Tuesday, 24 March 2009

The key to MOUT: Speed not Haste

Fallujah copy

Maj Gen Richard Natonski briefing Task Force 2-2 prior to Operation Al-Fajr of the Second Battle of Fallujah

Military Operations in Urbanised Terrain (MOUT) is defined by US DOD as all operations planned and conducted across the range of military operations on or against objectives within, a topographical complex and its adjacent natural terrain where man-made construction or the density of non-combatants are the dominant feature. These operations are conducted to defeat an enemy that is almost always mixed in with civilians. Therefore, the rules of engagement (ROE) and use of combat force are heavily restrictive than in other conditions of combat.

As briefed earlier, in spite of a great build up of force, MOUT is always a very difficult sort of operation to achieve success in. Urban warfare is still the most vicious form of warfare. It takes the soldier back to the most primitive type of warfare demanding great tenacity, great precision, great courage and above all to conduct operations with little support fire in the most dangerous of situations. Therefore battle planners must be absolutely clear on why they are getting locked into this particularly risky type of operation and how the target fits to the overall battleplan. The risks involved with MOUT was also well versed by Sun Tszu in 500BC when he said that the worst policy (operation) was to attack cities.

Before the second World War most of the main theatres of battle were fought in open fields where the belligerents were lined up in formation. Because of this, fighting in cities or built up areas did not receive much attention until battles broke out in major cities like STALINGRAD or BERLIN towards the middle/end of World War II hence not until 1944 soldiers saw the first doctrines and guidance on how MOUT was conducted. But still soldiers came unstuck and found themselves in unfavourable terrain particularly in HUE during the 1968 TET offensive where the Marines had great experience in jungle but not in urban terrain. Hence it was not until 1979 after the Vietnam war the US Army published a separate Field Manual (90-10) for such operations; Military Operations in Urban Terrain.

With the continuous urbanisation of territory with increasing population and particularly due to 4th Generation warfare it is inevitable that any modern armed force will not encounter confrontations in urbanised terrain one way or another. I have chosen the Battle of FALLUJAH of 2004 because it is considered to be a turning point in modern military evolution due to the new technologies and tactics of the information era and the involvement of 4th Generation Warfare (4GW) characterised by a stateless entity fighting a state.

FALLUJAH located some 40 miles West of Baghdad spans 30 Sq Kms with a population of roughly 300000. It is a city comprising of over 2000 blocks of civilian property, hospitals, industrial sectors and its own 6 lane highway. Due to the 90 odd mosques in the city it was also known as the city of a hundred mosques. However, it was also reputed as the city of the Sunnis with an exclusive culture that instilled hatred against Shiites and Americans. When the coalition forced the Baath party and Saddam out of Iraq the Sunnis particularly of the Al-ANBAR province which made up the Sunni triangle did not accept the end of Saddam because since 1959 the Sunni minority had controlled the political power of Iraq and FALLUJAH was a main source of Baath party supporters.

The presence of Coalition forces, loss of political power, hatred instilled by default towards Americans, backed by the highly urbanised, highly populous terrain made FALLUJAH an excellent recipe for a well dug in insurgency.

After the unsuccessful first battle of FALLUJAH code named Vigilant Resolve which was conducted in response to the death of the 4 Blackwater operatives, it was decided to launch the second battle of FALLUJAH code named Operation Al-FAJR (originally named Phantom Fury). The first operation ended with the Marines striking an agreement with local Fallujahn leaders to handover weaponry of the insurgents to the FALLUJAH Brigade (FB) which was composed of former members of the Iraqi army and Saddam's special security forces. However, the FB failed in its mission and in some instances were part of insurgent activity by surrendering its weapons and vehicles to the insurgents. By September 2004 the FB was disbanded and Operation Al-FAJR (New Dawn) was launched.

