Seminar on terrorism opens in Sri Lanka
R. K. Radhakrishnan, in The Hindu, http://www.thehindu.com/news/international/article2064807.ece
The three-day seminar opened on Tuesday with an address by Army Commander Jagath Jayasuriya, detailing the humanitarian operation carried out by the Sri Lankan Army in the final stages of the war. Sri Lanka protected civilians in the face of a ruthless terrorist group using civilians as part of its military strategy, its Army Commander Jagath Jayasuriya said here on Tuesday. “Victory came with many sacrifices… [this is a] saga to be shared with the world. A saga of epic political resolve… National security is no longer confined to the borders as we see in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya,” he said in his opening address on ‘Defeating Terrorism, Sri Lanka Experience,’ organised by the Sri Lankan Army to share its experience in eradicating the LTTE. Calling for a global alliance to defeat terrorism, he said that only such an alliance could succeed. He encouraged countries facing terrorism challenges to face it head on.
India sent three Colonels to take part in the seminar. One more Major from the Indian Army, now attached to theStaffCollegehere, also attended the seminar. A team headed by a Major General representedPakistanwhile a Lieutenant General led theBangladeshdelegation. The LKR 45 million seminar is sponsored to a large extent by two Chinese companies, Chinese Poly technologies and China Electrical and Technologies Corporation.
Gothabaya Rajpaksa spells out Key Factors that led to Military Victory
Defence Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa told delegates attending a seminar in Colombo meant to shareSri Lanka’s experience in defeating terrorism that they could use the forum to question the army about certain allegations that have been levelled against them. “You can use this opportunity to question us on certain allegations,” the Defence Secretary who delivered the keynote address at the seminar said.
Mr.Rajapaksa said the foreign delegates representing 41 countries who are attending the seminar will get to meet many of the field commanders involved in the operations and will also be able to discuss the tactics used to achieve victory.“At a time when so many countries the world over are facing the problems posed by domestic and international terrorism, we believe that sharing the lessons learnt from the Sri Lankan experience in combating terrorist tactics, providing humanitarian assistance and dealing with political and international factors is important,” he said.
The Defence Secretary said the LTTE had grown from a small organization of armed individuals to a large, sophisticated terrorist outfit with very advanced combat capabilities by the time the humanitarian operation began in 2005.“At its height, the LTTE had more than 30,000 battle-hardened cadres; access to large stockpiles of modern armaments, ammunition and equipment; a sophisticated naval wing and a fledgling air wing,” he said. . By 2005, the LTTE also controlled almost a quarter of the country’s territory and nearly two thirds of its coastline. Under an internationally brokered Cease Fire Agreement, the LTTE even maintained the illusion of a state apparatus in the areas under its control,” he added.
The Defence Secretary said that rescuing the hundreds of thousands of innocent Sri Lankans suffering under the fist of the LTTE’s brutal fascism was a key priority of the President when he was elected by the people to office in 2005. “Having a clear, unambiguous aim is absolutely vital, as no successful operation can be launched if any doubt lingers in the minds of the personnel entrusted to achieve it. Several times in the past, the military had pushed forward with great success on many occasions only to be prevented from consolidating these successes to a permanent victory due to external factors,” he said. “In contrast, when our Humanitarian Operation began in 2006, the military understood that the President’s commitment to eradicating terrorism was unshakeable.”
Mr.Rajapaksa also spelled out the various factors that contributed to the success of the Humanitarian Operations. Among these he said the most important and critical factor was the President’s decision to expand the Armed Forces.
“The President had the will and courage to take the difficult decision to expand the military to the size required to win an extended campaign in the North and East whilst also protecting the rest of the country. The combined strength of the Armed Forces in 2005 was nowhere near the number that was actually required for a serious campaign to eradicate the LTTE. This fact was clearly understood by the President, and the decision was made to expand the strength of the military.” Between the end of 2005 and the end of 2009, the Army’s 9 Divisions were increased to 20; its 44 Brigades expanded to 71 and its 149 Battalions increased to 284. This was a large, but essential expansion that increased the number of Army personnel from 120,000 in 2005 to over 200,000 by the end of the Humanitarian Operation, he said.
The Navy and the Air Force were also expanded significantly, and they were also given tasks beyond their classic role. Many of their personnel were entrusted with holding ground ein jungles, and also given the responsibility of securing main supply routes. He said that 42,000 member strong Civil Defence Force too played a significant role in protecting villages from LTTE attacks during the course of the Humanitarian Operations. He also said that ensuring zero civilian casualties was an overriding priority for everyone involved in the humanitarian operations, from the political leadership to the military personnel on the field of battle.