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Asian Tribune is published by E-LANKA MEDIA(PVT)Ltd. Vol. 20 No. 109

LTTE Aircraft fly sorties “Three times in One month”, targeting vital installations to the country’s security and economy

By Geoffrey Evarts

The Solution – Island-wide blackouts without warning. Citizens suffer (while the country’s ruling elite will have the use of their generators and air conditioners of course); tourists (now on the endangered species list) have to pull the curtains in their hotels shut and light candles. And the country’s defence establishment fire wildly into the blackness of the night, causing panic and consternation among the public – Reports stated that armed soldiers and policemen on duty had even blindly fired their machine guns into the night sky! Such was the confusion and panic that reports indicated civilians had gotten injured in this unnecessary firing!

The Tigers are flying Czech made propeller driven Air Craft with home made bombs, while the Sri Lanka Air Force uses fighter jets and helicopter gun-ships, using rockets and other advanced weaponry (amongst other armaments in the SLAF arsenal).

Tiger sorties are always flown in the night. And the reason for this? SLAF jet interceptors do not have night sight equipment to chase them down!

So what does our Defence bigwigs do about this? They go and purchase ‘More’ jet Air craft at a cost of millions of Dollars, instead of upgrading the night vision and other capabilities of our existing fleet, which is (obviously) the cheaper option. And we don’t even know if the new jets have night vision capabilities! Makes one wonder why the defence establishment cannot see the cheaper option, while any layman with half an intelligent brain can……!

A couple of years ago, I attended the weekly defence press briefing at the information department, and the then Air Force Commander Air Vice-Marshall Donald Perera (Who has now been elevated to the rank of Chief of Defence Staff and Air Marshall) was also in attendance. To a question which was posed on the Iranamadu air strip and the Tigers Air capabilities, the then SLAF commander smiled condescendingly and replied that the SLAF has the capability to detect and destroy ‘Any’ aircraft as soon as it takes off from the Wanni! Well, now it seems that the CDS will have to eat his words (Or his hat, whichever he prefers!)

In most other countries, these types of costly mistakes will result in the downfall (i.e sacking or resignation) of the officers and civil servants responsible. However – like Sunil Perera of Gypsies fame implied in one of his songs – only in “Lankaaawe” can one get away with such ghastly errors, and actually thrive and get promoted for it!

While the government claims that these attacks have caused minimal or no damage to their targets, the damage caused to the economy and the credibility of the Islands peace process (and its leaders) is extensive, if not terminal. Moreover, it has given the Tigers huge kudos in their propaganda war by portraying them as a small but resourceful and intelligent outfit bloodying the nose of an oppressive Goliath! And these Tiger propaganda victories are riding on the crest of reports of Human rights abuses and strong arm tactics against the media by the Government.

One fact is, however, extremely disturbing. While the government and the LTTE have been at war for over 20 years, the LTTE has evolved in leaps and bounds, while the evolution of the politically controlled defence establishment rattles and creaks on at a much slower pace.

With the Al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups frantically trying to go nuclear - and seeing how resourceful and imaginative the LTTE is - it won’t come as a surprise if Velupillai Prabhakaran has already flung his vast resources into acquiring a ‘Nuke!’ The Tigers are vastly more resourceful and intelligent than any other terrorist outfit. Apart from the fact that they have evolved the art of suicide bombing into what it is today, they have their own Navy and Air Force, they have an international intelligence and procurement apparatus, a fleet of merchant vessels plying the worlds’ seas, Mafia gangs on the streets of London (Which terror group can boast of that one!) and hundreds of millions of Dollars in overseas accounts.

It is only the sacrifices made by the brave soldiers fighting on the frontline that have held back the advance of the Tigers. If not for them, the LTTE would have established a sperate state a long time ago.

Oh yes, and stating the obvious, the peace process is dead. The question is should we, as a country, resurrect it? Or should we resort to all out war? That I will leave for wiser men to answer. But for now I know one thing for sure. We, the people of Sri Lanka definitely need to get ourselves a better set of leaders (and scrap all the current ones – Government and Opposition alike) to steer this wallowing ship called Sri Lanka towards what she is actually capable of achieving!

Geoffrey Evarts was a former reporter for the ABC Radio network in Sri Lanka until December 2006, and now domiciled in Australia. He submitted this ‘Opinion piece’ to ‘Asian Tribune.’

- Asian Tribune -

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