Tuesday, August 18, 2009


When Sri Lanka went after the LTTE in a fight to the finish, they used tactics which are hard to repeat elsewhere. As her armed forces employed innovative military strategies to wreak havoc in the terrorist groups’ strongholds, the Sri Lankan government received strong backing from a determined and silently vengeful population who were willing to pay any price to eliminate the Tamil Tigers. Such popular backing and a series of unforeseen opportunities worked in favor of the Sri Lankan government both in the domestic and foreign theaters enabling her to pursue the conflict until the LTTE was completely liquidated as a fighting force.

It was only towards the tail-end of the fighting that political changes in the US and other distant lands brought some human rights related pressure on the Sri Lankan government, which it managed to keep at bay successfully.

And then the Sri Lankans pulled yet another classic stunt by virtually abducting the newly self-appointed LTTE leader known as KP from somewhere in South East Asia, blowing the lid off the entrenched belief that the conflict would remain within the territorial space of the island nation.

Even though most democratic nations would flinch at the prospect of adopting the withering tactics used by Sri Lanka in her spectacularly successful anti-terrorist campaign, the lessons learnt here have not been lost on most. Even before the fighting came to an end, many defense analysts were speculating how far the Sri Lankan war would influence the future of asymmetrical warfare across the world. There is an undivided consensus that Sri Lankan Defense Forces have rewritten the book on modern warfare and changed conflict strategy irreversibly. Once considered undefeatable, terrorism is now a very curable disease, one which required bitter medicine.

Coming on the heels of an Indian military victory over terrorism in Khalistan and Russian suppression of terror in Chechnya, the Sri Lankan conquest of Tamil Tiger terrorism comprehensively proves the case for decisive military action as a solution for this modern day scourge. It is perhaps due to this reason that a US Special forces contingent is currently in joint exercises with Sri Lankan Army Special forces and SL Navy Special Boat Squadron units in North Eastern Sri Lanka.

The situation in Afghanistan is diametrically opposite to that of Sri Lanka. The Americans have ventured into perhaps the world’s most inhospitable land where no invading army had ever been successful as occupiers for any considerable length of time. Just as they defeated innumerable hostile forces over the centuries the Afghans could quite possibly prove that they can still remain unconquerable even by the mighty Americans, if they decide to do so. Just as they had help from friendly neighbors to defeat the Soviets in the war which lasted thru’ 1970/80s, the Afghans could muster plenty of support from Iran, Pakistan and other predominantly Muslim nations in the region.

In their present war against some of the world’s most powerful armed forces, the Afghan guerilla forces have so far held a decisive upper hand; they field warriors who are willing to die, to fight an enemy who wants to win wars with no casualties to own side. But the game is changing, as is only to be expected in the aftermath of the Sri Lankans’ comprehensive defeat of terrorism.

US forces appear to have since of late adopted leadership decapitation strategies which are yielding positive results. A recent air strike by US unarmed drones killed the Taliban commander in Pakistan throwing the terror group into disarray. Snatch operations since then have netted at least two high profile terrorist leaders, causing further disintegration of the Afghan guerilla operations.

How far the American will go to eradicate the Taliban under the present Obama administration will remain to be seen, even though tactics similar to those adopted by Sri Lanka definitely are providing significant success in the battle field and elsewhere. The Taliban on the other hand are unlikely to go quietly, as the recent suicide bombings which caused massive casualties indicate. In response the US backed Afghan government has clamped a press censorship ostensibly to control panic during the fragile election process in the troubled land, drawing absolutely no adverse comments from the Western press who were overtly critical when similar action was put in effect by Sri Lanka during the height of her own bloody events.

Wars often define human history. How we fight decides who wins. Sri Lanka recently re-wrote the book on how wars will be fought in the future. And thereby, whether her most ardent supporters and detractors admit or not, Sri Lankans have effectively changed how how our part of history will be written in the future.

1 comment:

TropicalStorm said...

SLA to train foreign militaries in Sri Lanka;