GOING BACK TO LATE 90s ,WHEN MOST THOUGHT THAT THE LTTE CANNOT BE BEATEN..
By Kamalika Pieris
The government, the public and even our own soldiers thought that the LTTE was a superior fighting force, said Kamal Gunaratne
A senior minister told Kamal Gunaratne, the present Secretary of Defense, you can’t win the war with the LTTE.” When I said that we could, he said: Colonel, your people have been fighting with the LTTE for so long and couldn’t win a battle so that is why we have to go for peace talks.” We also had Service Commanders who said we could never defeat the LTTE and ended up as 4 star Generals, said Kamal Gunaratne.
Since the Army was losing continuously in the battlefronts, in Eelam War II and III, the public also didn’t have much faith in the fighting strength of our soldiers and thought the LTTE was more powerful than us. In all the operations, except for a few operations like Balawegaya, in which we liberated Elephant Pass and Thrivida Balaya, we ended up with disasters, said Kamal Gunaratne.
We had tremendous support from the public whenever we started a battle with the LTTE. The public displayed banners and posters all over the country and also conducted religious ceremonies in temples, kovils and church to bless the armed forces and ensure its safety. However this lasted only for a month or two after an attack. Thereafter the enthusiasm waned and completely disappeared, though the war continued.There was also a certain amount of enduring public support. This was reflected in the creation of welfare committees for the soldiers, on the battle front and well as those who were wounded. Also in the fact that Anuruddha Ratwatte, Deputy Minister of Defence was roundly criticized by everybody for his unsuccessful military operations.
There were other forms of support. Consultant anesthetist Dr. B.S. Perera returned to Sri Lanka from Australia in 1994 and worked at the Military hospital from 1997 to 2000 and donated his full remuneration to the National Defense Fund and the Kobbekaduwa Trust Fund. Two minor employees of Sri Lanka Ports Authority detected two frogmen carrying explosives near the Jaya container Terminal. They alerted authorities and prevented an attack on Colombo Port in 1996..,,,