the Blacklight Arrow

David Blacker’s Blog

An Incomplete SL Army Order of Battle for Mullaitivu

20090109_eps14

OK, this is the order of battle for the SL Army divisions tooling up for Mullaitivu. I have also included the 53rd and 55th Divisions on the Peninsula, because they’ve been involved in the strategic flanking actions earlier this month, though it’s unlikely they’ll see combat at Mullaitivu. I’ve left out the new Task Force 5, because it’ll be securing the A9, and won’t be used against the Mullaitivu triangle. For divisional positions, please see this map. This order of battle is still incomplete, and may have some errors. If anyone can correct or add to it, please do so via the comment section. Try and include a link that can verify the authenticity of the info if possible.

Disclaimer: All of this info has been gathered by analysing reports and articles available to the public.

53rd Division – Brig Kamal Guneratna

533 Bde (divisional reserve) – Col Jayanath Jayaweera
1st Gajabas – Lt Col Sanath Aluvihare
5th Vijayabahu Infantry – Maj Kalpa Sanjeewa

534 Mechanized Inf Bde – Col HJ Senevirathne
1st Mechanized Infantry – CO unidentified
2nd Mechanized Infantry – CO unidentified
3rd Mechanized Infantry -CO unidentified

Airmobile Bde – Col Shantha Dissanayake
1st Vijayabahu Infantry – Maj Sanath Dissanayake
5th Gemunu Watch – CO unidentified

Supporting artillery, engineers, and special forces (specific units unidentified).

55th Division – Brig Prasanna de Silva

551 Bde (divisional reserve) – Lt Col Wasantha Abrew
1st Light Infantry – Maj Chandana Ranaweera
1st Gemunu Watch – Lt Col Ajantha Wijesuriya

552 Bde – Col Kapila Vidurapola
7th Vijayabahu Infantry – Lt Col Deepal Pussella
8th Vijayabahu Infantry – Lt Col Nalin Koswatte

553 Bde – Col Mahinda Weerasuriya
4th Gemunu Watch – Maj Upul Senarath
6th Light Infantry – Maj Nalin Jayawardene

Armoured Bde – CO unidentified
Units under command unidentified

Supporting artillery and engineers (specific units unidentified).
Amphibious warfare squadron of the 2nd Special Forces.

Task Force 1 (58th Division) – Brig Shavendra Silva

581 Bde – CO unidentified
9th Gemunu Watch – Lt Col Lal Chandrasiri
10th Gajabas – Maj Janaka Udaowita
11th Light Infantry – Lt Col Kithsiri Ekanayake

582 Bde – CO unidentified
6th/7th Sinha Rifles – Lt Col Kithsiri Liyanage
12th Gemunu Watch – Lt Col Nandana Dunuwila
17th Gemunu Watch – Lt Col Keerthi Kottewatte

583 Bde – Col Suraj Bansarjaya
12th Gajabas – Maj Saliya Amunugama
6th Gemunu Watch – Lt Col Kamal Pinnawala
8th Gemunu Watch – Lt Col Vajira Welagedara

584 Bde (divisional reserve) – CO unidentified
3 unidentified infantry battalions

Supporting:
Bravo Group, 1st Commandos
Alpha Group, 2nd Commandos
5th Armoured – Lt Col Nihal Samarakoon
15th Artillery
9th Signals
Engineer elements

57th Division – Maj Gen Jagath Dias

571 Bde – Lt Col Harendra Ranasinghe
9th Gajabas – Lt Col Chandana Somaweera
4th Sinha Rifles – Maj Iran Lokuketagoda
12th Sinha Rifles – Lt Col Indrajith Bandara

572 Bde – Lt Col Dhammika Jayasundera
3rd Gajabas – CO unidentified
9th Vijayabahu Infantry – CO unidentified
One unidentified infantry battalion

573 Bde (divisional reserve) – CO unidentified
3 unidentified unfantry battalions

574 Bde – Lt Col Senaka Wijesuriya
8th Light Infantry – Lt Col Epsitha Dissanayake
10th Light Infantry – Maj Samantha
16th Sinha Rifles – Maj Dhammika Dissanayake

Supporting artillery, engineers, and special forces (specific units unidentified, but believed to include two Special Forces squadrons).

Task Force 3 (battlefield reserve) – GOC unidentified

632 Bde – Lt Col Subhasana Welikala
18th Vijayabahu Infantry – CO unidentified
20th Light Infantry – CO unidentified

Other brigades and battalions unidentified.

Task Force 2 – Brig Ralph Nugera
Two brigades and seven infantry battalions, including
6th Vijayabahu Infantry – CO unidentified
8th Sinha Rifles – CO unidentified.

