The 1990 Siege of Batticaloa: A Tribute to the Warriors of the Gemunu Watch

By: BG (Ret.) Hiran N. Halangode , Sri Lankan Army






 

The rifleman fights without promise of reward or relief. Behind every river there's another hill and behind that hill, another river. After weeks or months in the line, only a wound can offer him the comfort of safety, shelter, and a bed. Those who are left to fight, fight on, evading death but knowing that with each day of evasion they have exhausted one more chance for survival. Sooner or later, unless victory comes, this chase must end on the litter or in the grave.

  • General Omar N. Bradley1

Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon) is an island nation in the Indian Ocean off the southeast tip of India. Most of the land is flat and rolling, with mountains in the south-central region rising to over 8,000 feet (2,438 meters). The two nations are separated by the Palk Strait, which is only 18 miles (29 kilometers) wide at the closest point between Rameswaram in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu and Talaimannar in northern Sri Lanka.

Indo-Aryan emigration from India in the fifth century BCE led to the formation of the largest ethnic group on Sri Lanka today, the Sinhala. Tamils, the second-largest ethnic group on the island, were originally from the Tamil region of South India and emigrated between the third century BCE and 1200 CE. The Tamils, primarily Hindus, claimed the northern section of the island while the Sinhala, who are predominantly Buddhist, controlled the rest of Ceylon. Beginning in 1505, Ceylon became a colony, first of the Portuguese empire, then of the Dutch East India Company (1658–1796), and eventually, of the British Empire (1802–1948). The British brought indentured labor from South India to work their coffee, tea, and rubber plantations, thereby displacing many Sinhala in the central highlands of Kandy. On 4 February 1948, after 443 years of colonial rule and under pressure from Ceylonese nationalist leaders, Ceylon became a self-governing dominion of the Commonwealth of Nations. The name was changed to Sri Lanka ("Resplendent Island") in 1972.

The Ceylon Army (first instated on 10 October 1949) was deployed in 1951 to assist the police in preventing illicit immigration and smuggling between Ceylon and Tamil Nadu in India. This was in addition to its other task of assisting the government in maintaining essential services. The problem of poaching and smuggling in the shallow waters off the northern coast continues to this day and has had a profound impact on relations between the two countries. Such illicit activities also remained a center of dispute during the civil conflict.

Ever since independence, the Tamil minority in the north of Sri Lanka has harbored resentment towards the Sinhalese majority due to political, economic, and social differences, exacerbated by the differences in culture and religion. The Tamils claimed that Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike championed Sinhala nationalism and further marginalized the Tamil minority when he made Sinhala the country's official language and institutionalized state support of Buddhism in 1956.2

In the 1970s, the insurgent group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) arose in the country's north, with the goal to win independence for the majority Tamil regions of Sri Lanka and create a greater Eelam ("Precious Land") aligned with the Indian state of Tamil Nadu.3 In 1975, the Tamil mayor of Jaffna was killed by the separatists simply for holding a government office. After a government crackdown in the north, some Tamils crossed to Tamil Nadu as refugees, many moderate Tamils who had been living among the Sinhala in other parts of the country fled to the north, and a few migrated to Western countries and formed the Tamil diaspora. The Tamil Nadu government supported, financed, and gave refuge to Tamil rebel groups, allowing them to operate clandestinely from Indian territory. The Indians also helped train and arm certain Tamil guerrilla groups to fight the Sri Lankan Armed Forces after Sinhala racial riots in July 1983 that resulted from the ambush of a Sri Lankan Army patrol in the north.

The first of a series of five peace talks and many ceasefires was arranged by the Indian government in Thimpu, Bhutan, in 1985. At this meeting, the five main Tamil rebel groups presented four demands to the Sri Lankan government:

  1. Recognition of the Tamils of Sri Lanka as a distinct nationality.  
  2. Recognition of the right of the Sri Lankan Tamils to an identified homeland.
  3. Recognition of the right of self-determination for the Tamil nation.
  4. Recognition of the right to citizenship and the fundamental rights of all Tamils living in Sri Lanka.

