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DefSec-BusinesstodayJune

DefSec-BusinesstodayJune

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Published by HemanthaJayamane

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Published by: HemanthaJayamane on Jun 15, 2009
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COVER STORY
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SALUTES
ThE WAr hEroES
 The Humanitarian Operations have been completed and the LTTE, the most ruthless terrorist organisation in the worldhas been destroyed. The strength behind the Army, Navy, Air Force, Police and the Civil Deence Force has beennone other than Deence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. His planning has been immaculate and precise. PresidentMahinda Rajapaksa had the will and condence to see an end to the confict that had gripped this country or threelong decades. Undoubtedly, knowing that his brother was overseeing the military operations, gave President MahindaRajapaksa the strength to resist any intererences at home and abroad. Deence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa willcertainly go down in history, not only as the person who destroyed the LTTE but also as the liberator o the Tamilcommunity and thus the entire country.Amidst praise and accolades, Deence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa has remained humble…He has not orgottenthe sacrices made by the heroic and courageous Armed Forces, Police and Civil Deence Force, the true heroes o this victory. Deence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa salutes those who have ought and led this war on the ground,sea and air. This is his tribute to them.
DEEncE SEcrETAry GoTAbAyA rAjApAkSA
By Udeshi Amarasinghe & Thilini Kahandawaarachchi | Photography by Menaka Aravinda
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The Humanitarian Operations are nowover and the LTTE has been deeated.What were the sacrices made to achievethis victory?
Yes, we ultimately defeated theLTTE but that was through the sacri-fices made by the Armed Forces withlife and limb. Contrary to what somemay say, it was not an easy task. Itwas very difficult. If we look at themilitary campaign from Marvil Arutill today we have lost the preciouslives of 6,261 from the Army, Navy,Air Force, Police and the Civil De-fence Force. 29,551 have been injuredthough most of them have returned tothe battlefront. When we look at thenumber of permanently disabled, itis 2,556. This is only in the past fouryears. 6,261 killed in action is a verylarge number. Therefore, you can seethat we have achieved this victorythrough immense sacrifices.
Would you like to elaborate on the con-ditions under which the Military con-ducted the Humanitarian Operations?
Looking at the duties of the sol-diers, sailors and airmen, their liveshave been very hard. When a soldierreports to duty in Jaffna or Vavu-niya, they go on leave only once inthree months. On duty they will beworking throughout; day and nightin the battlefront, it can be under atree or in a bunker. In most instancesit is in the jungle regardless of theweather; be it rain, shine or drought.The Forces had to undergo immensedifficulties in terms of weather. Someareas were completely under water,especially when they were gettingcloser to Paranthan.A major delay tactic that wasused by the LTTE throughout thecampaign was the large ditch and bund concept. We cannot discussthe operations without mentioningthis aspect. This concept was usedeverywhere and the Army had toovercome this obstacle. Furthermorethere were mines and booby trapsplaced at regular intervals. Our troopshad to clear all anti personnel mines,Improvised Explosive Devises and booby traps while moving forward.If this was not done, there would have been a massive number of deaths andinjuries to our troops. However ourtroops stepped up to the challengeand mastered the skills to remove andclear these obstacles. Their work washighly commendable.Earlier, many people includingthe LTTE were under the impressionthat difficult weather and terrainconditions would help them. However because of the excellent skills of oursoldiers, we took advantage of the dif-ficult terrain and weather conditions.Our soldiers performed excellently inthe jungle than the LTTE because theywere well trained and were preparedfor any eventuality.I have to specifically mentionthat many people including certainDefence Analysts both local andforeign said that the military wouldnever be able to capture Kilinochchi.Some compared Kilinochchi to Stal-ingrad and said that the Army willface its end in Kilinochchi. Even theLTTE were bragging about sending20,000 dead bodies to Colombo. Butwe silenced all of them.By adopting well-planned strate-gies and tactics, the Army was able torecapture Kilinochchi. Furthermoreas you can remember, within a shortperiod of two weeks Elephant Pass,Paranthan, Kilinochchi, Mullaitivu,Maankulam and all other importantareas were brought under the controlof the Army. It was a great victoryand a big achievement. This is purely because of the good tactical planningas well as the excellent executionof these plans. We should give fullcredit to the Army Commander andalso to all the Divisional Command-ers for their immaculate planningand for the excellent leadership given by them.We have to appreciate these peo-ple, because it is not like working inan office. Once they join they knowthat after training they have to go tothe front and fight. They know thedanger involved. However they vol-untarily joined the Forces, knowingthe dangers involved, the ferocity andthe threat that they had to face. Theywent to the battlefield with a sense of responsibility to the country. I wish toextend my gratitude to the excellentmid level and lower level leadershipas well as all the soldiers for the theircourageous acts on the battle field.
Many were surprised by the arms,ammunition and technology (subma-rines, aircrats) that the LTTE possessed.The arsenal was akin to that o a country.Considering this, how did the militarytackle this challenge and what wouldhave happened otherwise?
The importance of the task per-formed by the Military and the Policecan be seen when you consider thechallenges that they had. When youlook at the arms and ammunition thatthe LTTE had collected, their strengthwhether it be artillery, mortars, ma-chine guns, mines, boats, suicide boats, submarines and aircrafts andalso when you consider the LTTEnumbers and the way they werefighting till the end, you can see theforce of the enemy that the Militaryhad to fight.Considering this, if the Govern-ment had not taken the action whenit did and if we had not defeated theLTTE, the results would have beendisastrous. I spoke to the groundCommanders and looking at theamount of ammunition that wecaptured and the way the LTTE wasfighting if we had not commencedthe Humanitarian Operations atthe time that we did, there wouldhave been a catastrophe. The LTTEwould have definitely divided thecountry through military means.Considering all of that you realisethe importance of the achievementsof the Military, Police, CDF and allthe war heroes.
The LTTE was one o the most ruthlessand well equipped terrorist organisa-tions in the world, by deeating thisgroup, the Sri Lankan Military has proventhat it is one o the best in the world. It isundoubtedly one o the greatestachievements o our times. What areyour thoughts on that?
The LTTE had grown significantlyover the last 30 years. They have net-works all over the world and within SriLanka. FBI has rated it as the numberone terrorist organisation in the world.Many people including Defence Ana-lysts in the entire world said that theLTTE could not be militarily defeated.Even within Sri Lanka, even the publicopinion was that the LTTE was an or-ganisation that could not be defeated.Most of the time, even the leadershipof this country tried to tackle it differ-ently than defeating them militarily.Our Armed Forces defeated the LTTEand we have proven to the world that
M siee aeiati ges t te Am cmmade, as I desiedee it was te Am w e te ut  te attle. Geeal seawas essile  te tatial laig  all aeas i te Am. heesall sueised, da ad igt  w te attle was migwad. haig im as te cmmade  te Am was te deisieat  us. his mmitmet, eeiee, wledge ad als te wa eemed was e imtat i tis wle amaig, teee seletigGeeal sea was a etemel imtat deisi.
 
It is tei eism ad uagetat as ee te eas  uities. Tat is w we aet alwas gie ullest edit tte lwest leel sldie waieed
tis it.
 
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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.
W
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% condent 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 tosuccessully 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.
Business Today 
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 Deence, Gotabaya Rajapaksawas crucial. Together, we looked into the all-important areas o arms and ammunition,weapons systems procurement, strategy and recruitment and training. The DeenceSecretary also knew that we would have to ght. At that time 40,000 soldiers didn’thave helmets. Many had just one uniorm 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.”
busiess Tda – Deeme 2008 www.usiesstda.l
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

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