Sunday, 10 August 2008

The Double Siege of Thunukkai and Mallavi

Thunukkai2 copy

Soon after NADDANKANDAL 16Km Northeast of PERIYAMADU was taken by the 57 division on the 11th of July 08, battleplanners set off to lay siege on two heavily populated areas in Western Wanni - THUNUKKAI and MALLAVI. These two towns are of immense strategic importance since the fall of these areas brings the SLA heavy weapons dangerously close to the Tiger Heartland.

Expecting the inevitable advance of the 57 troops the Tamil Tigers set about to heavily fortify the towns and its suburbs. Main among the defences has been the earth dam built parallel to the Paliaru which runs from Vavunikulam tank to VELLANKULAM. This runs parallel to the VELLANKULAM - MANKULAM road which runs through THUNUKKAI. Despite the staunch defences overlooking an open area, several units of 57 have managed to breach it at several points.

At the moment 571 Brigade is operating on the Western flank of the 57 Division and is expected to reach TENNIYANKULAM and cut off the THUNUKKAI-NACHCHIKUDA road in the process. 572 currently are located in the general area of KALVILAN just South East of THUNUKKAI. 573 meanwhile are expected to cut off the MALLAVI-MANKULAM road just North of VAVUNIKULAM.

The loss of the VELLANKULAM-MANKULAM route in several places has resulted in a serious logistics nightmare for the Tamil Tiger organisation as this is the primary MSR to smuggle in military items inland from South Indian safe houses. The smuggled items were known to be taken directly to MANKULAM or either to KILINOCHCHI via KOKAVIL.

As mentioned during an earlier brief - As long as modern warfare presents with a well entrenched enemy, a battle planner will always consider to build up his force, conceal the main thrust, attack from the flank and finally encircle his enemy minimising his own casualties, for public opinion will not allow for a nation's troops be thrown head on against a well entrenched enemy. This time is no different...

45 comments:

Long-Ranger said...

I had this brief prepared for a while. I am sure the ground situation might be a tad bit different to that of the map. For the online blogger community I am sure this is suffice for the time being :-)

Long-Ranger said...

Shan,

"what's an 'underwater jetty' - the one that's been discovered at Viddataltivu?"

Its just an submerged jetty but is shallow enough for anyone to step off/unload any sea tiger craft. So that aerial recon sorties wont pick up the position of the jetty.

"what's your take on the possibility of a counterattack?"

Its all in my last brief :-)

Devashi,

I will get back to you on a later date when time permits. My apologies.

C. Coin said...

thanks for the post. better if you could post more often.

nemesis said...

Thanks Long Ranger,

Was waiting for a new one from you. I am rapidly becoming a fan of the 57th.

I wonder if we are depriving valuable manpower/firepower & a possible tactical advantage by keeping 2 Div. (53rd & 55th) Jaffna? Considering the current fluidity of the battle field, don’t you think another battle ready & experienced Div, in the Wanni/ Mullathivu sector could yield much more and reinforce against any counter attack, leaving the 61st and other army units with the Naval Infantry & Airman to hold liberated areas and man the rear? By this I don not mean to leave Jaffan weaker.. but the garrison being 40000 (from what I hear) strong, perhaps we are playing it a bit too safely. But we cannot let the tigers repeat their previous feats in jaffan & Maj.Gen Chandrasiri will not be happy to part with any of his troops. What is your take on this?

Just a bit out of topic,

do you think it would be advantageous for the SLA to have a 81/82mm automatic mortar like the Russian 2B9 or the NORINCO W99?? Would it not give a good rapid fire+ indirect fire support to a battalion/brigade combat team? and these can be made in to SP mortars like on the back of a ATV/armored vehicle or towed.

perein said...

Long-Ranger-
I can eco the C. Coin's voice.
Thank you for the post.

santhush said...

M.I.A. Paper Planes Diss By DeLon ...

LKDOOD said...

Long Ranger

great update

thanks

NOLTTE=Peace said...

Keep up the good work without giving much out!

NOLTTE=Peace said...

