From, “The July-September 2009 issue ‘Indian Defense Review’ carries a detailed article on the Eight Fundamentals of Victory or the ‘Rajapaksa Model’ of fighting terror by V. K. Shashikumar. These are listed as the ‘Rajapaksa Model of fighting terror’ and are described as:

• Unwavering political will

• Disregard for international opinion distracting from the goal

• No negotiations with the forces of terror

• Unidirectional floor of conflict information

• Absence of political intervention to pull away from complete defeat of the LTTE

• Complete operational freedom for the security forces -Let the best men do the task

• Accent on young commanders

• Keep your neighbors in the loop.”

Full article here. I am thinking about moving to Sri Lanka. Want to join me?

Posted by Jim Dolbow in Foreign Policy, Strategy, Tactics

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  • Those concepts have worked for thousands of years, good thing the Sri Lankans remembered them. Nice list with a mix of the Strategic, POL/MIL, and Operational.

    Of note, two of the most important both have to do with senior military and civilian leadership’s ego; “Keep you neighbors in the loop” and “Accent on young commanders.” So much seem to boil down to PSYCH101.

    Interesting that there are always those who think “war is new” and try to forget those fundamentals in their hubris. Our Army had to relearn the fundamentals this decade, as have we all – but the the Army the most.

    Fundamentals also apply to the Naval service, though outside some specialist units, this war we have been untested. Like I always like to ask, where are the Navy’s version of the unarmored HUMVEE, marksmanship, close air support, and COIN?

    They are out there. Before I go get a second cup of coffee – let me see if I can toss out a “Navy Eight Fundamentals” as an entering argument. Some are only 100 years old – some a few thousand. I’ll skip the Strategic for now and look at a mix of Operational and Tactical.

    – Timely, accurate and redundant over the horizon ISR.

    – Organic and layered ASW.

    – Mines will not be where you think they are, but will be where they can’t be.

    – Manning to support damage control while continuing to fight.

    – Independent action by Commanding Officers operating under broad orders.

    – Secure, forward replenishment.

    – Onboard repair and spares capability.

    – Aircraft will do close air support, up close – and need a gun.

    Awwww ….. this is fun. Let me try the Strategic. I’ll just throw out a quick four.

    – Maritime Dominance of your SLOC.

    – Allies augment, but are not critical to success.

    – Rapid adoption of evolving technology on legacy platforms.

    – A fleet is in most danger at its homeport, pierside.

    Every Christmas I think of the last one.

  • Bill, I read this as well and it made so much sense. Sometimes I think only we Americans get this, but now in Afghanistan we are forgetting all the lessons of the past years hard-won by our troops in Iraq. Let this be a helpful reminder to the current administration that there is no substitute for victory, especially in a battle for Civilization!

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Good post, Jim. Sorta makes one wonder how war became a spectator sport in this country akin to MNF.

  • ” Thinking about moving to Sri Lanka”……

    Umm no. I was there in 1983 when USS America pulled into Columbo. Even with out a terrorist threat in the north part of the island, the place is / was a hellhole. Beautiful beaches, fat Germans at the tourist hotels, the only golf course I have ever played where cows were a hazard, and beggars everywhere. And dirty, dirty streets.

    After two days there-we all just said to hell with it and just stayed drunk by the pool.

  • Chuck Hill

    Blockade by land and sea–still important.

    Next time, no cease fires during TET.

  • Byron

    Chuck, don’t forget to round up all the journalists and lock them up till you get the bad guys bagged and tagged 😉

  • Old Air Force Sarge

    Alphonse Karr – “Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.”

    Ecclesiastes 1:9-14 (NIV) – What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again; there is nothing new under the sun.

    Why is that so-called “timeless wisdom” must be re-learned from generation to generation?

  • Old Air Force Sarge

    I beg your pardon, previous post should’ve read:

    Why is it that so-called “timeless wisdom” must be re-learned from generation to generation?

    Apparently my typing skills are operating in a degraded mode.

  • Chuck Hill

    All this really boils down to is a relentless desire to get the job done.

  • Robert Johnson

    I have to say that I’m appalled by the clear ignorance of what has been going on in Sri Lanka evidenced by the comments here. I am even more appalled that a reputable organization like USNI would promote such nonsense–nonsense that bears no resembleance at all to real counterinsurgency doctrine.

    Sri Lanka’s troubles go back at least 50 years, to independence, when the Sinhalese government decided to methodically discriminate against its middle-class Tamil minority. As any real counterinsurgency specialist could tell you, this provoked rebellion and facilitated outside intervention. Expansionist elements in India’s military and intelligence services covertly aremd and supported a truly crazy Tamil group, the LTTE, for years. Then, when the Indian goevernment withdrew its support, LTTE assassinated India’s prime minister, Rajiv Gandhi, with, I believe, the first suicide bombing in recent memory. India then mounted an ill-considered invasion/peace-keeping mission that was supposed to annihilate the LTTE by massively escalating the military force invloved. India lost to the Tamils. Since then, the Tamils and Sinhalese have basically bled each other out until only the more numerous Sinhalese could carry on. Now the Sinhalese extremists are setting up concentration camps that will repeat the errors of the past and start the next cycle of bloodletting.

