The Basic concepts   according to ancient text  Athasastra which was available to the Sinhala kings, is presented below, with the aim of finding out which of them were followed by them of so Who, when, why  and how successfully  these in were applied in the over 1500 battles recorded in our history?. How these basic concepts compare with those adopted by modern tacticians is  an equally interesting. This is an attempt start a dialogue amoung the readers for them to join by sending your valuable comments and experience.

The ARTHSASTRA according to LN Rangarajan the would-be Conqueror[ Our kings] shall judge the relative strengths and weaknesses of the following aspects of waging a war, as applicable to him to his enemy, before starting on a military expedition:
the place [of operations;-

“ A Dog on land can pull a Crocodile while [on water?] a Crocodile can pull Dog ,. Kautilya disagrees. Power, Place and Time are interdependent”.

the Time of the military engagement;

A Crow can kill an Owl in day-time while an Owl can kill a Crow at night…………..
the season for marching [towards the battle ground]
when to mobilise different types of forces;
– the possibility of revolts and rebellions in the rear;
the likely losses, expenses and gains and
the likely dangers.
lf, [on balance, after giving due weight to the different factors as explained below}. the conqueror is superior, the campaign shall be undertaken otherwise not,


The three constituents of power are:
1,Power of Counsel
2.Correct Judgment;

“ An Archer letting off an Arrow may or may not kills a single man, but a wise man using his intellect can kill even reaching unto the very womb”.- Kautiliya

3, Might, i.e. the actual strength of the fighting forces; enthusiasm and energy.

The three are not equally important. sheer military strength is more important than enthusiasm (enthusiasm does not compensate for the lack of military strength) and the Power of Judgment is superior to Might. After discussing place and time, Kautilya holds that power, place and Time have to be considered as interdependent.
Some earlier Teachers hold enthusiasm to be more important than might. They argue so long as a king is himse if brave, strong, healthy and expert in the use of weapons, he can defeat with only the army to help him, even a mightier king.
Kautilya disagrees. A mighty king, by his very might, can overpower -an energetic one; for, a mighty army, richly endowed with elephants, chariots and instruments of war can move unhindered anywhere.. Further, a mighty king can get the help of another energetic one or he can hire or buy heroic fighters. [It is known that even women, children, the lame and the blind have conquered world after winning over or buying heroic fighters with their might[9.1 , 2-9]
Some teachers hold Might to be more important then the power of good counsel and judgment. [They argue] however good the Kings analysis and judgment, he thinks but empty thoughts if he has no Power. Just as a drought dries out the planted seeds, good judgment without power produces no fruit.

Kautilya disagrees. The power of good counsel, [good analysis good judgment is superior [to sheer military strength]. Intelligence [knowledge of] the science of politics are the two eyes of a king . Using these, a king can, with a little effort, arrive at the best judgment on the means, [the four methods of conciliation, sowing dissension , as well as the various tricks, stratagems, clandestine practices ; and occult means [described in this treatise) to overwhelm even who are mighty and energetic. {9.1}
Thus, the three components of power, – enthusiasm, military might and the power of counsel and Judgment – are in ascending order of importance . Hence, a king who is superior, as compared to his enemy, in an item later in the list, out-manoeuvres his adversary.


1.Mantra Yuddha– War by Counsel, an exercise of diplomacy when the King in weaker or in no condition to engage in the battle.
2. Prakasayuddha– Open war or set piece battle stating Place and Time.
3. Kutayuddha– is concealed war and refers to Upajapa or psychological warfare including treachery in enemy camp.
4, Gudayuddha– Clandestine warfare is using covert methods, assassinations, the ancient King’s use of agent double agents, Allies, Vassal kings, Tribal chiefs and Suborned friends and Supporters of the enemy.

In order to be strictly in accordance with dharma the Place- Time must be specified beforehand.


A king shall engage in a declared open fight when
(i) his army is superior,
(ii) his instigation [in the enemy’s camp] have been successful.
(iii) all precautions against dangers have been taken and
(iv) the Terrain is suitable for him


If the above conditions are not satisfied, he shall use deception as described below. The enemy shall be attacked when
(i) his forces are are suffering from a calamity,
(ii) his forces are unprotected, and
(iii) he is on less suitable terrain compared to the attacker.


Some tactics suggested by ancient text is given below, with the view of comparison of methods in battle by the sinhala kings,  in the brief descriptions given in our ancient ola leaf manuscripts

A. The enemy may be attacked even if he is on suitable terrain, provided that the attacker has the support of all the constituents [of his state]. [In such a case], the attacker shall lure the enemy on to unsuitable terrain by pretending that his own unreliable, alien or jungle force have suffered a rout. He shall [first] break the compact battle array of the [pursuing] enemy using elephants and then attack with his own unbroken army. {from 10.3.3-6}
B. Or, the enemy’s army may be attacked in the front [with a part of his forces] and when it is staggering or has turned its back, attacked in the rear with elephants and horses. Or, the enemy’s army may be attacked in the rear [with a part of the forces and when it is staggering or has turned its back, attacked with the best of the forces. Similar tactics may also be employed for the two flanks. The attack may also be directed towards where the enemy’s forces are weak or unreliable.{from 10.3.7-10}
The general principle is, if frontal attack is un-favourable, the attack shall be from the rear and vice versa; similarly, if attack on one flank is un-favourable, it shall be made from the other. {from 10.3.11-13}


