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Archive for July 30th, 2008

The Sri Lanka Army’s ranks are swelling by the day as unprecedented numbers join the ranks and deserters start returning due to a general amnesty. Almost every month, a new battalion completes training and joins the battlefront.

The Army, while ambushing enemy reinforcement and troop movements, has kept own troops and their movements to the front lines safe, by regularly airlifting troops from the bases, directly to the battle-field.

Soldiers trained within the past 12 months are demonstrating a remarkable sense of orientation to the battlefield. Experts accredit this to the low-intensity warfare the Army is currently engaged in with the Tigers where large mobilizations are rare and the intensity of the enemy’s attacks, firepower, morale and tactics is at a record low.

The result is an enabling environment for new recruits to gain experience and adjust according to the requirements in the front lines.

Currently, over 5000 recruits are undergoing basic training while several hundred more undergo advanced infantry training. The Maduru Oya Special Forces and Combat Training Schools have around 1,500 infantry currently undergoing training, 600 of whom are newly recruited Special Forces troops completing their 6 month basic training.

A dramatic increase in the number of soldiers in the Army is useless unless accompanied by a qualitative and quantitative improvement in leadership. The investments made in this regard to rebuild a quality cadre of officers in the Army is commendable.

The opportunities available to new officers to gain entry into the region’s and the world’s best Military Academies has always been high for the Sri Lanka Army given its neutral status in the world, but the high-intensity warfare of yesteryear effectively debarred officers these opportunities. This situation has changed dramatically.

With a large number of officers and soldiers already in the battlefield, ground Commanders are able to approve leave for officers to enter prestigious Defence Schools all over the world. Promising new officers are whisked-away to these schools immediately upon graduation as Second Lieutenants from SLMA or KDA.

The training courses at Batalanda Staff College has also improved by leaps and bounds. These opportunities combined have contributed immensely to the development of quality all-round officers, which is crucial beyond the immediate needs of the Army.

The usefulness of officers returning from foreign training, with improved perspectives, skills and tools, has increased with the guarantee of a longer service life unlike in the past, where many a young officer was whisked away to meet his end abruptly in some trench.

With improved timing in the reentry process to the ranks of the Army, new officers are allowed the chance to reorientate themselves and for the military hierarchy to properly plan their re-entry into the military machine.

(Defence Wire)

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Twenty-one Tamil rebels and four government troops were killed in fresh fighting in Sri Lanka’s embattled north as the nation readied to host a summit of regional leaders, officials said Wednesday.

Colombo will be the venue for the two-day summit of leaders of the 15th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), which opens Saturday amid extraordinary security.

In other fighting, Sri Lankan war planes on Wednesday bombed a suspected Tiger base in the north, but there were no immediate reports of casualties. There was also no word from the separatist guerrillas about the air attacks.

However, defence ministry officials said 21 Tamil Tigers were slain in clashes Tuesday in the northern Wanni region 250 kilometres (160 miles) north of the capital.

Four soldiers also died, officials said, adding that fighting raged in the north where troops were advancing into territory held by the guerrillas.

The government last month rejected a rebel offer for a brief unilateral ceasefire for the summit, and has kept up military raids on insurgent positions in the decades-old conflict that has claimed tens of thousands of lives.

The report of new deaths comes as officials of the eight-nation South Asian grouping were in the second day of talks to lay the groundwork for the summit, which will focus on trade and terrorism.

The officials will meet Thursday to review the agenda for their leaders.

The leaders of Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, The Maldives, Nepal, Pakistan and Sri Lanka will attend the summit.

The government has stepped up security across the capital for the SAARC meeting, which Colombo is hosting at a cost of nearly three billion rupees (28 million dollars).

More than two-thirds of the budget is being spent on security to protect visiting delegates to the capital, which has experienced a spate of deadly bombings blamed on the rebels.

Sri Lanka’s Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollegama has promised “ultimate security” for the dignitaries.

The military has claimed the upper hand in the fight against the rebels after driving them from their eastern stronghold last year, but analysts do not see a swift end to the conflict.

Tuesday’s fighting raised the number of rebels killed by government troops since January to 5,387, while 475 soldiers have died in combat during the same period, according to a defence ministry tally.

Independent verification of the numbers is impossible since the ministry refuses to allow journalists access to the front lines.

The Tigers are fighting for a separate homeland in the majority Sinhalese nation.

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There’s more bad news from Iraq. A new phenomenon of female suicide bombers has added itself to the long list of woes of the Middle East country. Three female suicide bombers killed more than 60 people in triple devastating attacks across Iraq on Monday.

