How the LTTE was 'military' defeated: A Soldier’s view - Part Five


MILITARY: The military aspect of defeating LTTE. The Techniques, Tactics and Procedures (TTPs), equipment, people and factors that helped or were deployed, employed or utilized to defeat the LTTE militarily.

a. Failed Strategy: When SLA (Ealam War I- 23 Jul 83 Operation Kinihira-06 Jan 2001 and every operation in between) engaged LTTE or was engaged by LTTE (Operation Thavallai, Yaldevi and Unceasing Wave I-III etc) SLA realized that they were fighting a losing battle because they were fighting a conventional battle where as LTTE was fighting an asymmetrical war (This was true with navy too. When a young naval officer suggested to the SLN chain of command that Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) needed to reevaluate its TTPs against LTTE small boat operations the young officer’s idea was pooh-poohed as he was young and not from the Navy’s Executive Branch! The small boats and swarm tactics concept now some others desperately want to claim was, in fact, his brainchild).
b. New Strategy: Sri Lanka army reevaluated its TTPs and resorted to small team tactics. SLA was very effective when these TTPs were used by the Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (LRRP) (Pronounced ‘lurp’) teams to take out Shankar, Charles and a host of others or the big army in major battles conducted in conjunction with the Vakarai humanitarian operations, 21 Jan 2007. The successes achieved by SLA by going from Force-on-Force to Four Men-on-Force changed entirely the way SLA wanted to fight to the finish. SLA resorted to this Find, Fix, Finish, Exploit, Analyze, Disseminate and Decide (F3EAD2) method.

Find, Fix, Finish, Exploit, Analyze, Disseminate and Decide (F3EAD2): This was a very vicious cycle for the enemy (LTTE) but a boon or blessing in disguise for the military (SLA).
I will give an example from Sri Lanka and in this example the operation is almost driven by human assets or human involvement.
FIND: Confirm probable HVI (Shankar)/Focus Sensors (Use ‘GT’ to track his personal electronic devices)/Locate (on an interior road near Oddusuadan at about 10:00am 26 Sep 2001)

FIX: Maintain Track (Lalith’s team have their eyes on the target)/Maintain HVI ID (Identification) (They positively identify the Shankar’s double cab and its occupants /Refine Location (on the Oddusudan to Puthukkudiyiruppu road near Oddusudan)/Update Time Available (Lalith looks at his wristwatch and inform the members that they would spring the ambush at 10:45am local, and it provides ample time to withdraw safely)

FINISH: Launch operation/Capture/Kill (Lalith looks at the claymore switch and whispers to himself ‘I see the light, I see the light, I see the light…BOOM! The claymores go off killing Shankar)

EXPLOIT: Target Exploitation/Document Exploitation/Sensitive Site Exploitation (Lalith and the team removes files, diaries, laptop and what have you)/Detainees (No detainees, all dead)

ANALYSE: What was to be achieved was achieved and what could be gathered to better plan, to get more results, and to see are there known unknowns? (Conducts after action review and hand over the recovered items to the intelligence unit)

DISSEMINATE: Insights into the Enemy Network/New Lines of Operations/Leads and Start Points/Enemy’s New TTPs (the Intelligence unit disseminates information gathers from the laptop about the LTTE’s nascent underwater attack craft program and underwater delivery team capabilities to Sri Lanka Navy)

DECIDE: ID HVI (Next target to take; Charles)/ID Desired effect (Capture/Kill (need to kill Charles for the BIA and Central Bank attacks)/IO value (You can run but you cannot hide; we will get you!)/Establish Priority (Charles has to be ‘erased’ before Tamilselvam)/Assign ISR assets (Signal Intelligence monitors Charles’ movements)/Assign Finish Assets (2SF gets the ‘Executive Order, a young officer and his teams delivers Justice to Charles in Mannar!)
In the next example, from a Middle Eastern country, the whole operation is driven by use of electronic and signal assets and remote weapons and payloads, though humans at joy sticks control the ‘toys or gadgets’ far from the target! This is somewhat similar to taking out of ‘the smiling tiger’ S. P. Tamilselvan, the Tamil Tigers’ political head in military uniform at about 0600hrs (6:00a.m.) on 02 November 2007 when the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) fighters accurately targeted an LTTE complex in Thiruvaiaru.
FIND: Confirm probable HVI (high value individual (AZ)/Focus Sensors (use ISR platforms-UAVs)/Locate (AZ talking to AU, his religious mentor)

