The necessity of a Sri Lanka counter-insurgency operations institute
The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam has been considered as one the most ruthless terrorist organizations in the world. But almost four months ago they were successfully defeated by the Sri Lankan armed forces. This success is the main talking point presently among international and local defence circles who believe that the unique strategies adopted by the Sri Lankan armed forces was the chief reason for victory .
Many powerful nations, such as the United States, United Kingdom, Japan, China, Pakistan and India are extremely anxious at the moment to learn from Sri Lanka the new strategies introduced and put into operation in the battlefront by the armed forces.
At the 6th Pacific Army Chiefs’ conference (PAAC VI) held recently a number of powerful nations expressed their eagerness to obtain information on this success from the Sri Lankan armed forces
The Sixth Pacific Army Chiefs’ Conference, held in Tokyo, Japan (24-27 August) was co-hosted by the USA and Japan. It was attended by 22 Army Chiefs from Asia Pacific countries, including Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and the US.
Sri Lanka Army Chief Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya during his participation in the Conference held a record thirteen bilateral discussions with participating other Chiefs of respective armies .
On his return he said that many participating Army Chiefs after taking stock of the successful completion of the Wanni humanitarian operations expressed their keen interest in a future military academia on Sri Lanka as a case study.
The participants expressed their desire to send high level military groups to Sri Lanka for this purpose. The military chiefs also received a detailed account of the conduct of the insurgency operations and the victory won over LTTE terrorism from the visiting Commander of the Sri Lanka Army. The enthusiasm of these countries to obtain information on the military strategies adopted by Sri Lanka in their battle against terrorism showed how important the Sri Lanka armed forces initiatives had been
A senior defence official at the Defence Ministry claimed that there were many request from these nations who were willing to make payment if Sri Lanka would divulge these strategies to them.
However, Sri Lanka has not formulated a plan to ‘sell’ these strategies to world, but continues sharing information free of charge.
Currently dozens of foreign military personnel are in Sri Lanka studying the strategies that the Sri Lanka military adopted during the war Although the Army Chief Jayasuriya has on an earlier occasion told the media that there are plans to dissiminate,for a financial consideration, information on the strategies adopted in the war against terrorism, still no proper plans have been finalized
South Africa, has a separate institute to educate any governments ,groups or individuals worldwide about the non- violent methods they adopted throughout their struggle. But this institute provides the information on payment of a fee. And by this method of payment the institute and the South African government earns a large sum of money.
If Sri Lanka had such a fee levying institute many nations would be interested in making use of its services to obtain information regarding the strategies and the latest military tactics adopted by the Sri Lankan armed forces to defeat terrorism. Soon after assuming duties as the Commander of the Sri Lanka Army Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya said that since the world’s focus was on Sri Lanka’s methodology to win the war many countries would be keen to learn the Sri Lankan military training and planning methods . He commented that earlier, the world’s powerful militaries used as guidelines and training methods those used by the British troops to suppress the Malay insurgency .
Although many armies in the world had during the 20th century and in the present century been engaged in many wars , including the Vietnam war, the Korean war, and the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan,the suppression of the Malay insurgency is yet considered as the most successful military operation.
Due to this belief in almost every military training institute in the world, the methodology used in suppressing the Malay insurgency is considered as the main subject of study. Recently , the army Chief had said that Pakistan has sought training in counter-insurgency operations from Sri Lanka.
Admiral (retd) Wasantha Karannagoda, a former Sri Lankan Navy chief and currently the National Security Adviser, had said at an international naval seminar in Britain, that the strategies and tactics adopted by the Sri Lankan Navy to tackle the LTTE’s naval arm could be of use to other countries. This is because in the conflicts of the future, the navy would be facing not battleships and destroyers but small and fast boats of non-state rogue navies which would be engaged in insurgencies, piracies and trafficking of various kinds, Karannagoda had added.