Nemesis,

See how it has been mounted on a land vehicle.. nice stuff!

http://www.sinodefence.com/army/crewserved/type99mortar_82mm.asp

Bravo Two Zero said...

Dear Long Ranger
thanks for the post. Have been waiting eagerly for a post from you with the current progress by the SLA. What do you think about the idea of putting side firing miniguns on a makeshift transport for close air support such as the AC 130 being used as a gun platform very effectively by the US Army.

nemesis said...

noltte=peace,

thanks mate, that was what i was talking about. looks like a good idea.

Pasan said...

Long Ranger,

Yesterday we saw Karuna Amman comes out and speak about a chemical attack. I wanted to bring this topic into discussion much earlier but, didn't want to give the bastards any hint of what to do. If you cannot answer this for reasons for our own good, then just leave it. Are we prepared brother??

Chathura said...

Long-ranger,
It is a long while after you publish a article. I am big fan of your articles. I like your previous military analysis articles.

Srilanka SMS

TropicalStorm said...

welcome back, Long Ranger. Your articles are definitely some of the best on the web. Wish there were more of them, more often.

The answer to Nemesis' question would probably solve itself once Pooneryn sector is saturated and sea-denial to the Tigers is almost complete.

That could easily facilitate a large scale amphi-landing of at least one brigade such as the 53rd live and kicking into the fray. Take the heat off the weary combat brigades and direct a rapid thrust with a 'view for the kill' from the north until the southern and other flanks catch a little R&R.

Pooneryn certainly looks like when it all hits the overdrive.

Raptor said...

Pasan, I was thinking about the same thing ages ago but didnt want to bring it up for the same reasons.

It seems to me like that is the only option that they have. Think about it, you have 30k plus troops in Jaffna, 40k plus troops advancing on you from the Wanni, how can you stop them with a core force of only 10k cadres?

Add to this the huge array of indirect support weapons the SLA has built up and the solid support thrown in by the SLAF.

They need a huge huge boost from somewhere, and chemical weapons seems to be their only answer. If you look at the western coast, we have been making rapid progress and they have pulled out their forces and most of the civilians. It makes the area ripe for a chemical attack. Also the winds are supposed to be favourable. The government was going to place a coal fired powerplan there as the wind would blow the smoke out to sea away from the land. So if they launch a chemical attack on the western coast, the risk of it drifting inland will be low.

But I think its important to buttress this risk by looking at geopolitical and world opinion. India would never ever stand for a terrorist organisation using chemical weapons in its back yard. The rest of the world also wouldnt. Think of the reprecussions, other terrorist groups will learn from this and may use the same methods. I cant see the US standing by while this happens. World opinion, whatever it maybe right now, will be 100% undoutably against the LTTE is they do this. Launching a chemial attack will make the LTTE an non entity.

But what if they are on the verge of defeat? Do they have anything to lose? A badly beaten terrorist group known for using any means possible to get its message accross is the the most dangerous of them all.

I wouldnt put it past the LTTE if they are truly on the verge of defeat.

My only hope and prayer is that someone smart somewhere on our side has thought about this and has alerted the relevant people and put in place counter plans to thwart this if it does happen.

Pasan said...

Raptor, you're perfect on your analysis. The story of LTTE working on chemical's surfaced when Anton Bala was talking about a "Special Weapon" developped in Wanni, in 2006. That was more in line to test Mahinda's spine to attack LTTE. We need to think like terrorists to counter what they are going to do next. I hope our Intel brothers are doing the same.

It's a tricky little period coming up. All of us as individuals have a task in hand. We cannot leave everything for the forces and the police to do. Be vigilant ! A chemical attack is not the only option for a deadly organization like LTTE to resort to as a last option. There are many. We need to take measures for each and everyone of these. That's where we can play our part. Just be vigilant !

Ogre said...

dear lone ranger

I know you take pride in revealing details of our operations to the public

these acts leave innocent boys and girls in jeopardy as well as help LTTE in organizing their operations.

I strongly advise you NOT to POST operational details of our nations forces, this is tantamount to UN-becoming a sri lankan!