The government of Sri Lanka rejected outright the four demands put forward by the Tamil rebels but agreed to recognize the right to citizenship of the descendants of the indentured labor force brought from India by the British in the nineteenth century.4 It was this situation that led to the commencement of violence and the initial stages of the long civil conflict. During the mid-1980s, the LTTE pushed out the other Tamil rebel groups and took charge as the sole representatives of Sri Lanka's Tamil people and the dominant Tamil militant group in northern Sri Lanka.

In the face of brutal terrorist attacks on civilians and India's continued support for the insurgency, the Sri Lankan government launched a major military operation in 1987 to liberate the Jaffna peninsula from the LTTE. After it successfully completed that operation, it was then poised to liberate the town of Jaffna and nearby areas, but the LTTE fighters fled to Tamil Nadu. Continued support for the insurgency from India forced the two sides into what is known as the Indo-Lanka Accord of 1987, which secured India's national interest but sadly didn't meet the Sri Lankan state's needs or the LTTE's basic aspirations.

The Indian Peace Keeping Force (IPKF) arrived in Sri Lanka in July 1987 to bring about peace, but it only brought about more bloodshed. One thousand fifty-five IPKF soldiers were killed and many more were wounded during the IPKF's nearly three-year tour of duty in Sri Lanka's northeast. In 1990, the new president of Sri Lanka, R. Premadasa, made a second attempt at peace talks with the LTTE to try to settle the conflict, facilitate the withdrawal of the IPKF, and bring peace to Sri Lanka. This is the point at which this story begins.5

Batticaloa

To be prepared for war is one of the most effectual means of preserving peace.

  • George Washington6

With the departure of the Indian peacekeeping forces at the end of March 1990, the LTTE gradually pushed out the rival Tamil National Army and took control of Sri Lanka's northeast, which had been vacated by the IPKF under the terms of the peace accord. The Tigers positioned their cadres in vital areas that enabled them to exert pressure on both the provincial police and the army, whose troops were very thinly deployed in the northeast to counter the insurgents. In the Eastern Province, just one infantry battalion (typically 500–600 men) was deployed in each of the districts of Ampara, Batticaloa (BCO), and Trincomalee.7

Five army detachments were established in the towns of Wellawadi, Kiran, Kaluwanchikudy, Kalmunai, and Kallady in the BCO district. Out of these detachments, the ones at Kalmunai (in the Ampara district) and Kalawanchikudy belonged to the Sixth Battalion Sri Lanka Light Infantry (Sixth SLLI), which had only just been raised in late May 1990. The older infantry battalions were somewhat handicapped because they had been required to transfer one rifle company and composite platoons to these newly raised infantry battalions. The troops had to reorient themselves from a limited-engagement environment in the south to an all-out counterinsurgency environment in the north and east. The men of the First Battalion, Gemunu Watch (First GW), under my command, however, had already prepared themselves both professionally and psychologically during their 10-month tenure at Ampara. They saw the LTTE annihilate the rival Tamil National Army following the withdrawal of the Indian peacekeepers and had given refuge to 20 or 30 Tamil National Army soldiers who fled from the LTTE attacks into Ampara.

First GW was redeployed to the BCO district on 18 May 1990. By then, the situation in the district was very tense. The LTTE had 30 or 40 outposts with bunkers in the town and vicinity, each of which was manned by 150 to 300 LTTE cadres. These insurgents obstructed the movement of the security forces, provoked the army, and interfered with the police who were trying to maintain law and order.

A large LTTE bunker had been built near the town's clock tower, across a lagoon from the BCO police station, where it covered the approach into town. Permission was required from the LTTE to visit most areas in town, while LTTE fighters reserved the use of many local services, such as certain garages and service stations, exclusively for themselves.

This situation was brought to the notice of the military higher command and the civilian bureaucracy, who were negotiating peace with the LTTE at that time. But the security forces were explicitly told to cooperate with the LTTE to bring about a peaceful settlement to the conflict, because the country couldn't afford another battle with the LTTE. The president and the civilian bureaucracy did not fully understand the situation on the ground, in large part because the military higher command did not make the difficulties faced by security forces in the Eastern Province clear to the government. The commanders did not want to jeopardize their careers by seeming to question official policy.