The bombers targeted a crowd of Shia devotees and a protest rally in Kirkuk in the north. These attacks have shaken the Iraqi government and the coalition that had begun to cautiously celebrate relative improvement in security situation in recent times.

Of course, this is not the first time female suicide bombers have struck in Iraq. And it is not the first country to witness the phenomenon either. Human body as a weapon had been first used in the Middle East by the Palestinians. The Palestinians were in turn inspired and trained by the Tamil Tigers or LTTE of Sri Lanka who put the tactic to deadly use turning it into a lethal art.  Rajiv Gandhi, the former Indian PM, was blown up by a female bomber in early ’90s.

But coming as it does after weeks and months of relative peace in Iraq, the female suicide bombing has left everyone stunned reminding them of the extremely fragile nature of peace. It is being suggested that since the massive influx of foreign fighters has of late been reduced to a trickle, thanks to increased vigil and crackdown by security forces and cooperation of Iraq’s neighbours of course, the insurgents are increasingly turning to women as their weapon of choice.

Whatever the explanation, this is very disturbing.  These desperate and despicable tactics by the insurgents must be condemned in strongest terms by everyone.   Women are not only homemakers, they build a critical role in building and nurturing society. Using them to destroy homes and innocent bystanders is most shameful.

That said, the new phenomenon must come as a wake-up call to Iraq’s leaders.  But, instead of cracking down on the families of the female bombers, the Iraqi government and the US-led coalition must take a serious look at why women are taking to these desperate measures. If the Iraqi authorities are keen to prevent such tragedies in the future, it’s important to understand what is driving such women.

Invariably, at the heart of all such tragedies are victims of grave injustice.  Since the Invasion in 2003, there have been myriad cases of ordinary Iraqis routinely suffering atrocities and human rights abuse at the hands of the coalition troops as well as the Iraqi militias and security forces.

How can the Iraqi people, and the rest of the world, ever forget the shame of Abu Ghraib and much else that has happened after the fall of the Saddam Hussein regime?  Iraq has been bleeding for five years now and will continue to bleed for years to come.  It should surprise no one if all those victimised by this pointless war are now returning to pay back in kind.

(Khaleej Times)

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The Sri Lanka Army’s ranks are swelling by the day as unprecedented numbers join the ranks and deserters start returning due to a general amnesty. Almost every month, a new battalion completes training and joins the battlefront.

The Army, while ambushing enemy reinforcement and troop movements, has kept own troops and their movements to the front lines safe, by regularly airlifting troops from the bases, directly to the battle-field.

Soldiers trained within the past 12 months are demonstrating a remarkable sense of orientation to the battlefield. Experts accredit this to the low-intensity warfare the Army is currently engaged in with the Tigers where large mobilizations are rare and the intensity of the enemy’s attacks, firepower, morale and tactics is at a record low.

The result is an enabling environment for new recruits to gain experience and adjust according to the requirements in the front lines.

Currently, over 5000 recruits are undergoing basic training while several hundred more undergo advanced infantry training. The Maduru Oya Special Forces and Combat Training Schools have around 1,500 infantry currently undergoing training, 600 of whom are newly recruited Special Forces troops completing their 6 month basic training.

A dramatic increase in the number of soldiers in the Army is useless unless accompanied by a qualitative and quantitative improvement in leadership. The investments made in this regard to rebuild a quality cadre of officers in the Army is commendable.

The opportunities available to new officers to gain entry into the region’s and the world’s best Military Academies has always been high for the Sri Lanka Army given its neutral status in the world, but the high-intensity warfare of yesteryear effectively debarred officers these opportunities. This situation has changed dramatically.

With a large number of officers and soldiers already in the battlefield, ground Commanders are able to approve leave for officers to enter prestigious Defence Schools all over the world. Promising new officers are whisked-away to these schools immediately upon graduation as Second Lieutenants from SLMA or KDA.

The training courses at Batalanda Staff College has also improved by leaps and bounds. These opportunities combined have contributed immensely to the development of quality all-round officers, which is crucial beyond the immediate needs of the Army.

The usefulness of officers returning from foreign training, with improved perspectives, skills and tools, has increased with the guarantee of a longer service life unlike in the past, where many a young officer was whisked away to meet his end abruptly in some trench.

With improved timing in the reentry process to the ranks of the Army, new officers are allowed the chance to reorientate themselves and for the military hierarchy to properly plan their re-entry into the military machine.

(Defence Wire)

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