Task Force 4 – Col Nishantha Wanniarachchi

642 Bde – Lt Col BT Hathnagoda
14th Sinha Rifles – Maj USNK Perera
Other infantry battalions unidentified.

Other brigades and battalions unidentified.

59th Division – Brig Nandana Udawatte

591 Bde – Col Aruna Ariyaratne
9th Sinha Rifles – Lt Col Janaka Ariyaratne
12th Light Infantry – CO unidentified
14th Gajabas – CO unidentified

592 Bde – Lt Col Maneesha Silva
Battalions unidentified

593 Bde – Lt Col Jayantha Gunaratne
7th Gemunu Watch – Lt Col Chaminda Lamahewa
14th Vijayabahu Infantry – CO unidentified
15th Light Infantry – CO unidentified

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January 14, 2009 - Posted by | War | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

27 Comments »

  1. Hi David,as ex forces did you take part in combat EPS or anywhere else?

    I was a kid in jaffna in 1990 when the old dutch fort was under siege and the army held on for 2-3 months cold see the battle as planes were dropping parcels to the troops and could hear lot of fighting daily as we were living about 2.5 miles away from that area

    did u also serve there? know anyone who served there?

    It would be great if you can write up about that battle for jaffna fort as there is not much info on the internet,you could end up a good author one day dude

    also wondering if there were any tamil army officers when you served or any other armed forces for that matter (barring old thomian wng cmdr pakianathan),are there any tamils in the armed forces now? i know there were many before the 80’s and in the 80’s many of them were bumped off by the militants and many resigned on their own after 83 riots

    dude you should seriously consider writing a book like Cornelius Ryan or Anthony Beevor

    Comment by citizen lanka | January 14, 2009 | Reply

  2. Hi, Citizen. Yes, I was at EPS in ’90 and ’91, but never at the Jaffna Fort. The fort was held by men of my regiment, and yes, I knew a few of them. I did have some relatives in Jaffna at that time too (I’m Tamil on my mother’s side).

    There were a couple of Tamil officers in the Army, but very high-ranking, who had joined in the ’60s. Maj Gen Thurairajah, who retired as the head of the Army Medical Services in the late ’90s, and Maj Gen Devanayagam who was tragically killed by his son in ’91.

    It’s very hard to write military histories while the war continues, as access is very restricted. Maybe one day.

    Comment by David Blacker | January 14, 2009 | Reply

  3. Hi,

    so when you were in the army did you face any sort of indiferance/harrasment/sarcasm from the other guys when they found out that your half tamil???

    werent your relatives harrassd by the tigers coz you were in the army?

    but arent there any tamil officers in the army now??? during the for seige there were tamil policemen fighting from inside the fort werent they?

    re:jaffna fort,when the besieged troops were relived in 1990,the govt news said that the army did capture the surrounding area like the Post office and the SLT building (i hope you the geography of the area) was that true??? as there was no electricity due to fighting we had no access to TV news,just radio news and the local grapevine and the millitants vehemently denied that the army came from the islands to rescue the troops trapped inside.

    why did they withdraw from the fort to give the millitants much needed propaganda

    during the famous/infamous ceasfire time i made a trip to jaffna and saw the fort from outside as could not go inside,been to that area when i was a kid in early 80’s before this mess started

    well when all this mess is over you should write a book man it will be a bestseller,you are a damm good writer too ,btw I have read all of Anthony beevors books and also cornelius ryans on the offensive in holland and the battle for berlin in WW2.

    yeah I know abt major devanayagams family as they are kind of related to us in some way,damm tragic incident huh,bugger (son) was into drugs and devil worship!

    Comment by citizen lanka | January 15, 2009 | Reply

  4. I didn’t really advertise the fact I was half Tamil, and those who knew didn’t make a big deal of it.

    No, my relatives were distant ones, and the Tigers probably don’t keep track of individual soldiers.

    I doubt there are many Tamil officers in the Regular Force of the SL Army. There might be some in the National Guard.

    Yes, there were policemen in the Jaffna Fort as well, and I guess some might have been Tamil.

    Yes, some of the areas surrounding the fort were temporarily seized by the Army while the fort was being evaccuated.

    The fort had to be abandoned as it was impossible to resupply it with the Tigers holding Jaffna town. It was hard enough getting the soldiers out.

    I too have been to Jaffna as a child in the late ’70s, but not since then.

