What went wrong in our fight?

Upul Ranasingha, Dehiwala, Srilanka.

Being a frequent reader of, it is clear that the writers to this site are honorable gentlemen, who are vehemently opposed to the government of Srilanka, having any dialog with the LTTE. It is also apparent that these honorable men would prefer a military solution to the north-east problem. There is nothing wrong with that stand ­ after all the LTTE is a murderous terrorist organization which has killed thousands of innocent Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims. In fact being a Buddhist and patriotic Srilankan, I salute the gentlemen for the very vocal stand they are taking.

Unfortunately there is a glaring contradiction in this stand. The contradiction is their overwhelming endorsement of President Kumaranatunga. Ask anyone in the military “PRIVATELY” (as I have done on so many occasions) as to what went wrong in the fight against the LTTE and they’ll tell you what happened during the last seven years. They will tell you how capable military officers were sidelined and political yes men brought in, the unbelievable political interference, rampant corruption etc. When I heard the details I did not know weather to cry or laugh. Such was the magnitude of the gross mismanagement. I soon realized that this was no laughing matter, as over 7000 brave and patriotic Srilankan men sacrificed their lives, for someone to blow up their political egos.

It is obvious for anyone who has been closely following, the actions of the government during the past seven years, the Srilankan militaries biggest enemies were the Commander in Chief and the Defense minister. From day one the writings were on the wall - the Srilankan military was going to be turned in to someone’s political militia. The PA’s choice of a defense minister was a Lieutenant who had got a “quadruple” promotion (not double, not triple), from his cousin, who happened to be the PM at that time. He skipped the ranks of Captain, Major and Lt Colonel. Then he was promoted to the Rank of General by his niece for “leading” the operation to capture Jaffna. This time a “TRIPLE” promotion. So what on earth would this man know about getting to the top the correct way? The three men who actually did the fighting Generals, Janaka Perera, Niel Dias and PA Karunathilaka did not even make it to Army commander. Ever heard of something like this anywhere in the world? As they say “Only in Srilanka”. In 1994, when the PA took over power, the Army had successfully cleared the entire eastern province. This proved that we had what it took to successfully fight the LTTE. So what happened? This has to be one of the saddest stories in the History of Srilanka. The only thing sadder is the Women responsible for all this is still the president of Srilanka.

A few days ago, one of the writes on this page, said that President has a plan to deal with the LTTE for good. My question is, She had Seven years ­ what on earth was she doing?Do good military plans come to mind, only when you loose elections? Please allow me to tell you what this lady did.

The First military officer to “go” was the man directly responsible for liberating the eastern province ­ Maj Gen Lucky Algama. He was also the chief of staff of the army and next in line to be the commander. His falut - he was a UNPer. He was also the very first officer together with the Legendary Janka perera, to employ guerilla tactics against the tigers. Gen Algama, led such a successful campaign in the east that it is reported that the LTTEs eastern commander, Karuna, had to personally withdraw, for fear of his safety. The situation in the east was so good that democratic elections were held and the PA and President won the area handsomely.

The next to go was Maj Gen AMU Senevirathne. Gen Senevirathne, was a well respected soldier. In fact it was the PA who brought him to the limelight by appointing him OOC. But when we cautioned the Defense minister about going for Jaffna and leaving the other areas vulnerable, he was shown the way out. If we had heeded that advice would we be in this situation today?

They were replaced by a man, lets just call him General D (now the ambassador to Brazil), who had a miserable track record, militarily speaking, of course. When General D, was northern commander, two camps under him were over run. If I remember correctly one of them was the Pooneryn camp. He was personally found guilty of gross negligence in his duty, by two military courts of inquiry. The two military courts recommended that his sonority be reduced. Politically of course he had an excellent track record. He said “Yes Madam, Yes Madam, three bags full madam”, to everything he was asked. From then on there was no stopping him. He led the Army and the Military on a march to disaster after disaster.

We all know the story of General Janaka Perera, probably the finest General in the Srilankan army. He along with Gen Sarath Fonseka single handedly saved Jaffna and the lives of thousands of soldiers. There is no saying what would have happened if the Tigers were able to advance on Jaffna. The course of Srilankas history would have changed and Elam created. Was there any doubt in anyone’s mind if Janaka perara should have been the Army commander? Well, yes, the president had; of course.

Even Gen Sarath Fonseka was removed from his post as Jaffna commander and replaced by a lightweight ­ Gen Sisira Wejesiry. Gen Fonseka was reappointed Jaffna commander only a few month back.

More blunders were made in the Police and the air force. Some of the Officers sidelined were Air vice Marshal Anslem peiris, SSP Nimal lewke, SSP Lionel Gunethilaka, DIG Zerny Wejesooriya and many others. The intelligence service was interfered with. The intelligence services were busy with tapping the phones of politicians than fighting the LTTE. The airforce was busy taking pictures of the SB Dissanayake mansion than fighting the tigers. Please read this article titled “A wake up call”, by one of Worlds top terrorist experts, Dr Rohan Gunaratne, on how the president brought defeat after defeat while talking her way out of everything. Dr Gunaratna is a lecturer on terrorism in Scotland and has written many books on the conflict in Srilanka.

The net result of all this was thousands of solders paid the supreme sacrifice at Killinochi, Mullaitiv, Operation Jayasikuru and of course Elephant pass. The East which was fully secured is partially occupied by the tigers. The LTTE has vastly expanded and improved their strength. Now this is the very same lady who is accusing the government of strengthening the LTTE. She might have a point, but does she have a right to talk on this matter? I don’t think so. While the Soldiers were being killed in their thousands with no one to protect them, 44 bullets proof limousines costing over Rs 2 billion were brought, for “her Excellency” and “General” Defense Minister. I really don’t understand why the LTTE even made an attempt on her life because she was their biggest asset. After all The LTTE turned into a conventional force during her rule.

People living in Srilanka are very aware of what the President has brought upon Srilanka, during the past seven years. Another writer on this page has said “Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim will vote against the government giving a landslide victory to PA”. May be after the President is kicked out of the PA, but certainly not before that. It will be a very cold day in hell, before Srilankans vote this lady in again.

Some of our bravest men who were willing to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the country are retired. Of the two men who brought disaster to our fight one is a General and the other is an ambassador. The person responsible for all this is still the president. Is it a surprise we are in this situation today?

If we are to survive as a nation we have to learn from the past. It is very easy to blame others for all our problems, but that will change nothing. The first step in this process is to impeach the president and hold her & the defense minister accountable for the political interference in the Military. After all, this is the lives of thousands of brave Srilankans we are dealing with. If not I seriously doubt if we will ever come out of this mess we are in right now.





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