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David Blacker’s Blog

Canadian Taxpayers Buy Sri Lanka a Radar System

(Galen Rowell/Corbis)

When Canada’s federal government decided to build and operate eight experimental surface wave radar systems as a security measure in the aftermath of the September 11th 2001 attacks, Ottawa set aside $43 million in public funds for the project and picked Raytheon’s HFSWR (High-Frequency Surface Wave Radar) system, a pioneering land-based radar that had been successfully demonstrated in December 1999. Seven years later, the whole operation has been scrapped, and the Government of Sri Lanka seems to be the beneficiary. And Raytheon Canada, of course; a US-owned subsidiary which spent $39 million to develop the system, working alongside Canadian federal defence scientists.

Raytheon’s HF-SWR-503 system transmits waves that follow the curve of the earth’s surface, and can detect maritime vessels and low-flying aircraft that are hundreds of kilometers over the horizon, as far away as 370km from Canada’s coast. Most regular surface radars are line-of-sight systems, with very limited range. Anything over the horizon is undetectable. The Raytheon system uses the ocean’s surface as a conductor to increase its range. According to Raytheon, the HF-SWR-503 system is ideal for defensive operations and monitoring of a nation’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ), and is sophisticated enough to detect even small boats such as those used by drug smugglers and terrorists — in fact, it seems almost tailor-made for use against the the LTTE’s sea-going wing — Sea Tigers — as well as the single-engine Ziln aircraft the terrorists used last year for nuisance raids. Raytheon also claims the system can be operated 24/7 with one of the lowest operating costs per unit in comparison to all other radars. Each HF-SWR-503 unit consist of an array of monopoles, 660m long, with the monopoles spaced at 50m, corresponding to half the wavelength of the radar’s 6 to 3 MHz operating band. The system has a field of view of 120-degrees, and can obtain target positions that are accurate upto hundreds of metres. When operated at a frequency of 15 to 20 MHz, the HF-SWR-503 can also track low-flying cruise missiles. The system is highly transportable and can be assembled and operational in under two days. This makes the sale seem like the deal of the century for the SL Navy, which has been struggling to interdict the LTTE’s supply lines which stretch across the Indian Ocean that surrounds the island of Sri Lanka. The latter has recently resorted to mining large areas of its coastal waters, particularly around Mannar Island and Adam’s Bridge which guard the western end of the Palk Strait. The Raytheon HF-SWR-503 system will enable the GoSL to cut down on maritime patrols by its Navy and Air Force.

Going on reports, the HF-SWR-503 system has had a fairly trouble-free life over the last nine years, operating from bases in Newfoundland, which makes one wonder why it has remained experimental for such a lengthy period of time. However a recent complaint has brought up the possibility that the radar frequencies might interfere with civilian communications systems, and since the Ottawa government is responsible for such civilian systems, it has decided to shut down the experiment immediately. This doesn’t, however, prevent Raytheon from seeking foreign customers for this ground-breaking system — particularly in the Third World, where local governments will be less inclined to worry about civilian discomfort. Raytheon Canada vice-president Denny Roberts confirmed that they have several potential foreign buyers, and that it has already sold the radar to Sri Lanka, thanks to the Canadian Commercial Corporation, a government agency that helps Canadian companies market their products internationally.

Normally, the recent US State Department sanction on military sales to Sri Lanka might have thrown a spanner in US-owned Raytheon’s radar dish, but on January 15th the State Department informed Raytheon that it did not consider the system a military one as it is designed to track and police ships and boats within a nation’s own territorial waters. The US seems willing to ignore the very obvious fact that the system will be used by the Sri Lankan military, and reflects the relatively calm manner in which the Sri Lankan defence establishment received the initial news of the US State Department embargo. The FBI report on the LTTE released earlier this year, probably confirms the Colombo view that Washington will take away with one hand while giving with the other.

So far there has been no information on how much Sri Lanka paid Raytheon for the HF-SWR-503, but once it goes into operation it will be the only system of its kind in use anywhere in the world. Other maritime nations will now be watching Sri Lanka’s war very carefully as they evaluate the system for their own use. Currently, the United Nations recognises 106 coastal nations that have economic jurisdiction out to the 200-nautical mile limit, and some of them operate OTHB (Over-the-Horizon Backscatter) coastal radar systems which bounce waves off the ionosphere in order to look over the horizon, but none of these radar systems are anywhere near as reliable as the HFSWR. With Raytheon’s monopoly on the surface radar market, that’s a lot of customers.