Phase I of the operation involved Psy ops to release deceiving information to mislead the insurgents and to drive away as much as civilians as possible to reduce civilian casualties. HUMINT teams specialising in Arabic and interrogation during this phase obtained vital intelligence on insurgent positions. Phase II with a barrage of electronic, aerial, artillery attacks on specific targets determined by Phase I was launched on 7th November 04. The initial strike was meant to soften up enemy pillboxes and exhaust them physically and mentally. As an diversion to mask the actual assault from the North, a Southern thrust initiated the ground assault with the two bridges running across the Euphrates and the hospital captured cutting off the town from the peninsula. This was phase II.

Phase III involved the actual thrust of Al-FAJR which was initiated from the Northern limits while the blackjacks had sealed off the city from the South and the East. Using eight of 2000 pound bombs and bulldozers the Marines blew the railroad berm and captured the railway station that provided a vital foothold (explained below) that provided covering fire for engineers to clear minefields and the rail tracks. In urban warfare it is paramount the force maintain its momentum, not allowing the defender a respite to regroup and position predesigned kill zones, pill boxes and strong points. The original time frame for the Marines to enter the centre of the city was 72 to 96 hours. However the troops managed to achieve their objective within 43 hours and by the 11th of November they had reached the Southern limits of the city and had begun the search and attack stage of the operation which involved house to house clearing operations.

Small units of Marines using tactics similar to the German storm troopers of 1918 spearheaded the assault paving the way for the main assault by infiltrating enemy defences. M1 tanks protected with TUSK and Stryker fighting vehicles provided vital direct fire support with its 120mm HEAT rounds with the support of Combined Anti-Armour teams (CAAT). Even though it may be thought that armour are invincible in MOUT as the battles of Grozny of 1994 between Russia and Chechnya highlights, lack of coordination between armour and dismounted infantry bears the potential to disable or destroy armour. Hence it is important to ensure proper coordination between infantry and armour.

As the Marine armour rolled through the streets of FALLUJAH, infantry cleared adjacent buildings. Snipers and FOs directed tanks to their targets. At times tracer bullets and M203 grenades were used to guide tanks to their targets. Without such guidance tanks as with any supporting fire always pose the risk of engaging wrong targets. Despite the overall good coordination between CAAT and armour there were incidents where Bradleys were penetrated by ATGMs and MBTs flipping over craters. Despite the odd mishap the troops continued to pummel the insurgents.

CAS was provided mainly by rotary wing assets and AC130 gunships both day and night. AC130 gunships proved its value since its various canon choices provided weaponry with smaller blast radii and did not require a FAC unlike other fixed wing platforms. In CAS where close quarter battles are the norm, fixed wing aircraft find it harder to distinguish enemy and friendly positions.

Under the cover of supporting fire Marine squads minimised exposure on FALLUJAH streets and ran from house to house in a stack with some dispersion applying three dimensional security. Infantry squads armed with Shoulder launched multipurpose assault weapons (SMAW), M-16s, M203 grenade launchers and M4 carbines cleared building to building, room to room either using top-down or bottom-up clearing techniques. As MOUT doctrine dictates there is no standard assault method. Squad leader bears the responsibility to assess advantages and disadvantages of each method, to assess the target structure quickly and make a decision to maximise the advantages while minimising the disadvantages. Traditional MOUT training also involves non-standard entry methods to add the lost elements of tactical surprise in MOUT. In either method speed (not haste) exercising tactical patience is the key. On average marines were involved in clearing at least 60 structures a day and entry through blown up walls or windows takes time hence the great majority of entry still involved existing doors. Using their experience squad leaders upon contact with the enemy in a house was to either break contact or flood the house holding onto the foothold. Footholds are strongpoints from which the squad will fight or reinforce. All this requires extensive training physical as well as verbal. However, the most effective form of training in a combat environment is for the squad leader to sit down and talk with his squad and discuss various combat scenarios.

Two different classes of defending insurgents were observed. One group’s main objective was to eliminate as many Marines as possible after engaging on a terrain of their choosing and evade employing guerrilla warfare. The second group were martyrs who unlike the first group would fight till death. They would wait in fortified positions armed with no egress routes. They would have machine gun positions facing each entry point of buildings with IEDs. The guerrilla’s had preplanned, well rehearsed egress routes with minimum exposure in the streets. To reduce exposure to snipers they would always withdraw parallel to the Marine lines (FLOT).