A. The enemy’s forces shall be made tired by attacking with unreliable, alien or jungle troops and then-attacked by the conqueror with his own fresh troops.
B. The enemy may be made to believe that he has won by a seeming defeat of [the conqueror’s] unreliable troops, then his forces shall be ambushed by the conqueror’s [reliable] forces from safe positions. A vigilant conqueror may strike at an enemy who is negligent [about protection] while his forces are plundering a caravan, animal herds, a camp or transport.
C. Alternatively, the conqueror may conceal a strong force behind a weak force and when the weak force has penetrated the enemy ranks, reinforce the attack with the strong one.
D.The enemy’s warriors may be lured into an ambush by tempting them with cattle [for seizure] or wild animals [for hunting].
E. The enemy’s warriors may be kept awake by night forays and then attacked during the day when they are drowsy or asleep
F.The enemy’s sleeping warriors can also be attacked with elephants, whose feet have been covered in leather [to make their passage silent or as protection against dogs].
G. If the enemy forces are tired after making preparations for the battle in the forenoon, they shall be attacked in the afternoon.
H. The ranks of the enemy’s horses and elephants may be broken by letting loose frightened cattle, buffaloes or camels, which are made to run helter-skelter with contraptions which make a lot of noise making items tied to their backs. The conqueror shall make sure his own ranks are not broken.
I. Any force which has to fight facing the sun or wind shall be attacked.
J. It has been mentioned earlier that the conqueror shall attack the enemy when he suffers from any of the difficulties against which should have taken appropriate protective measures. These are also the occasions for using deceptive tactics. {10.3.14-23,25}

A desert, forest, narrow path, marsh, mountain, valley, uneven ground, boat, cattle, cart-array of the army, mist and night are opportunities for ambushes. {10.3.2}.


Two types.
1. Attrition warfare is a military strategy in which a belligerent attempts to win a war by wearing down the enemy to the point of collapse through continuous losses in personnel and materiel. The war will usually be won by the side with greater such resources.[1] The word attrition comes from the Latin root atterere to rub against, similar to the “grinding down” of the opponent’s forces in attrition warfare. WEKIPEDIA.Example the trench Warfare of WW I.


2. Maneuver warfare, a military strategy that has taken a prominent place in modern military thought, many of the same challenges faced today’s military commanders are similar to those of the ancient world. The concepts of maneuver warfare, while valuable individually, are most powerful when applied in an integrated fashion. War in modern context has three levels
a. Physical level -It is matching of Firepower, weapons technology, troop strength and Logistics.
b. Psychological Level-It involve intangibles such as Morale, Leadership and Courage.
c. At Analytical level– It challenges the commander to asses complex battlefield situations, make effective decisions and formulate tactically superior plans to carry out these decisions.

Four Human & Environmental factors of War-fighting,

a. Frictions. – the Manual states that “Friction is to Make the simple difficult and difficult impossible”. The obvious source of Friction is the Enemy, but results from natural forces such as Terrain or the weather, internal forces such as lack of Planning and Coordinating.

b. Uncertainty– about environment factors, about enemy intentions and capabilities clouds any Commanders /decision maker’ judgment and prohibits the optimal deployment of own resources.

c. Fluidity. The event s taking place in Battle field, these event depend on or and shaped by those events that preceded it and is the forerunner of the events that follows

d.The Fog of war– the combatants has to adapt to these changing situation or this disorder.  But plan fails, instructions and information will be unclear and or misinterpreted, communications fail, and mistakes and unforeseen events will be commonplace. This competitive situation may deteriorate or if lucky turn in your favour as time progresses.
It is said even functioning or better word is surviving in such a situation is a major challenge, but the Military Commanders are trained “To more than Survive”, they must prevail, and successful leaders make best use of opportunities [ however viable] to his own advantage, Instead of been undermined by disorder, successful military commanders turn friction, UN-certainty and Fluidity against the enemy to generate disorder in his ranks, ideally creating a situations in which the enemy simple cannot cope.

In the battles against LTTE Ellam war I, II  and III, we were in Camps with FDLs ,from where we dominated land, LTTE had no fixed camps, they abandoned these T/camps and fled in most cases when  ever we attacked.Why so, what went wrong. In Vietnam US had same problems??. Did we adopt a slightly better form of WWI tactics while LTTE used ? Maneuver warfare to a certain degree?

How many of our camps did LTTE attack and succeed, what type of warfare they adopted or did they use.

How many LTTE camps we destroyed?

,In Ellam war IV In Wanni theater and perhaps the last attack in East. LTTE should and fought in FDL’s and Bund cum ditch tactics of WWI, they too turned towards Attrition warfare of sorts.

The SF and Commandos and Infantry used a special concept of Maneuver warfare and beat LTTE at their own game?

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