Dont be a traitor

post LTTE possible actions and help us figure out how to take down LTTE.

your skills would be appreciate then!

if not with every attack you publish before get there....you leave me..my brothers and our nations future pride and joy in jeopardy

londonistan said...

ogre,

Do you really suppose that the LTTE and its global network of support do not know what the most likely course of action is?

Lone-ranger does a credible job in hypothesising strategy. Raising the debate. If what is hypothesised occurs on the ground, that is coincidental.

I do not for one moment beleive the SL defence blog community would intentionally jeprodise the safety of service men and women. Instead of attacking their abilities, you should trust them a little more.

Long-Ranger said...

Dear all,

My sincere apologies for not being able to post more often since my priorities lies elsewhere.

My sole purpose of this portal is to give the online blog community a taste/sampler of how a military machine works. I can assure you by no means this blog jeopardizes the Sri Lankan military machine be it land/Naval or Air. Like I said in this brief I composed this a few weeks ago BUT held on to it till the Sri Lankan Defence ministry broke the news to the public media of the confrontation that took place at TENNIYANKULAM

"Troops marching Northwards passing Tunukkai junction from the West met with stiff resistance from the terrorists in the Tenniyankulama area , located 6.5 Km Northeast of Tunukkai."
http://www.defence.lk/new.asp?fname=20080809_04

Treachery would be composing the compositions of each and every Alfa/bravo/Charlie etc teams and their roles either LRC/LRS and tactics they employ.

Finally I apologise again for the outstanding questions. I will see you all again soon. Take Care. :-)

Long-Ranger said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Long-Ranger said...

And I also did post bulletin of the Tamil Tigers' intentions with regards a counterstrike on Jun 25th 2008.

Since then I suppose you all know how many counterstrikes took place courtesy of the Tamil Tigers. These counterstrikes easily dwarfed what 57 went through when Brig. Manawadu was commanding 57.

Now that would be deemed treachery from a guerilla's point of view :-)

Ogre said...

Dear Long ranger

My apologies

Yes your article did help us a lot and it was widely circulated. Also we were ready, Dias is facing all these attacks very confidently and he has our support (intel,air,lrp) all the way up-down.

Remember we are in this for our survival.

I enjoy reading your assessment of future operational plans; you should know that one important aspect of our plan of attack against the enemy is surprise. Just like a professional chess player who conceals lines of attack and another who reveals it. So is our national forces defenses, exposing that attack can really cause LTTE troop build up that we anticipate elsewhere, most recently has been Vellenkulum --- Mankulum road. Now LTTE is withdrawing forces to back up 57 Division up to Kokavil.

This will only cause a waste of our resources in terms of men-women and material, eventually trickling down to our own people in terms of price increases. You definitely know that we do not have the large number of logistical support that countries such as India, China or Russia have and that basics such as feeding and clothing our soldiers need to be done with our limited resources.

There is a need for information out there, but we should not celebrate nor relent in this war against terrorists.

But I would so appreciate if you could publish more counter strike proposals.

LTTE now forming column like formations similar to 2000, and plan to use multi prong column attacks on 57, along murikandi and therimakandi.

Again I am pretty sure we have crossed swords somewhere...

Thanks buddy

GroundZeroLanka said...

new article on groundzerolanka

www.groundzerolanka.blogspot.com

minikura said...

Long Ranger,
Sincere thanks for your well publish ayalysis. I am long time reader of this blog & first time publisher. Ogre has mentioned that your artical was widely circulated. May be you will find a way to send these counter proposal articles directly to personal such as ogre and not publish here. therefore concealing any counter effort by the enemy. We will gladly read about the outcome/analysis much later. May tripple jem bless you all
See you soon!!

nemesis said...

Longranger,

Await the "Bassaas" (Owls)... i hear from the ranks!

The army is readying to field a new type of unit :)...silent death just got better.

What is your take on this? Time and sensitivity permitting...i don’t expect a prompt answer... would like a review by you once they are in action..

Thanks

Long-Ranger said...

Nemesis,

The concept is not new (however I am not aware of the unit's designated name).

