B U S I N E S S T O D A Y
J U N E 2 0 0 9
B U S I N E S S T O D A Y
J U N E 2 0 0 9
if you have the commitment and thewill, you can defeat terrorism as wellas terrorist organisations. By defeatingthe LTTE, we have become an exampleto the whole world and most of the In-ternational Community commendedus on that.
During the Humanitarian Operations, allArmed Forces had a particular role toplay. Would you like to elaborate on thecontribution o the Army to the Human-itarian Operations?
Yes, the Army had to take the major brunt of the whole campaign. It wasthe duty of the Army to go forward,that they get by achieving somethingfor the country. It is also very importantto realise that in the end, it is the manat the grassroots level who matters towin the war for us. It is the lowest levelsoldier who carries the weapon andgoes and faces the bullet. It is he whogoes in front and destroys the enemyand takes over a bunker or overcomesan obstacle. They go in the front. Theyare the people who have suffered themost in this whole campaign. It is notlike just walking through the jungle;it is difficult terrain, a dangerousenemy and at the same time facingall the bullets as well as the artillery,mortars and other weapons. It is theirheroism and courage that has been thereason for our victories. That is why wehave to always give fullest credit to thelowest level soldier who achieved thisvictory.His Division joined the campaign of regaining the North from Mannar.They were responsible for capturedPooneryn, all the way upto Paranthan.Then from Paranthan to Vishwamadu,Pudukudiyiruppu and ultimately toPudumathalan, which was the end of the No Fire Zone. His Division too,was involved from the very begin-ning of the Wanni campaign until theend and they covered and capturedvery important ground. BrigadierShavindra Silva led his Division veryefficiently and successfully.The 59 Division joined the surgefrom Welioya up to Mullaitivu andare responsible for capturing theimportant areas North of Welioya re-gion up to Mullaitivu. Major GeneralNandana Udawatta led this Divisionand they performed a very importantrole in this operation.
hen the Humanitarian Operations commenced in 2006, thepublic was not convinced that the Military could win. Somewondered whether talks with the LTTE should be continuedin order to reach a settlement; certain business leaders, media personneland politicians were not 100% condent whether terrorism shouldbe tackled militarily. Hence, it was important to rally public support. The public had to be convinced in order to get their support withoutwhich a campaign cannot be continued. The public is required to joinand contribute to the campaign. However, the President was able tosuccessully counter the adverse propaganda and this time around,the whole country was mobilised; the public opinion was changedand there was large-scale support or the cause.
defeat the terrorists and capture theland and get control of the land. Evenif you look at the number of casual-ties, the Army had a higher numberof casualties and that was the natureof their task. I have already spokenabout the amount of hardships thatthey had to go through.Some soldiers had gone throughthe complete campaign from the begin-ning to the end. Some had started theirduty in Sampur and gone all the wayto the Eastern region and to Wanni upto the end. There are others who had joined from Wanni and engaged inthe campaign to the end. It was verydifficult for them to go through thecampaign continuously and engage inhigh intensive operations over a periodof three and a half years. That shows thecommitment of these Armed personnel because they were not doing this forpersonal gains. It is for the satisfaction
Similarly, the leadership o the variousDivisions on the ground level contrib-uted immensely to the victory. What areyour thoughts on this?
Of course, when you recruit aperson, you train him and give himthe necessary equipment. It is thevarious levels of leaders who haveto lead. Therefore, leadership is veryimportant at all levels. In the Army, wehave seen that the Army Commanderdownwards to the Platoon Command-ers have shown real leadership. Theyare true leaders.General Jagath Dias led the 57Division; he did a tremendous task because it was his responsibility toregain Kilinochchi. He was therefrom the very beginning of the Hu-manitarian Operations till the verylast minute.Brigadier Shavindra Silva of the58 Division did a marvellous job.