The Siege of Batticaloa Begins, 11 June 1990

On the night of Sunday, 10 June 1990, a Sinhala woman was caught by her husband while she was with a young Muslim LTTE supporter. The two men fought, and both were brought to the BCO town police station. The LTTE, who were looking for an opportunity to commence their campaign of violence, surrounded the police station and demanded the release of the Muslim youth. When the police informed them that the youth had been admitted to the BCO hospital, the LTTE insisted that he was not in the hospital and pressed their demand for his release. They disarmed the policemen on guard, took over the police station, and seized its armory, communications equipment, and all the gold and money that was being kept there for safe custody. (The LTTE later abducted the young man from the hospital.)

At this time, I was the commanding officer of First GW, which was then located approximately two kilometers away from the BCO police station at the Kallady Camp. (I had been in Ampara immediately before taking up my duties in BCO.) Although I was also the coordinating officer of the BCO district, the police did not inform me at all about the developing situation. At 0620 on 11 June, a Monday, the owner of the local L.H. Bakery, who happened to be one of my school friends, informed me by telephone that all the Sinhala in the town of Batticaloa were ordered by the LTTE to vacate the town within five minutes. Because I was unaware of the prevailing situation prior to this message, I had dispatched two of my platoons (two officers and 60 soldiers) to Ampara for their annual weapons training classification test just two hours previously.

At around 0730, I was told that a vehicle carrying 10 soldiers from Kalawanchikudy Army Camp (the base of the Sixth SLLI) had been ambushed at Kalmunai and all of the soldiers had been killed. Kalawanchikudy Camp had only 48 troops, along with three officers. There was no way anyone could even move out to Kalmunai to recover the bodies, because the main road was now blocked by the LTTE, which had taken up a position surrounding the Kalawanchikudy Camp and the police station. (The police station was located next to the army camp on the Ampara–Batticaloa road.) The LTTE fighters demanded that the policemen surrender, announcing that they would not be harmed but would be handed over to the Sri Lankan government at the BCO airfield. Ten Sinhalese policemen escaped the deadly fate of the other policemen by jumping over the fence into the adjoining army camp, carrying their weapons and ammunition. Captain Sarath Embowa of the Sixth SLLI was the commanding officer of the Kalawanchikudy Camp. He decided to fight the terrorists.

The LTTE fighters, who were in touch with the Sri Lankan Air Force base in Batticaloa (SLAF BCO), made the same promise to the officials there: if the police surrendered without resistance, they would be handed over to government forces. The police, who were not prepared mentally or physically to fight a ruthless guerrilla organization without military air and artillery support, agreed to surrender to the LTTE. By this time, the LTTE had surrounded most of the 13 police stations in both the BCO and Ampara districts and captured the policemen, who surrendered themselves and their weapons without a fight. All 677 of these prisoners, both Sinhala and Tamils, were taken to selected locations close by, forced to dig their own graves, and then brutally murdered in cold blood.

At 1530 on that same day, 11 June, the army commander, the inspector general of police, a senior officer from the air force, and the director of army operations arrived at SLAF BCO by air. The senior superintendent of police BCO (who happened to be a Tamil), an assistant superintendent of police who was stationed in Kallady Camp, and I were transported by helicopter from Kallady Camp to join the senior officials for an urgent conference. By the time I reached SLAF BCO, the policemen, their families, and the town's Sinhala civilians, 150 to 200 in all, had gathered at the airport and were awaiting evacuation to Colombo. Getting through this crowd of emotionally devastated, angry, highly charged people was a trying task because their rage was directed at the Tamil senior police superintendent who followed immediately behind me. Fortunately, no incident took place. In the meeting, the group discussed the possibilities for reinforcing the police stations, but at the moment there was no way to do this because the army was already spread very thin—the army camps were under-manned and located too far apart to offer mutual support, and were themselves in great danger of attack. There was no artillery in the BCO district, and it would take one to two hours to fit the only available Bell 212 helicopter with machine guns. We found ourselves in an extremely dangerous situation. The army leadership's lack of preparation and the government's abject appeasement of the LTTE could have led to the total loss of the Eastern Province.