Even before phase III ended, by December 2004, Phase IV was initiated in the sectors that were cleared which involved the humanitarian relief and reconstruction. Civil-Military coordination centres, civilian relief distribution sites were formed for returning residents. Vehicles and civilians were only allowed into the city after a thorough security check to prevent infiltrations. Priority was given to employ Fallujahns for the reconstruction effort which helped to reduce the unemployment rate of the Al-ANBAR province. By December 23rd the city was declared open by the coalition. The Army’s withdrawal from Fallujah did not however, end the fighting. The Marines continued to filter out and kill the few remaining die-hard insurgents for weeks after.

 PTK copy

As mentioned above tactical doctrine stresses that MOUT be conducted only when required and that built-up areas are isolated and bypassed rather than locked in a costly, time-consuming operation. Well aware of the Tigers’ ability to resist tooth and nail particularly in defending the largest built-up area in Wanni; KILINOCHCHI, the battleplanners as briefed earlier made the entire KILINOCHCHI built-up area into a massive salient and avoided a protracted close quarter battles under monsoon skies. The intention of the Tigers were well seen in clearing operations of the town when prepared strongpoints, high volume of IEDs facing pre-determined kill zones particularly around public institutions such as the hospital, school in an attempt to re-enact the stand off at the DZERZHINSKY tractor factory in STALINGRAD. However, thanks to the far sighted battleplanners of the Sri Lankan forces it was not to be. The 1995 battles of JAFFNA and modern military strategy had taught them well.

As 59 moved North from WELIOYA conducting its battles mainly in jungle terrain and smaller built up areas such as MULLIYAWALI, it came across the PUTHUKKUDIYIRUPPU (PTK) town limits. There were no flanks available to exploit except the thin coastal isthmus North of MULLATIVU but the risks involved in forging ahead of a Division sized column along a narrow frontage did not allow this.

The PUTHUKKUDIYIRUPPU (PTK) built-up roughly spans 5Km West to East and runs towards the Northern edge of the NANTHIKADAL lagoon. This hampered the 593's initial plan of circumventing the MULLATIVU town altogether and cutting the A35 thereby isolating the entire MULLATIVU coastal strip from the North of the lagoon. A similar strategy was successfully employed in capturing NACHCHIKUDA, Devil's point and ALAMPIL. The difference this time was the built-up. Despite psy-ops to drive civilians out of the way towards the new safe zone still a number of civilians were found among the PTK buildings and in shrub jungles adjoining the built-up areas.

Adherence to the precepts of avoiding urbanised combat at all costs, though valid, was becoming increasingly difficult for the battleplanners in this situation for the following reasons.

  1. The limited land space available severely restricted the manoeuvre capabilities of the forces, thus to flood away the Tiger defences as done in KILINOCHCHI was impossible
  2. The available flank to circumvent the PTK town limits from the Eastern edge presented a narrow, open frontage sandwiched between the Safety zone and the built-up and complimented with salty marsh lands. A narrow frontage with limitations in mobility is inherently risky.
  3. The psy-ops conducted by SLA signals and SLAF meant the majority of civilians had moved to the safety zone which was roughly 4-5km away from the FLOT of SLA thus any escaping civilians had to cross roughly 4-5 Kms to reach to safety. Such a distance through a landmass containing a high concentration of IEDs and anti-personnel mines seriously affects the wherewithal of any civilian willing to cross over to Government territory.
  4. If not for the concerns of civilian safety the SLA can roll over the remaining tiger strongholds in a matter of days. Therefore the strategy involved on taking the FLOT as close as possible to the boundaries of the safety zone where in a small matter of 5-10 minute trip across the lagoon will guarantee a cross over for the civilians and reduce the number of civilians within the safety zone dramatically. To achieve this the SLA were required to take on the PTK built-up.