With the Tamil Tiger territory shrinking and the concentration of ground cadres in a small area has resulted in many a Long Range ops to be compromised. Infiltration has not been easy as it has been before.

Advantages of night time ops are numerous:
1. Allows to achieve Stealth, Surprise and Deception easier to attain.

2. Allows the Sri Lankan forces to take advantage of the superior technology at hand enabling to identify, engage and destroy targets before they can detect you.

3. Allows the forces to engage at a much closer distance before being detected by the enemy thus increasing its weapons accuracy and lethality.

4. Allows Heliborne CAS to engage the enemy by taking advantage of reduced visibility and the resulting degradation of the enemy's air defences.

However, the drawback is this requires advanced intelligence provided by a day recon team to map out the route and potential entry/exit/extraction points. Which is why I said at the beginning, this is not a new concept. The concept was in place and in operation for a while now :-)

"I wonder if we are depriving valuable manpower/firepower & a possible tactical advantage by keeping 2 Div. (53rd & 55th) Jaffna?"

Jaffna houses 4 divisions - 51, 52, 53 and 55. Two of which plays a holding role while two plays an offensive role. I believe once 58 reaches POONERYN and the surrounding area, 51 which oversees the lagoon for possible infiltrations will be relieved of some of its duties. Hope you get my drift :-)

"do you think it would be advantageous for the SLA to have a 81/82mm automatic mortar like the Russian 2B9 or the NORINCO W99??"

With this weapon's range being pretty much the same as the T84 and because 81/82mm, 120mm and 60mm being widely used in close quarter battle, it requires good mobility to employ the shoot and scoot manoeuvre. With the Tamil Tigers also having the same short range units (as the SLA) with the same range plus them being more mobile than the W99, I dont see any particular advantage of such a unit. The same advantage of rapid firing can be achieved using the numerical superiority.

Long-Ranger said...

bravo two zero,

"What do you think about the idea of putting side firing miniguns on a makeshift transport for close air support such as the AC 130"

The foremost drawback to such a venture is the lack of sufficient aircraft of its transport squadron to be converted as a dedicated gunship for a close support role. In addition these big lumbering machines require the cover of darkness to survive due to their large footprint. At daybreak, however the odds are totally against it. In the Sri Lankan theatre it has the potential to thrive but given the state of SLAF's meagre resources it would be best, in my opinion to stick to what SLAF has already got and optimize them further.

Long-Ranger said...

Pasan,

Tamil Tiger chemical warfare runs back to as far as 1989 when the first recorded incident has been when some members of the EPRLF were poisoned using cyanide in their food. More incidents are scattered during the same period such as cyanide poisoned knives, food and other boobytraps.

The type of chemical attacks the former rebel commander mentions would be some form of a chemical gas which can be dispensed via cannisters like they did in 1990. The other method would be an attempt to use them through its mortar/arti units as they did twice against two army outposts in 1995. (ie the same way smoke screens are dispensed). The other possibility would be dispensing these 'chemicals' via their aerial assets. In all these incidents chlorine gas was used, with minimal impact. However, our tri-commanders I am sure will not be complacent, since Chlorine gas is a choking agent and when inhaled can cause intense pain, organ damage or even death if inhaled in high amounts. In recent months Iraqi insurgents too have been using Chlorine gas filled cylinders in IEDs and tankers although the casualties are much lower to that of conventional suicide bombing and IEDs.

Despite the allegations that the TamilTigers may resort to such an attack in the future the only piece of evidence the GOSL managed to provide in this regard has been the truck that was transporting 3600L of Sulphuric acid on August 12, 2007. However with interrogation the captives revealed it was for manufacturing explosives (most likely TNT) either as an end-product or for subsequent mixture to produce other military explosives.

The 3600L truck has been the only primary piece of evidence to say that the Tamil Tigers are working on a chemical weapon but their activity thus far during the conflict (2006-2007) fails to give any credibility towards this allegation.

