Saturday, September 13, 2008

IQBAL ATHAS - Self Appointed 'Defence Analyst'

Iqbal Athas has published yet another so called 'defence article' on the Sunday Times. The discredited journalist, who in 2007 couldn't tell the difference between propeller driven plane and a jet (turbine) plane has yet again proven his ignorance in defence matters.

Athas and his articles are usually filled with political mudslinging, rumour and unverified facts rather than quantifiable 'defence analysis'.

In his latest mumblings, Athas has referred to the Vavuniya Airforce base radar as "Indira II". Athas has referenced the radar as "Indira II" at least 5 times in the article. The actual name of the radar system built and designed in India is "Indra II" and NOT "Indira II". The writer even concludes that the radar is named after Indira Gandhi, which is a pure fabrication and a figment of his imagination. The "Indra" stand for "Indian Radar". Readers are left to wonder how much of this 'defence expert's' work are pure fabrications.

Athas and his fictional reporting has been exposed multiple times and readers can be sure that he will continue to entertain us with his 'expert analysis'! Thank goodness for free media!

  • "Four Indira II radars (named after late Indian Prime Minister, Indira Gandhi) were gifted to Sri Lanka. "
  • "Another Indira II to replace the radar that was damaged was hurriedly moved by the Air Force on the same day from their main base at Katunayake. "

Friday, August 22, 2008

News Brief: Tunakkai Falls, Troops Poised South of Akkarayakulam

57 Division troops who have been laying siege on Tunakkai for the past couple of weeks, liberated the town from Tiger clutches. The town was defended by a mix of LTTE units, including the much trumpeted Charles Anthony brigade.

The LTTE expended many resources and cadres in defence of Tunakkai and Mallavi. In July, the Charles Anthony brigade was at the receiving end of a SLA ambush (in response to a LTTE counter-offensive) and lost over 80 cadres (31 of whom were recovered by the SLA).

The fall of Tunakkai came with an unexpected announcement that troops are now operating south of the Akkarayakulam tank bund. The Akkarayakulam area is only 12KM south of Killonochchi. The capture of this area has put Killonochchi and Iranamadhu under severe threat of SLA MBRL and Artillery. Once Tunnakai and Uliyankulam is consolidated, we can expect MBRL units to be move to the area to engage Iranamadhu and Killonochchi terror defences.

The SLA will now concentrate on Mallavi town, which will likely fall within the next few days, thus pushing the LTTE further east towards Mankulam. What remains to be seen is if the SLA will move east from Akkarayakulam towards Iranamadhu or further north towards Nallur.

A move eastward will provide many advantages for the army. The capture and destabilization of Iranamadhu area will sever the A9 thus creating a logistical nightmare for the LTTE. With this main artery severed, the movement of LTTE cadres and material from Killonochchi to the Vavuniya sector will be arduous. With the monsoon season approaching, the loss of Iranamadhu would mean that the terrorists would need to use jungle routes to supply their forces in Vavuniya - this will not be a simple task. The LTTE seems to have anticipated a SLA move eastwards in the direction of Iranamadhu as recent news indicates the so called 'Tiger Airwing' is now building a runway south east of Iranamadhu (inside Mullativu jungles). Thus the battle for Killonochchi begins and the LTTE will be forced to respond and commit cadres to the battle or risk losing its 'administrative capital' without denting the SLA offensives.
The LTTE must respond to the SLA offensive soon, without which the SLA will liberate Killinochchi without taking much casualties. This will mean that the SLA will immediately set its sights upon the last bastion of terror - the Vanni.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

News Brief: Charles Anthony Brigade Crippled...

Consolidated reports from the battlefront now indicate that 80-100 Charles Anthony Brigade tigers were eliminated in hand-to-hand combat by the 57Division and the Commando units of the SLA in the past 72 hours. Most of the fighting was centered around the Vanikulam tank bund.

Charles Anthony has lost its deputy commander along with at least half a dozen so called junior 'officers' or leaders. This is a crippling blow to the enemy and its ability to fight. Without proper junior level leadership, no army can survive in the battlefield. Even the greatest strategist require 'implementers' to action their battle plans. Without capable junior leaders, the lower ranks will not be able to effectively coordinate attacks against a well armed and determined force such as the SLA.

As GroundZeroLanka reported earlier this week, the LTTE resistance has picked up. The SLA can expect further resistance on the Mallavi front, as the fall of this town will put Mankulam under direct threat. The lost of Mankulam would effectively sever a major artery for the tigers - the A9. The LTTE is in need of a major victory. This would stall the current SLA military momentum and buy the tigers some much needed breathing space.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

NEWS BRIEF: SLA Consolidates New Acquisitions

58 and 57 Division troops were busy consolidating the newly captured areas. Troops of 58D are currently 3KM north of Illuppakadavai and have surrounded Mundampiddi. Mundampiddi is a small coastal village south of Vellankulam - the next major milestone on the A32. Large groups of troops were inducted by air to beef up 58 Division held sector.

Fresh troops air lifted to battlefield....

Over the last few days troops were busy clearing trappings, building defences and consolidating the areas in expectation of a Tiger counter-attack. As we reported last week, it is unlikely that the Tigers will permit the 57D to take Mallavi and Tunukkai without offering a limited counter-offensive. Currently the western flank of the 57D is exposed as 58D has not progress up to the same lateral point as the 57D.

The SLA is fully cognisant of the fact that the Tigers will launch a counter-offensive within the next few weeks, possibly after the SAARC summit.


The Sri Lanka Air Force will be adding to its fighter fleet with the Mig-29SM Fulcram. The MiG-29SM is the further upgraded version of MiG-29SE aircraft with improved combat capabilities in the air-to-surface operating mode. It is equipped with precision guided weapons, air-to-surface missiles and TV-guided bombs, and the upgraded weapon control system that significantly improves the efficiency and makes the aircraft a true multirole fighter. This vehicle can track up to 10 targets at a time, including moving vehicles. Once introduced to the SLAF, this will exponentially increase its attack capability. The MiG-29SM's primary role will be to thwart any attempts by the Tiger Airwing. The new acquisition will be able to track, target and destroy low-flying and low-speed enemy planes.

Five new MiG-29SM are on order, with 3 being delivered in November and the remainder in December of this year.

New SLAF Multi-Role Fighter Documentary Video

Saturday, July 19, 2008

STRATEGY REVIEW: The Fonseka Factor

Let their be no confusion as to the root attributes of the current success by Sri Lankan Army in the northern front. General Fonseka and his strategy has effectively bled the enemy through slow attrition for over 18 months and now the SLA is going in for the kill. The SLA is moving in on the LTTE northern strongholds at a pace of almost 3KM per day.

Effectively, 6 Divisons (61, 59, 58, 57, 53, 55) and 1 Task Force (TFII) are active against the LTTE. By attacking, or commiting multiple divisons against the LTTE, Fonseka has ensured that the enemy is not able to mass troops against one front without inviting simaltaneous attacks from the other SLA divisons.

