The Defence Column

11th August 1996

A premature operation determined to go on

By Our Defence Correspondent

Sri Lankaís military never shows haste in planning an offensive. The much-speculated battle for Wanni was not expected to

As the battle promises, fierce fighting was seen on the first day when at lest 30 soldiers were killed while inflicting heavy losses to the enemy.

The military think-tank would have to harness all available resources

From a strategic point of view, Sathjaya was already late in getting under way, and when it finally started, it was a good calculated decision. Yet, practically, the Army was hardly equipped for a battle of such magnitude as seen in the first phase of Sathjaya.

The statement of Deputy Defence Minister, General Anuruddha Ratwatte, shows the traditional lackadaisical approach to responsibility by the government in power, but as well as the resilience and determination of the government which had shown a genuine interest in searching for a concrete solution to the bloody war.

The governmentís bold attempts to talk peace to the stubborn LTTE saved the day for Sri Lanka as it dramatically changed the international opinion in favour of Sri Lanka. Unsuccessful as expected, President Chandrika Kumaratunga ordered a historic counter-strategy, taking the battle to the Tiger heartland. The military was enjoying one of its most successful periods, when the pundits bungled it.

Still Mullaitivu was ignored. Senseless chopping of the censor saw this correspondentís analysis of what went wrong in Mullaitivu being butchered beyond recognition. The accurate figures of troops and civilians stationed at the Mullaitivu base at the time were given in this account - but chopped. Last week, Gen. Ratwatte announced the details - accurate as was in our report.

The nation is now kept in suspense and the rumour mill is working overtime. Nobody seems to know what goes on beyond the enemy lines. Even the families of soldiers in the frontline are left in anguish. Today, itís our war. Tomorrow, nobody will care.

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