Wednesday, October 31, 2007

War news censorship will not be imposed

The Sri Lankan government is now reconsidering the decision to impose censorship on news items related to the ongoing conflict. A number of media institutions immediately opposed the ban when it was first announced. Internal sources from the government confirmed that the Gazette regarding censorship has now been revoked. If the censorship was imposed, publication of any information on military operations/ weapons procurement by government forces would have been illegal.

However we assure our readers that DefenceNet will continue its operations normally even if such restrictions were applied. For the 9 or so months that this blog has been online, we have not posted any information that was deemed 'classified' by the military nor released any information that put national security in jeopardy. However we have disagreed with both the government based news sources and pro LTTE media reports on several occasions. Our aim was (and is) to ensure that our readers knew the truth rather than false propaganda and we can proudly say that we have done this without helping the enemy or promoting any political parties.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Rising from the ashes

Last week's LTTE attack on Anuradhapura SLAF airbase was a major victory for the tigers. It delivered a severe blow for SLAF's surveillance capabilities and had the Eelam Diaspora jumping up in joy. 1st flying training wing and 11th UAV flight were the squadrons that suffered most. At least 3 UAVs operated by 11th UAV flight were completely destroyed. More than 12 aircraft of the 1st flying training wing including K-8 advanced jet trainers with night flying capability, Cessna 150s and PT6 trainers were destroyed in the attack.

Previously, we reported that two Mi-24 gunships were seriously damaged in the attack. According to latest reports, one of them is damaged beyond repair but the other is repairable.

Destruction of the 3 UAVs delivered a major blow to SLAF's aerial recon capabilities (however the entire UAV fleet was not lost). The loss may not be felt for long as several countries have come forward to aid the SLAF replenish its UAV inventory. Provided that everything goes well, several new UAVs might join the SLAF fleet as early as mid November. We have unconfirmed news that the new UAVs will be more technically advanced than some of those that were destroyed in the attack. Makes and models of the UAVs will not be published here as we do not know when/if that information will be made public.

Another major loss the SLAF suffered in the incident was the destruction of the Beechcraft surveillance aircraft. However the LTTE may not gain a long term benefit; Plans are already underway to repair the other Beechcraft which is currently grounded due to a technical failure.

Meanwhile India has come forward to supply the Sri Lankan armed forces with anti aircraft guns. India previously provided an air defense radar to facilitate early detection of LTTE's  low flying Cessna 150 light aircraft. Although the Indian radar at Vavuniya AFB detected the LTTE aircraft, absence of an effective strategy to counter such a detection helped the aircraft to escape unharmed.

Several pro LTTE media featured stories regarding how the LTTE aircraft shot down the SLAF Bell-212. We can confirm that all such stories are false and according to our information Bell-212 was shot down from ground based AA fire directed from Anuradhapura Airbase (high likelihood of a friendly fire incident).

SLAF may recover quickly from these losses with the help promised by foreign counties. However none of these replacements come free of charge. And the lives of SLAF personnel that were lost in the incident can never be replaced.  Military Intelligence has already warned that future LTTE targets include the Minneriya AFB (Helicopter gunships are parked here) and Palaly AFB (Major supply hub for Jaffna peninsula). Therefore SLAF must take steps to ensure that effects of future terrorist attacks are minimized.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

"Human Armor"

LTTE's recent attack on Anuradhapura airbase has somewhat overshadowed the continuous fighting that has been raging along the Mannar-Vavuniya defense lines. LTTE fighters and the Sri Lanka army have been locked in sporadic firefights in the region for the last 4 months. During the initial period of fighting, the army moved ahead of their defense lines on three fronts and captured a significant amount of rebel territory. However the LTTE launched a counterattack and the army lost the territory gained on one of the fronts within a day. After this incident, the army deployed its elite fighting formations such as the Commando regiment and the Special Forces in the area. These units, along with the 57th division have been launching small scale group based attacks on random LTTE bunkers near the frontline for the past month.

During one such attack two weeks ago, soldiers of the 57th division stormed into one of the LTTE bunkers from which the tigers had just been forced to flee. Inside the bunker, along with a few military items, the troopers found a diary. Following is a translation of one of the entries (it is believed that the diary was written by a female LTTE cadre):

"I have been stuck here for a month. The condition is getting worse. I want to go home. I want to see my mother".

In another such attack, SLA soldiers were able to recover 7 dead bodies of LTTE cadres in the general area of Vilathikulam. One of the rebels who got killed in the battle had his diary with him at the time of his death. One of the entries in it read:

"Today we were told we could have a bath but I don't think we'll get the chance. I haven't had a bath in 10 days. Promised supplies are not even here yet."