Therefore battleplanners set to work in attempt to isolate the PTK built-up area as much as possible to disrupt the Tiger supply and medevac lines by moving the three prongs of 58 from the North towards PTK thus disrupting the Tiger supplies from the PUTHUMATTALAN safety zone running through IRANAPALAI junction. 58’s Southern movement also augmented the Southern push of 55 Division as mentioned in my previous brief since the risks involved in forging ahead along a narrow frontage comprising of land features that severely restricts logistical movement. Meanwhile 682 brigade concentrated on disrupting the A35 that was connecting PTK from the safety zone just North of MULLATIVU by moving towards the Northern edge of the NANTHIKADAL lagoon. This movement has been slow due to the open paddy fields and the possible infiltrations from the flank facing the lagoon as occurred before. Towards inland 681 has been spearheading along with 583 and 582 brigades in MOUT operations while 53 Divisional elements have been concentrating on clearing the built-up area combing house to house. This is the supporting role in MOUT.

Unlike on previous occasions where the strategy involved eliminating as much as Tiger cadres from the battlefield before claiming and consolidating real estate, speed and momentum were given prominence during the battles for PTK. Speed and momentum are vital elements of any MOUT operations because the last thing a commander needs is time consuming confrontations in this risky, highly demanding type of operations. Furthermore it presents the potential for taking considerable amount of casualties due to restrictions in manoeuvrability, force employment and expenditure of critical resources in the process.

The shrinking territory also meant for the first time in the conflict the ground commanders were enjoying a full consistent 24 hour coverage of the target areas with SLAF’s recon assets, which earlier during the conflict were overstretched. This coverage formerly known as Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) is now called in modern parlance as C4ISR with the addition of the 4Cs; Command, Control, Communications and Computer. Even though its at its infancy in the Sri Lankan conflict it provided rich data for commanders to assess the ground situation on a 24/7 basis. It was such a luxury and the advantages were telling. Such data are crucial enablers for mobility and firepower. It is important to have detailed data of the terrain you are engaging the enemy in especially in urban terrain since observation and fields of fire are usually restricted to the paths and alleys between building blocks and is further obscured due to smoke, debris and dust due to fighting. Observation and fields of fire are also restricted according to the type and height of the building structures hence taller buildings are of value to both parties as observation posts (OPs).

Urban terrain provided excellent cover and concealment for both the SLA and the Tigers. The effectiveness of cover depended on the type structure i.e density of walls and type of construction. However, the defender; the Tigers had in some cases turned some houses into rubble and rigged some with IEDs that were likely to be used by the SLA for cover and concealment. Trenches ran through roads to hinder the movement of armour. Rubble created by IEDs, mortars and CAS were also a contributing factor for restricted movement. Tactical surprise most of the time in MOUT is non-existent hence to offset this soldiers at times employed nonstandard entry points into houses through walls or windows. Squad leaders also varied type of entry to mask their movement using deception to confuse the enemy and use imagination to vary entry tactics.

Using carefully selected OPs strengthened with five zero posts, good reconnaissance, town maps (not 100% accurate due to constant change of man made structures) and building architect drawings if available (mainly of Government property i.e hospitals) the SLA mapped out the terrain and marked out decisive terrain and critical public areas such as schools and hospitals. Decisive terrain involves critical town areas that could provide a strategic advantage (e.g. PTK junction,IRANAPALAI junction) to either side and critical public areas such as hospitals were important to be secured since it provided the Tigers an on field dressing station. Further it was paramount to secure it to minimise the damage in accordance with laws of war. Zones were set up and assigned for each platoon commander. Once the area was mapped the next step was to map out avenues of approach and securing suitable footholds for each objective. By default the avenues are along alleys and roads of the town, however these are open ground and may be predesigned kill zones with snipers, MGs or IEDs. Hence the best avenue of all was to approach through existing buildings wherever possible obscuring enemy OPs with smoke. A foothold is a point where the attacker can continue the assault while rapidly building up a force at that point to achieve the objective. It could be a block of houses or one single room. Multiple footholds may be used depending on the objective and may isolate the objective and prevent the enemy from reinforcing the objective area, cut off lines of communication and suppress enemy fire positions. This sort of systematic clearing were the only option for field commanders if enemy defences were dense and if no critical objectives or decisive terrain were in sight.