The LTTE had launched attacks on the Kiran and Wellawadi Army Camps at 1630, while the meeting was taking place. At around 1800 that evening, after I had returned to Kallady Camp from SLAF BCO, the LTTE contacted me by telephone and told me to direct Kiran Camp to surrender in five minutes. If this order was disregarded, the insurgents were going to launch an all-out attack to take the camp. To buy more time and avoid being blamed for starting a war, I replied that I would inform the camp commanders of the rebels' instructions after contacting Sri Lanka's president.8

I immediately contacted my brigade commander in Ampara, but he responded evasively, reminding me of the presidential order to avoid fighting unless under attack. I then contacted the 2nd Division commander, Major General J.R.S. De Silva, at Anuradhapura. He insisted that the army should fight to the last man and the last round, and that the entire country was depending on our performance in BCO. I requested immediate assistance from him to evacuate the camps at Wellawadi and Kalmunai, both of which had only depleted platoons to defend them.

By this time, three army camps in the BCO District—Kiran, Wellawadi, and Kalawanchikudy—and Kalmunai Camp in the Ampara District were under continuous and severe attack. Wellawadi Camp had been established to protect a Sinhala fishing community of about 200 men, women, and children which had been in that area for generations. One group of 22 men led by 2/LT RMCC Ranaweera GW and supported by two 81mm mortars from the Kiran detachment fought for over 36 hours against more than 300 LTTE cadres with only 90 rounds of ammunition per soldier at hand. They received more ammunition by helicopter from Kallady on the morning of Tuesday, 12 June, and ultimately were able to protect the fisher families and evacuate them by sea that day with the assistance of a navy gunboat commanded by CDR Thisara Samarasinghe. The gunboat took the families and soldiers to safety at Trincomalee. The only civilian casualties of the entire evacuation at Wellawadi were a mother and child who drowned while attempting to board the naval craft. One soldier suffered a minor injury from LTTE fire during the entire 36-hour crisis.

The situation at Kalmunai was similar: the platoon under 2/LT KASH Karunatillake SLLI came under intense fire from the LTTE starting on 11 June. On 13 June, a Sri Lankan Navy gunboat under the command of CDR Daya Dharmapriya, along with support vessels, evacuated the platoon after an agonizing battle, during which the soldiers and sailors were supported by artillery fire from the Malwatte Army Camp. The soldiers suffered several casualties from LTTE fire during the evacuation.

The Siege of Kiran Camp, 11–18 June

The siege of Kiran Camp, which also began on 11 June, lasted eight days. The LTTE unleashed salvos of mortar, small arms fire, and 84 mm rockets against the Kiran Camp, and on one occasion even used chlorine gas on the troops in the camp. The camp's commanding officer, Captain Sumith Perera GW, and his second in command, Lieutenant Chinthaka Munasinghe GW, valiantly held the camp with less than 90 men against severe odds.9 Only one officer in that action, 2/LT Suminda Jayasundera GW, survived to the end of the war in 2009. He had less than one year's service with the battalion at the time of the siege. Private Dharmasiri K.A., the radio operator of A Company First GW, maintained communications with the battalion headquarters at Kallady and the rear HQ at Diyatalawa both day and night throughout the entire battle. When the antenna was damaged by intense mortar fire, Dharmasiri fixed it during the night by climbing the palmyra tree to which it was attached.

On the night of 11 June, an Air Force helicopter fitted with machine guns arrived from the Batticaloa airbase to provide close air support to Kiran Camp. Flying Officer Thilana Kaluarachchi relentlessly and gallantly flew that entire night and continued to fly against the LTTE positions every night until the detachment was relieved. He kept the LTTE at bay and was a tremendous morale booster for the besieged troops.10 Ground-to-air communications were closely coordinated through CPL Gamini of First GW, who was stationed at the SLAF BCO base during the battle.