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January 29, 2008 - Posted by | Security, War | , , , , , , , , ,

30 Comments »

  1. Actually the title is a little misleading. We, the Canadian Tax payers paid $39Million plus to develop this, Sri Lanka paid a considerable some acquiring it. So it’s both the Sri Lankan Tax payer and the Canadian who paid dearly for this piece of technology.

    The program was scrapped due to one complaint of interference caused by the radar to consumer communication devices, so says the company that’s marketing this technology overseas to developing nations.

    Comment by HS | January 29, 2008 | Reply

  2. Hilal, the $39 mil was spent by Raytheon to develop the system, with at least partial Canadian government funding of course. The $43 mil was the Canadian government budget for the setting up and operation of the radar sites. So the HF-SWR-503 was developed with Canadian tax dollars. Certainly Sri Lankan tax rupees paid for the purchase itself, but the Canadian investment was wasted because of the government’s scrapping of the project.

    Comment by David Blacker | January 30, 2008 | Reply

  3. Sri Lanka is a state terrorist and this terror government have been killing Tamils around 60 years. Sri Lankan state terror government deployed its military to eliminate Tamils from the Island of Sri Lanka, and more than 75,000 Tamils were killed by the state terror military. For more details about Sri Lankan state terrorism, please refer http://www.stateterrorist.com.

    It is important to understand how Sri Lankan government uses its military power to eliminate Tamils. It is sad to see that how Canadian tax payers money spent to kill innocent Tamil civilians in the Island of Sri Lanka.

    Comment by Vel Velauthapillai | January 30, 2008 | Reply

  4. The Sinhala Sri Lankan state, through its actions against Tamils, qualifies as a terrorist state. Until 2004, Sri Lankan state terrorists killed at absolute minimum 35, 232 Tamils, disabled 3534, injured 6805, disappeared 2483, arrested 7817, tortured 4173, and mentally affected 372. These numbers are from preliminary surveys by the North East Secretariat on Human Rights (NESOHR), and the actual numbers must be significantly higher. TCHR (Tamil Human Rights Centre) reports that Sri Lankan state terrorism killed 56,153, disappeared 26, 840, raped 12, 597, tortured 116, 966, and displaced 2, 780,000 Tamils. Eelam Tamils under Sri Lankan state terrorism fighting for freedom more than 55 years. A complete report is available at http://www.nesohr.org. An even more complete report is available through the Tamil Human Rights Centre at http://www.tchr.net.

    Link: http://www.stateterrorist.com

    Comment by Vel Velauthapillai | January 30, 2008 | Reply

  5. The North East Secretariat on Human Rights (NESHOR) was established by the LTTE in July 2004 and is an apparatus of the LTTE. In addition, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) lists the Tamil Centre for Human Rights (TCHR) as an LTTE front organization. The United Nations Committee on NGOs also rejected the TCHR’s application for consultative status because of its involvement with terrorist organizations (namely the LTTE). Given those facts, Vel, I would be skeptical of the statistics you have quoted.

    Comment by David Blacker | January 30, 2008 | Reply

  6. David,

    The fact everyone agree is that Sri Lankan government kill Tamil civilians either using paramilitary or military. Sri Lankan government’s paramilitary involvements were proved several times beyond any doubts.

    Most of the Tamil homeland have already occupied by the Sri Lankan state terror military and declared as high security zone. The Tamil population is shrinking due to state terrorism. The state terrorism is conveniently ignored for known reasons. The sad part of this ignorance is that the State terror governments take this opportunity to wage a terror war and use all its media and other resources to spread false propaganda.

    Here is a UNCHR report about internally displaced (almost 99% are Tamils).
    http://www.unhcr.org/statistics/STATISTICS/4641be680.pdf

    Here is a UN report.
    http://www.un.org/News/Press/docs/2007/iha1248.doc.htm

    I hope UNCHR and UN are not in the terrorist list. After restricting all the journalists and other NGOs, it is easy for the Sri Lankan state terror government to twist any facts.

    If you need more real facts, please see the evident.

    http://www.sangam.org/FB_PHOTOGENOCIDE/Index.htm#Top

    Comment by Vel Velauthapillai | January 30, 2008 | Reply

  7. “The fact everyone agree is that Sri Lankan government kill Tamil civilians either using paramilitary or military”

    Everyone? Who is this ‘everyone’? Does ‘everyone’ have a website?

