Speed is the essence of war. Take advantage of the enemy's unpreparedness; travel by unexpected routes and strike him where he is defenceless. In theory and practice Special Forces,on land, sea or from air are always a force multiplier that would deter the enemy to an extent of forcing its fighting mechanism self-defence rather than an offensive.one Special Forces are able to confuse the enemy in unprecedented manner in clandestine operations disturbing the enemy's war fighting capability and opening operational advantage to conventional forces. Navy realized the value of special operations in the early stages of confronting separatist terrorism that devastated the country for over three decodes.
Due to frequent resistances and various Asymmetric tactics near the naval troop deployed areas in country, the Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) recognized the imminent need to raise a specially trained counter terrorist team and realized the value of special operations in the early stages of confronting separatist terrorism that devastated the country for over three decades. Although not formerly commissioned, the urge for action of few young and eccentric officers and men who were more than willing to put themselves in the harms' way at enemy's door step,was evident in the early confrontation with the LTTE. Among them, Lieutenant Commander Shanthi Bahar had been a pioneer to lead a small team of specially trained sailors seeking the LTTE hideouts in jungles and thickets of Trincomalee. His untimely death in action delayed the foundation of a naval special force by many years.
The LTTE grew from a guerrilla group to quasi-conventional force and Sea Tigers to a considerable strength. The LTTE and its war fighting mechanism solely depended on the Sea Tiger force for survival, first the logistic train from high seas kept open in spite of determined offensive of the Navy. Secondly, Sea Tigers have been an irritable distraction that lodged Navy's resources to keep sea lines of communication with the Northern Peninsula. Thirdly, Sea Tigers mastered asymmetric warfare with suicide boats, divers, mines and littoral attacks in coastal waters and lagoons
The Special Boat Squadron (SBS) was formerly inaugurated on 18th January 1993 at SLNS Elara in Karainagar, the major naval base in Jaffna Peninsula in early nineties. The first batch of aspiring two officers and 76 sailors, mostly recruits and few Leading rates, joined on voluntary commitment to form the future elite commando of the Navy. Nevertheless, the toll of training attrition was high as only the strong remained and weak fade away right throughout the rigorous training process. Finally, both officers and 25 of ratings survived to form nucleus of Special Boat Squadron under the charismatic leadership of Lieutenant Commander RC Wijegunaratne. Two subalterns, Lieutenant Channa Jayasinghe and Sub Lieutenant SW Gallage were willing and dedicated officers who would dare the impossible to strike enemy as it had proven again and again in small group raids they did during their stints Moreover SBS developed training on special boat tactics to fight in brown waters and coastal shallows. Sooner the squadron grew up into a versatile force capable of covert and overt operations on land and sea. Capacity building and rigorous training made the force capable of clandestine waterborne entry and even air mobile to operate deep in the enemy controlled land.The versatility includes pre assault special missions in amphibious landing and small boat tactics to battle with enemy in the close quarter surface combat
The first litmus test on SBS to examine their readiness came even before completion of training to establish amphibious lodgement to reinforce besieged Poonaryn camp. The entire amphibious landing had been a joint affair,though SBS alongside boat crews of in shore patrol craft and dinghies had played a pivotal role in the assault wave under enemy fire.
Starting as a small element by securing significant victories, Special Boat Squadron fought with heavily armed, highly manoeuvrable arrow craft, to fasten the fate of the LTTE until the end of separatist war against LTTE.
The SBS is functioning under the direct command and control of Naval Headquarters, Under Director General Operations who may deploy SBS troops as per the operational requirements. Director Marine Special Forces and Deputy Director Marine Special Forces are to assist the DGO in all operational and training matters. Also DGO is responsible to deploy SBS troops for their classic duties.
Following special tasks are considered as classic role for the SBS
* Support in securing a beach head prior to an amphibious operation.
* Beach reconnaissance.
* Gathering intelligence by observation in enemy controlled to enemy dominated and high risk territories in coastal areas.
* Clandestine operations to destroy enemy personnel, boats or enemy locations/installations/ infrastructure by waterborne infiltrations in such areas.
* Offensive mining, mine clearance and demolition.
* Anti-ship hijack and hostage rescue missions.
* Special small boat operations in littoral and internal waters.
* LRRP operations in deep inland.
* Combat Diving operations.
* Hostage Releasing and Counter Terrorism Operations..
* VIP/VVIP Protection.