For an example, the LTTE currently has over 1200 Cadres on the northern front facing the 53rd and 55th divisons of the army. These 1200 Cadres, their field suppport material and heavy weapons are effectively out of battle and not utilized against the army in combat, as such they pose no threat to the other divisons in the south. The LTTE also cannot utilize these troops in the Jaffna front in a 'ceaseless' waves type of assault without inviting massive casualties. If the LTTE does decide to even temorariliy redeploy these cadres for an attack in Weli-Oya or Mannar, the 53rd and 55th division will be put into action, thereby rolling through the Muhumalai and Kilali FDL's and into Elephant Pass. The brilliant tactics employed by Fonseka are evident here. The 'division' of regions amongst 6 Divisions and TF's ensure that each Commanding Officer has specific goals and targets to achieve, thus empowering them to drive hard in their individual sectors. 58 Divisions has been given the target of capturing all coastal areas along the A32 (Mannar-Pooneryn) road. The 57 Divison, which is the tip of the spear is leading the attack into the heartland of the enemy currently in the Mannar sector and soon into Killinochchi. TFII has been tasked with securing the towns parallel to the west of the A9. 59 Divison has been tasked with leading the attack on the Wanni. Since the the Divison commanders are empowered and given clear directions on their objectives, they are able to control and adapt to the unique situations which arise in their sectors, thus contributing to the holistic success for the over-all battle plan...only known to Gen. Fonseka and his inner circle. The image above (courtesy provides are clear picture of the division of labour between the individual sectors.

Illuppakadavai Captured

Last night 58 Divsion troops who were roughly 1KM outside the town of Illuppakadavai launched an night attack on the town. Commando units secured the centre of the town while troops from the 58th surrounded the perimeter of the town. The LTTE were not expecting the SLA to move this quickly along the A32, thus were caught unawares inside the town. Heavy fighting was reported overnight, but resistence melted away after a few hours. We expect the LTTE casualty figures to be very heavy, but exact figures are not available right now. The dangers of an LTTE counter-attack against 57 and 58 Divison are increasing daily.

Mundampiddi, Vellankulam, Mallavi and Tunukkai Next...

With the Divsions moving very quickly northwards, the LTTE will need to slow down the progress. We expect the LTTE to launch a limited counter-attack against the 57 Division at Mallavi or Tunukkai. The capture of these two towns will effectivly put Mankulam under threat thus permitting the army to disrupt LTTE communications and logistics on the A9. Killinochchi too will be under direct artillary range with the capture of these locations. It is unlikely that the LTTE will permit the fall of these towns without offering a limited counter-offensive.

The next major milestone of the 58 Divison will be Vellankulam, the 58 Division will need to move northwards quickly to ensure that they provide effective flank support to the 57 Division which is currently based about 2KM south of Mallavi and Tunukkai. Thus, their is pressure on the 58 Division to move north quickly, this adds to the risk in this sector as proper time is required to consolidated captured land and clear the areas of trappings.

Within the next few weeks our brave troops will be knocking the the devils back door, Killinochchi...

Wednesday, July 16, 2008


After days of engaging the Tiger defences around the town of Vidattaltivu, SLA Commando's penetrated into the heart of the town and by this morning 58 Divison troops had secured the base and the town.

Soldiers from the 57 Division positioned themselves north of Vidattaltivu area on the A32, effectively cutting of the only escape route for the remaining tigers. The tigers retreated along the shallow coastal route but they were engaged by MI24 attack helicopters of Squadron 9 (based in Anuradhapura).

Most hard assets of the tigers had been moved north, but many tractors, double cabs and trucks used by the terrorists have been captured or destroyed. Images will be made available shortly.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

HEROES IN ACTION: Corporal Nishan Keerthiratne

"I looked after my family, I served my country....I have no regrets."

Nishan Keerthiratne, 35, joined the Sri Lanka army in 1990. After nearly 16 years of proud service to the nation, this valiant soldier was injured by an enemy IED which was placed on a tree in 2006. The bomb decimated the vehicle he was travelling in, and ripped through his spinal cord. The proud soldier is now bed ridden as he is paralyzed waist down.

The Associated Press interviewed him recently, with the intent of getting an interview which would tarnish the image of the army and exploit this soldiers condition. The intent of the AP reporter was to extract an 'anti-war' or 'anti-nationalistic' response from this servicemen.

When asked if he is depressed or regrets fighting for his country, the soldier responded:
"I looked after my family, I served my country....I have no regrets."

Sunday, July 13, 2008


5 Terrorist Bodies Recovered by 58 Division

Pitch battles between the troops of 58 Division, now located 2KM south of Vidattaltivu and the LTTE are in progress. The elite 58 Division troops, who have now reached the perimeter of Vidattaltivu and the 57 Divison which are moving westward from Periyamadhu area are effectively surrounding the Vidattaltivu base.

The flank attack by the 57 Division has met fierce resistance by the LTTE. The army has effectively attacked enemy strong points on July 13 killing around 7 terrorists. 5 bodies of LTTE cadres have been recovered and are in the process of being tagged and transferred to the ICRC.

The 58 Division is now within striking distance from Vidattaltivu and Army DPU teams have effectively engaged the LTTE well forward of the current FDL's. These 'deep space' attacks have ensured that whole region has been made inconducive for Tiger logistical operations.

Thursday, July 10, 2008


A campaign to raise funds for the welfare of our brave soldiers led by the SRI LANKA UNITED NATIONAL ASSOCIATION (SLUNA) raised nearly $10 000 CAD. The funds were handed over the Secretary of Defence, Mr. Gothabaya Rajapakse at the Ministry of Defence.
Communication from SLUNA is attached below.

Dear Friends,

Handing Over of SLUNA's Contribution to Api Wenuwen Fund in Colombo

We have pleasure in forwarding pictures taken at Colombo showing the formal handing
over of a Bank Draft for $7,500.00 drawn in favour of the Api Wenuwen Api Fund, by
SLUNA's Executive Vice President, Dr. Daya Sarathchandra to Mr. Gotabaya Rajapakse,
Defence Secretary, Sri Lanka.

As you are aware, we have so far succeeded in raising a total of $9,495.00 to SLUNA' s
Heroes Fund, which was dedicated to assisting the brave men and women in Sri Lanka's
Security Forces, who are risking their lives and limbs to safeguard our motherland and her
people. Our decision was to allocate 75% to the Api Wenuwen Api Fund, whilst the balance
funds were to be remitted to reputed oganizations in Sri Lanka engaged in providing welfare
services to injured security forces personnel. The monies so far disbursed are as follows:

Total amount raised as at the present date: - $ 9,495.00
Less: Amount remitted to the Api Wenuwen Api Fund - (7,500.00)
Less: Amount remitted to NMAT Colombo towards gift packs of
essential items for use of injured service personnel receiving
treatment in Colombo Hospitals - ( 500.00)
BALANCE FUNDS AVAILABLE to be remitted to Seva Vanitha Unit/
General Denzil Kobbekaduwa Trust for use on injured personnel - $ 1,495.00
We take this opportunity to thank all donors for their contributions which are to be
utilized in providing welfare services to those who are giving their today to ensure
a better tomorrow for all citizens of Sri Lanka.

Yours sincerely,

Mahinda Gunasekera
Honorary President

Weli-Oya Front Operations Heat Up

Troops of the 59 Division are now fully on the offensive north of Janakapura. The recent capture of 'Michael' base, which acted as a logistics and forward operations centre would hasten the collapse of the 1-4 base complex in the Mullativu theatre of operations. 1-4 base complex is a vast network of terror bases (initially numbering 14 but now have expanded up to 20 bases).