In some cases depending on the criticality of a certain objective for example decisive terrain and if the area in question is spread out or lightly defended, commanders may decide to bypass certain strong points and conduct a rapid advance bypassing/suppressing enemy pillboxes within houses and gain control over the decisive terrain and force the bypassed enemy locations to flood away as the rapidly advancing force automatically isolates enemy positions along the way. This method allowed the SLA to reach its critical objectives quicker. Command and control, unit coordination, security of cleared buildings and above all a clear understanding of the Clausewitz’s culmination point was the key. Long, overstretched communication and supply lines running through unsecure terrain was avoided.

Another consideration that was made by the commanders was how to integrate combined arms tactics into the planning. Due to the limits in visibility, on average, MOUT confrontations take place at hugging distance i.e 50m or less. In such a scenario using heavy firepower is limited with minimum arming ranges, back blast of RPGs/LAWs and splash damage radii in mind. Also because of the close nature of combat and broken nature of the urban terrain the time available to engage targets is short. Commanders must also account for dead space created by elevation or depression limits of weapons. Unlike artillery, mortars are the preferred weapons in MOUT as these particularly the 60s and the 81s can be carried to the very edge of the Forward Line of own Troops (FLOT) and can be operated by the squads themselves enabling a firing solution in less than a minute. These are also high trajectory weapons hence dead space where the enemy can take cover is a minimum. Further the splash damage radii is low negating hugging tactics of the defender. Tomba guns are another favourite of MOUT troops. 40mm grenade launchers are ideal for close quarter battles particularly in confined spaces as it causes minimal damage to the structure itself but cause maximum damage to the enemy within a structure. A further advantage is its ability to bounce off walls hence allowing the infantry to fire around corners. Because of the trajectory of the round it can also be delivered behind walls, piles of rubbles or buildings.

MPMGs/GPMGs are the primary direct fire weapons used to suppress designated targets, to establish kill zones or to isolate enemy targets. The cumbersome nature of these weapons makes them inappropriate for clearing houses hence are primarily used for above uses. Open areas along roads and alleys in urban environments meant these weapons were able to achieve grazing fires that are seldom achieved in other terrain. Its rounds will penetrate most urban walls with continued concentrated fire. Tripod mounted 0.50 calibre weapons are capable of producing significant amounts of damage to structures and will penetrate walls with ease. However what limits the capability of MGs is the the limited availability of long fields of fire in urban terrain.

Some of the enemy pillboxes within houses were reinforced with logs and steel with heavy overhead protection. In such a scenario if a direct safe LOS is available RPGs/LAWs were the weapons of choice. Back blast particularly in narrow alleys or rooms, debris that will be kicked off the blast and minimum arming distances are considerations before using such weapons in MOUT. If not infantry were ready to call in the support of armour with devastating effect.

As in FALLUJAH armour played an integral role in PTK MOUT operations. Mounted T55 MBTs and BMP/BTR/dismounted Mech infantry mix proved invaluable. Mech assets were used extensively to break barricades, isolate objectives, deliver squads over to key areas in rapid time bypassing potential kill zones and suppress enemy positions with direct fire support. Wherever troops encountered fortified enemy pillboxes MBTs were called in for a direct fire support role with devastating effect. The secondary weapons of these and thermal NVG sights of certain assets also proved a handful to the defender. Armour also proved to be mobile road blocks. However due to the broken nature of the terrain with obscured fields of fire and limited manoeuvrability at times allows the enemy to close in on armoured vehicles. Therefore it is paramount armour and infantry coordinate to prevent an episode of Grozny in 1994. It is always risky for a single armoured asset to operate on its own hence at least two armoured assets are needed to cover for each other and to rescue a disabled vehicle if required. Good coordination with infantry is essential for mutual survival in MOUT. It is the responsibility of the infantry to clear out and secure any buildings adjacent to the armoured vehicles.

