Saturday, February 28, 2009

Other nations Could Learn from Sri Lanka Navy’s Fight Against the LTTE

Tim Fish, IHS Jane’s maritime reporter

London (27th February 2009) – Tim Fish, IHS Jane’s maritime reporter, visited Sri Lanka in January to examine the Sri Lanka Navy’s contribution to the defeat by government forces of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) – a contribution that has been almost completely ignored by western media outlets.

In a feature for Jane’s Navy International, Tim Fish reports: “ Bringing the conflict to a conclusion after 30 years of war would not have been possible without the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN)”.

In order to counter the LTTE and its Sea Tiger cadres, the SLN developed three categories of small craft and associated warfighting tactics as part of a Small Boats Concept, which was a major turning point in the progress of the war against the separatist organisation. The Small Boats Concept effectively copied the Sea Tigers’ asymmetric tactics, but on a much larger scale.

With rudimentary shipbuilding facilities, Sri Lanka manufactured 150 or more of these small Inshore Patrol Craft (IPCs) and employed them in infantry-style tactics to gain the ascendancy over swarms of Sea Tiger attack craft and suicide boats.

However, as well as operating in littoral waters, the SLN proved that it could also take the fight to the LTTE far over the horizon, sinking eight warehouse ships up to 2,000 n miles from Sri Lanka.

Tim Fish says that other navies would do well to study the SLN’s modus operandi, in particular its development of strategies for defeating a modern four-dimensional insurgent group employing asymmetric tactics on land, in the air, on the seas and underwater.

“Internationally, maritime terrorism is a new threat that is developing in the Indian Ocean,” Fish writes. “While the conflict with the LTTE is approaching its conclusion, the application to extend Sri Lanka ’s Exclusive Economic Zone and the discovery of oil resources means that the SLN will play a vital role in the reunified country’s future maritime strategy.”