By reading above entries, one might think that the morale of LTTE is at an all time low. However this is not the case. LTTE cadres who are deployed Vavuniya-Mannar frontline bunkers are not from LTTE's hard core fighting formations such as Jeyanthan, Imran-Pandiyan, Charles Anthony or Victor. Most of the cadres manning the first bunker at at Vavuniya-Mannar border are inexperienced, young fighters (female cadres included). They are controlled by experience LTTE cadres who are in much safer defensive positions. LTTE gains two primary advantages by adopting this strategy:

1. Inexperienced cadres act as a human armor. Even though they are inexperienced, they are capable of offering plenty of resistance to the army and they cannot flee as the senior cadres are stationed to prevent such an act (fight-to-death scenario). Even if the army managed to breach the first defense line, experienced cadres manning the secondary defenses will meet an exhausted enemy.

2. Losses to LTTE's elite formations will be minimal. Even if the army launched a massive operation which the LTTE cannot sustain, elite cadres and secondary leaders will still be able to flee without being harmed as the 'human armor' will buy them time. This way the LTTE will save its elites for a more decisive battle (i.e- Mullaithiv, Kilinochci,etc.)

Although this method has so far worked well for the LTTE in most of the battles in Vavuniya region, its stability will be tested in the coming days. The Sri Lanka army too is using an effective strategy to counter this threat. Launching of small group based attacks instead of major offensives has increased the enemy's frustration.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Tiger ambush in Hambanthota a fiction

Several pro LTTE web sites yesterday spread the news about an alleged guerilla attack on a SLN convoy in Hambanthota district. According to the report on Pro LTTE web site, an elite commando unit of the tigers ambushed an SLN convoy near Thissamaharama at around 4.30pm yesterday, killing 6 soldiers and wounding 12 more.

According to our information, no SLN convoy has been ambushed in the said area. In addition to that, no LTTE presence was detected in the area although a joint search operation was conducted by the army and the police. A rumor about men clad in black seen entering the jungles near Thissamaharama was the primary reason for conducting the search operation. However it was later discovered that 3 lumberjacks clad in black clothing were mistaken for LTTE cadres by several civilians.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Anuradhapura Airbase Attack : The Aftermath

During the last month, the Sri Lanka Air Force attacked a series of LTTE military installations and targeted several hideouts of senior LTTE leaders. Some of these attacks were successful and they dealt a significant blow to LTTE's military machine and to the morale of its cadres. Therefore it is not wrong to say that SLAF had the upper hand on battle for the most part of October. However, a team of 21 Black Tigers and two propeller driven light aircrafts changed the entire situation in one night.

Although not publicly admitted, SLAF suffered heavy losses in the attack. More than 15 aircraft of SLAF fleet received damages in the incident. At least 8 of them are damaged beyond repair. Two Mi-24 helicopter gunships (9th Attack Helicopter Squadron), a Mi-27 transport helicopter (6th Helicopter Squadron), K-8 and PT6 trainer jets (1st Flying Training Wing), Cessna 150 aircraft (1st Flying Training Wing), a Beechcraft 200 HISAR, a Bell 212 fitted with guns (7th Helicopter Squadron) and at least two UAVs (11th UAV Flight) are among the damaged aircrafts. Greatest loss of all, next to the lives of SLAF personnel who perished in the attack, is the Beechcraft 200 HISAR surveillance craft. This was the only active aircraft of this type in SLAF inventory and had sophisticated spy equipment such as Hughes synthetic aperture radar and thermal imaging unit installed to it.

Loss of the Beechcraft and the damages done to the UAVs deliver a significant blow for the SLAF's aerial and naval surveillance capabilities. 11th UAV Flight, which operated these aircraft was stationed at Vavuniya AFB until 2007. The squadron was moved to Anuradhapura AFB from Vavuniya when fighting erupted near Vavuniya-Mannar defense lines.

Investigations into the incident has revealed startling facts. One such is that the Bell 212 which crashed near Doramadalawa was hit by friendly fire. Both pilots and the gunner was killed in the incident. Bell 212 (converted into a gunship) was launched from Vavuniya AFB to hunt down the LTTE light aircraft.

After the attack, it was evident that LTTE cadres who carried out the attack wore SLA uniforms. It is still unknown whether one attack team simply 'walked in' to the base under the guise of this SLA uniform.

Black tigers who stormed into the base were armed to the teeth. Some of them even carried heavier weapons such as LAWs (Light Antitank Weapon). How the LTTE smuggled in such large quantities of weapons and ammunitions to Anuradhapura is another question that is bugging the military leadership.

