Special Operations: The Deadly Mahasohon Brigade

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September 4, 2007: In Sri Lanka, one of the more successful units of the army are the "Deep Penetration Units," that go into rebel territory to collect information, and destroy rebel morale and combat power. These are Long Range Recon Patrol (LRRPs). They belong to the Sri Lankan Special Force Regiment, which was established in 1986, as one of many military reforms aimed at dealing with a rebellion by the Tamil minority (18 percent of the population). The Tamils were better organized, and developed a deadly terrorist organization, as well as a strong force of irregulars. The war has been going on since the 1970s, and over 70,000 have died so far.

A LRRP unit, of a hundred or so men, was organized in the 1990s. The units existence and the names of those in it, were kept secret. That's because the LTTE (the Tamil rebel organization) was expert at hunting down and assassinating anyone they wanted (including heads of state and senior military commanders.) Initial operations of the LRRPs were very successful, but LTTE spies found out about the LRRP unit, and who was in it. About 80 members of the LRRP unit were subsequently killed by the LTTE, and the LRRP unit was disbanded. But in the last few years, the LRRP unit, known then, and now, as the "Mahasohon Brigade" has been reformed and is back in action.

Sri Lanka has several Special Forces type units. There are three Army Commando Regiments, three Army Special Forces Regiments (SF), the Navy Special Boat Squadron (SBS), the Air Force Special Force and the Police Special Task Force. All of these are small organizations, full of carefully selected men (and a few women), who train hard, and are usually found heavily involved whenever there is a successful operation against the LTTE. There are no more than 5,000 Special Forces troops, plus some support personnel. The "Mahasohon Brigade" is part of the 3rd Special Forces Regiment. In the last five years, India and the United States has sent many of their own Special Forces troops to Sri Lanka to help train their Sri Lankan counterparts.

 


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