    Comment by David Blacker | January 15, 2009 | Reply

  5. when you were at EPS how was the relationship with the civillians in that area,were there any friendships built? or was the only contact with civillians just checking the Colombo bound buses on the A9?,while living in jaffna almost every year at least 2 months were spent in colombo for school holidays hence i can quite well remember the checkpoints on the road like EPS,Mankulam,Killinochchi etc…and remember the bus companies too like Safety travels,VJS express,KSB tours.since I was a kid I wasnt requeired to get off the buses but I wanted to get off as it made me feel a big man!!! heheeheheheh,more than once soldiers patted my head and told my dad that i dont need to get off at all and sent me back to the bus!

    i do remember at times some english epeaking officers did try to flirt with some women passengers at times and it was reciprocated by the ladies sometimes too.

    im curious to know ,what was the reaction from your family when you told them that you wanted to join the army when there was a war on esp givne your ethnic background,which part of jaffna was your mother from,our family left jaffna for good in 1990

    Comment by citizen lanka | January 15, 2009 | Reply

  6. I second Citizen Lanka’s claim David. You should write more military related stuff.
    Many of the ‘Been There Done That’s’ out there writing their autobiographies and ‘faction’ are not natural writers and getting someone else to ghost write does not bring out the correct ‘flavour’ if you know what I mean.

    In my humble opinion guys like Duncan Flaconer or Chris Ryan cannot hold a candle to you :)) Andy McNab’s a whole lot better, but with almost 20 books, his style has become a bit predictable.(Yes I know I am comparing you to more international writers, but if opportunity arises you should put your stuff out there!!)

    With regard to Tamil Officers in the SLDF, Squadron Leader Ravi Arunthawanathan comes to mind.He was a pilot in the SLAF all throughout the war in the ’80s and probably the early ’90s. His family (Father tamil and Ex Police, Mother Sinhala) were neighbours when I was a kid.

    Here in Swiss, I met a guy who was a policeman in his native Killinochchi. He told me that his brother was a Policeman also and was later killed by the LTTE. Tragically,he also passed away a couple of months ago from a heart attack.

    Comment by Asanga | January 15, 2009 | Reply

  7. Thanks for the confidence, Asanga & Citizen. I hope to keep writing.

    Citizen, we never saw any civilians around EPS.

    My family’s reaction was like that of any family who’s son wanted to go off to war. Ethnicity didn’t really play a part.

    Comment by David Blacker | January 15, 2009 | Reply

  8. no civillians? i assume when you served at EPS the A9 must have been closed after the 1990 war for that to happen,otherwise you would have at least come across travellers who use that route

    anyway how was camp life??? must have been bloody boring huh,nothing to do,no socialising with any members of the opposite gender and on top of it the danger of it all.

    did you serve in any other places?

    Comment by citizen lanka | January 15, 2009 | Reply

  9. Yeah a combination of boredom, excitement, and fear.

    Comment by David Blacker | January 15, 2009 | Reply

  10. DB, Lasanthas last editorial is extremely chilling as it speaks of his upcoming death, its as if he had planned for it in advance or something..do u think the government or the unp is responsible for his death?

    Comment by Renegade! | January 16, 2009 | Reply

  11. By the way, on the warfront are we using the 3 Mi-35N dedicated night-combat choppers?.or are they “rusting in pieces”, like the SAAR-4 missile boat?

    Comment by Renegade! | January 16, 2009 | Reply

  12. Renegade, I have no idea who killed Lasantha, but I think that editorial of his has been heavily re-written by someone to get maximum mileage.

    Comment by David Blacker | January 17, 2009 | Reply

  13. I know of one Senior Tamil Officer in the Army who is not on combat duty. It’s not prudent to discuss names on the net.

    Former Cricketer Siriparam served in the Navy for a short while. When my ship was in Trinco in 1986 he came onboard and polished a bottle of scotch without any problem. He then athletically climbed down a rope ladder, got onto a dingy and headed for his gunboat. Few hours later he contacted the ship on VHF and wanted to know the names of Officers of our ship. This was to present them with empty shells with the names engraved. I thought it was very sweet of him. However, my Captain had reservations about names being passed on VHF and the shells never came through.

    I met him again in 1990 at Beach Wadiya, where he is supposed to have tied the knot with his English wife. By then he had left the Navy and did not want to talk about his days in the Navy.

    Comment by Captain | January 19, 2009 | Reply

  14. I fully agree with David’s comments on “And then they came for me”.

    Comment by Captain | January 19, 2009 | Reply

  15. Hi. I’ve have a question regarding the status of captured LTTE cadres. Are they considered as POW’s? Legally, do they have any rights according to International Law regarding conflicts (Geneva convention, etc)? I thought that theoretically, both sides had to abide by the geneva conventions?