FIX: Maintain Track (ISR assets continuously track movement)/Maintain HVI ID (compare his profile with the intelligence available/Refine Location (Villa in an orchard)/Update Time Available (with AF fighter planes)

FINISH: Launch operation/Capture/Kill (fighter planes drop 2x500lbs a payload on the target razing the house and killing AZ)

EXPLOIT: Target Exploitation/Document Exploitation/Sensitive Site Exploitation (operators close in with the host nation police and secure the site remove materials with Intel value)/Detainees (injured detained and given medical treatment)

ANALYSE: What was to be achieved was achieved and what could be gathered to better plan, to get more results and are there known unknowns? (Conduct after action review and analyze the next course of action)

DISSEMINATE: Insights into the Enemy Network/New Lines of Operations/Leads and Start Points/Enemy’s New TTPs (make story boards about his death for international media and send intel leads to sister and friendly services)

DECIDE: IP HVI (AM)/ID Desired effect (Capture/Kill (the new leader)/IO value)/Establish Priority (Who should die next!)/Assign ISR assets (Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance- UAVs deployed to Named Area of Interest (NAI) or Targeted Area of interest (TAI)/Assign Finish Assets (Special Operations Forces, armed UAVs, attack helicopters or fighter planes)
The good thing about F3EAD2 is you can start at any place of the cycle and derive necessary and favorable results. Moreover it is very economical or cost effective for the very simple reason the very accurate intelligence does not come from ‘sources’, paid informants or grainy videos recorded by cell phone cameras but from the items found on person of the dead terrorist(s) (Shankar’s or Charles’), from the files, documents, cell phones, briefcases or laptops found in their pickup. This is called Sensitive Site Exploitation (SSE). And all the items recovered are given to intelligence fusion cell. That is why is I hold LRRP team members in highest regard or esteem as they bring in an intelligence treasure trough, nothing but solid gold, every time they take out a target.
Fearsome reputation is a force multiplier!
c. Intelligence Gathering in 80s: The intelligence gathering was a fiasco as the Nikan Inna Buruwas (NIB) and Military Intelligence personnel were just getting by ,except for a very few dedicated young officers pulling the load or stepping up to the plate. By the way, the majority of these young and capable Intelligence officers were non-Sinhalese.

Things started to change in positive direction when a couple of these young officers got diplomatic appointments. While performing their duties in the name of Mother Lanka they did a lot of good reporting; managed to see the LTTE underwater craft being assembled overseas; worked diligently to ensure that the LTTE members involved in overseas clandestine/illegal arms procurement were arraigned or prosecuted by the respective governments in their courts of law.

d. Intelligence Fusion: In the meantime the intelligence outfits of other services were beefed up and a new breed of young officers were in charge. The coordination between these intelligence outfits (sister services) was so excellent due to the fact the ‘cordial relationships’ maintained were ‘unofficial’. It is always better to leave top brass out of this intelligence business as they would betray national secrets for filthy profit as you have seen for yourself as to who divulged national secrets in the run up to the recently concluded presidential election; army commanders, major generals, DIGs and defence secretaries and a whole lot of top brass. The camaraderie was so strong that at times the members of sister services intelligence units were present at interrogation sessions. They learned from each other and they cared about each other and they exchanged intelligence and TTPs.

e. Effective Interrogation or Grilling: Out of all intelligence outfits in Sri Lanka I especially give kudos to naval intelligence, according to the things I have ‘heard’. The last thing a terrorist needs expect is to be interrogated by Sri Lanka naval intelligence for the mere fact they need not apply ‘physical pressure’ to ‘break’ a terrorist. They can take a terrorist anytime of the day to a platform where he can be elevated to experience varying degrees of ‘rolling’, ‘pitching’ and ‘yawing’ with the help of nature. Thereafter you do not have to do anything to the terrorist; he is exhausted, vomiting and already broken down. He has only two options available; 1. Cooperate and spill the beans 2. Undergo the next phase of interrogation at the hands of ‘ratings’. A terrorist should not ever opt for the second option, my goodness; he is between the blue sky and the deep blue sea instead of the ‘Devil and the Dead Sea’! I say again, do not ever opt for the second option. I leave it at that.