If fixed wing CAS was a hallmark in jungle terrain it was not so in the PTK battles. As mentioned earlier most of the engagements were in close quarter hence it fails to meet the minimum safe distance requirement. Fixed wing CAS has great effects on the ground and a major problem is the amount of time to get the payload on the intended target. Rotary wing CAS are more suited in MOUT especially in the deeper battle space while the immediate theatre requirement of support fire was sufficiently provided by armour. MBTs and supporting troops were the ideal fire support element in MOUT as it provided a firing solution on enemy contact in a matter of minutes.

Despite the era dominated by technology and heavier fire power, MOUT still requires the individual soldier to fight street to street, house to house and even down to room to room. It still demands great courage from individual soldiers to do the most dangerous of jobs in the most dangerous of situations. All these risks and danger were involved due to the great concerns the battleplanners have displayed towards the civilian safety and to leave collateral damage to a bear minimum.

Civilian casualties bring nothing but negative effects to any war machine and is a stepping stone to potential disaster on the media front. Further civilian casualties bears the potential to create hostility among the civilians regardless of how noble the intentions are. This clearly demonstrates the current consensus within the Sri Lankan military machine that battlefield victories alone are worthless if the army fails to muster a victory over the population’s hearts and minds. That is the purpose of the unbelievable bravery and heroism displayed 24/7 by our men.


Pundeyeelam said...

Bravo !
You should wright a book about our Wanni ops. I am willing to sponser your effort.

Indika said...

Really nice article as always it used to be.

Miss Information said...

An interesting read as per usual... I guess my comment on LR being too busy to post for a while has been squarely addressed.

It will be fascinating to find out what tactics of the American doctrine described are modified (and how) by the SLA given they do not have many of the sophisticated static and real-time intel gathering capabilities the Americans possess.

One cannot expect the author to indulge the reader as such during the conflict but certainly the SLA will have had to improvise to overcome technical limitations.

There is also the issue of how the enemy, long known as efficient and creative tacticions, work to counter the effects of SLA tactics.

What would be useful (and ironic) is an LTTE suicide bomber taking out VP and saving everyone a lot of misery... I have little doubt he is willing to send the entire IDP population to their deaths as a long-term propaganda tool.


mikekilo said...

another great description by LR.. ye i agree u should wright a book about our wanni battles.. sure many more will learn from that book..

out_sider said...


Do you see the slow pace of the SLA's advance as an impediment to victory? I ask this question in the context that the SLA has failed to cut off any significant number of the ltte fighters at any point in the fighting.

The Russian army was able to use this tactic to it's advantage in WWII and force the surrender of significant numbers of German soldiers.

Your thoughts on rapid thrusts, and the rewards versus risk would be most welcome.

I would also be interested in your opinion on amphibious operations and if they should have been tried at any juncture of the fighting. Possibly when the 53 and 55 division were bottled up on the National Front.

sldf said...

Out_Sider, I think LR clearly explained in a previous post why an amphibious assault on National and Pooneryn fronts would fail.

LongRanger, many thanks for the brilliant analysis of MOUT Operations and its relation to Army's PTK assault.

Latest reports indicate the 55 and 58 troops are already operating on the boundaries of the safety zone. Event if the distance is short getting civilians safely out the safe zone is going to be a major challenge since 1) LTTE infiltrators disguised as civilians 2) Dangers from Suicide cadres to troops and civilians. Therefore reducing the number of civilians within the safety zone is going to be a challenge for the troops.

What role will SF and Commando play now?

"That is the purpose of the unbelievable bravery and heroism displayed 24/7 by our men."

Well said. We need to expose this fact to world media.

Moshe Dyan said...

thanx LR; great work.

what exactly SL needs when pressure is mouting from all sides to "speed-up" things.

it is speed not haste that we need.

out_sider said...

sldf said...

"Out_Sider, I think LR clearly explained in a previous post why an amphibious assault on National and Pooneryn fronts would fail."