Rescue operations from several directions were finally launched on Friday, 15 June, from northern BCO under the command of GOC 1 Division Major General D.L. Kobbekaduwa. On that same day, before the rescue began, Maj Gen Kobbekaduwa spoke with me over the radio. His voice was a great morale booster to me because at that point we were all desperate for our survival, and this was the first good news we had heard. Until then, the response to our requests for help from the military higher command had been negative at best, and we were given very little encouragement to continue fighting. As he described the pending rescue operations, the general's voice had an air of confidence that inspired hope in us after four days of mental agony and battle stress.

The Third Brigade Group, commanded by Brigadier A.M.U. Seneviratne, provided artillery fire support to break the siege. The Fourth Battalion Gemunu Watch and the Fifth Battalion Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment had to fight their way into BCO, which they reached by 19 June. Similarly, the First Brigade Group, commanded by Brigadier A.K. Jayawardhana, with the First Sinha Regiment and First Special Forces Regiment, fought their way from Ampara across country through Wellaveli to relieve the Kalwanchikudy detachment in southern BCO. Both brigade groups reached their objectives on 18 June despite heavy resistance from the LTTE.

On Saturday, 16 June, five days after the fighting began and as the relief operations began to put pressure on them, the LTTE requested a ceasefire through the bishop of Batticaloa so that both sides could attend to their respective casualties. The LTTE leaders, however, refused to disarm and remain in the SLAF BCO base, but wanted to accompany the bishop and me or my representative to Kiran. I rejected these terms, because it was clear to me that the LTTE intended to take us hostage and force the detachment to surrender by holding us at gunpoint. The LTTE repeatedly stooped to such deceit and proved their perfidy and treachery throughout the conflict. They continuously bombarded the troops on the base with pronouncements through a loud hailer, exhorting the soldiers to give up and surrender instead of fighting a losing battle. The troops responded by returning fire and fighting steadfastly and resolutely, denying the LTTE any opportunity to break into the camp.

The men in all the camps under siege survived on liquids, raw pawpaws, palmyra fruits, and the odd animal that strayed into camp during the siege. Such things were collected during the night or whenever there was a lull in the fighting. The well that supplied fresh water to the Kiran Camp was exposed to LTTE fire, so the men tunneled into it at night to get drinking water for their survival. The troops in Kiran survived for seven nights in trenches, with nothing but the uniforms on their backs, throughout relentless attacks by the LTTE. The alertness of the sentry enabled him to wipe out an entire group of nine LTTE guerrillas who were crawling into the camp one night after cutting the perimeter wire fence. Only one soldier was killed in action throughout the eight days of fighting, but one of three officers and 60 of 79 soldiers in the camp suffered injuries and had to be evacuated when reinforcements finally arrived on 18 June. One BBC correspondent refused to believe our low casualty count when he saw the area surrounding the camp, which was littered with more than 100 dead and decomposing bodies of LTTE fighters.

The success of the First GW troops in the defense of their camps in the BCO district was due to their courage, regimental esprit de corps, comradeship, belief in their leadership, and their steely determination to survive amid the death and wounding of their colleagues and the confusion and chaos of battle. The men's efforts to send the remains of the dead soldier, Sergeant Karunadasa E.A.D., which they had cremated at night with the help of palmyra branches amid LTTE small arms fire, to his next of kin were greatly appreciated by his parents and were a morale booster for the rest of the troops.

Conclusion

The Sri Lankan Armed Forces finally defeated the LTTE terrorists on 19 May 2009 and restored Sri Lanka's territorial integrity and sovereignty after more than 27 years of bloody fighting. It is pertinent to remember all those who sacrificed their today for our tomorrow and the many Sri Lankans who suffered immeasurable difficulty for almost 30 years. The single most important factor in developing the strength required to meet aggression is the attitude and will of our citizens. In the words of the Gemunu Watch motto: Tarry not forward!