Although there undoubtedly were many lapses and weaknesses in the base security plan, we should not forget one fact. LTTE cadres who infiltrated the base never planned to return. An enemy who does not have a will to live is indeed very hard to stop. SLAF personnel deployed in the base acted quickly to retaliate and minimize further losses. However it was a special fighting formation of the SLA's  2nd Special Forces regiment which completely neutralized black tiger threat. We will not reveal further information of this team to prevent possible intelligence leak.

The LTTE has won this battle. But they have not won the war.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Anuradhapura Airbase under attack

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam launched air and ground attacks on Sri Lanka Air Force (SLAF) base at Anuradhapura at around 3.20am in the morning today. A group of LTTE cadres infiltrated base premises and initiated a surprise attack on SLAF personnel on guard. Meanwhile an aircraft belonging to the LTTE dropped at least 1 bomb on base premises which exploded inside the perimeter.

Exact damage caused by the attack has not been assessed yet. However unconfirmed reports suggest that at least two helicopters in the base have been damaged by enemy fire. Another helicopter which was launched to hunt down the enemy aircraft, crashed near Mihinthale while trying to make an emergency landing due to a technical fault.

Irresponsible media coverage on SLA container accident

On the last 15th, a container belonging to the army crashed near Koswatte junction. Although there were no injuries nor any serious damage to the transported goods, the incident immediately drew local media attention. However most of the media reports that surrounded the incident were inaccurate.

The container was transporting uniforms, weapons and other supplies to SLA positions in the Northern FDL. Transport missions such as these are usually performed in utmost secrecy. Therefore the army immediately cordoned off the crash site, making it off limits to pedestrians and journalists alike. Even the mobile phone services in the area were temporarily suspended. This was all done to prevent the enemy gaining access to critical intelligence information. However several local and international media institutions  interpreted this move as 'a threat to media freedom'. Some local news bulletins even mentioned that the SLA personnel deployed at the site 'harassed' the journalists. 

If any video footage of the incident was released to the public, it could have put army's next move in northern FDL in jeopardy. Anyone with a fair knowledge on defense matters could have determined the army's battle plan if they saw what was on board the container. We do not have any hatred towards media institutions but it's our belief that "Media freedom" should never be exploited to aid the enemy.

Search operations continue in Yaala

It has been almost a week since the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) raided the SLA mini camp at Thalgasmankada and killed 7 soldiers. Major search operations are now underway in the are to find the rebels who carried out the surprise attack. So far, these search operations have had very little success.

Immediately after the raid, a squad of Special Forces soldiers was airlifted from Vavuniya using a Mi-17 transport helicopter. Another Mi-17 was boarded by soldiers of the Commando regiment. Destination of these choppers was Thalgasmankada. Commandos and SF were the ideal choice for the scenario due to their expertise in jungle warfare. Although these elite units stormed the jungles searching for LTTE cadres, they did not have any success. Still, there is no confirmation on the whereabouts of the LTTE cadres who were involved in the attack.

It is believed that between 100-150 hard core cadres along with LTTE's eastern leaders Jeyam and Nagesh have retreated South after the fall of Thoppigala. However, evidence suggests that only around 20 LTTE cadres took part in the raid on Thalgasmankada army detachment.

This is the second time the LTTE has carried out an attack inside Yala sanctuary. In 1997, a group of LTTE cadres stormed into Yala - Palatupana and set fire to the temporary shelters the fishermen had set up.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Clashes continue in Northern front

Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and the Sri Lanka Army (SLA) have been engaged in fierce firefights in the no-man's-land ahead of the Vavuniya-Mannar defense line for the past week. Nearly 20 LTTE cadres have been killed in these battles. SLA units involved in these limited offensives too received casualties mostly due to enemy artillery fire.

Special Infantry (SI) formations of the 57th division moved ahead of their bunker line into the LTTE controlled territory to carry out several successful strikes on rebel positions on the 15th. First of these strikes was launched on a target in Mullikulama area. LTTE pulled back to defensive positions after a fierce battle. SLA troopers recovered 7 bodies of LTTE cadres killed in the battle. These were later handed over to the International Red Cross.

Another such attack took place near Vilathikulam in which the army killed four more LTTE cadres. SLA have been increasing pressure on tiger positions in and around Vilathikulam during the recent times, possibly indicating the initial step of a major offensive into Wanni. Capture of Vilathikulam will be critical to a future Wanni offensive as it can play a vital role as part of a MSR (Main Supply Route) to the besieged Jaffna region.