    Anyone who has actually studied counterinsurgency doctrine knows that insurgency is not a military problem at all–it’s a political problem. You win by winning hearts and minds, by establishing justice and the benefits of civil society. The military only helps that process. If there is no civil society to support, a counterinsurgency war fails before it starts.

  • Grandpa Bluewater


    Relentless is good. Desire is good.

    Skill is essential.

    Logistics is sine que non.

    Add humility, stewardship, intellectual honesty, and intelligence
    (basic and military) and kissing the blarney stone and you may be home free.

    If you “watch your back, Jack.”

  • Chuck Hill

    Frankly the Sri Lankan’s did not have the skill when they started, but because they were determined, they learned along the way.

    I didn’t have a dog in this fight, didn’t know a lot about it, but thought it was kind of neat that the rebels had a navy. Then I went to Paris about the time it was coming to a head. Our hotel fronted on Place de Republic and the Tamils were staging a continuous demonstration including beating on drums 24 hours a day. By the time it was over, I was ready to kill them all personally.

  • virgil xenophon

    Robert Johnson is basically right on the history of the events, but slightly wrong in his analysis. What he says about “solutions” being necessarily being political in nature and solved at the level of the local police/civil administrators holds true only insofar as both sides are “enlightened” enough to handle majority-minority problems with nuanced political administrative skill and it presupposes both sides operating from a basis of good faith and no outsider intervention and/or adj safe areas to which the rebels may withdraw, resupply and regroup.

    Barring the above conditions, a war of attrition is the only lasting solution–especially if both sides have irrevocable differences unlikely to be resolved by negotiations ala the Palestine-Jewish problem. Unless, that is a third party can impose and maintain an enforced peace.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Robert Johnson,

    “I am even more appalled that a reputable organization like USNI would promote such nonsense”

    First, this is an OPEN forum, for the expression of your opinion, mine, and many others.

    Second, USNI providing this forum for discussion is not “promoting” any of it. They don’t provide or approve of opinions and ideas here.

    While you may have some valid points, there are others who see things differently. Your viewpoint and tenor reflect a very Western viewpoint. Other cultures and societies are under no obligation to mimic that. And there are some who have been involved in counterinsurgency who might be of the opinion that some of the methods and tenets of the so-called ‘Rajapaksa Model’ might come in darned handy.

  • Robert,
    I would be careful making blanket statements.

    “… insurgency is not a military problem at all–it’s a political problem. ”

    Civil War historians may have a beef with that statement.

    Each COIN challenge has its own formula. ….. and ditto what URR said.

  • Byron

    Not to mention, Mr. Johnston, the discussion isn’t about how these eight fundementals of victory as discussed here aren’t about how they are applied to Sri Lanka, but instead about the degree of clarity that the tenents are set forth. They apply easily to any military situation, not just those of India/Sri Lanka. These are military men and women discussing a set of military axioms, much the same way a tank commander might study Guderain.

  • UltimaRatioReg

    Hey Skippy-San,

    “After two days there-we all just said to hell with it and just stayed drunk by the pool.”

    I plan to use that line in every trip report I ever have to fill out from this day forward. Your eloquence is exceptional.


    Mr. Johnson may be correct in his opinion that the Tamil situation was a longstanding political affair and thus not a true “military” problem. But most radical extremist groups like the LTTE are not really interested in a peaceable political situation where they would have to share power with other groups–however equitably. Behind a mask of (however reasonable) political claims, they seek an absolute victory and will stop at nothing to achieve it. Same for Hezbollah, for example.

    Look at Marx’s views on European Social Democrats. The old boy was opposed to compromise because he reasoned that a Social Democrat victory would forestall or water down his intended revolution.

  • URR,

    Colombo ranks near the bottom, if not the bottom-of liberty ports I have been to. And I can usually find something good about just about any place so long as it is off the ship. One of our guys did pay a call on Arthur C Clarke though. ( He lived there). We did not believe him till he produced an autographed book.

    I always wanted to sign out a message with the last line being “Send lawyers, guns, and money” myself.

  • Byron

    Skippy, I would have paid good money to have an hour with Mr. Clarke.

  • ewok40k

    Well, a century and half ago, a nation was torn by secessionist movement. Its political leadership was adamant that unity of the state must be preserved, but military faced rebels with shows of ineptidude until able military commanders took over after 3 years of bloodbath. It was the USA. Political leadership of Lincoln and military leadership of Grant is a model emulated in Sri Lanka now…

  • Byron,

    I would have too-but Dan did not tell anybody what he was doing. Just got up, left the ship and was not seen all day. Found out later he had figured out where he lived and showed up uninvited. He said the author was not exactly pleased to see him-but he did not throw him out.

    Now a days they probably would have taken him to mast for not filing a “liberty plan”. But in those days many of us could and did go off exploring on our own.