f. Intelligence Treasure Trough: Thanks to the intelligence treasure troughs LRRP brought in after hits it was so ease to cross check detainees’ LTTE connections. The intelligence analysts did not have to find the missing pieces to build the jigsaw puzzle as a complete picture of sort was able to be recovered by LRRP teams. They just had to cross check or the incriminating evidence recovered through Sensitive Site Exploitation (and it just filled in as check and balances). If a detainee was caught with the incriminating evidence the detainee no longer could bluff the law enforcement authorities or wiggle or talk his way out of a difficult situation or extricate himself as they used to do in 80s with some bribe, sex or both. You might have been wondering how the law enforcement authorities or military or police intelligence personnel were apprehending suicide cadres, tracing safe houses, finding caches, locating vehicles rigged with explosive, recovering claymore mines and suicide vests etc by ‘smart’ work and luck than ‘hard work’. Moreover Security Forces did not have to spend valuable time or resource to search all over Wanni to find out what they were looking for.

g. Way Out for a Terrorist: When sleuths zeroed in on a terrorist the only way out for him was to forget about ‘engineering’ and jump out from the seventh floor of a flat to mother Earth to die on impact! These dead-enders needed to thank late ‘Dodampe Mudalali’ for showing the way out of a difficult situation.
The hard work and ‘very effective’ interrogation and the interrogation methods employed by these young intelligence officers, without the knowledge of top brass who have been nothing but a hindrance like the proverbial dog in the manger during nearly three decades of LTTE terrorism, paid dividends day after day. As an example, how long did it take to the naval intelligence to track the perpetrators, accomplices or material witnesses of the Digampathana massacre of hundreds of naval recruits going on New Year leave, not very long isn’t it? Where are the perpetrators now? You and I hope they are in a better world.
h. ‘Information’ from Overseas SL Community: The other thing that nobody appreciates that much is the quality ‘information’ that came from overseas Sri Lankan communities. Once the heat was on LTTE, overseas tigers and their sympathizers went into overdrive to mobilize public opinion in the western capitals, so the Sri Lankan community could pick out the ‘important players’ during rallies, meetings, sit-ins, hunger-strikes etc and send the information back to Sri Lankan intelligence country representative who in turn relayed back to Colombo to be disseminated to the intelligence outfits so that they can build profiles and HVI target lists for Special Operations Forces to take out.

i. Pure Luck: Sri Lanka was/is an unintended beneficiary of the post 9/11 intelligence efforts by the western nations. When they were/are searching for Islamist terrorists they found/find leads, money trails, weapon smuggling routes, terrorist shipping lines and lanes, credit card cloning, procurement agents, terrorist cells and safe houses. If the information or leads were related to LTTE, I think, GOSL received complete intelligence dossiers from friendly nations.

j. Local Modus Operandi: A superpower cannot, since it always professes democratic values and holds human rights so high, eliminate the terrorist threat using the ‘modus operandi’ used by a third world democracy! Anyway they are said to have passed the valuable intelligence information on to Sri Lanka. I do not want to discuss the modus operandi here as it has future use in defense of Sri Lanka’s national security.

k. Playing Hide and Seek: Patient is a virtue, so Sri Lanka was very patiently waiting and watching KP draw money from the bank to pay the illegal arms dealer for the lethal cargo. Then the LTTE cadres clandestinely loaded the cargo onto an LTTE operated MV (Motor Vessel) for onward dispatch to the Mullaitive coast. All was being tracked. SLN sent ships to deep sea, and an officer W’tunga aka ‘Tango’ took care of it sending it to the Davy Jones’ Locker for good. A salvo from the ship commanded by ‘Tango’ sank a motor vessel (MV) laden with warlike materials purchased with ransoms paid by the innocent and not so innocent expatriate Tamils to create a Drealam. The MV and the seasoned LTTE seamen onboard belonged to the ‘KP’ Department.

The western nations were very happy as one dead tiger was one less terrorist! You may remember the saying ‘The only good terrorist is the one who is dead or the one in the photo! For Sri Lanka; it was less bombs exploding in busses and trains, for the army; less deaths and amputations, for the air force; safety of aircraft and airports, for the navy; saving FAC and passenger craft from attack, for the police; fewer searches!

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