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It's The Technology, Stupid!
by James Dunnigan
January 25, 2010

A year ago, two decades of civil war in Sri Lanka came to an end. Now the military leaders are becoming more open about what helped them most in winning. A former navy commander has admitted that it was a lot of new technology, in the last few years of fighting, that played a major role in cutting government shipping losses (to enemy suicide boat attacks), and keeping the separatist rebels from bringing in weapons and munitions to the island nation.

The navy not only got new ships, but much better ones. In particular , six Israeli Dvora patrol boats, armed with U.S. 30mm autocannon enabled the navy to outrange rebel boats, and destroy suicide bomb boats before they could reach their target. Israeli night vision equipment enabled the navy to foil night operations, which the rebels favored. The navy bought Bulgarian 23mm autocannon and 14.5mm machine-guns for existing patrol boats. Canada sold the navy a long range radar, that could spot ships 400 kilometers out at sea. This made it possible to track the larger rebel weapons smuggling ships as they made their way to the coast, where cargo was transferred to smaller craft, for the final run to rebel controlled beaches. A British firm provided sonar equipment to protect ports from terrorist attack.

The army and air force also bought lots of foreign weapons and equipment, but the navy situation was unique. By halting the rebel use of coastal waters, both for moving troops and supplies, and attacking government shipping, the enemy was unable to replace weapons and munitions used in the final battles. It was a war to the last bullet, and often, near the end, the enemy troops didn't have any.

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