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New Defence structure in the offing

As celebrations to mark the grand victory against LTTE terrorism comes to an end the Sri Lankan nation is now returning to normality after experiencing a three decade long period marred by LTTE terrorism.

Therefore, this is the first occasion after three decades that a Sri Lankan can proudly say that he/she is living in a society where normality prevails.

Although, there is a huge task yet to be completed to bring normality to the country, they are sure of bringing that normality as they have already overcome the main obstacle which barred this country from returning to normality, with the elimination of LTTE terrorism.


They march in search of freedom, the civilians who moved into the military controlled areas in Mullaitivu on May 17, 2009. Picture by Rukmal Gamage

The Government has already made its commitment to bring normality to the country after giving an assurance to resettle the entire displaced civilians from the North within the shortest possible timeframe. It has already commenced the resettlement of civilians in the Mannar district with the commencement of the second phase of the resettlement in the Musali Divisional Secretariat Division this week.

Resettling people in the Vanni, Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts will also be expedited as almost all the battalions committed for the offensive operations have been deployed to search huge stocks of arms and ammunition buried by the fleeing LTTE cadres. The aim of the Security Forces is to see that the civilians are returning to a safer area than the areas where they have lived and to ensure that the areas are free of weapons and mines.

Security Forces

It was with that aspect in mind the Sri Lanka Army established two Security Forces Headquarters in Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu to coordinate the security arrangements in the two districts and dominate the area without keeping any room for the resurgence of terrorism in that region.

The two new Security Forces Headquarters came into operation with effect from June 5, 2009 with Major General Channa Goonetilleka General Officer Commanding (GOC) for Security Forces Headquarters, Kilinochchi (KLN) and Major General Nandana Udawatta, General Officer Commanding (GOC) for Security Forces Headquarters, Mullaitivu assuming duties at their respective offices.

They are responsible for the overall command, control and discipline of all ranks under their command. Roles and responsibilities of both Headquarters depend on operational requirements with expansion of civil administration in the respective districts. With the raising of these two new Security Forces Headquarters the Sri Lanka Army has five Security Forces Headquarters across the island.

Redeployment plan

Apart from establishing these two new Security Forces Headquarters, the Sri Lanka Army will also go for a new redeployment plan in the two districts very soon. According to the proposed redeployment plan, the Sri Lanka Army seeks the approval of the Defence Ministry to form new Army Divisions for the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts apart from the existing Army Divisions. According to the proposed redeployment plan four Army Divisions will each come under Mullaitivu and Killinochchi Security Forces Headquarters.

With the implementation of this proposed redeployment plan in the Killinochchi and Mullaitivu districts, the possibility for terror activities in the Mullaitivu and Kilinochchi jungles which were the breeding grounds for LTTE terrorism will be totally eliminated, if there is any attempt by racist organization to form a terror organization like the LTTE.

In the same manner the Eastern Province will also be dominated by the Security Forces deploying regular and volunteer battalions of the Army into the jungles in the Trincomalee, Batticaloa and Ampara districts.

As a part of this redeployment plan, three Regular battalions, 8 Gemunu Watch, 6 Vijayaba Infantry Regiment and 9 Armored Corps battalions which were deployed in the Kilinochchci and Mullaitivu districts were sent to the Batticaloa and Ampara districts. Apart from this three Volunteer Infantry battalions were also redeployed in the East.

The Sri Lankan Air Force is also planning to establish two Air Force bases in Iranamadu and Mullaitivu to make use of the two airstrips constructed by the LTTE and later captured by the Army troops. The Sri Lanka Air Force believes that only the two airstrips in Iranamadu and Mulliyavali in Mullaitivu can be considered as original airstrips used by the LTTE although troops came across more than 8 small air strips during the Vanni liberation operation.

Therefore, the Air Force can only think of developing the Iranamadu and Mulliyavali airstrips for the future use of the SLAF as it would fulfill a long felt need in expanding its operations.

The SLAF which played a key role in defeating the LTTE, by way of supporting the ground troops and conducting independent combat operations against the LTTE targeting their training and military bases, their logistic bases and their leadership yesterday marked the culmination of air operations at the Air Force Base Katunayake under the supervision of Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa.

Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa paid a glowing tribute to the Air Force for itís contribution towards the victory by boosting the morale of the ground troops by way of providing information about the enemy ahead of them. The Defence Secretary also commended the Air Force for its contribution to hold the ground captured by the ground troops along with the Sri Lanka Army.

The Sri Lanka Navy too will have to read just their security plan to meet the future challenges as Sri Lanka is going to claim a sea area 23 times bigger than its land area very soon. Environment Minister Champika Ranawaka this week stated that Sri Lankaís proposals to claim the said sea area under Sri Lankan territory was handed over on the very same day the Army troops advanced from the South to North and from the North to South linking up at Vellamullivaikkal on May 16.

Therefore, the Sri Lanka Navy will be entrusted with a massive sea area to be patrolled in the future and will have to increase its blue water capabilities to match these requirements.