Emboldened by their early successes and with outside support, the LTTE acquired a land force, a seaborne capability, and a nascent air force. The United States government designated the LTTE as a foreign terrorist organization in October 1997.11 The insurgents' innovative strategy of using suicide attacks against government forces and installations led the US Federal Bureau of Investigation in 2008 to label them as the most ruthless terrorist organization in the world.12Suicide attacks became a trademark tactic of the LTTE campaign. The Sri Lankan Ministry of Defense cites an LTTE declaration that the insurgency was responsible for approximately 378 suicide attacks on land and sea from July 1987 to May 2009. This was one of the highest rates of such attacks in the world.13Despite the fact that 32 countries have banned the LTTE from operating within their borders, the Tamil diaspora continues to support claims for a separate state and is pressuring the UN to prosecute Sri Lanka for alleged war crimes.

A strategic analysis of the Sri Lankan military victory must acknowledge the political will and leadership of President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his government (2005–2015). All security operations were coordinated in the National Security Council through Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the defense secretary and brother of the president. He ensured that all military commanders and the civilian bureaucracy cooperated with each other and worked as a team to achieve final victory over the terrorists. The political leadership did not interfere with the operational commanders but gave them the freedom to conduct operations as the commanders thought necessary. Foreign and local media access to the operational areas was restricted, while the establishment of a Ministry of Defense website and a media center within the Ministry of National Security made it possible to counter the numerous LTTE propaganda and news websites and give Sri Lankan citizens and the world a more balanced view of the conflict.

At the tactical level, the numerical strength of the security forces was doubled through new recruitment and enhanced by the procurement of vital armaments through China, Pakistan, Ukraine, the Czech Republic, and Israel. With this increase in strength, the SLAF took the offensive to the LTTE across many fronts, forcing them to react and lose the element of surprise in the battlefield. This relentless offensive, which lasted for nearly three years, never gave the terrorists an opportunity to recover and mount a counterstrike against the government forces. The increase in overall strength also allowed for better intelligence gathering, which helped prevent numerous suicide bombing attempts by the LTTE in the south of Sri Lanka and the rear areas of the battlefield. The majority of the Sri Lankan people saw the tide turning in their favor after two decades of death and destruction, and supported the government with vital information and moral support, despite some international efforts to halt the offensive and resume negotiations during the final months of the conflict.

It has been seven years since the defeat of the LTTE, and much has been achieved in the resettlement, reconstruction, and rehabilitation of the north and east. Rebuilding the lives of the victims of the conflict and finding reconciliation, however, will take decades, at the least. Some of the few Tamil politicians who remain continue to make political demands based on the aspirations of LTTE ideology. Much of the moderate Tamil political leadership and the democratic parties and their structures were destroyed by the LTTE. Grassroots Tamil political organizations were controlled by the LTTE, as were the judicial and policing functions in the regions they held. Although the Sri Lankan government maintained adequate stocks and facilities, and remunerated the Tamil civilian administration for the distribution of essential food, medical supplies, and educational materials during the conflict, these local administrations were controlled by the LTTE for over one and a half decades. They have now been rehabilitated with donor assistance, but much more has to be done in the coming years to meet the aspirations of the people in the north and east for a peaceful, productive future.

The resettlement of internally displaced persons was hampered because large tracts of land were mined or strewn with unexploded ordnance and unmarked IEDs. Many other problems also interfered with post-conflict rehabilitation: disputes over land ownership; caste issues; dilapidated roads and poor access to remote areas; access to basic health and education facilities; the total destruction of the Northern railway line from Vavuniya up to Kankasanthurai on the northern coast; the destruction of public utilities including water, electricity, and transport; and the widespread damage and destruction of houses and other buildings due to the fighting. Almost all such facilities have been rehabilitated or rebuilt now with donor assistance, while the Sri Lankan Army has cleared about 75 to 80 percent of the mines and IEDs in the north with donor assistance from the United States and Japan. In addition, India and seven NGOs have conducted de-mining operations in certain areas in the northeast independent of the Sri Lankan Army's work.