The existence of mines and IED, make the progress very slow, however the tigers are unable to use 'force multiplier' weapons such as artillery and MBRL's on this front due to the heavy canopy. The fighting has been hand-to-hand and close quarter. We expect further progress on this front within the next few weeks. The military target is to secure Kalumunai and Alampil, which are less than 7KM from Mullativu town. The capture of Kalumunai and Alampil will secure vast tracts of coastline and will destabilize Mullativu town and environment due to special small group operations.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

NEWS BRIEF: 150 Terrorist Killed in 23 Days

The SLA target of killing 10 terrorists per day were validated yesterday when 58 Division captured a LTTE strategic point in Mannar containing details of LTTE causalities from 17th February to 10th March this year. The posters and other detailed records contained confirmed at AT LEAST 150 Tigers were killed in action. Posters are available below for preview.

Posters of death LTTE cadres revealed more than 20 child soldiers were killed in battle during March - April
Thu, 2008-06-26 02:29
By Walter Jayawardhana
At least twenty child soldiers in the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) have been killed in the Northern Districts March – April 2008, in one month, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Defence said.
Referring to recently captured obituary posters from a LTTE office occupied by the security forces, the Ministry of defence said, “No ranks were mentioned against 30 cadres who appear very young in their early or mid-teens. According to the details mentioned on the posters, the LTTE cadres were killed at various locations in the Jaffna and Wanni theatre of operations from 17th February to 10th March this year”.Poster 1 - Shows photographs of dead LTTE cadres
Human rights organizations have discovered earlier, that tomb stones at LTTE martyr grave yards of dead child soldiers do not indicate their birth dates and only the dates they died obviously to conceal the fact that they were child soldiers.
According to the Ministry of Defence sources, “the posters were found on a billboard at a recently captured office of an LTTE regional leader in the Karakakulam area”, in the North Western Mannar District. The Ministry of Defence also published the reproduction of all the three posters containing 50 photos each
Detailing more information on the posters Defence sources said, “The three posters contain details of 50 LTTE cadres on each, including their name, rank and the unit that they had been attached to. However, no ranks were mentioned against 30 cadres who appear very young in their early or mid-teens. According to the details mentioned on the posters, the LTTE cadres were killed at various locations in the Jaffna and Wanni theatre of operations from 17th February to 10th March this year.” Photo 2: Shows photographs of dead LTTE cadres"
The same sources said, “"The pictures of…. children show the LTTE is still using child soldiers despite its attempts cover up the existence of its shameful baby brigade".
A June 13 2008 AFP news story datelined Colombo said, “According to UNICEF (United Nation’s Children’s organization), there are 1,410 outstanding cases of child recruitment by the rebels at the end of April 2008."Of these, 146 are under the age of 18, and 1,264 were recruited while less than 18 but have now passed that age," UNICEF said.
Over the past two decades, the LTTE has promised to release children from their rank and file, but they have been accused of failing to take concrete action.
The UN says there were another 144 outstanding cases of child soldier recruitment by a breakaway rebel faction, the Karuna group, which operates in the island's east and is allied to the government.” Photo 3: Shows photographs of dead LTTE cadres

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New Brief - JUNE 18TH


Six bodies of LTTE terrorists were returned to the Wanni via the ICRC today. The bodies recovered after battles in Manner and Weli-Oya are a fraction of the actual LTTE casualties will be moved via the Omanthai defacto border point today.


A terrorist body was recovered at KOVITKUCHCHIKULAM today after a pitched battle in the area. The body is of a female cadre beloning to the Malathi brigade.

Sunday, June 15, 2008




58 Division (TFI) are now 3 KM north of Adampan town. The area is heavily fortified with tiger bunkers and progress has been slow. The capture of Alankulam is a stepping stone to the main sea tiger base at V. Progress on this sector is expected to be slow until 61 Division fully ramps up west of Vavuniya.


The 57 division is playing a critical role spearheading the Manner sector advance deep into enemy terratory. 57 division is expected to advance towards Thunukkai and Mallavi strategic objectives. At present the troops attached to the 57 Division have surrounded Periyamadhu and are active 2 KM north of Periyamadhu


Troops from the 59 Division are spearheading the attack into the Wanni. The Wanni battle front has now reached a critical point, troops are now 10 kilometres from Kumulamunai (just south of Nayaru Lagoon). A major tiger count-attack should be expected from this sector to stall the troops from reaching Kumulamunai. The capture of Kumulamunai will put all strategic based of the LTTE in Mullathivu under Arty range...the tigers will try the best to prevent this.

Troops are now operating just 21 Kilometres South of Mullaitivu and just nine to ten kilometres South of Kumulamunai located at the edge of the Nayaru lagoon.




61 Division will be deployed in a holding (defensive) role in Mannar and Vavuniya. 61 Division will be active in clearing operations and be in a defensive role to secure areas captured by 58 and TFII divisions.


TFII will be deployed in Vavuniya west in Mundumurippu. From this location TFII will be able to protect the flank of 58 Division. TFII will be a major headache for the Tigers as they will directly threaten the A9. The attached map show the strategic points that TFII will target. Mallavi/Mankulam/Puliyakulam will all be under threat once TFII is fully operational.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Three LTTE Bodies Recovered in Mannar Sector

Three female terrorist bodies were recovered today at Alankulam. Alankulam is located roughly 2KM north west of Giants tank.
The 58th has increased it activities in this area. The strategic objective is to now secure the coastal areas leading to the main sea tiger base located at Vidattaltivu.
Vidattaltivu sea tiger base is currently being surrounded by forces moving west from Palampiddi and north from Adampan/Giant's Tank area.

Heroes in Action - Long Rangers

Long Ranger speaks out - 10th February 2002

Despite the calm in battle areas, and the nation's attention focused on the upcoming peace talks, the intelligence community was jolted into action this week. A warning went out that a group of Tiger guerrillas had arrived in the city from Batticaloa. Their mission – to carry out reconnaissance to identify members of the now well known Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols (LRRP), or deep penetration groups, that have carried out attacks inside guerrilla dominated territory. Since a "cessation of hostilities" between the government and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) is now in force, the task of the group, a senior Intelligence official says, is not to carry out assassinations. He believes it is to identify those responsible, their addresses and other details. "They want to be ready to take on those targets if an opportunity arises," he adds. He may be right in his assessment. But that is not to say that in the past the LTTE has not carried out attacks when a ceasefire or "cessation of hostilities" has been in force. On July 13, 1989, the leader of the Tamil United Liberation Front (TULF), and then Parliamentarian Appapillai Amirthalingam, was assassinated by an armed group. This occurred when President Ranasinghe Premadasa was locked in peace talks with the LTTE. The latter strongly denied allegations that its cadres were involved. That phase of the negotiations broke down in June, 1990 triggering off "Eelam War Two." Later, Anton Balasingham, now LTTE's chief negotiator, admitted publicly that the guerrillas had assassinated Mr. Amirthalingam. That came during talks which were bi-lateral. However, this time, Norway is playing the role of a facilitator and has obtained assurances, both from the Government and the guerrillas, not only to ensure the truce holds but also to formally incorporate it into a full fledged ceasefire agreement. But the reason for the presence of the guerrilla group from the east in Colombo is the direct outcome of the Police raid on the Army's Safe House at Athurugiriya on January 2.