ArMy coMMAnDEr GEnErAL SArATh onSEkA,
“In all this, the support and wisdom o the Secretary Deence, Gotabaya Rajapaksawas crucial. Together, we looked into the all-important areas o arms and ammunition,weapons systems procurement, strategy and recruitment and training. The DeenceSecretary also knew that we would have to ght. At that time 40,000 soldiers didn’thave helmets. Many had just one uniorm and one pair o boots. There was a shortageo 40,000 numbers o fak jackets. We needed to replenish stocks and get ready or aprolonged engagement with the enemy and this is exactly what we did.”
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factor. Major General G A Chandra-siri who is the present Chief of Staff and the second in Command of theArmy, was commanding the Jaffnapeninsula. From the very beginninghe played a very important role be-cause defending Jaffna peninsula wasof utmost importance. The LTTE wasnot able to cause any damage in Jaffna because Major General Chandrasirimaintained complete control over theentire peninsula. Though the LTTE at-tempted to infiltrate Jaffna peninsulaand destabilise it, they were unsuc-cessful as the troops under MajorGeneral Chandrasiri’s command dida very important task in protecting Jaffna. It was very important not toallow the LTTE to conduct a majorattack, infiltrate or attack gun posi-tions of our troops and camps. Ad-ditionally, we did a very good job indefending the Muhamalai ForwardDefence Line.The aim of the LTTE from thevery beginning was either to landin the Jaffna peninsula and induct alarge force to engage all troops sta-tioned there or break through fromMuhamalai Forward Defence Linesinto Jaffna peninsula. If the LTTE hadcaused a problem in Jaffna peninsulawe would have had to face a difficultsituation. Therefore while conductingthe operations in the Wanni, keep-ing Jaffna peninsula intact was veryimportant and the Armed Forcesstationed there did a tremendous jobin doing that. There was not a singlemajor incident in the Jaffna penin-sula during the entire Humanitariancampaign. This is a very importantfactor.Though I have not mentionednames, there are so many otherTask Force Commanders, DivisionalCommanders, Brigade Commanders,Battalion Commanders, CompanyCommanders and Platoon Command-ers, who were involved in the fightingin the forward lines. My appreciationgoes out to them as they faced themajor impact of the fighting.
During the Humanitarian Operations weheard a lot about the Special Forces andthe Commando Regiment. Can you tellus how these two units contributed tothe elimination o terrorism in SriLanka?
The 53 Division was based inMuhamalai, but later joined the battle under the command of MajorGeneral Kamal Gunarathna. HisDivision was responsible for recap-turing half of Pudukudiyiruppu andwas also responsible for ultimatelydestroying many of the LTTE leaderson the last day of the HumanitarianOperations. Their work was highlycommendable. His contribution tothe entire operation has been sig-nificant.General Jagath Jayasooriya whois the Security Forces Commander,Wanni coordinated operations fromthe beginning until the end. He isthe overall commander of the Divi-sions mentioned above. His contri- bution to this campaign has beenimmense.Looking at the entire operations, Jaffna peninsula was a very important
rALLyInG pUbLIc SUpporT
Yes, the Special Forces (SF) Unitand the Commando Regiment did atremendous task. In many instancesSF and Commandos complementedthe advancing Infantry troops byassisting them in neutralising majorthreats. Additionally, throughout thecampaign the SF and Commandoshave also taken the lead to overcomemajor threats prior to the Infantryregiments moving forward.During the entire campaign, theSF conducted operations deep inLTTE controlled areas. By taking tar-gets inside this area, they restrictedthe movement of LTTE leaders. Pre-viously these kinds of operationswere not done and the LTTE hadthe freedom to move within thoseareas. However, because of the taskperformed by the SF and their DeepPenetration Units, going deep intothe enemy area and taking their tar-gets they instilled fear in the LTTEleadership.Once the Deep Penetration Unitsstarted their operations the LTTE wasnever able to move freely, they had totake precautions. At the same time theSF was successful in taking importanttargets including important LTTEleaders. The significance of the taskthey performed was tremendous. Ithas not been an easy task. As a smallunit going very deep into enemyterritory, they are completely alone,according to the time period they are