It is also possible that what the Tamil Tigers mean by chemical weapons or Special weapons (as the Tamil Tigers have mentioned in their propaganda) may well be thermobaric weapons rather than classic chemical weapons. These are known to suck air from its targets generating high blast overpressure. Only time will tell…

Long-Ranger said...

To all,

I am also planning to put out briefs on the past political history of the conflict as well since I think many of you are not aware of the political wrangles that shaped up the bloody conflict we see today.

Your comments are much appreciated in this regard. :-)

Pasan said...

Long Ranger,

Not being complacent is the key word for success here. LTTE is surely posing some sort of chemicals specially to make their IED's and home made explosives. If that load of 3600l's of Sulfuric had reached Killinochchi at that point, the story would have been totally different.

Your idea of political history of the conflict is most welcome. Not the same old story brother. Some inside stuff will make the forum interesting. But, remember....our main focus should be on war...not the pity politics !

Garrett said...

Good post as usual . Few comments on the following ratings . What do you think?

http://www.strategypage.com/fyeo/howtomakewar/databases/armies/sa.asp

londonistan said...

Long-ranger,

look forward to reading the political briefs.

It's always puzzled me if the reason we're making the progress we have now (and the reason why we hadn't done so well before) is-
a) the military and political axis represented by mahinda and gotabey (i.e. would anything short of complete trust between the two office-holders have allowed such wholeharted commitment)? Or,
b) the comparative freehand given to the security forces (and the mistrust other egocentric politcos had always been too paranoid-or, too elitist-to give)? or,
c) completely different external factors.

May be i'm geting ahead of myself but would be grateful to hear your views on this.

CASC said...

long-ranger

As always, a very nice article. Now that the SLA has captured Mallavi, some of your statements sound very prophetic.

Keep up the good work !

minikura said...

Dear Long Ranger
For the past few days SLAF have been pounding targets in Natchikuda. It seems the attacks were well coordinated & inflicted heavy damages to LTTE, SLA advance towards Nachichikuda as they previously did in vellankulam, Thunukai,Malavi..etc ,however this time LTTE managed to infiltrate our defenses. How were they able to do it this time? do you have a take on this?

sldf said...

Long-Ranger,

Please explain to us what challengers lies ahead of Nachichikuda and beyond towards Pooneryn for the Army. Fall of this sector will eventually lead to fall of Pooneryn. Also update on Weli Oya front and the challengers ahead of 59 will be much appreciated.

su said...

I have some Questions...
:)
Good to have Mi24s & jets in action Everyday to MAKE the way for an Attack..

But
1.DID these BIRDS came into action when the Breakthrough happend?Supporting the troops when mortars & Arti from Pooneryn came?
2. It is said that the ltte Arti in Pooneryn were directed to this front. So why couldnt the Army Counterattack the arti positions from Muhamalai & Jaffna penninsula using our Artilery?
3.DW said some Arti Tracking Equipment were gained, So arent we using them or placed them in Nochikuda or even at Jaffna to know Artilery formations REALTIME?
Seems our forces are not as Dynamic & jointly coordinated as they should have been..
Your thoughts....

Long-Ranger said...

I believe today's strike if successful would have been utterly devastating to the Wanni SFHQ. To improve the accuracy of the 25Kg ordinance of the Zling aircraft the Tamil Tigers I believe directed their artillery towards predetermined 'high value' targets within the base. The 'illumination' provided by the burning debris would have indicated the Zling pilots the general area that required to release their payloads (bombs landed in the same general area to where the artillery shells landed). This tactic was pretty much similar to the one carried out on the PALALY base last year. The pause in the artillery barrage was followed by the Zling aircraft. Soon after the aircraft left the theatre, the barrage resumed.

Londonistan,

Its a mixture of everything. The primary reason I believe is the vast improvement in intelligence. Not once during the last Eelam wars have we seen such extensive intelligence gathering activities by the tri-forces via either HUMINT/SIGINT/OSINT. Via this intelligence the tri-forces have been able to select their targets and fight on their own terms while cutting Tamil Tiger supplies.

Long-Ranger said...

