After more than a year since the elimination of the biggest national security threat, it is time to look far ahead and plan for strategic national security needs of
. Absence of war and other matters needing immediate attention provides an ideal opportunity to plan for the future. LTTE leader first experimented with bombs in 1972. He was treated for injuries sustained in an experiment in that year. Apart from him many other terrorists sought government medical attention when in need. Had there been a proper mechanism to gather information of these activities at that time, Sri Lankan troops would have had a clear advantage in routing terrorism. Many Tamil terrorist groups emerged during this time and they were fighting among themselves initially until a few well-established and well-connected groups took over. Violence and eventually open war continued for 34 years with no end in sight. Then in 2006 things changed thanks to a well co-ordinated and planned approach to war. War was won in 34 months, which could not be won for 34 years! Sri Lanka
Planning for the future helps minimise not only the direct adversities of war, but also it’s other ancillary effects. For instance Sri Lankan military had a reasonably good medical service that came handy in serving not only service personnel but also civilians at times of need. The engineering corps of the army contributed both military and civilian needs under difficult conditions. Aeronautical mechanics and engineers of the Sri Lanka Air Force serve not only the air force but also other aviation activities. Sri Lanka Navy is helping manage the oceanic resources of the nation in addition to providing national security. To put in simple terms, armed forces essentially need well developed and comprehensive medical engineering, mechanical, administration, etc. branches. And the society needs the services of these branches of tri-forces in addition to the services they get from national hospitals, State Engineering Corporation, etc. Therefore, we request authorities to look into the benefits of expanding these branches in an economically sustainable way to maximise benefits for the nation while ensuring a high degree of national security at all times.
Having tentacles of the national security apparatus in as many places as possible, especially in areas that are prone to violence due to past activities, benefits all. Information generated daily in services linked to the state is a good barometer of what goes underneath. This can be done without any additional investment in defence while uplifting the quality of life of the people.
The Case for Expanding Medical, Engineering, etc., Branches of the Armed Forces from a Defence Point of View
There is no argument for the expansion of these branches in line with the military’s requirements. However, if adequately expanded, it provides the nation with unparalleled benefits. For instance, almost every year doctors and other medical staff strike work citing various clumsy reasons despite the fact that their education was entirely funded by their patients which means they have no right to stop attending to patients under any circumstances. Nation wide work stoppage by medical staff poses a grave national security concern especially when coupled with other disruptive moves. To make matters worse, they generally choose a time that is calculated to have the most adverse impact. At times, the army medical unit eases the suffering of the people. Their commitment is unmatched elsewhere. If the medical unit of the tri-forces can be expanded by many times, it provides a dependable medical service to the public at all times and critical intervention when needed. A network of army, etc. hospitals can be set up throughout the country, especially in close proximity to army, etc. camps.
Finance for these hospitals must be allocated from the health budget and not from the defence budget. Given the very high degree of discipline both financial and other, every thousand rupee channelled through these units will do more than what the general hospital system would achieve.
This is not to suggest any curtailment or restriction on national hospitals. It only means the need for greater expansion of the medical arm of defence force.
Another potentially disruptive matter is the arbitrary strike action of electricity board employees. Despite them being the highest paid employees of all public sector entities, recognizing their power to bring all economic activity to a standstill, they don’t hesitate to take drastic action. This has not only drastic economic repercussions, but also national security implications. If the army, etc. engineers are skilled in electrical engineering, and if they are sufficient in number, subversive action can be minimised almost entirely. During 1996 CEB strike that kept the entire nation in dark for 3 days coupled with water-cuts, some employees vandalised machinery and removed vital parts from equipment. There were no adequately skilled persons apart from the employees to handle the situation. Engineering corps with sufficient numbers could have filled this void. The electricity network was an attraction for both JVP and LTTE terrorists. An electrical engineering unit attached to the ministry of defence functioning alongside the electricity board will be useful to avoid any possibility of future disruptors/subversives/terrorists targeting the electricity grid.
At other times they can play a pivotal role in development work which should be financed by the respective budget allocations not from the defence budget.
These are just two examples of how beneficial it is to expand the respective units of armed forces.
Expanding KDU is the Most Sensible Investment in Higher Education
KDU offers widely recognized university qualifications. Unlike other universities, discipline is at a very high level enabling the development of a vital aspect of professionals. This may be the reason why KDU graduates generally display more commitment than their contemporaries from other universities.
The biggest benefit of KDU is every million rupee invested in educating comes back to the nation.
Nothing is wasted as graduates are required to serve the military for a stipulated time period. It is a win-win situation for both the nation and these graduates. Sadly, the government university system is a win-lose affair. The nation always loses while graduates may win. Hundreds of millions of rupees over the years are wasted year after year in producing doctors, lawyers, engineers and other professionals of
, Canada , UK , etc. Worse still, some of them end up becoming major financiers of the LTTE, it’s front organisation and various anti-Sri Lankan organisations including the Transnational Government of Tamil Elam (TGTE). If the proportion of KDU graduates to all graduates can be increased, that will increase benefits for the nation in two ways – by way of a huge saving and by having more doctors, etc. in the country serving the people of this country. Australia
Increase in the KDU intake must be funded by the higher education allocation and not from the defence budget.
KDU can be a viable ongoing institution to ensure a better quality of life for Ranaviru families. Members of Ranaviru families should be awarded preferential entry to KDU. At the moment there are schemes in place to look after education needs of young children of Ranaviru families. However, there is no scheme to look after young adults. It is crucial to look after young adults of Ranaviru families because their childhood was not the same as others. and as a result may be prone to more dangers than other young adults. They can easily get into bad company which would have a huge impact on the society.
Facilities of the KDU should be further expanded to house adult learning facilities for serving SLDF members. A large number of soldiers of the
army graduated following the end of the Second World War. This led to a huge upliftment of rural economic life of US through these highly dedicated, disciplined, educated and skilled young men. Although USA cannot match it, we can still maximise the skill levels of service personnel. We are talking about hundreds of thousands of dedicated men and women here. Sri Lanka
Commercial Logistics Support
Wholly owned companies of the Ministry of Defence, Public Security; Law and Order can put management skills into good use beyond traditional military use. This is already happening in commercial security services but can expand into many other professional fields. Civil aviation, transport/travel in waterways, power and energy consulting/maintenance, leadership training, oceanic resource management, construction, urban/road development, hotel/resort/restaurant management, etc. are some lucrative industries where SLDF associated entities can do well. Economic benefits alone would be substantial. Access and presence of military personnel in a wide array of key establishments helps intelligence gathering too.
Such an expansion of military affiliated units has another hidden benefit. Unlike some other countries, there is no a large military reserve or compulsory military service in
. However, with a careful expansion as discussed above, all the key benefits of compulsory military service and army reserves would be achieved with no increase in the defence budget allocation. In fact it will provide huge societal benefits too. National security and every aspect of it will be taken care of. We hope defence authorities will carefully consider this request. Sri Lanka is not blessed with consecutive high performers in the high echelons of public service. However, when high performers are around, they should ensure continuity of their good work beyond their term. Sri Lanka