Taming of the Tigers: An MWI Contemporary Battlefield Assessment of the Counterinsurgency in Sri Lanka   [open pdf - 2MB]

From the Executive Summary: "This report examines one of the few militarily successful counterinsurgencies of the modern era: The 1983-2009 war against the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka. We find that under select conditions, the application of brute force to isolate and kill off the senior leadership of an insurgency can lead to a decisive military victory and prevent a recidivism to violence. This report also argues that Sri Lanka's military 'learned' over the course of the three-decade war, and that by the final phase from 2005 to 2009, it was successful in updating its force structure, splitting the opposition, and using small-unit tactics to exploit the Tigers' control of territory and decision to fight conventionally after 2005. The Tigers applied 'hybrid-warfare' techniques, at times fighting a guerrilla war, carrying out terrorism strikes including suicide bombs, and deploying a conventional army, navy, and rudimentary air force. Over the course of two weeks in July- August 2016, a team of cadets and faculty from the United States Military Academy at West Point toured the battlefields of northern and eastern Sri Lanka, studying the terrain and tactics of fighters on both sides of the conflict, and interviewing scores of military leaders, Tamil opposition figures, journalists, activists, and victims of the civil war."

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