The sequence of events that followed was to formally confirm the existence of Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols and their activities. Operations by LRRPs, or deep penetration groups, is not confined only to a single apparatus in the Army. There are in fact three distinct units, each specialising in infiltrating enemy lines and carrying out devastating attacks. But only the activities of the Army's Directorate of Military Intelligence (DMI), one of the organs that directed and controlled LRRP operations, came to light following the raid on the Safe House at Athurugiriya. This was a "rear base" for the DMI's long range patrol units. They also had "forward operations bases" in secret locations in the east from where they ventured out to take targets in guerrilla held areas. In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court, the nation's highest judicial institution, will hear details about how the DMI's long range patrols operated, how they took on targets and continued to maintain secrecy until the ill conceived Police raid on the Safe House blew it all. An officer and four soldiers have filed different Fundamental Rights violation petitions where they have given hitherto top secret details of how they operated and what happened to them. Some of the highlights in the petitions appeared in The Sunday Times last week though names of those involved were withheld in view of the serious security threats it would pose them. However, some sections of the media, of course unwittingly, gave the names of those concerned when reporting that they had filed petitions in the Supreme Court. While the cases of the DMI's heroes are awaiting hearings from the Supreme Court, Tiger guerrillas have embarked on a massive witch hunt to round up those helping the LRRP team of DMI. At least three of them have been summarily executed. That included a boatman, who under cover of darkness, helped ferry LRRP teams across a river in Manmunai (Batticaloa) to guerrilla controlled areas. Hundreds of families in uncontrolled areas in the Batticaloa district are being questioned by guerrilla cadres to ascertain whether they helped the LRRP teams. Those identified face instant death. It is in this backdrop that the guerrilla group from Batticaloa has entered the City.

The actions of two specialised Army apparatus dealing with Long Range Reconnaissance Patrols still remain a top secret. Some of their prized achievements, which are bold and daring, cannot be revealed. However, in the case of the DMI, the activities of its own LRRP teams have become privy to the LTTE after the raid on the Safe House at Athurugiriya. In the coming weeks, more details will become public when the Supreme court begins hearings. How does the Military Intelligence directorate's LRRP teams operate ? How have they acquired targets ? What are the dangers they face ? The answers came in an exclusive The Sunday Times interview with a member of the LRRP team. He spoke on grounds of strict anonymity. For obvious reasons, some of the remarks he made had to be withheld. Yet the story he related rings true to the motto of Britain's Special Air Services (SAS), one of the world's most elitist commando units - Who Dares Wins. He sat in the front seat of a double cab. The stubble on his face shows he had not shaved for a couple of weeks. The muscular arms betrayed his identity. He keeps thumping on the dashboard every now and then. At times he is restless. He could not stretch his long legs. He places his right leg on the seat to feel comfortable but soon takes it off to look outside. He seems alert to something which he fears would happen. We are on the edge of a football field, just off a main road near a construction company. It seems it was instinct, the survival techniques they are taught. I asked him to relate one of his forays. I have chosen to identify him only by one of the call signs he used on an assignment which is unrelated to this story. "Golf Whisky," was given a task by the Directorate of Military Intelligence last year. Together with two colleagues, he left the Army Camp at Vavunativu near Batticaloa. Having dodged minefields during a delicate trek in the night, they arrived at dawn in a jungle patch. They remained there for the whole day and did not venture out for fear of detection. They used long range binoculars to see movement of people including guerrilla cadres and survived on ration packs. At night, just past 10 p.m., they moved out. Using Night Vision Devices (NVD), they trekked towards an area where they were to accomplish their mission. They had been well briefed, not only on the target but also on the terrain. "We moved with our back packs and weapons all throughout the night. Before dawn, we always found a place to hide. It has not been easy. On one occasion, we were worried after seeing a group of civilians. But they thought we were LTTE men, "Golf Whisky" said. It was November 17, last year, when we took up position near a mound after placing claymore mines in the direction of a road.

It was almost late evening when they spotted a double cab coming along. There were some seated inside. Behind, in the cab area, at least two guerrilla cadres carrying weapons were watching either side of the road. Suddenly, the claymore mine exploded throwing the double cab, now a wreck, off the road. From a distance it looked mangled. "We managed to move back and spent the night in a thicket. We knew that we had hit an LTTE vehicle. That was all we knew as we began our trek to base," he said. Spending a night in an area which had a thick outgrowth, "Golf Whisky" and his two colleagues settled down to another meal. This was also from the ration pack. One slept whilst the other two took turns watching. Sleep was restricted to less than an hour or so but "Golf Whisky" says "we cannot enjoy that sleep. We are conscious somebody can ambush and kill us. It is more a case of keeping our eyes shut. But that helps," he adds. It was only after they returned to base that they discovered they had accomplished their target. "Major Mano" or "Oscar" (his radio call sign) was killed. "Major Mano" was a key guerrilla cadre. During security forces operations in the North, he was the man tasked to monitor all SF communications. He was also one of a handful of guerrilla leaders consulted by LTTE leader, Velupillai Prabhakaran, when major attacks were planned. "Major Mano" had not only undergone basic guerrilla training but has also been taught radio communications. At the time he was killed, he was the guerrilla in charge of LTTE communications network in the east. He had been fluent in English, Sinhala and Tamil. Intercepts of radio conversations prior to the attack showed that he was so fluent in Sinhala that he pronounced words in such a way it gave the impression he was a Sinhalese. "We only saw the claymore mine explode damaging the vehicle. Confirmation of "Major Mano's death came later during both radio intercepts and on the Tamilnet website," said "Golf Whisky." "Major Mano" was a close associate of LTTE's leader for the east, Karuna. He had been involved in countering security forces offensives during "Operation Riviresa" and "Operation Jaya Sikurui." Following the guerrilla seizure of Elephant Pass, he had moved to the east. As the man in charge of communications network in the East, he had been responsible for jamming security forces radio communications periodically. "There are successes and there are frustrations too," says "Golf Whisky." In July, last year, they were tasked to take on the LTTE military wing leader for Batticaloa district, "Jim Kelly." They trekked guerrilla dominated terrain for seven days in this operation in Batticaloa south. They waited for their quarry to arrive but he did not turn up. They were forced to abandon mission and return to base. On another occasion in September last year, they waited for another target to arrive in a location in Batticaloa north. Three days after they had moved in, just at the time the man was expected, very heavy rains broke out. Visibility became poor and there was no sign of any vehicle. They were forced to return to base. One of their prize achievements, "Golf Whisky" boasts took place on June 6 last year. This was when they launched a claymore mine attack on "Lt. Col. Nizam" alias November Mike (his radio call sign) in Kokkadicholai. He was the military intelligence wing leader of the LTTE for the Eastern province and masterminded almost all the major guerrilla suicide missions in Colombo. That included the suicide bomber attack on then Minister of Industrial Development, C.V. Gooneratne, at the Ratmalana junction on June 9, 2000. "Lt.Col. Nizam" was a senior LTTE cadre who received training in a base in India.

The string of electricity transformer explosions in various parts of Sri Lanka, including the City and attacks on telecommunications installations had been planned and directed by this former Eastern province intelligence wing leader. On November 26 last year, the LRRP team ventured into Pulipanchakal. Here too it carried out a claymore mine attack killing two senior members of the LTTE mortar group in Batticaloa, "Major Swarnaseelan" and "Captain Devadas." They were later identified as specialists in handling 81 mm and 120 mm mortars. This was followed by another attack on December 3, last year. Though a top LTTE cadre was expected, the claymore mine exploded when an Isuzu Elf vehicle was passing by It killed three guerrillas. What would you say is your most unforgettable experience, I asked "Golf Whisky." He smiled and paused for a long while. I asked whether it was a secret. "No," he replied. "The target was so near, so close. Then the unexpected happened," he said striking his hand hard on the double cab dashboard. He did not hide his frustration. It was December 21, last year. Two LRRP teams from the DMI had been tasked to take on two important targets. If successful, they would have been their biggest accomplishment. But it was not to be. One LRRP team went behind guerrilla lines in Kokkadicholai (Batticaloa bowl) whilst the other slipped into "Beirut," (Batticaloa Central) known to be one of the major LTTE bases in the east. Their targets ? LTTE's Military Commander for the East, Karuna and one of his close confidantes, Ramesh. They had entrenched themselves in a secret location and were ready. The men had spent almost five days, sleeping in jungle areas during day and trekking during the night.

