What a Terrorist War at Sea Would Be Like
Recent threats against US Navy warships on Jihadi websites have rightly caused alarm in naval circles. As a refresher, we look at Sri Lankan lessons from their recent war, who understand what it takes to fight and defeat one of the world’s most feared terror organization, the LTTE Tamil Tigers, in this case the Sea Tigers. Story from the Sri Lanka Daily News:
The main tactic used by the terrorists against naval platforms was that of ‘Swarm Attack’ with craft numbering up to nearly 25-30 in a swarm. These swarms included many suicide craft, and nearly all were converted as suicide craft as the conflict neared the end. The swarms were used to escort terrorists from one place to another along the coastline, to escort logistic craft that were moving from deep sea carrying warlike material and to the shore, and to attack isolated naval craft whilst on patrol. They also resorted to attacking merchant vessels that closed areas that were vulnerable.
The craft used by the terrorists were equipped with radar, GPS, wireless gun communications and night-vision binoculars. The occupants of a standard attack craft numbered nearly 15 with each combatant donned in helmet, body armour and with a personal weapon.
The main weapon, and probably the most formidable used by terrorists at sea was that of the suicide craft. The terrorists in Sri Lanka were masters of this art and had a range of versions that they used for various operations. They range from the disguised fishing boat, to the ship killer which is a large fast-armoured craft, the stealth suicide craft and the semi submersible suicide craft…
The terrorists also built and ran very stealthy semi submersible craft which became a main part of their tactics during the final year and it is plain to anyone how innovative terrorists could be, and lengths they will go through to meet their objectives.
So how do you defeat such a threat? A handful of very large and expensive battleships, few in number because of their high cost? Not quite:
To counter the suicide threat the Sri Lanka Navy after many years of study and various tactical innovations came up with be counter of “Swarm against Swarm,” where the adversary was Out-numbered, Out-gunned, Out-run and not given an opportunity in closing a valuable target. These tactics were effective and were a deterrent to the swarming suicide craft tactic used by the terrorists.
It’s all about control, and in such a situation, the size of your fleet matters much. The Sri Lankans learned to get a tight grip on their enemy and never let up. These are the lessons of war, and a similar situation occurred during the US Civil War, though the principles are constant throughout history. It is extraordinarily effective as proven once again by these little islanders off the coast of India, probably the Western Navies last best hope.