Meanwhile the death toll of the Yala LTTE attack has now risen to 7. 6 soldiers were killed in the LTTE raid and another one was killed when the tractor that was sent to transport the bodies of fallen soldiers was hit by a claymore mine. Whereabouts of the LTTE cadres who carried out the attack is still unknown.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

LTTE raid targets Thalgasmankada SLA mini camp

A mini camp of the Sri lanka army (SLA) near Thalgasmankada (south of Panama) came under a LTTE attack at around 6pm today (15th). Unconfirmed reports suggest that at least 2 soldiers have been killed in action and another one was wounded. LTTE casualties are unknown as of yet. A vehicle belonging to the wildlife department has also been damaged by LTTE fire.

It's suspected that LTTE cadres who took refuge in jungles after the fall of Thoppigala carried out the attack. Additional troops that were rushed in when the attack began, have now reached the camp premises and have taken complete control of it.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

SLN Inshore Patrol Craft sunk near Jaffna seas

5 SLN personnel were killed and a Navy Inshore Patrol Vessel (IPV) was sunk
in a sea battle which took place near Passayoor (Near Gurunagar Jetty)
yesterday. Sea Tigers, the sea going arm of the LTTE, was behind the attack.
It is now known that the sea tigers were able to capture weapons mounted on
the disabled IPV.

The battle erupted when 3 SLN vessels patrolling Gununagar area came under
23mm cannon fire from two sea tiger craft. These were disguised as fishing
vessels and was hidden among a cluster of fishing boats. After the initial
attack, 5 more sea tiger attack craft launched from Pooneryn sea tiger base
arrived at the scene to take on the three SLN vessels. Once of these boats
was a suicide craft and it rammed against one SLN IPV killing 3 SLN
personnel on board and disabling the IPV itself. Meanwhile Sri Lanka
Artillery stationed in Gurunagar area fired at the incoming sea tiger
vessels. One artillery round hit one of the incoming sea tiger craft,
destroying it completely. It is believed that 3 tigers on board the vessel
was killed in the incident.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

SLN warships destroy LTTE arms vessel in international waters

Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) delivered yet another blow to Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam's (LTTE) clandestine arms network when it successfully intercepted a LTTE cargo vessel in international waters 1700km away from Colombo. We can confirm that the destroyed ship, known as "Matushima", is the same ship that fled when Navy intercepted 3 other LTTE vessels last month.

Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPV) SLNS Suranimala, SLNS Sayura and SLNS Sagara formed the core of a special naval task force that sailed to the deep seas off Dondra Point to hunt down the LTTE vessel after an early intelligence tip off. Supply vessels A520 and A521 were also engaged in the operation. LTTE vessel was identified at 5.30am today (7th) and was completely destroyed by 9.30 am after it drew 76mm, 37mm and 30mm cannon fire from SLN warships.

This ship is supposed to be the last of LTTE's fleet of cargo vessels. However this claim cannot be verified. LTTE is known to fill up its inventories in utmost secrecy. Most LTTE agents that operate their arms network are still at large. That being said there is no doubt that the Sri Lanka Navy, with its limited resources and small OPV fleet, has delivered another deadly blow to the terror movement with the destruction of the 7th arms vessel during an year.

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

SLAF targets LTTE safe house in bombing raid

SLAF bombers carried out a bombing raid on a LTTE safe house in Vishwamadu yesterday at around 6.30 in the morning. This safe house is known to have been the meeting place of top tiger leaders. Fighter jet pilots have confirmed that the targeted location was successfully hit but we are unable to confirm if any LTTE leaders were killed in the incident. Possible targets include LTTE's elite Charley Anthony brigade commander Amithab, LTTE intelligence wing leader Pottu Amman and LTTE IT division head Charles Anthony (son of Velupillei Prabhakaran). Ground based intelligence sources have still not confirmed the status of the attack and LTTE communication interception has proved to be difficult with the base maintaining radio silence ever since the bombing raid.

Meanwhile Sri Lanka Army has increased the number of small scale operations on LTTE defense lines in Kilali, Muhamalai, Nagarkovil and Thampanai. The purpose of these small scale offensives is to destroy as much LTTE assets on the frontline as possible. However no major operations have been launched so far by the SLA into the LTTE controlled Wanni heartland. The operations near Nagarkovil, Mahamalai and Kilali are undertaken by soldiers of the 55th division. Operations near Mannar/Vavuniya defense lines are undertaken by soldiers of the newly created 57th division , Special Forces units and army commandos. Capturing ground has never been an objective of these small scale operations so far. Instead, the SLA is targeting LTTE's military assets on the frontline and the morale of its cadres deployed in FDL bunkers.