Minikura,

Although they DID manage to infiltrate our lines from some points, it should be noted that they DID NOT manage to exploit it further. Many have raised the question as to why SLAF failed to provide sufficient CAS - the primary answer being the difficulty to engage the enemy when there's clse quarter battle. I believe there were many instances where tomba guns were used. I am hoping that would give you an idea on how close the engagements were. Hence the necessary strikes were carried out some 2Kms North of the engagement area where the fire support bases were.

I also need to stress the fact that with two divisions closing on the Tamil Tiger POONERYN/PARANTHAN?KILALY axis - the same axis that has proved anathema to the National front- such casualties should not come as a surprise. However, like Su mentioned a tad bit of dynamic coordination would have helped on this occasion and there's plenty of room for improvement on this aspect.

Always remember War is Darwenian. Soldiers always adapt. :-)

su said...

My questions were related to the Actions on the Day of the Sacrifices by 4SR.
The recent ltte attack has some consolation as one plane was shot down.

I just Hope that "corridor of Improvements" will be Fully utilized & give that Extra bit of Help for our brothers in the Frontline..
:)

Shan said...

ranger

ltte's counterstrikes, though ther have been many' have not been any way effective as they were. I read there have been some 18 counterstikes in vannerikulam area alone but without much success

in your opinion, is the SLA more adept to these or is the ltte short of men and leadership for effective strikes

Long-Ranger said...

Su,

As much as we have to commend on the sacrifices made by the troops, we also need to be critical of unnecessary sacrifices made especially when contingency plans were set for such a counter attack by the Tamil Tigers on relatively isolated outposts. As seen by my map 571's 4SR were the closest to KILINOCHCHI and furthermost troops in operation.

Even though this counter attack is widely publicized, one should bear in mind that this is NOT the sole counter attack by the Tamil Tigers. On previous occassions in the face of fierce counterattacks the troops conceded certain areas and withdrew to fight another day. I believe the media circulated widely among Tamil sources would confirm this fact.

Let me give a scenario of the recent past to give you a clear picture. During the August 06 Tamil Tiger offensive the troops based at ELUTHMADUVAL held onto their lines without withdrawing till troops at MUHAMALE withdrew. If they withdrew earlier the troops at MUHAMALE, would have been boxed in by the Tamil Tigers. In a nutshell its all about holding the line together.

This is one aspect of the coordination I mentioned earlier. The other aspects, I will reveal with time.

Shan,

"in your opinion, is the SLA more adept to these or is the ltte short of men and leadership for effective strikes"

I have given the reasons in my earlier brief. During the height of the Tamil Tigers' success they used heavy volumes of indirect fire support. At times their fire rates were as high as three mortars every single minute on one particular target area. Due to the lack of proper platforms within the SLAF and insufficient blockade on Tamil Tiger supply lines, the Tamil Tigers managed to sustain this rate of fire for over 6 hours at times.

As I have mentioned, the last successful counter-attack that changed the balance of the conflict took place almost 8 years ago. That was the same period when the Sri Lankan armed forces were strengthened with emergency procurements. These procurements are all in the public domain.

Tamil Tiger manpower strength too is an contributing factor, but I would like to attribute it to the superior firepower and superior intelligence of the Sri Lankan armed forces.

And last not least - the multi axis attacks that have thinned their the Tamil Tiger defenses out. The armed forces have done this previously with success but they never maintained such a multi axis attack due to their limited resources. This led to the defense 'stiffening up' once the main thrust of the attack was identified by the foe.

Long-Ranger said...

And stay tuned for my next brief.

Take care all.

su said...

Point taken.
:)

Shan said...

thanks Ranger

nemesis said...

Thanks for your reply Long ranger,

yes the concept was not new indeed but the size of the unit is from what i hear. lets not talk of details. The advantageous as you rightly pointed out are many and could be decisive but, the factors which make this type of operation a success must be well mastered before each op, and each op must be case sensitive in tactics, insertion, numerical and most importantly if heliborne a proper and "holdable" RVs EP for exfil :)

I hope our lads are well trained and the int. is ripe and resources plentiful when being deployed.

Awaiting your next post eagerly!! :)

cheers