Steps are now being taken to bring about a marked change in the country’s Defense Policy, for the first time since independence.
The Defence Policy followed, to date, has been shaped with one objective in view: to meet threats to the country’s unity and stability, arising from within its borders. The hallmark of the proposed change is to widen the policy scope, so as to meet threats from both within and outside.
The government has decided to effect the proposed policy changes after taking into account the pressures from the foreign pro-Eelam lobby that plagued it during the decisive final battle in the Wanni, and also the pressures still coming from the Tamil diaspora.
CDS in overall command
Under the re-shaped policy, powers relating to all operations by the Armed Forces will be vested with one authority. The government took action this week to increase the powers of the Chief of Defense Staff (CDS) accordingly.
To date, only the coordination of the Army, Air Force, Navy and Police activity had been entrusted to the CDS. The Military Intelligence has been functioning under the purview of the Defense Secretary. In future, issuance of military commands, directing intelligence relating to national security, effecting structural changes within the Forces, will be responsibilities devolved on the CDS. The Defence Secretary will supervise all these activities. Under the new setup, the CDS will be the authority accountable for the security of the country, after the Commander-in-Chief and the Defence Secretary.
Beefing up the Army
All these changes have become necessary because the cry for Eelam is still much alive, though Prabhakaran is no more, and the need to further strengthen the security forces to prevent a possible re-emergence of an armed struggle for Eelam, is imperative. Army Chief Sarath Fonseka is now taking steps to increase the manpower of the Army to 300,000. Accordingly, several additional Divisions are to be deployed, so that, the Army could face any future contingency. 58 and 53 Divisions have already been re-named as additional Divisions. Meanwhile, a decision has been taken to further strengthen the Special Fores (SF) and the Commando regiment. Establishing Army cantonments in Mullativu and Kilinochchi as in Panagoda, is now receiving the attention of the Army Chief, who is expected to be appointed CDS shortly, to herald the major changes in the offing.
Wanni Op Report
Meanwhile, General Fonseka has submitted the final report on the Wanni operation to the National Security Council. According to the report, the Army had suffered 650 dead and 2,658 injured in 2006. In 2007, the Army suffered the loss of 523 personnel, with 3,237 wounded. In 2008, a total of 2,049 made the supreme sacrifice, while 11,623 were injured. In 2009, the death toll was 2,042 and 10,620 wounded.
According to this report, the Army had initially concentrated on destroying the enemy, and later directed its efforts to re-capture territory. The LTTE had used its maximum firepower in 2008 and 2009. The soldiers had faced enemy artillery and mortar fire in their forward march, demonstrating courage and bravery.
The Air Force led by Air Chief Marshall Roshan Goonetillake were honoured for their invaluable contribution towards the military victory, at a function held on June 12 at Katunayake Air Base, with Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa as chief guest.
The attack helicopter gunships and other fighter aircraft used for destroying enemy targets were on display at this function. The Defense Secretary warmly greeted the pilots who were involved and congratulated them for their performance, on behalf of the government.
The enemy within
Meanwhile, the Lieutenant Colonel, who had aided and abetted the Tigers in carrying out strikes in the South, has made more sensational revelations under interrogation. This officer has confessed that he transported in his official vehicle, the Tiger assailant responsible for the attack on the late Jeyaraj Fernandopulle at Weliweriya on April 6 last year. He had picked up the Tiger assailant at Aluthwatte in Mutwal, and dropped him near the venue of the function at Weliweriya, before driving away from the scene. He also admitted to having transported the suicide bomber who attacked the Air Force headquarters on January 2, when President Mahinda Rajapaksa was addressing the nation on the re-capture of Kilinochchi. The Tigers had also launched artillery fire at Palaly airport, when Defence Secretary Rajapksa and Army Commander Fonseka were about to step off their airplane. On another occasion, on information provided to the LTTE by this traitorous military officer, who was attached to the 52 Division in Jaffna at that time, the Defence Secretary, the Army Commander and their entourage escaped being hit, due to inaccuracy of the Tigers fire .However, several security personnel were injured, when the Tiger artillery fire hit the venue of a function that the visiting security authorities were to attend later in the day.
This Army officer had visited some leading LTTE activists twice in Malaysia. It has come to light now, that the LTTE activists there had urged him to lose no time in giving necessary assistance to Tiger hit-men to assassinate President Rajapaksa. The traitor had pleaded for time to organise the assassination of the President, while promising to arrange the assassination of the Army Chief as well, without delay. If there are more traitors in the Army, Military Intelligence is sure to uncover them soon.