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Sri Lanka military says switched to unorthodox tactics to win war
02 Jun, 2011 06:26:08
June 02, 2011 (LBO) - Sri Lanka's armed forces developed new, unorthodox tactics and techniques to win the war against Tamil Tiger separatists, learning from 30 years of battlefield experience, senior officers said.
Field commanders and troops learned to be flexible and sometimes ignored conventional wisdom in the almost three-year military campaign that crushed the Tigers in May 2009, they told an international seminar on Sri Lanka's experience in defeating terrorism.

Military officers from 41 countries are taking part in the three-day seminar organised by the Sri Lanka Army that began Tuesday.

"Troops adopted new tactics, techniques, and procedures," said Chagi Gallage, a major general who spoke on operations in the northern theatre of the war.

Instead of operating in massed columns as in previous campaigns against the Tigers, the army switched to small group tactics, Gallage said.

They also did more night fighting, and operated on a broader front, tactics which confused the Tamil Tigers.

Military operations were designed to impose maxim attrition on the Tigers and reduce exposure of the army's own troops to enemy fire to avoid casualties, Gallage said.

Troops also sometimes delayed their advance to avoid civilian casualties like they did at the Catholic shrine of Madhu in the island's north-west, said Jagath Dias, another major general who commanded operations in the north.

"We liberated Madhu by avoiding direct enagment for almost two months. Troops cut off the terrorists by sealing routes and enforced a siege. The capture of Madhu was achieved with no damge to the shrine."

Sri Lanka's military has been accused of not doing enough to avoid civilian casualties and of war crimes, charges that have been rejected by the government.
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