On December 24, last year, their encrypted radio communication set crackled. It was orders from the Directorate of Military Intelligence to abort mission and return to base. The reason – the LTTE had announced a "cessation of hostilities" and the Government had decided to reciprocate. "The return journey was very troublesome," says "Golf Whisky." There were at least two different occasions when they feared they would be spotted. The third time, they had to divert course after a woman spotted them. "We were not sure whether she identified us or whether she thought we were LTTE. We did not want to take a chance. We had to divert course and this took a long time," he said. There are occasions when we have been spotted. In one such instance, we had to radio the nearest Police Special Task Force (STF) base. "We gave details of our location. Mortars began to rain ahead of us. That helped us to make a hasty retreat," said "Golf Whisky". On December 27, the men returned to their Safe House in Athurugiriya. Some of the weapons they carried from there to another "forward operations" Safe House somewhere in Batticaloa were returned. Others remained at Athurugiriya when the Kandy Police headed by SP Kulasiri Udugampola, raided the premises. The weapons they took were from five different military installations – Army Headquarters, Panagoda, Kosgama, Kadawata and Maradana. They had to be accounted, documented and returned to the officers who issued them. Some also had to be returned to the Regimental Headquarters of the Military Intelligence Regiment. One of the reasons for the delay was the lack of a typewriter at the Safe House at Athurugiriya. The document had to be therefore prepared at an Army camp in Kohuwala. It began on December 29, last year. The next day was a Sunday. Hence, the preparation of documents was concluded on December 31. Since January 1, 2002, was declared a half holiday by the Army, they were to be returned during the following days. But the raid came on January 2.

I asked "Golf Whisky" whether he had encountered difficult moments. His mood changed and the smile on his face faded away. The soft heart behind the tough man began to show when he appeared choked with emotion. "I lost a good friend during an LRRP operation," he says. What happened ? "He was caught red handed by the Tigers with a claymore mine in his hand. This compromised his mission. The man was tortured," he said in soft tones. "They hung the claymore mine with a rope around his neck and paraded him many times before civilians. Thereafter, he was shot dead," said "Golf Whisky." Was he a regular soldier or a former guerrilla cadre now enlisted to Army ranks ? "I am sorry I cannot tell you that. All I can say is that he was a very good friend. He has saved my life during an LRRP operation. I am sad to miss him," he added. That speaks a lot for a breed of men whose grit and determination is little known. But their tales have now become a public secret after the ill conceived Police raid, which none other than Defence Minister, Tilak Marapana, has described was a publicity stunt.

