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The war is winnable: Lankan troops gaining impressive ground


"Second reason is that these military gurus naturally tend to underestimate the capacity, fluidity and determination of the Sri Lankan armed forces. In 1987-89 during JVP’s insurrection period same predictions like unwinnable war, no military solution were being put forward. After realizing the non effectiveness of military operation against JVP – DJV combine, the then military leaders changed the strategy. They used same tactics (hit and run) to tackle the JVP. Entire JVP military strategy was “mirrored” upon them. Finally they (JVP) suffered, bled, betrayed and vanquished."
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by Patali Champika Ranawaka

(July 12, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Sri Lankan Armed Forces have launched a multi prong military operation in Vanni. Few months ago some military analysts expressed the view at media briefings that although Sri Lankan forces had engaged in a prolonged battle with the LTTE in Madu area, for a period over 8 months, they will not be able to advance any further due to fierce resistance from LTTE. Thereafter, these military gurus posed the question as to whether it could be possible for the forces to sustain the offensive against the LTTE.

In the meantime, LTTE reiterated that the present offensive against them to recapture Vanni will suffer a similar fate experienced during the Jayasikuru operation, “unceasing waves” in 1997. Our military leaders explaining their current war strategy to the media said that as in 1997 Jayasikuru operation, their exercise was not necessarily to go for terrains, but to inflict maximum number of deaths and damage to the enemy. However, some media reports have tried to show the world that our military was involved in a statistical war – game, instead of trying to defeat the LTTE decisively.

However, during the last few weeks it showed the world that Sri Lankan forces slowly but surely are recapturing strategic areas of Vanni. Almost all the populated areas of the Mannar district from Silavathura to Periyamadhu are being liberated. Strategic areas from Nadunkanni to Alampeal in Mulathive district are also being liberated. Predicted “unceasing Waves” of LTTE, to counter the offensive of the army have not yet surfaced. Instead of “unceasing waves”, agitation against human right- s violation, strikes against rising cost of living, acts of sabotage on economic and political fronts, image tarnishing, isolation tactics in international forum, are being surfaced. Tamil separatist racists are now forced to accept the reality that they have already lost their conventional war capacity and therefore they need foreign intervention.

Similar “Hit and Bleed” war strategy was adopted in Vanni region. This time our forces ignored the A – 09 route where LTTE was waiting for us, and instead they have chosen Jungle routes to meet heavily fortified bunker lines and small camps of the enemy. Continuous sweating, bleeding and overall suffering caused LTTE to retreat. Now the entire Vanni region is encircled, penetrated and LTTE base camps and two major base complexes, Mallavi and Mulaithivu are under siege. Under these circumstances we should remember that operation Jayasikuru (1997 – 99) which aimed to capture the A - 9 road using conventional war strategy had been a disaster. Not only did we lose 12,000 valuable young lives and our base complexes at strategic fronts like Mulaitivu, Kilinochchi and Elephant - pass, but also it clearly demoralized the whole nation while boosting the conventional fighting capacity and morale of the LTTE terrorists.

What went wrong with the predictions of the so-called military analysts and gurus to the effect that LTTE could not be defeated and this war is un-winnable?

One reason is that almost all the so-called military analysts based their theory on the belief that LTTE was a result of a Tamil oppression and due to Prabhakaran’s superior war strategies, tactics, mobility and fluidity, LTTE could not be defeated, But in actual fact Sri Lankan Tamils were not subjected to any national operation. They were given privileged status by Dutch and British colonists and Tamil elite wanted to maintain the status quo even after independence in 1948. LTTE military machine was not organically evolved through the Tamil society. Instead it had been created to wage a proxy war (1983-90) against Sri Lanka’s foreign policy viz a viz India and later supported by a few western nations with vested interest. Therefore, deconstructing the artificially inflated military capability of the LTTE by way of determined and cohesive military campaign is always a possibility.

Second reason is that these military gurus naturally tend to underestimate the capacity, fluidity and determination of the Sri Lankan armed forces. In 1987-89 during JVP’s insurrection period same predictions like unwinnable war, no military solution were being put forward. After realizing the non effectiveness of military operation against JVP – DJV combine, the then military leaders changed the strategy. They used same tactics (hit and run) to tackle the JVP. Entire JVP military strategy was “mirrored” upon them. Finally they (JVP) suffered, bled, betrayed and vanquished.

