Brig. Prasanna de Silva and Task Force VII headed by Col. Roshan Seneviratne. While these changes were going on, Gen. Sarath Fonseka toured Jaffna on Thursday (2) to thank officers and soldiers who took part in the final battle for Wanni. This was also his first visit to Jaffna, after winning the Wanni Battle and being promoted General.

War memorials

Meanwhile, arrangements are in the offing to build four monuments in Wanni, in remembrance of the valiant men who sacrificed their lives there. The sites selected for the monuments are the final battle site near the shell of the vessel Farah 3 at Vellamullaivaikkal, Anandapuram in Pudukudyirruppu East, the site where more than 600 Tiger senior cadres were killed in April, including many of their leaders such as Durga and Theepan, and the sites of the old Army camps at Kilinochchi and Mulativu.
Ferreting out the enemy within

Following the alleged shocking revelations that has come to light of the involvement of certain UN and INGO personnel and vehicles belonging to them, and the connection of two politicians, to assassinate the President with the aid of Tiger terrorists, the entire investigation is being handed over to the CID by the Western Province intelligence division.

The Western province intelligence division took into custody three drivers - Kumaran of ‘Save the Children’, Victor of UNHCR and Soundar of UNOPS who were LTTE cadres and had transported stocks of C4 explosives and other material to Colombo, hidden in the bottom of their vehicle’s petrol tanks. A suspect known as Neshan, taken in along with the three drivers, had been the mastermind behind the operation. As investigations proceed, the two politicians and more suspects are expected to be taken into custody.

The displaced civilians and captured Tiger cadres are both stationed under Wanni SF HQ. More forces have been sent to fortify this area during the past weeks. Terrorists hiding in these relief camps as civilians, passing up the opportunity to surrender voluntarily, are to be taken into custody and brought before the law. Action has already commenced to apprehend them.

Officers galore

The Diyatalawa Army Training Academy yesterday witnessed the largest number of officer recruits passing out at a single parade in its entire history. Intake 66 for Regular Officers had 33 Officer Cadets passing out, Intake 46 for Volunteer Officers had 47, Intake 14 for Short-Term Officers had 87, Short-Term Course Intake 15 had 61 Officers and Short-Term Course Intake 16 had 50 Officers, altogether totaling 281Officers passing out in a single day.

The special feature this time, as a result of the large numbers receiving Officer training, was the privilege afforded to some of them to undergo training in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. There were also three Officer recruits who were trained in the USA and UK, among this lot. The training programme was successfully completed due to the tireless efforts of the Commanding Officer of the Diyatalawa Army Training Academy- Brig. Kumudu Perera. Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickramanayaka and Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa graced the massive passing out parade.

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Vital hours lost in Air France search

By Chris Yates IHS Jane’s aviation analyst
Questions have been raised about the transmission of the flight plan
Poor air traffic communication contributed to a delay in the launch of a search and rescue mission for Air France 447 which crashed in the Atlantic on 1 June.
According to the French air accident investigation agency BEA, AF 447 attempted automated contact with Dakar Air Traffic Control (ATC) three times before it crashed, but these three contact requests were refused by the control system since no flight plan existed.

Neither Brazilian nor Senegalese air traffic control authorities noted the loss of the airliner and the alarm was only formally raised several hours later when the aircraft failed to appear in Spanish and, latterly, French airspace.
Specifically, BEA highlighted poor shortwave communication between aircraft crossing the area between the southern and northern hemispheres and ground based ATC centres.

Flight plan

BEA also singled out inadequate liaison between the relevant centres as a cause of the delay in raising an alarm.
Typically, an airline raises a flight plan with an appropriate agency some time before departure of a flight.
Air traffic control lost contact with the flight after it took off from Brazil.
The flight plan is then transmitted to all control agencies along the planned route its aircraft intends taking.
Importantly, the flight plan generated and sent by Brazilian air traffic control authorities did not include the address code for Dakar ATC.

During the course of the flight, the aircraft flight deck crew communicates by voice and data transmission with the control agencies to pass vital information including position and altitude.
Separately, automated systems will communicate from time to time with the airline’s maintenance base.
BEA initial findings state that Brazil only passed information about AF 447 after a voice request from Dakar, less than thirty minutes prior to its estimated time at the Tasil reporting point - which marks the boundary between Brazilian and Senegalese-controlled oceanic airspace.

Although Dakar then generated a virtual flight plan for AF 447, the centre had no radio or data contact with the flight.
Crucially, the Dakar centre did not appear to follow standard operating procedures when contact with an inbound aircraft cannot be made.

These procedures state that if contact is not made within three minutes following the estimated time of passing above a transfer point, then the receiving sector should inform the exiting sector so that adequate measures can be taken.
The Dakar shift supervisor only informed Dakar Rescue Control Centre that AF447 was missing at 0741, some 6 hours after generating a virtual flight plan and 5.5 hours after the aircraft should have entered Senegalese controlled airspace.
ATC service within the Africa and adjacent Oceanic regions has long been a source of significant consternation for airline pilots.

Stern questions

Over recent years the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO); the International Air Transport Association (IATA) and L’Agence pour la Securite de la Navigation aerienne en Afrique et a Madagasar (ASECNA) have taken steps to improve both voice and data communications between aircraft and ground within the region.

These steps have included establishing satellite voice and data channels between air traffic control centres, a significant upgrade of ground-to-air communication systems and enhanced operational procedures to improve the safety of flight.
Nevertheless, the loss of this aircraft and the delay in mounting a search and rescue operation, clearly shows that much more must be done to improve the lot for air carriers and their passengers.

As the investigation into the loss of AF 447 progresses, stern questions need to be asked of both the Brazilian and Senegalese air traffic control agencies over their inter-agency communication capability and procedures.
Specifically these agencies must be taken to task as to how a civil airliner could simply fall out of the sky on their watch and go unnoticed for several hours until other air traffic control agencies along the planned and filed route raised the alarm.

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