As three Armed Forces are readjusting their structures to face the future challenges and to restore normality in the country the Sri Lanka Police are also planning to establish 21 Police stations in the North to facilitate the restoration of civil administration in the Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu districts. These new Police stations will be established in Mannar, Mullaitivu and Mankulam divisions in the North.

Inspector General of Police Jayantha Wickremaratne has also proposed to establish a Tamil Language Training Centre in Kilinochchi which is a prerequisite in the process of deploying Police personnel to these two districts once the resettlement process has commenced.

Eastern province

The Police Department faced the same challenge in the Eastern province but overcame it after recruiting qualified Tamil speaking civilians to the Police Department to be deployed in Tamil speaking areas in the Eastern province. Thus Police Department will have to improve the Tamil language competency among the Police officers to ensure that the innocent Tamil civilians who are going to be resettled in their villages very soon will not face any inconvenience. As these new changes take place in the three Forces and the Police, the Government on Tuesday made another move to change the defence structure when Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayake presented a Bill for the appointment of a Chief of Defence Staff.

The Bill gazetted on May 29, 2009 and issued on June 01, 2009 has been titled Chief of Defenc Staff. This is a Bill to provide for the appointment of a person to be the Chief of Defence Staff who shall be responsible for the co-ordination of activities between the Armed Forces and the Ministry of Defence and for the establishment of a Committee of the Chief of Defence Staff and to provide functions of the Chief of Defence Staff.

Once this Bill is approved in Parliament the President shall appoint from among the persons presently serving as Commander of the Army, the Commander of the Navy or the Commander of the Air Force, a Chief of Defence Staff.

The Chief of Defence Staff shall function under the direction, supervision and control of the Secretary to the Defence Ministry. The CDS will be appointed for a term of two years by the President and his term of office will be decided by the President at his discretion.

The CDS will hold the rank of General in case of an officer of the Army, Admiral in the case of an officer of the Navy, and Air Chief Marshal in the case of an officer of the Air Force.

Subject to the authority , direction, control and supervision, of the Secretary, the CDS will function :

a)to assist in providing for strategic direction of the armed forces;

b)to develop a doctrine for the joint employment of the armed forces;

c)to facilitate the preparation of strategic plans for the armed forces;

d)to co-ordinate matters in respect of the functions relating to intelligence as between the Armed Forces;

e)to undertake assessments to determine the capabilities of the Armed Forces in comparison with those of their potential adversaries;

f)to facilitate the preparation of operational plans for the Armed Forces and to co-ordinate the implementation of the same as between the Armed Forces;

g)to prepare and review contingency plans relating to the Armed Forces;

h)to tender advise on critical deficiencies and strength and assess the effects of such deficiencies and strengths

i)in meeting national security objectives; and

ii)in ensuring conformity with policy;

iii)to tender advise on the extent which the programmes, recommendations and budget proposals of the armed forces for a fiscal year conform to the priorities established in relation to strategic plans;

j)to tender advise on the on the extent to which the major programs and policies of the Armed Forces relating to manpower and equipment conform to strategic plans;

k)to assess military requirements as against the proposed defence procurement plans and to advise the Ministry accordingly;

l)to facilitate the formulation of policies for the joint training of the armed forces;

m)to facilitate the formulation of policies for peace-keeping operations by the armed forces; and

n)to do all such other things as are required or are necessary for the implementation of the above.

The CDS will also be the Chairman of the Committee of the Chief of Defence Staff which will comprise of the Commanders of the Army, Navy and the Air Force.

As the Chairman of the Committee of the Chief of Defence Staff he shall;

1) facilitate the implementation of all matters as between the Defence Ministry, in relation to military matters

2)in consultation with the three forces commanders discharge the functions arising out of subsection (1) of the Bill under the direction supervision of the Secretary

3)in carrying out his functions in respect of any matter, take into consideration of the range of military advice and opinions with respect to such matters as he considers appropriate.

4)establish procedures to ensure to the greatest extent possible, that presentation of his own advice or opinion is not unduly delayed.

As per this Bill the Commanding structure of the three forces have been centralized into a post entrusting the CDS with almost all powers relating to operations, intelligence, recruitment, career planning, structural changes and training matters in the three forces.

Therefore, it will be a powerful position in the Defence structure of Sri Lanka compared to the current position of the Chief of Defence Staff who is responsible only for the coordination of joint operations in the three Forces. Therefore, the new CDS will have overall command on all three forces and will expedite the process of reacting to a situation threatening the national security in a much more coordinated way.

National security

This is the first time in the Sri Lankan military history handling intelligence comes under a CDS and it would definitely bring fruitful results in upholding the national security and identifying the looming threats on national security.

Therefore these new arrangements in the three Forces and the Police and also in the Defence structure will definitely bring positive results in the effort of restoring normality in the country in the post war scenario making all the sacrifices by the Security Forces to defeat the LTTE a more meaningful one.


Ceremony to mark the ending of Air operations


Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa inspecting a K-8 trainer aircraft


Inspecting the display of aircraft along with Air Force Commander Air Chief Marshal Roshan Gunatilleka Pictures by Sudam Gunasinghe

 

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