The secret behind the success of the Sri Lankan military in its war against the LTTE was its transformation from a conventional to a guerilla force, according to the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) Sarath Fonseka, who led the war as the Army Commander.
In his first public appearance since the military defeat of the LTTE at an event organised by Project Management Institute (PMI) on Friday here, he spoke at length on the role reversal of the military and the Tigers.
The LTTE behaved almost like a conventional force and the Army stepped into the shoes of a guerilla outfit. He told the forum that when he took over the Army, the LTTE was acting almost like a conventional army and had to protect land, equipment and armaments.
From our side, we changed our tactics and started acting like guerillas, making incursions into their territories in small groups and carrying out daring attacks when the LTTE challenged us in the jungles, said General Fonseka.
He said the decision of going for war was political and the Army together with the other forces fought the war according to political will. General Fonseka dwelt at length on how he prepared the Army to fight the Elam War Four.
Thirty years of war had caused a lot of frustration to the people, who had lost their faith in the Army.…I restructured the entire Army deviating from traditional methods, appointed new people of my choice untainted with corruption and dramatically increased the manpower of the Army with recruitment.
My strategy also included the procurement of best arms and ammunition and changed the battle strategy from conventional to guerilla tactics.
We commenced our assault from the A9 road, the Maddu road, Mannar and the Mullaithivu jungles. Sometimes it took us four to five days just to take control of one or two kilometres. But the results were good. We minimised our casualties and increased losses of the enemy.
At the end of 2007, we were operating 35 battalions on all fronts and the LTTE had to react to our plan and maintained our assault in all conditions. We kept the momentum going until we achieved victory.
As per the General restructuring involved stamping out corruption rampant at the lowest to the highest ranks. On new recruitments and promotions in the Army, the General maintained that he deviated from traditional methods and selected all commanders on merit.
On the Army intelligence Gen. Fonseka observed, I removed almost all the officers attached to it, most of them serving 15 to 20 years and filled with new young faces that did a good job.
Separately, the English daily Island citing unnamed defence officials said though Sri Lanka had received Indian support for its military campaign, there was absolutely no truth in the claim made in a book on Eelam IV that India gifted five Mi-17 helicopters to the Air Force and also dismissed the claim that an Offshore Patrol Vessel (OPV) of India was involved in Air Force operations to evacuate military personnel deep inside LTTE-held territory.