Strategy Review - Capture of Sampur

Operation Liberation Sampur (Sampoor) - 2006 Sampur was under government control until the February 22, 2002 Ceasefire Agreement. After the CFA, the LTTE set up some 19 camps around the Trincomalee harbour and the warnings by the Navy were not taken seriously by the government at that time. Tigers have strengthened themselves in this region not only to attack the Trincomalee Harbour but also for the Sea Tiger operations. Sri Lankan security forces led by Brigade Commander Sarath Wijesinghe re-captured Sampur from the LTTE on September 4, 2006 @ LL/RH Source Agencies The Sampoor region is located in the in the Muthur division of Trincomalee district, across the Kottiar bay. The small town of Sampur has a fishing population of about 400 fishing families. In addition to the Sampoor town, villages like Kattaiparichan, Senaiyoor, Kadatkaraichenai, Koonitheevu, Ambalnagar and Ganeshapuram are in the Sampoor region.
The LTTE had its Trincomalee district headquarters, military head camp, Political office in Sampoor. There were also other tiger institutions like a Police station, courthouse, bank, tax office etc. Presense of LTTE in Sampoor was major security threat to Trincomalee. The Trincomalee harbour and the naval base were very much within the firing range of tiger artillery. Sampoor is of strategic importance as it affords the LTTE a vantage point to fire long range artillery targetting Trincomalee and China Bay across the Kottiar bay. The tigers have fired artillery quite a few times in the past causing a paralysis of Trincomalee harbour. Sampur was under government control until the February 22, 2002 Ceasefire Agreement, despite claims that it is an LTTE-controlled area. Although the forces were withdrawn from the area in 1997 as part of reinforcements for Operation Jayasikuru, the area remained under government control. In fact in January 1998, the police arrested a suspect involved in the attack on Kandy Dalada Maligawa called Darmalingam from the Sampur area, clearly showing the police presence in the area. After the CFA, the LTTE set up some 19 camps around the Trincomalee harbour and the warnings by the Navy were not taken seriously by the government at that time. Sampoor was consolidated and fortified as a marine base by the LTTE after the ceasefire of Feb 23rd 2002. The opening of new bases and the acquisition of long range artillery by the LTTE added much strategic importance to Sampoor lying on the South of Kottiaar bay. Tigers have strengthened themselves in this region not only to attack the Trincomalee Harbour but also for the Sea Tiger operations.
With Trincomalee harbour being only about 13 nautical miles away it is possible to target it effectively from the Sampoor coast. It is also possible to send invading flotillas across. The eastern coast from Foul Point to Mankerni was controlled by the Sea Tigers. Control of this area is of paramount importance as it is the gateway to Batticaloa. Following the clashes in Mavil Aru and Muttur, the LTTE had intensified attacks targeting the naval base in Trincomalee. The new governement under Mahinda Rajapakse treated Sampoor as a matter of urgent priority. Govt began announcing its intention of retaking Sampoor. Preparations for a military onslaught were underfoot with men and materials being relocated to camps in the Muthur region. For the first time we had a government and an executive president of a tiny island ready to withstand pressure from any quarter and do what it feels was prudent and practical in the interest of the country. When the four co- chairs of the peace process urged a cessation of conflict President Rajapakse emphasised that Sampoor would have to come under Military control and that a personal guarantee from LTTE chief Velupillai Pirapakaran was necessary. When the LTTE offered to 'de - militarise' Sampoor and retain control Rajapakse rejected the proposal. "Do you want me to give Sampoor to the LTTE" he thundered. On August 28, 2006 the Sri Lankan military launched an assault to retake the LTTE camps in Sampur and the adjoining Kaddaiparichchan and Thoppur areas. After days of artillery shelling and aerial bombardment a major three - pronged military offensive was launched in the early hours of Monday August 28th morning.
The ground based military thrust was accompanied by aerial bombardment, artillery fire and naval gunboat shelling. Three advances were made within 30 minutes of each from Mahindapuram, Pachanoor and Thoppoor The first which began at 3.30 am from the Mahindapuram army camp was apparently a 'dummy' manouevre intending to distract enemy attention. Soldiers proceeded in virtually the opposite direction of Sampoor towards Poomarathaduchenai. Troops returned to base after intermittent exchanges of fire for about 2 hours. Troops from the 8th Sinha Regiment under Lieutenant Colonel Ramesh Fernando, 6th Gajaba Regiment under Lieutenant Colonel Thalgahawatta, the first and second Special Forces under Major Ihalage, took part in the operation. The LTTE’s forces were led by Col. Sornam, the military commander of the Trincomalee district. Sornam lost his own brother just a week before the Sampur operation. The first major advance began around 4.00 am from the Pachanoor camp. Troops made their way through Kilathimunai and proceeded in the general direction towards Sampoor.The objective seemed to be that of following a less used dirt road that reaches a point between Senaiyoor South and Nallur north. Senaiyoor is adjacent to Sampoor. The second major advance began at about 4. 30 am from the army camp at Thoppoor. Troops began moving towards Pallimunai enroute to Sampoor.This road would have taken the troops via Pallikkudiyiruppu to Pattalipuram.
Another change of direction from there would take the forces to Senaiyoor. Naval gunboats along the coast of Ilakkanthai began shelling the Muthur East littoral region as troops moved out on land. Ilakkanthai is also adjacent to Sampoor along the coast. Artillery shells were fired regularly from the camps at Kattaiparichan, Selvanagar and Thoppoor towards the Muthur East hinterland region while artillery fire continued from Mahindapuram towards Poomarathadichenai and its environs. The Naval base at the Trincomalee harbour and army camp at Monkeys Bridge began firing long range artillery as well as Multi - barrel rocket launchers along the Kottiaar bay towards the Sampoor coast. Aerial bombardment was also on with Kfirs and Migs flying regular bombing sorties . These planes had been bombing the Tamil majority Muthur East and Eechilampattru - Verugal regions on and off from April 25th onwards. Likewise artillery and rocket fire too had been directed towards Muthur East on many occasions in the past. The region had been a target long before the Maavilaaru crisis erupted. Tiger cadres engaged advancing troops in the general area of Thoppoor at the crack of dawn. Fierce fighting ensued for several hours and subsided only in the evening. LTTE fighters also blocked the advance of troops from Pachanoor in the Kilathimunai area. According to agency reports at least 13 soldiers were killed on the first day.
Many were wounded with 79 being hospitalised. 49 were admitted to Trincomalee and 30 to Polonnaruwa hospitals respectively. LTTE casualties on the first day were unclear but defence officials claimed that many tigers were killed. The second day of fighting on Tuesday August 29th saw the armed forces break out at first light from three positions again. Apart from Pachanoor and Thoppoor troops began advancing from the Kattaiparichan camp. This is along the Koddiar bay coast like Sampoor. Only two villages Senaiyoor and Kadatkaraichenai are between Kattaiparichan and Sampoor. While the army and navy had camps in Kattaiparichan not all areas in the east of the area were under Govt Control. A substantial portion of Kattaiparichan is a virtual no man's land. The second days assault also saw the armed forces using a large number of tanks and armoured cars. The ground based advances were accompanied by Aerial bombardment, Artillery fire and Naval gunboat shelling. On the Pachanoor front the LTTE positions were fortified at a point near a jungle stream. After fierce fighting the tigers retreated across the stream and began engaging in mortar fire. On the Thoppoor front the LTTE managed to restrict the troops from advancing too far beyond Forward Defence lines. On the third front at Kattaiparichan the armed forces moved across no mans land and began fighting the LTTE near its positions along a bridge. After intense warfare the LTTE retreated behind the bridge.
Thereafter artillery exchanges commenced. The second day's fighting saw the armed forces losing six or seven men. The LTTE suffered heavier losses. At least 18 tigers were killed and 28 injured. The third day of strife on Aug 30th saw a marked drop in the intensity of fighting. With the armed forces suspending all attempts to advance on ground the LTTE too did not engage the troops. The army began clearing and consolidating the areas they had gained. Troops began clearing landmines,booby traps etc and constructing bunkers and trenches. The LTTE did not make any attempt to launch counter attacks. Both sides engaged in sporadic artillery and mortar fire. There were some casualties on either side. Heavy artillery fire from camps or long range fire from Trincomalee coast or aerial bombardment did not take place. Naval gunboats continued to patrol the Sampoor coast and occasionally shelled the coastal areas.. The navy claimed to have destroyed a tiger boat coming from Verugal off Ilakkanthai. Aug 31st or the fourth day saw fighting erupt with a vengeance. Security forces moved out of two positions from the Pachanoor and Kattaiparichan fronts. There was no forward movement from the Thoppoor front. The LTTE began resisting. Both sides engaged in incessant artillery and mortar fire. Artillery and aerial attacks also continued. At Kattaiparichan the tigers went back another 500 to 600 metres from their earlier position. Kattaiparichan is about 6 km from Sampoor. Special Force commandoes had been deployed along the Kattaiparichan front. After four days of fighting the armed forces seemed to have made some territorial gains.
At Kattaiparichan they have advanced about three km. At Pachanoor they have advanced about two km while at Thoppoor the security forces have moved about a km forward. They were in the process of consolidating these gains. Both the security forces and tigers seemed to have lost about 20 to 25 each in the first three days of fighting. The Govt said that more than 90 LTTE have been killed while the tigers say around 60 soldiers have been killed. As far as injured persons are concerned the armed forces figure after three days were in the range of 110 - 125 while the LTTE suffered about 50 to 60 wounded. The war afflicted region has undergone severe destruction due to aerial and artillery attacks. Realising that a major onslaught to capture Sampoor was to be launched frightened civilians began fleeing. Many people made it over the river to Batticaloa district. These new arrivals were housed at schools in Kathiraveli and Paatsenai temporarily. With hospitals in the area being dysfunctional and transport options restricted it was the LTTE?s medical unit which attended to these victims. Another two wounded civilians died later. It is reported that lack of medical facilities has affected wounded civilians badly.However no further civilan casualties were reported after the first day. After steady progress, Sri Lankan security forces led by Brigade Commander Sarath Wijesinghe re-captured Sampur from the LTTE on September 4, and began to establish military bases there, as the LTTE admitted defeat and stated their cadres "withdrew" from the strategically important town. It marked the first significant territorial change of hands since the signing of the ceasefire agreement in 2002. The Sri Lankan Military estimated that 33 personnel were killed in the offensive, along with over 200 LTTE cadres. A total area of 140 square kilometres was brought under the military control in the Sampur region.
"OUR armed forces have captured Sampur for the welfare and benefit of the people living there," a beaming Mahinda Rajapaksa, Sri Lankan President, announced to the delight of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) delegates in Colombo on September 4, 2006. The ruling party could not have asked for a better birthday gift. Muttur and Trinco are now safe thanks to the securing of Sampur. The victory of Sampur was a hard-earned reward for the security forces engaged in an undeclared war with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Heroes In Action - Wing Commander Bernard Perera

The atmosphere was misty with very low visibility. The ground had turned muddy, due to pouring rains. The Commando team had picked out a secure clearing in the middle of the woods, made a makeshift helipad with felled forest trees and were standing guard nearby. One lit up a smoke signal, just as the Bell 212 was approaching, to draw the attention of the helicopter. The LTTE opened fire as they lowered.

Rescue Mission In Air

Eight men of the Army Commando Regiment Forward Reccee party were scouring in the Vanni Periyamadu area, 20 miles up enemy territory to gather military intelligence.
20th November, night; one of the soldiers of the eight manned team stepped on a pressure mine. The information was communicated to the Army and the latter called for assistance for evacuation from the Air Force and in turn the message was transferred to Air Force Operations. The Number 7 Helicopter Squadron was selected for the rescue mission.