Yes, his discussions on these points came in early 2008. At that time I would have had to concur with his analysis and judgment. I was more interested in why, or why not, an amphibious assault was not considered in late 2008 - say October or November just as Pooneryn fell. BY then the military commanders were well aware that the defenses on the national front had been thinned as the ltte attempted to reinforce its defences on other fronts. An amphibious landing at that moment may have caught several hundred cadres between the 53/55 divisions and the troops landing behind the ltte lines. Those cadres could not have withdrawn into the Wanni where thay have blended into the population and made the SLA's job considerably more difficult.

My other question on speed of movement is related to the armored brigade's of the 53rd that were largely ineffective because they were unable to move forward on the national front. Early in 2008 another article discussed the possibility of an ltte attempt to take Jaffna. But by the fall of 2008 this possibility had evaporated and those tanks could have been used elsewhere.

I was looking for an informed analysis on these two points.

KillerT said...

great analysis as usual.keep up the good work.

Moda Pancha said...

Great work as alwayz LR.
Any reflection on SLNA role?

Anonymous said...

Long ranger, as always really informative.
Have some questions, will be thankful for a reply.
1. You mention that the bravory of the individual soldier is important in MOUT. do the battleplanners indivudually selet the soldiers for MOUT type of operations? Are there any criterias for the selection, such as the battle experience or the individual perforamce
2. From a reader's perspective, I see 53 is a division with highly capable soldiers, who are used for most dangerous operations, such as protecting the doorway to Jafana and now moving south in the thin coastal strip. Did this effect the enemy to attack the 58 not the 53 in the last counter attack, or was that a desperate attempt to attack anytihng?
3. defencenet mentions from the concept of forming a taskforce and turning them to divisions in time. This is an effective strategy, that we have seen throughout the war. Is this idea a brainchild of Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka?
4. Do we also actively drop leaflets to inform civillians such as US forces?
5. US forces use apache to pin down lonely terrorist or smugglers. Do we do this kind of operations? It seems, that is an option from the south of the nfz

NOLTTE=Peace said...

Great work.. keep up the phase!

Hawkeye said...

Nice one again ranger sir. Like someone earlier said I also prefer the word FISH.


(But by the fall of 2008 this possibility had evaporated and those tanks could have been used elsewhere.)

I dont think taking out the tanks of muhamale was going to help. If you look it was the very tanks that rolled down some 50 odd kilometers in some 2 days South to elephantpass. And its not to mean that there was a shortage of tanks in the South either. And afterall once 53 reached elephantpass it was all moved down South anyway and its a reserve force now. So that again reiterates that there was no need for an excess amount of tanks to the Southern front. Just my two cents.

Editor: "Badrinath" said...

"Defence.lk is 41% more lethal than Army.lk; writers deserve promotion"


rupert said...

Tiger propaganda spearheaded by tamilnet, claims every other day nearly 100 civilians die
in the no fire zone.
One of the primary reasons for this is to pre-empt any guided strikes by the SLAF on the remaining tiger bigwig hideout.
Not just to put pressure on the government and the international community.
If the SLAF have a clear target and the right munition they should make the strike after the best evaluation because
tiger propaganda already make believe to the western world that many people die each day.
Hope the forces will give precedence to hunting Pottu more than Vezupizzai.

||::CeylonDefence::|| said...


--SF ambush kills 17 infiltrators--

||::CeylonDefence::|| updated

Click here


TropicalStorm said...

Another great article.

But the greatest of them will probably come once the 'no-fire' zone action ends.

Wait for the urban guerilla war of the century, happening in a place close to you.

Adrenaline_Grin said...

Long Ranger,

Thanks for yet another insightful analysis.

My question might be a bit apples and oranges, but how would you compare the fighting in PTK with other urban battles like in Mogadishu, Grozny, Sarejevo, etc?

Thanks in advance!