    Comment by mew_lobo | January 19, 2009 | Reply

  16. Yes, combatants taken by either side are considered POWs under the Geneva Conventions.

    Comment by David Blacker | January 19, 2009 | Reply

  17. @captain yes its better not discuss names on the net esp those still in service.

    I think in 2002/3 if i was not mistaken one of the acting commanders near muhamalai was a tamil if im not mistaken

    @ David,mate jokers in some Defence blogs are tarnishing ur name like hell,pathetic bastards i guess

    Comment by citizen lanka | January 20, 2009 | Reply

  18. David mate, Just curious abt. ur reaction to all the firworks up north & abt Epass capture etc ? Do ya think SLA wil get VP ?

    Comment by Rajarata | January 23, 2009 | Reply

  19. Who can say, really? I didn’t think the US would get Saddam. They still haven’t got OBL. I hope we get VP, but I doubt anyone can predict that outcome.

    Comment by David Blacker | January 23, 2009 | Reply

  20. If I’m not mistaken Devanayagam was a tennis player and a real gentleman. You would never think he was military except for fact he came to tennis courts in uniform!

    Ravi Arunthawanathan reached the rank of Air Vice Marshall and Chief of Staff – thus making him the most senior officer of Tamil origin in the armed forces since conflict begin.

    Then there was the infamous Pakianathan who crashed the Antonov in 1995 killing over 50 people.

    Comment by edithara | January 23, 2009 | Reply

  21. Hey David,

    Good work on the map, can you make the map bigger ? all the divisions/arrows seem bigger than current map

    and move the 53rd to mankulam and the 55th to chundikulam please ?

    can you insert a cartoon of p running away towards the sea and getting eaten by a shark?

    Comment by N.i. | January 24, 2009 | Reply

    • NI, the interactive map isn’t maintained by me. I just linked to it.

      Comment by David Blacker | January 24, 2009 | Reply

  22. How frightfully embarrassing for me…do forgive my ignorance…about the shark matter…is there no way of arranging it..perhaps we can bait p’karan onto the beach with a large canister of diabetic medicine and then pull it all the way into the sea…you have a large shark ready…and bam!! everyone’s happy…if you need to be paid for your services…you’re welcome to sell the shark afterwards to a chinese restaurant

    Comment by N.i. | January 24, 2009 | Reply

    • Thanks, NI, I’ll pass your idea on to the DMI.

      Comment by David Blacker | January 24, 2009 | Reply

  23. Davidmate, why no any ltte casualties if SLA capturing all these real estate ?
    Also,where can all these ltte head honcho’s go Sosai,Theepan,Nadesan,PAmman & Bhanu ? last,why,after all these years of fighting,what has made the differance to SLA’s success in the battle field ? Thanks mate !
    BTW : This RAW in Chennai rumour abt. spiriting VP…true ?

    Comment by Rajarata | January 28, 2009 | Reply

  24. I think there are casualties, Rajarata (especially in the 57th and 58th divisional fronts), but no, not in the sort of catastrophic numbers that were hoped for. In other words there hasn’t been a total collapse. The Tigers are taking heavy casualties and retreating, occasionally losing a large number in situ — like the Chilawatte defenders. Also, the fact that no Tiger brass have been captured or killed is worrisome. All of this points to the possibility that the LTTE may have dispersed their most valuable assets to fight another day. There’s going to be a prolonged low-intensity conflict after this phase of the war — though there might be a momentary lull as both sides take stock.

    I think one of the most significant changes within the SL Army has been in doctrine and leadership. Fonseka changed the way the Army fought — making it a true jungle-fighting army. And leadership at all levels has been awarded to men of ability rather than seniority — the SL Army has truly come of age, with experienced infantry and special forces veterans commanding brigades, task forces and divisions. In addition, there’s better inter-force coordination, better basic training, better communication — and very importantly — better recce and intelligence gathering and coordination of both.

    I haven’t heard this RAW story.

    Comment by David Blacker | January 28, 2009 | Reply

  25. @edithara,why do you brand Pakianathan as infamous? didnt you know that aftert he 2 Avros were shott down in APril 1995 (including the one piloted by Shirantha Gunathileke) none of the AF pilots were willing to do the Colomb-Pallay run and the very 1st flight was manned by Pilot Pakianathan,just because his plane was shot down/sabotaged/mech failiure and it carashed does not mean he crashed it on purpose (because he was a Tamil)like what the extremists tried to make it out,sadly its this type of mentality that has makde this war come like this

    Comment by citizen lanka | February 3, 2009 | Reply


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