The next important tasks for redevelopment will be to create employment and develop livelihoods for the Tamil populations in the north and east. These areas were dominated by agriculture, animal husbandry, and fisheries, and now, with many tourists coming back to Sri Lanka, there is great potential for the region's development. Unfortunately, hardly any members of the Tamil diaspora have made substantial investments in the north, although some entrepreneurs in the south have started garment and other factories that offer employment to Tamil youth from the north and east. This is a very encouraging sign and will help the process of reconciliation. There is more interaction among the people of all communities in Sri Lanka, and the mistrust created by years of conflict is slowly but surely receding. Therefore, it is imperative that the people of Sri Lanka are supported in their efforts to reconcile by the international community, so we all can live in peace and tranquility in an independent, democratic, and united Sri Lanka. ²

About the Author(s):

Retired Brigadier General Hiran N. Halangode served in the Sri Lankan Army for 27 years.


NOTES:
  1. Quoted in Dudley Gould, Follow Me Up Fool's Mountain: Korea, 1951 (Middletown, Conn.: Southfarm Press, 2002), 51. go back up
  2. Bandaranaike was assassinated in 1959 by a man impersonating a Buddhist monk, and his widow, Sirimavo Bandaranaike, became the world's first female prime minister in 1960. go back up
  3. Editor's note: For more on the Sri Lankan civil war, see COL Sylvester Perera, "The Sri Lankan Civil War: A Personal Reminiscence," CTX 5, no. 4 (November 2015): https://globalecco.org/the-sri-lankan-civil-war-a-personal-reminiscence-col-sylvester-perera-sri-lankan-army ; and LT Malaka Chandradasa, "Learning from Our Enemies: Sri Lankan Naval Special Warfare against the Sea Tigers," CTX 2, no. 2 (May 2012):https://globalecco.org/learning-from-our-enemies-sri-lankan-naval-special-warfare-against-the-sea-tigers go back up
  4. The proposed Tamil homeland, known as "Eelam," comprised 28 percent of the land mass and 68 percent of the coastline of Sri Lanka, and encompassed 12 percent of the island's Tamils. This population is now reduced to 6–8 percent because of overseas emigration and the dispersal of the majority across the rest of Sri Lanka. go back up
  5. I dedicate this article to all those valiant officers and men of the First Battalion, the Gemunu Watch, who served under my command from 1 December 1988 to 31 January 1991. They served with me loyally against all odds, and with dedication and commitment, in the Hambantota, Moneragala, Ampara, and Batticaloa districts. All without exception strove hard, and some made the supreme sacrifice, to protect the territorial integrity of Sri Lanka. go back up
  6. George Washington, "From George Washington to the United States Senate and House of Representatives, 8 January 1790," n.d.:http://founders.archives.gov/documents/Washington/05-04-02-0361 go back up
  7. During this period, there was much turbulence in the infantry battalions as new units were being raised, existing battalions were reorganized, and new officers and men were distributed among them. Unit cohesion and the morale of the troops in combat initially suffered as a result. go back up
  8. The base commanders had been explicitly told by the president's emissary, who was also the main spokesman for the government's negotiating team, not to start another war, because the government didn't have the funds to fight the LTTE and the president was confident of achieving peace through negotiations. This order meant that we couldn't start firing, even if provoked, unless the insurgents fired first. This is, in fact, what happened, and we fought strongly to defend our base. go back up
  9. Both of these officers were killed in action in subsequent operations conducted against the LTTE—in Jaffna in 1995 and Mannar in 1991, respectively. go back up
  10. This officer was killed in 1997 when a missile hit the Mi-24 he was flying in over Kokilai Lagoon. go back up
  11. "Foreign Terrorist Organizations," Department of State, n.d.:http://www.state.gov/j/ct/rls/other/des/123085.htm go back up
  12. Federal Bureau of Investigation, "Taming the Tamil Tigers: From Here in the US," 10 January 2008:https://www.fbi.gov/news/stories/2008/january/tamil_tigers011008 go back up
  13. Ministry of Defence, Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, "Humanitarian Operation Factual Analysis: July 2006–May 2009," July 2011: 22, para. 68:http://slembassyusa.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/Sri-Lankan-Humanitarian-Operation-Factual-Analysis.pdf go back up
  14. Charles M. Province is a US Army veteran and founder of the George S. Patton, Jr., Historical Society:http://www.iwvpa.net/provincecm/ go back up
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