Date: November 21, 2001
Time: 1100 hours
Location: Air Force Base, Hingurakgoda

Wing Commander Bernard Perera, two Bell 212 pilots and two gunners were briefed by Major Wijesinghe of the Commando Regiment at the Hingurakgoda Air Force Base. Major Wijesinghe knew the terrain quite well and described how the rescue should be attempted, with the help of maps and GPS (Geographic Positioning System) coordination.

All was in place except the 'go ahead' by the stranded Reccee team. They were in LTTE held area more than 20 miles up and there was no way for them to turn back or any way of moving ahead with the casualty.

The noise of the blast, would have also announced their presence in the area to the LTTE, since they were inside LTTE held area. The team wanted the rescue team to hold back until they reached a secure location, two to three miles away so as not to jeopardize the safety of the rescue team.

"They did not want to put us in any danger under any circumstances, not even if it meant that they had to sacrifice their own lives." said Corporal Batuwatta Jayasingha, Number 7 Helicopter Squadron - one of the gunners who was detailed to go in the Bell 212. Corporal Batuwatta Jayasingha had joined the Air Force in 1990 as a recruit.

Two MI 24s came as escorts and a MI 17 came as a back up, for the Bell 212. But they had to stall the rescue mission for another day - till November 22, due to heavy and persistent rains. The leg of the soldier had to be amputated below the knee, by his colleagues, and was wrapped with field dressing to arrest the bleeding.

Date: November 22, 2001
Time: 0800 hours
Location: Air Force Base, Hingurakgoda

The Bell 212 with two pilots, two gunners along with Major Wijesinghe flew out on the rescue mission from Hingurakgoda Air Force Base, but had to be stalled yet again because of rains. Permission was granted to go only upto as far as Anuradhapura.

1100 hours: As directed by Major Wijesinghe the rescue party found the eight man team exactly at the rendezvous point as planned. The atmosphere was misty with very low visibility. The ground had turned muddy, due to pouring rains. The Commando team had picked out a secure clearing in the middle of the woods, made a makeshift helipad with felled forest trees and were standing guard nearby. One lit up a smoke signal, just as the Bell 212 was approaching, to draw the attention of the helicopter. The LTTE opened fire as they lowered. Fortunately, because of the stealthy move by the Commando team the LTTE were not in a position to check on the helipad. "They were so agile that they clung on to the helicopter in a matter of five seconds and were able to lift off ASAP." said Corporal Batuwatta Jayasingha.

1145 hrs: The eight manned team - thanks to the assistance of the rescue party - reached Colombo, where the injured soldier was given the necessary medical attention. "Despite three days of bleeding the injured soldier flat refused to be carried on a stretcher to be moved to an ambulance, but hobbled with one foot."

Todays Heroes Forever is dedicated to the brave airmen who were detailed on that rescue mission on November 22, with four of whom being awarded the Rana Sura Medals for rescuing the eight who were stranded in the LTTE territory at great risk to their own lives.

Sgt. Batuwatta Jayasingha of the Number 7 Helicopter Squadron, has now been promoted to the rank of Sergeant, was one among them.

Certain names have been changed in order to withhold identity.

Heroes In Action - Lt. M. D. K. Wijewardana

Lt. M. D. K. Wijewardana was based at Trincomalee Naval Base when the Commander Eastern Naval Area gave the order for four FACs to be deployed to Mullaithivu as reinforcements for the three FACs that were already engaged in combat with the LTTE, on March 21, 2001.

Lt. Wijewardana had to assume temporary command of P 480 - an American built TMG Fast Attack Craft - on this mission, though he was the OIC of P 460, under normal circumstances. Lt. Wijewardana belonged to the tenth intake of the KDA (Kotelawala Defence Academy). He started his career at the FAC squadron as the Second in Command and gradually excelled to the rank of OIC of an FAC, dedicating over eight years of his service in the Navy, to the FAC squadron. He has enormous experience fighting with sea Tigers and suicide boats. Married to a lady officer, also in the Navy his whole life seems to be tied up with the Navy.

Date: March 21, 2001 Time: 0930 hours Location: Off Mullaithivu
"By the time we got to the location there were nearly 10 LTTE boats encircling P 495. It was under heavy fire and the two other FACs were attempting to rescue the crew."
The task of the FACs deployed by the Eastern Naval Command, included P 480 commanded by Lt. Wijewardana, six FACs deployed by the Northern Naval Command, KKS (Kankesanthurai), that were also on the scene by that time - was to fight with the enemy and boost the rescue operation, fighting with around 15 armed enemy boats.

The FACs deployed by both Northern and the Eastern Naval Commands launched a coordinated attack - the Northern deployment acting as the Northern flank and the Eastern as the Southern flank, operating in two by two teams.

The objective of both the Northern and Southern flanks was to isolate P 495 - in order to rescue her - by driving the LTTE fleet landward. P 480 commanded by Lt. Wijewardana and P 462 were fighting it out with five to six LTTE craft.

By around 1015 hours they were carrying out what is referred to as an 'Attack run'. The two FACs - P 480 and P 462 - fired, turned and headed seaward to reload. "While we were heading towards the sea, I got the message that P 462 was marooned due to engine failure."

By now P 462 was drifting dangerously close to the LTTE fleet. Since she was in the process of heading towards the sea for reloading, her ammunition was in short supply and all weapons were turned away from the enemy, leaving her in a very vulnerable position.

One or two of the LTTE craft observing the discomfort she was in, was heading her way and another cluster of around six LTTE craft were also fast approaching. P 462 called for immediate assistance, but all other teams were too far away to be of any help.

"Mine was the only FAC close enough to be of any immediate assistance," recalled Lt. Wijewardana. He was the one left with, to make the crucial decision that decide the fate of the sister craft. He decided to make a go for it....

The first round of attacks by P 480 were close-bridge attacks - commanded by the OIC, from within the wheel house. But when Lt. Wijewardana made the decision to save P 462, he decided to command the rescue mission from the open-bridge. "I decided it was easier devising a rescue operation in broad day light rather than keep monitoring the radar."

Lt. Wijewardana told his crew to get his craft ready to tow P 462, and headed towards the sister craft. By this time P 462 was under heavy attack by the approaching LTTE boats. And all the weapons of nearly eight LTTE craft were now redirected towards P 480, as she approached the sister craft.

"But the LTTE fleet was momentarily confused because they couldn't make out what was going on. But within few minutes they realized what we were trying to do and started attacking." In spite of the danger, P 480 positioned itself parallel P 462. P 480 was hit quite a few times but not enough to do major damage.

The crew members of P 480 was preparing to pay out the ropes to P 462. Both the crafts were now under continuous attack.

The whole process of throwing ropes and towing the FAC required P 480 to literally halt, endangering the lives of all on board. Frankly they were like sitting ducks. But the crew of P 480 was relentless and never stopped firing, consequently the LTTE boats were reluctant to get too close.

The crew on the right side of P 480 was focused on passing the rope, while the crew on the left side of the craft was focused on firing. The AGL (Automatic Grenade Launcher) was effectively used by the crew to delay the cluster of LTTE boats from closing in.
Situations like these called for - from the OIC - immense courage to literally halt the craft in the face of the enemy, and the confidence in his crew to believe that they can pull off the near impossible.

The Second In Command, Sub Lieutenant Dharmawickrama, and all the sailors of P 480 were the kind of crew who proved that they were worthy of their OIC's confidence.
"Though I was in temporary command of the craft, her crew knew my combat requirements, they knew exactly what I wanted from them." It all now depended on team work.

