Paradise Afire Volume 3: The Sri Lankan War 1990-1994

Published: March 25th, 2021     
Product Image
Author: Adrien Fontanellaz
Reviewed by: Paul R. Brown - IPMS# 24085
ISBN #: 97818913118624
Other Publication Information: Softcover, 70 pages, 18 color profiles, 50+ black & white photographs and maps, published 2020
Price: $29.95
Product / Stock #: Vol 17
Product provided by: Casemate Publishers

The book is volume 17 of Helion & Company's Asia@War series and, as noted in the title, is the third volume of its coverage of the civil war in Sri Lanka. The book includes over 50 black and white photographs, both of government and LTTE forces, 7 pages of color profiles depicting the aircraft, ships and vehicles of the security forces as well as the uniforms of both military and LTTE participants. There are also several maps of some of the more significant operations and a color map of Sri Lanka.

Adrien Fontanellaz is a military researcher and author who has written several volumes for Helion & Company. Using official government histories and published autobiographies of some of the leading figures in the Sri Lankan security forces, as well as interviews with some former senior members of LTTE, he has created a good reconstruction of the major events of the Eelam War II and discusses the successes and failures of both sides. The author discusses not only the ground operations conducted by both sides, but also each side's use of the ocean and the development of their respective naval capabilities. As the government only had a few combat capable aircraft and helicopters, while the LTTE did not possess any aircraft and had limited anti-aircraft capabilities, the role of aviation in the conflict was limited to ground support activities and helicopter resupply, troop transport and evacuations.

This volume begins after India withdrew its troops in March 1990 and continues through the end of 1994, the end of the so-called Eelam War II between the Sri Lankan military and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). When the war started, the Sri Lankan security forces were unprepared for such a conflict and many facilities were not only undermanned, but poorly positioned. While in general the security forces were better armed than their LTTE opponents, in many cases they were poorly trained in how to use their equipment or lacked sufficient ammunition for sustained operations. When the war began, in many locations, the security forces controlled the area during daylight, but the LTTE controlled it at night. As the security forces increased their size and capabilities, they undertook many operations in LTTE controlled areas attempting to break the LTTE. Some of these operations were highly successful, but others were outright disasters.

Initially the LTTE conducted a standard guerilla type of campaign, harassing government and police units as it gradually increased its capabilities. As the Eelam War continued, the LTTE became bolder and engaged in several more traditional military type operations, in several cases overrunning government positions and in one case capturing a couple of government T-55 tanks. Other operations were failures.

Despite continuing for 4 years, the Eelam War II ended much as it began as a stalemate between the government security forces and the LTTE.

While I vaguely recall hearing about the Sri Lankan civil war over the years, I did not realize how brutal it actually was. The LTTE made it known early in the conflict that it had a no prisoners taken policy and, in several instances, it executed captured police officers and security forces. The author points out that this policy was a double-edged sword for the LTTE as in some cases it caused government forces to break and withdraw early, but in others it resulted in fights to the last man/last bullet. In addition, both sides engaged in atrocities against civilians that they felt were sympathetic to the other side. The author also discusses the LTTE's suicide units, both land based and sea-going.

As I did not know much about the Sri Lankan civil war before reading this book, I found it very interesting, and I have since acquired Volume 2 to read next.

Recommended. Thank you to Casemate Publishing for the review sample.

  • 2 personnel
    2 personnel
  • 3 aircraft profiles 1
    3 aircraft profiles 1
  • 5 Army vehicle profiles
    5 Army vehicle profiles
  • 6 Army armor
    6 Army armor
  • 7 rebel boats photos
    7 rebel boats photos
  • 8 Ship profiles
    8 Ship profiles
  • 9 map 1
    9 map 1

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