Category Archives: military strategy

Galle Fort built on the Backs of African Slave Labour

Jeevan Thiagarajah in Daily News, 25 March 2019with this title“Slaves built Galle Fort” … …. with highlighting emphasis imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi

The topic of the piece today was triggered by a conversation with the current High Commissioner in Colombo from South Africa, Ruby Marks, who has also posted on her Facebook page this passage, “Calvin Gilfillan, Head of Die Kasteel, affirmed what we suspected-the Dutch conceptualized and supervised, but it was the labour of an estimated 15,000 Africans brought from Portuguese and Dutch colonies, that did the back breaking work of actually building the Fort and the other ones scattered across Sri Lanka. I was shocked by how little was known in Sri Lanka about this. I visited the cramped quarters where the slaves were kept, the dungeons where they were imprisoned, and the cemetery-now a car park where they were buried. And my heart wept.

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Ceylonese Elephants and Labour in Wartime Airfield Construction, 1941-45

Group Captain Kumar Kirinde (SLAF, Retd)

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From Facing Elara to Vanquishing the Tamil Tigers at Nandikadal

Lynn Ockersz, in The Island. reviewing Siriweera’s Sinhala book Vijithapura Sita Nandikadal Thek Sri Lankeya Sangrama Ithihasaya’  ….

This book by one of Sri Lanka’s most eminent historians, Senior Professor Indrakeerthi Siriweera, gets into the hands of the public at a time when there is an urgent need for a clear, concise, and above all, enlightened understanding of Sri Lanka’s wars and their underlying causes. From Sri Lanka’s wars of antiquity, including the legendary Vijithapura armed conflict, to the contemporary landmark and decisive battle on the banks of the Nandikadal lagoon in northern Sri Lanka in May 2009, ‘Vijithapura Sita Nandikadal Thek Sri Lankeya Sangrama Ithihasaya’  provides us a detailed chronicling of Sri Lanka’s major armed conflicts and confrontations over the centuries and thereby proves a treasury of knowledge.

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Diego Garcia: USA displayed Its Imperial Intentions in 1975

MERIP Report in 1975: where the title runs thus: “Diego Garcia: New Imperial Roost in the Indian Ocean”

At the end of July [1975], the US Congress decided to allocate funds to expand the present US communications base on Diego Garcia, a small island 1,000 miles south of India in the middle of the Indian Ocean. The decision to fund the expansion of the present installation, coming after a Presidential determination that it is “essential to the national interest,” resolves a long-standing controversy within the US government and military. It also promises to introduce the possibility of a military build-up by the US and the Soviet Union in the Indian Ocean, a development viewed with some concern by the states bordering that Ocean.

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Cricketing Talent Denied: Derelict in the Jaffna Peninsula, 1980s Onward

Andrew Fidel Fernando, in The Cricket Monthly at ESPN, in 2014, where the title is “The lost boys of Jaffna” … [with two ‘contemporary’ Pix added by the Editor, and some highlighting of the text imposed ….. Thuppahi]

Amid the gunshots and landmines of Sri Lanka’s 26-year civil war, cricket managed to stay alive. The first time M Kandeepan visited the emigration centre in his city in 1993, the man in combat gear behind the desk asked why he wanted to leave.
“I want to go and play cricket.””Play cricket where? In Colombo? You want to play for Sri Lanka?””Yes, because I am in Sri Lanka.””You lie. This is Tamil Eelam. You’re not going anywhere.”

    Tiger “boys’ guarding the shoreline …maybe early 1990s Kids play on the St John’s cricket ground in Jaffna, 2014

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Samantha Power on USA’s Interventionist Mission in 2002

Stephen Wertheim

Reproduced here is a sub-section from Wertheim’s review article in the 4th quarter edition[1] of the Journal of Genocide Research in 2010 (without re-deploying his footnotes). This section focuses on the Pullitzer Prize winning book by Samantha Power (2002) and argues that its programme resembles shades of the “civilizing mission” associated with European and Evangelical agencies during the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Here, with and within Samantha Power, the mission of “humanitarian intervention” was vested solely in US arms and feet ……..…. thus, not in the UN or any other agencies.

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USA vs China in the Indian Ocean, 1950s-2020

Tony Donaldson. with highlighting imposed by The Editor, Thuppahi

In 1943, the US tried to establish a military base in Sri Lanka when OSS chief William Donovan invoked a ruse to railroad it into existence. The details of the ruse and how it was played out is a subject for another occasion. The point to be made here is Donovan’s ruse was quickly exposed by Colin Mackenzie, the Head of Force 136 – the name given to the Special Operations Executive organisation in Asia during World War II. As a result, the British rejected Donovan’s proposal for an OSS military base. Had the US established a military base in Sri Lanka in 1943, it would very likely still be there today, asserting US influence over Sri Lanka, its culture, and inflicting great social damage on local communities.

 Banda welcomes Zhou Enlai soon after he steps off the Air India flight at Ratmalana on 31 January 1957.

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The SIOT Concept: One Foundation for SL Army Success in Eelam War IV

Colonel HP Ranasinghe: “The Eight Man Team,” 17 August 2018,  https://lrrp.wordpress.com/tag/special-infantry/.

Sri Lanka builds its future soldier capability around Special Forces, used to great effect against the LTTE insurgency. Sri Lanka is continuing its soldier modernisation plans continuing with the initiatives that it attributes to its success in defeating the LTTE insurgency.

Colonel HP Ranasinghe, Commander Special Forces Brigade, Sri Lanka Army stated, “[The] Special Forces of Sri Lanka rely principally on human skills blended with little equipment and technology. “Skill and will” being the policy due to compelling economic constraints. However, looking into the security challenges of the future, the Special Forces are contemplating upgrading programmes, designed to blend human skill with the “right technology.”

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Robert Pape’s Blunders in Tigerland: Pape’s Muddles on ‘Suicide Bombers’ in Sri Lanka

Michael Roberts, reprinting here an article which appeared initially in November 2007  as Working Paper No. 32 November 2007 in the Heidelberg Papers on South Asian PoliticsISSN: 1617-5069 …. edited by Subrata Mitra. Insofar as this essay is being reproduced in 2020, I cannot overstress the point at which it appeared in the public realm — in 2007 well before the LTTE was defeated… [noting that, with the exception of the emblematic Picture at the start, all other illustrations appeared in the Heidelberg publication. These pictorial scenes, I stress now in 2020, are valuable data in themselves].

No study of the LTTE can afford to neglect Sri Lanka’s cultural, historical, and geographical backdrop, The lack of existential awareness of religious cross-fertilisation, the either/or foundations of Western reasoning and the absence of local knowledge bedevil the scholarship that incorporates Sri Lanka within the global surveys of suicide attacks. Pape’s Dying to Win is an example. Here, in Pape’s article, the LTTE’s multi-pronged capacities are poorly evaluated. Too much significance is attributed to the coercive success of SMs in bringing the government to the negotiating table at various moments. Religious persecution has not been the main reason for the Tamil struggle. Comparative references to SMs elsewhere are occasionally interspersed in this review of the Sri Lankan scene.

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The Horrors at Gallipoli: Killing One’s “Whaler”

The “Whaler” is the shorten-form Aussie term for a breed of horses in New South Wales that  served as the stead for the famed Lighthorsemen Brigades in Egypt, the Middle East and Gallipoli during World War One. I thank Brigadier Sri Mudannayake** for bringing this somebe dimension of the disastrous Gallipoli and other Middle Eastern campaign to our attention.

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