"We started to tow P 462, but the rope suddenly snapped. We had no choice but to make a second attempt. But that meant positioning my craft parallel to P 462, throwing out another sling and the whole nine yards, which was extremely risky for all involved."

It was a race against time, but he had to take that chance if he wanted to save the sister craft. They made a second attempt, which also failed when the rope got loosened. It was not tied properly.

"It was an extreme situation. People were shot, some of the guns were jammed, alarms were going off and some controls were badly hit. It's easy to get excited and lose your focus." A control box just above Lt. Wijewardana's head got hit. "The next one could have been me."
This was the time the training, experience, discipline and their will to fight paid off. Lt. Wijewardana didn't want to leave P 462 and its crew thinking that they didn't make an attempt to save them. He decided to go for the nearly impossible - a third attempt.

The line of loose rope had got entangled in the P 480s water jet and had trouble in throttling ahead. Consequently Lt. Wijewardana had to decide on a bow to bow towing, with the P 480 moving backwards, tugging P 462 along in a dangerously slow pace.

But by then the crew of P 495 - the FAC that they were initially called upon to rescue - were saved from the clutches of the LTTE fleet and the other FACs were able to assist P 480 in the rescue of P 462. "The other FACs created a barrier between us and the cluster of LTTE boats."
It was around 1030 hours when the P 462 was finally secured. Three sailors of P 480 sustained minor injuries. There were more than 20 bullet holes in the craft. "P 462 actually looked like a strainer."

Few of the personnel on board P 462 were in serious condition but no one on board was killed. Due to the persistence and courage of the crew of P 480 one of the most significant rescues of the kind was made possible. "In any battle there is a momentum, either in your favour or the enemies. It's in your hands to turn things around."

It was a race against time and the personnel on board P 480 were able to fulfil the required task in the least amount of time available. Although in reality the battle lasted a very short time, in the minds of those who were engaged in the battle it progressed for hours.
The battle that killed approximately 15 LTTE cadres and injured many more earned the Second in Command of P 480, Sub Lt. Dharmawickrama a Rana Wickrama Medal and some of the sailors Rana Wickrama Medals as well while some others were presented with Rana Soorya Medals.

Lt. Wijewardana - who had been awarded a Rana Wickrama as well as two Rana Soorya Gallantry Medals for previous acts of bravery - was awarded a Weera Wickrama Vibhushana for his display of courage, focus and accurate judgement during this particular rescue. He is now a Lieutenant Commander.

Heroes in Action - Remembering Captain Saliya Upul Aladeniya

CAPTAIN Saliya Upul Aladeniya (1964 - June 11, 1990)

The nation's highest awards for bravery, the Parama Weera Vibushanaya (PWV) is awarded Saliya Upul Aladeniya in recognition of his bravery. Lt. Saliya Upul Aladeniya, was just 26-years-old when he sacrificed his life, valiantly defending his camp at Kokavil and standing by his injured troops in the face of a massive attack by the LTTE in 1990. Although Saliya had orders to abandon the camp and withdraw, he refused to do so because the majority of his troops were injured and unable to move.

He ordered the able men to withdraw, leaving him with the injured. At 11.45 p.m. the camp was overrun. The last they heard from him were his words, "Don't worry sir, I will fight till I die." Source: ST / 1st october 2000 Saliya Aladeniya, one of a family of three children, was educated at Trinity College, Kandy. After completing his O'Ls, he worked for a few years on a small estate owned by his family and then joined the Army in 1989. Having trained at Diyatalawa, Saliya served with his regiment in the Nuwara Eliya area until he was sent to Kokavil in May 1990. At the time, Lt. Aladeniya was married but had no children. "From his young days, Saliya wanted to join the Army," said his mother, Indrani Aladeniya. His father, a planter attached to the State Plantations Corporation, was a Volunteer officer in the Army. As a small boy, Saliya had got his mother to stitch him an Army uniform, which he wore around the house. "We were deployed in Nuwara Eliya, when we were asked to take over Mankulam," recalled Col. Abey Weerakoon who was the Commanding Officer of the 3rd Battalion of the Sinha Regiment, a Volunteer Battalion. One company with three officers took over Mankulam on May 18, 1990. Two officers and 58 men of this company were sent to Kokavil to provide security to the Rupavahini Relay Station there and Saliya Aladeniya, a very junior 2nd Lieutenant was one of the officers," Col. Weerakoon said. Col. Weerakoon recounted that in early June 1990, attacks commenced on the Security Forces in the area.

On June 5, a terrorist attack on Mankulam was repulsed by the Army. 43 LTTErs were killed. By June 12, however, Mankulam and Kokavil were surrounded. "On June 16, there was some kind of a ceasefire and negotiation and hostilities were halted," Col. Weerakoon said. "The Captain in charge of the camp and fifteen others went on leave during the ceasefire, leaving Lt. Aladeniya in charge." Kokavil and Mankulam were then surrounded by the LTTE who attempted to overrun the camp. Reinforcements could not be sent and the troops were also running short of ammunition. For 14 days the camp was besieged with men getting killed inside. Medicines were needed for the wounded. Food was scarce and they did not even have water because it had to be brought from outside the perimeter. Ice and food were dropped by helicopters. Since the LTTE were shooting at the choppers, the supplies had to be dropped from high above the camp. Much of it was therefore lost.

Before the final attack, which started on July 10, the LTTE started building up forces around the camp. "The Air Force was trying to drop whatever supplies they could despite the shooting," Col. Weerakoon said. "From Vavuniya, I desperately tried to get reinforcements sent in but they were unable to get through because the routes were blocked. Commandos who were sent also could not get down there because it was dark." By that evening, there were only 300 rounds of ammunition left in the camp.

The choppers could not airdrop ammunition due to the height, much of it fell outside the camp. The attacks continued throughout the night. About fifteen of the men were injured leaving only about fifteen to fight. Aladeniya and the small group left within the camp fought valiantly against the fierce attacks, with even the injured and the civilian cooks adding their mite. "On the evening of the 11th, communication was lost," Col Weerakoon said. Although Lt. Aladeniya was given orders to abandon the camp and withdraw, he refused to do so because the majority of his troops were injured and unable to move. He ordered the able men to withdraw, leaving him with the injured. At 11.45 p.m. the camp was overrun. The last they heard from him were his words, "Don't worry sir, I will fight till I die." He fought bravely until the camp was overrun and destroyed by the LTTE. He was declared Missing in Action. "After the Kokavil camp was taken by the LTTE on July 11, we got a message from Nuwara Eliya to say that all those in the camp were missing," Mrs. Indrani Aladeniya said. "My husband, who was mobilised in Vavuniya, made inquiries and searched for Saliya because we had information that he was alive, but captured by the enemy. I still feel he is alive. Even those who have been named by the LTTE as being in captivity have not been released yet. "When my husband was alive we joined the Association for the Families of MIAs (Missing In Action). After his death however, I find it difficult to go to Colombo for the meetings. We are hoping that if Saliya has been captured, he will be released soon."

"I recommended Saliya Aladeniya for the PWV soon after the Kokavil attack," said Col. Weerakoon. "He was the first to be recommended for the award. Saliya was a very bold officer who always volunteered for the difficult tasks. He had time to escape, but chose to stay by his injured troops."

Lt. Saliya Aladeniya was awarded the PWV on June 21, 1994.