    “Most of the Tamil homeland have already occupied by the Sri Lankan state terror military and declared as high security zone.”

    First of all, there is no Tamil ‘homeland’ in Sri Lanka. The Tamil homeland is Tamil Nadu — from where Tamils have migrated over the centuries to places like Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Singapore, East Africa, Fiji, etc. The Northern Province does have a majority Tamil population, and the Tamils are the largest ethnic group in the Eastern Province (though they are not the majority). Second, can you please provide a map that shows the HSZs in the NE? You’ll find (if you look at it) that the said HSZs form a small fraction of the NE.

    “The Tamil population is shrinking due to state terrorism”

    No, it’s shrinking because of the war.

    “The state terrorism is conveniently ignored for known reasons.”

    Ignored by whom? If you look at sites such as Amnesty International you will see that nothing is ignored, not even the LTTE.

    “The sad part of this ignorance is that the State terror governments take this opportunity to wage a terror war and use all its media and other resources to spread false propaganda.”

    I’m afraid both sides spread false propoganda, but the LTTE’s a bit better at it.

    “I hope UNCHR and UN are not in the terrorist list.”

    Of course not, why would they be? I hope you’re not trying to compare the UN to terrorist front groups like NESHOR and TCHR. Thank you for the links, but they don’t corroborate the stats you quoted earlier from NESHOR and TCHR. We alll know that the majority of refugees are tamils because the war is in the NE. On the other hand, the Tamils living elsewhere in SL seem to be getting along pretty well.

    Thank you for the link to the Sangam site, but I’m afraid it too (according to the CSIS) is connected to the LTTE. Even if they were not, both sides have their own collections of gruesome pictures. Have a look at here for the other side of the coin.

    I’d like to continue this discussion, Vel, but I’m afraid it’s a bit pointless to discuss who’s more at fault. I’d appreciate it if you could restrict yourself to the topic, which is the Raytheon HFSWR system. Thanks.

    Comment by David Blacker | January 30, 2008 | Reply

  8. “I’m afraid it’s a bit pointless to discuss who’s more at fault. I’d appreciate it if you could restrict yourself to the topic, which is the Raytheon HFSWR system”.

    The problem is that only one site that is Eelam Tamils are punished by placing a “Terrorist” label for fighting for survival, but Sri Lankan state terrorist allowed and even encouraged to wage its meaning less genocidal war against Tamils.

    My argument is that “Raytheon HFSWR system” such a military hardware must to be given or sold to Sri Lankan state terrorist. Sri Lanka has already allocated more than 30% GDP for war, and giving more will cause more deaths. That is what we are seeing in the last three years after a peace process which might lead to a federal solution for the long standing problem if the western world apply enough pressure on Sri Lankan state terror government.

    If Canadian government thinks a federal system for Eelam Tamils is desirable, it should apply sanction on Sri Lanka to bring it to accept the solution for the 60 years old Tamil struggle for freedom from Sinhala racist governments.

    Comment by Vel Velauthapillai | January 30, 2008 | Reply

  9. Using the term ‘Genocide’ loosely diminishes the term. Reserve it for the Millions that passed away in Rwanda, Bosnia and Germany. Countless numbers paid with their lives for being a certain ethnicity, Such atrocities have not cursed us yet. In Rwanda the final death toll stood over 900,000 some claim it to be over 1 Million.

    You can’t continue to blame the state it is elected by a nation of 20 million and has changed many hands over the years. The majority in Sri Lanka do not wish to bow down to terrorism this is the general consensus, don’t ignore the fact that the masses want a complete military victory. You can’t find a solution to this conflict by just pleasing the Tamils and granting a state borne out of years of bloodshed an armed violence. That my brothers is the path to genocide if you ask me, the masses will revolt.

    David,
    Yes you are correct about the research being subsidised by the Canadian Tax payer. My point was Canada didn’t gift this Radar to Sri Lanka as the title mite suggest.

    Comment by HS | January 31, 2008 | Reply

  10. “The problem is that only one site that is Eelam Tamils are punished by placing a “Terrorist” label for fighting for survival, but Sri Lankan state terrorist allowed and even encouraged to wage its meaning less genocidal war against Tamils.”