Whenever Sri Lankan high-ranking military officials visit other countries for studies or any other official work, there has been an overwhelming demand for them to provide a briefing about how the military successfully dealt with terrorism
This is due to the fact that in the Sri Lanka army, small group operations and the navy’s special Boat Squadron operations, played a very significant role against the Tamil Tigers.
Considering these facts, the government and the Ministry of Defence should take action to set up an institute similar to that in South Africa which will provide training and strategic information on counter insurgencies operations to foreign nations . Another point is that there should be a plan to create a think-tank with the officers, who had carried out these strategies. Ten years ago when the Sri Lankan Army celebrated its fiftieth anniversary, the army released a book containing the history and other military operations of the Sri Lankan Army However, many defence analysts claim that the book had not recorded most of the secret operations carried out by the army and had not given proper coverage to the war..
A senior military intelligence officer said that most of the army officers, who played a major role in the battle field had information about the secret military operations. But no one had approached them to get this information for future reference. Since most of them knew only of their specific role, a centralized military authority should combine and collate their information and make it available so that even if some officer leaves the country the future generations would know of the strategies of the military operations.
However, if the authorities do not take immediate action to address this issue, and that of setting up a counter – insurgency operations institute , foreign nations will make use of Sri Lanka’s strategies and come up with their own institutes in the future .
The Malayan Insurgency
(1948 – 60) A period of unrest following the creation of the Federation of Malaya (precursor of Malaysia) in 1948. The Communist Party of Malaya, which was mostly Chinese, was alarmed at the special guarantees of rights for Malays (including the position of sultans) and began a guerrilla insurgency, which was supported by only a minority of the Chinese. British efforts to suppress the insurgency militarily were unpopular, especially their relocation of rural Chinese into tightly controlled ‘New Villages’; when the British addressed political and economic grievances, the rebels became increasingly isolated, and the emergency ended.
The Malayan Emergency was declared by Britain in response to an insurgent movement launched by the Malayan Communist Party (MCP), whose guerrilla forces were labelled communist terrorists or CTs. The British exercised hegemony over the region as the result of treaties of protection that were negotiated with local Malay rulers beginning in 1874. A number of these principalities were banded together in 1896 to form the Federated Malay States. Malaya, like other parts of Southeast Asia, was occupied by the Japanese during World War II.
This hiatus in colonial rule had serious implications for Malaya-as well as for French Indochina and the Dutch East Indies-with the rise of communist and nationalist movements. British control was restored in 1945 with an eye toward eventual decolonization. Even though the British initially legalized MCP activities, the communists rejected a proposal in 1947 to establish the Federation of Malaya. When all the Malay states-save for Singapore-became part of the federation in the next year, the communists charged that Britain wanted to exclude them from power by manipulating the independence process. The MCP leader, Chin Peng, advocated an immediate armed revolt. The insurgency began with the murders of three British rubber planters in June 1948. The Emergency was declared two days later. A force of between 10,000 and 12,000 guerrillas targeted civilians indiscriminately to cripple the ability of the colonial authorities to maintain order.
After initial setbacks, the British adapted a wide range of civil-military initiatives, including the Briggs Plan-a massive resettlement of thousands of people from jungle areas where they were vulnerable to guerrilla intimidation to the relative security of new villages.
Britain also prepared the local people for independence, which was granted in August 1957. By 1960, the Emergency was practically over and only scattered remnants of the once formidable guerrilla forces remained, mostly in secluded areas near the border with Thailand. The Malayan government finally declared the end of the Emergency in July 1960.
In September 1963, Malaysia came into being, consisting of the Federation of Malaya, the State of Singapore, and the colonies of North Borneo (now Sabah) and Sarawak. Britain relinquished sovereignty over Singapore, North Borneo, and Sarawak from independence day and extended the 1957 defense agreement with Malaya to apply to Malaysia. In August 1965, by mutual agreement, Singapore seceded from Malaysia and became a separate nation.