Moshe Dyan said...


how about we use a strategy to SPLIT/SLICE the LONG THIN NFZ that looks like a worm??

there will be NO (or less) RESISTENCE FROM the piece where vezapillai is not present. then consolidate that piece fully.

thereafter, SPLIT/SLICE the other one. this time it will be harder but again, of the new pieces, the one without VP will offer no (or less) resistence.

eventually, VP will be trapped with a lesser number of ppl and BINGO!

the problem with NFZs was tigers ran into them with civilians. when we split/slice the NFZ, there is no way tigers or civilians could cross from one piece to another.

to help us further, the NFZ is LONG but very THIN. ideal for splitting/slicing.

as much as possible we should split/slice along natural boundaries. then along areas of LESSER IDP shelters.

this will also confuse the tigers and some will be left without leaders to guide them!! that will be FUN.

one main obstacle is the water body that lies south-west of part of the NFZ. we should overcome this.

rupert said...

Hello Longranger

You are silent for a long time.

A question.
Regarding breaching the earthbunds remaining.
What prevents the army doing a broad front armour assault on the bunds, while other armour with 30mm take firesupport.
Why cant a very aggressive mechnised tunnelling of the bund(20-30 meters) be carried out.
And also edge of the bund to the sea(assuming there is one) must be very vulnerable for an intense armour assault. Is'nt losing few armour at this juncture more productive than losing seasoned men.

rupert said...

Else why cant a large area of the bund and the trench be bombed by the SLAF that the trench is non existent and armour can assault. The way it is if the forces concentrate on one particular area bring everything on it rather than all around wouldnt the Tiger defense break up. Small remaining area will cause it.

Moshe Dyan said...

well done SLDFs.

this is without a doubt world's largest hostage rescue operation.

puthumathalan and amplalavanpokkani are towards the middle of the NFZ. so they did the trick the way we discussed. they have sliced the NFZ into 2 pieces now.


seperately 55 has rescued an additional 1,000 ppl from the northern front.

can't get any better than this.

follow the same tactic until the BIG FAT pussycat is busted. 59 may make a move from the south part anytime soon.

Hawkeye said...

Moshe dyan,

I think 59 has also begun moving north but I highly doubt they have bisected the no fire zone in half. I think what happened today is we managed to breach the bund which was holding civilians from escaping. Think this bund was along the A35 road. Just my two cents.

Rajaratasurfer said...

General F,
Very good post sir...now why did the SLA let ltte get cornered at this particular area & not further south ?
Which could have been obvious choice General ? Since , hostage situation unfolding rapidly, could this trun tables on ltte or GOSL ? Is there way out ?

TKS Mon General !

Moshe Dyan said...


we did bisect the area into two (inequal parts). by yesterday the northern piece has been cleared fully. refer to news reports and the map (may be a bit outdated).

as i pointed out b4, the NEXT round will be more difficult of the SLICE/SPLIT strategy. yet i recon that is the way forward. (slice the next piece into two)

but looks like SLA is trying a north to south move. according to bbc, the LTTE bund running along the western border of the NFZ extends almost to the full remaining NFZ under LTTE.

breaching this would be difficult and there is an expanding waterbody (towards south of where we breached the NFZ) making things difficult for a similar strategy.

refer the mapthere is another intersting thing which i'm SURE our battle planners looked into. it has something to do with the MOON!!! yes. (at least i would have looked into it for timing to SOME extent if i were planning)

on sunday 19, monday 20, tuesday 21, wednesday 22, the difference between the low tide and the high tide became smallest. this definitely helped civilians and forces alike.

look at the low/high tide figures from sunday 19 to wed 22. (may not be exact for the natikandal lagoon but indicative).


mon-low-0.6 (morning & evening)

tue-low-0.5 (morning & evening)

wed-low-0.5 (morning & evening)

this would again happen in about TWO WEEKS!!

the difference may reach a high of,

on some days and would have affected our plans if we didn't plan properly. but planning was perfect!

((c) md(j)) lol!

historical use of tidal movements in war...

The tides of war; D-Day's lunar connection - moon phase and tide considered in planning of 1944 Normandy Invasion