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Home > Struggle for Tamil Eelam > Tamil Armed Resistance > Reports of Armed Conflict > Hard Facts - Christian Worker Quarterly, Joint Issue 4th Quarter 1990 & 1st Quarter 1991
Reports on Armed Conflict in Tamil Eelam
Christian Worker Quarterly,
"If the Comment in our last issue showed the difficulties in conducting a war of the type that is even now dragging on in the North and East of the island, more recent events and the present ground situation have amply demonstrated the futility of seeking to achieve a “military solution” to a problem that cries out for resolution at the political level.
In this connection, Tamil Nation of April 15 (published in the United Kingdom with an Editor based in Madras) has pointed out that six years ago, ie. in 1985, there were in the north, 26 army camps, 4 naval bases, 23 police commando posts and two airforce bases. Today there is not a single police commando post: what we have are 6 army camps, 1 naval base and 2 air air force bases, all on the fringes of the Northern Province. (The Elephant Pass Camp is not exactly at a border but on the isthmus that connects the peninsula to the mainland). In fact the biggest Air Force base and helipads are tucked away safely in the predominantly Sinhala populated area of Anuradhapura.
At least 3 of the 6 army camps have been constantly under threat by the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). The three others that have some defensive capacity but yet incapable of making any deep thrust into the Northern areas are at three ends - Palaly in the north of the Province, Thaladi in the west, and Vavuniya in the South; the first two being sustained only because of the fire support from both the air force and the navy - but at heavy cost since reinforcements, supplies and evacuation of casualties have to be done mostly by air.
It is clear that apart from a few military camps there is not much that the Government can claim to control in the north, even though Defence Ministry sources have stated that 7 new army posts had been established in the north by March 17.
In so far as the eastern Province is concerned, an ethnically mixed area enables the government to have an image of authority especially in the towns. But in the jungles the Tigers have their cadres and at night especially they are able to move around notwithstanding the security forces. How else is one to explain their mobility and manoeuvrability along the narrow stretch between Mulaitivu in the north-east to the deep end in the Amparai district, withevenforaysinto predominantly Sinhala populated areas like Polonnaruwa and further south into Moneragala?
There is a difference however in the way the LTTE operates in the north and in the east. while in the North the LTTE has begun to function as a regular army, over running military camps in fierce open combat or mounting ferocious attacks as was recently seen in the attack on the Silaveturai army camp in Mannar, the Tiger operations in the east are mainly of a guerilla nature - ambushes and forays into border villages and even more, of the territory that is claimed as “Tamil Eelam”.
Significantly, ambushes effected by the Tigers in even the well fortified Trincomalee district are said to have kept nearly a third of the armed forces and the Special Task Force (STF) tied up in the Eastern Province.
Although the Government forces have been strengthened some six times over since the early 1980s, from 12,000 soldiers to over 70,000 today, (State Minister for Defence, Ranjan Wijeratne stating at a press conference on January 13 that the security forces totalled 60,000 and would by the end of 1991 be 100,000), they yet lack the number needed to ‘saturate’ the affected areas, or equal the Tigers in their knowledge of the terrain or sense of commitment to a cause, that could enable them to either effectively hold territory in the East or recover it in the North.
Morale boosting statements issued for the benefit of the public must not therefore be confused with an ability to effect a ‘military solution’ to the conflict by winning the war..."