Ability to change in “war” is very important. History of war revealed that those who possess more fluidity more mobility, more adaptability would always get the upper hand and superiority. It is a known fact that Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821) was the greatest war strategist of modernization era. However, during early times, most of the European modern sophisticated generals of Austria, England, Italy and Russia believed that Napoleon was rash and aggressive and if he ever faced modern sophisticated army like partisans he could be easily defeated. While Prussians were waiting for a conventional battle Napoleon used unconventional strategies and tactics to defeat the application of timeless principles of Frederick the Great’s oblique order of battle. Few centuries old German feudal pre modern war principles were crumbled. If we analyze the war heroes from Dutugemunu, Vijayabahu to Vimaladarmasuriya, their success had been on their ability to change, and not allowing static lines of defence. They made everything fluid and mobile against the mighty invaders to protect our country. It should also be noted that great war heroes like Alexander (Great – Greece) Chandra Guptha - India, Gengis Khan – Mongolia, Negven Giap of Vietnam, always changed the existing principles and changed the cause of history. So, while LTTE has been preparing for a conventional battle, our forces waged unconventional war, making everything fluid and mobile. Roles have been changed and LTTE is being effectively mirrored.

Third reason is that our forces are now motivated and have a cause. Without having any cause, no Army could wage a war effectively. With a national cause to protect the motherland and beloved Nation, morale of our forces is being greatly enhanced and they are encouraged to think less about themselves and more about the nation. Great war hero of modern Italy Garibaldi once said that one soldier with the sense of a cause is worth more than ten paid soldiers without any motivation or group feeling. Our soldiers clearly showed the world that LTTE’s so-called cynide determination could be simply deflated and they too could be surrendered. The important thing is that our soldiers showed to the world that LTTE is not a monolithic organization. They could be disoriented, disarranged, divided and destroyed. And the so-called Vanni iron curtain could be infiltrated and almost all the top leaders could be targeted. For the first time in the LTTE’s history their top leaders are haunted by death psychosis.

Fourth reason is the leadership. Once upon a time some of our commanders proudly claimed that they did not fire a single bullet in the battle front. Now from the top to the bottom they are battle hardened in body and mind. Their motto is not “go ahead” (Pallayalla) but came on (varella)

However, we should remember one thing. Although our forces clearly demonstrated that they could militarily defeat the LTTE, it has not yet been fully achieved. Major battles of Vanni are yet to come. So we should focus on the following:

Prevent International military or political
intervention

All the issues regarding Human Rights violations, press freedom and various other democratic changes are to attract international intervention to stop the war against terrorism. Although the battle against LTTE is an unconventional one, it is the duty of the government to protect democratic norms of the non violent political opposition. The most important thing is to bypass the Indian Loksabha election which could be used as a political tool by the LTTE cohorts in Tamil Nadu. It should also be noted that some foreign countries employed EHMS (Economic hitmen) and ‘Jackals’ to manipulate total instability in Sri Lanka.

Protect political stability
International and Palace conspiracies, strikes, political agitations aimed to destabilize the government at this critical juncture should be exposed and defeated. Without strong political stability no battle could be won.

Mobilize civil society
The fallback strategies of the LTTE may be aimed at spreading their cadres all over the island and to kill civilians and political figures as many as possible. Now they are engaged in a process of prolonged guerilla warfare with the positioning of their cadres as small sleeping cells. So, constant mobilization process among civilians must be continued.

Sustain economic prosperity
With the deepening food and oil crises, sustenance of the economic growth needed cohesive and patriotic management of our economy. Government spending on mega projects should be prioritized and debt repayment should be rescheduled, Sustainable energy policy should be adopted. Government too should illustrate to the poor public who are economically suffering their willingness to sacrifice.

Do not divide the nation
At this critical juncture, no political solution aiming to devolve more powers to Federal or other means should be allowed. Process should be demilitarization, democratization and development. Before prescribing any political solution, demilitarization process should be completed. We should not forget that Chandrika Bandaranaike’s Federal package divided the nation and seriously hampered the battle against terrorism (1995-2000). This mistake should not be repeated and unity of the Nation and the support of the national movement is the key to victory.

(The Writer is a Minister of Environment and Natural Resources of the Govt. of Sri Lanka).
- Sri Lanka Guardian

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