    Vel, I’m afraid the ‘terrorist’ label hasn’t been placed on any “Eelam Tamils”. It has been placed on the LTTE which, along with other separatist groups have well earned the title. These groups have deliberately targeted civilians in their war of terror against the state (CBSL attack, Dehiwela train bomb, etc). The GoSL on the other hand hasn’t deliberately targeted civilians, though I admit they have often callously disregarded civilian casualties. It is this deliberate targeting by the LTTE that has earned it the ‘terrorist’ label in North America, the EU, and much of the civilised world. This has happened in spite of the Tigers’ huge propoganda machine, as well as the lobbying done by LTTE front organisations and the government of Norway. I think the international community has clearly stood for what they believe is right, and to claim that they have all been fooled by the brilliance of the GoSL PR machine is a bit absurd.

    “Sri Lanka has already allocated more than 30% GDP for war, and giving more will cause more deaths.”

    And how much of the LTTE’s GDP has it allocated to war — 90%? Technically, the HFSWR will save lives because it will prevent the Tigers from bringing in more weapons to carry out their terrorism. Of course, it won’t save Tiger lives.

    “That is what we are seeing in the last three years after a peace process which might lead to a federal solution for the long standing problem if the western world apply enough pressure on Sri Lankan state terror government.”

    Well if the LTTE wanted a federal system, it shouldn’t have helped defeat Ranil Wickramasinghe. The MR government is the LTTE’s choice, and the world understands that. If the LTTE wanted peace it shouldn’t have assassinated Kadiragama. The world understands that too. The LTTE opted for a return to war instead of maintaining the CFA. Now it must fight.

    “If Canadian government thinks a federal system for Eelam Tamils is desirable, it should apply sanction on Sri Lanka to bring it to accept the solution for the 60 years old Tamil struggle for freedom from Sinhala racist governments.”

    The thing is, does the LTTE think a federal system is desirable? What’s the point in sanctioning the GoSL when it is the LTTE that rejected the peace process? If at all, both sides must be sanctioned. However, given the LTTE’s recent return to terror bombing in the south, that’s very unlikely.

    Hilal, accepted. However, Canadian Taxpayers Subsidise Development of Radar Later Given to Sri Lanka was a bit too long a title.

    Comment by David Blacker | January 31, 2008 | Reply

  11. He he.. ‘One man’s trash is another man’s treasure’ would have been more appropriate.

    Comment by HS | January 31, 2008 | Reply

  12. Except that it’s not trash. It’s a cutting edge technology.

    Comment by David Blacker | January 31, 2008 | Reply

  13. David,

    common now? The Canadians ‘scrapped’ it..SCRAP?

    Comment by HS | January 31, 2008 | Reply

  14. Don’t get me wrong I’m not belittling the technology. I’m merely adding to my previous ‘Trash’ comment.

    Comment by HS | January 31, 2008 | Reply

  15. Just a figure of speech, Hilal. I could’ve said they ‘terminated’ the programme😉

    Comment by David Blacker | January 31, 2008 | Reply

  16. Here is the LTTE proposal to solve the Tamil 60 years old struggle.

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/3232913.stm

    Here is a TULF (a non violent Tamil political party that fignt against the Sri Lankan state terrorism for more than 30 years) proposal

    http://www.eelam.com/introduction/vaddukoddai.html

    Understanding a problem is important, and branding “terrorist” label to everything will not certainly help at all. The problem in Sri Lanka is pure political where Tamils want freedom. What Tamils want is more likely Quebec province has in Canada or what a state has in USA or a Swiss based con-federal model. But Sinhala governments never want to share the power with Tamils. Instead of sharing power, Sinhala governments spread the state terrorism. That is what the 30 years old non-violent protests turned to violent. Hope, it will explain where the terrorism comes from.

    Comment by Vel Velauthapillai | January 31, 2008 | Reply

  17. Vel,

    First of all, I think you’re confusing the budget and GDP. Sri Lanka is spending nowhere near 30% of its GDP on the military.

    The point that David has been trying to make to you is that it is not just the current GoSL that doesn’t want a federal solution – the LTTE doesn’t either. This is why they undid RW, the Sri Lankan leader who came closest to granting federalism.

    They want nothing less than a separate state, a completely unrealistic proposition for which they have fought a terror war for 30+ years, achieving little except mayhem and misery, particularly for the Tamils.

    If the Tamils want a federal solution, the first step is to recognise that the LTTE and its armed struggle has failed. They have not defeated the SL state, despite a long history of promises. Nor have they come even close to persuading any country or international body to offer support or recognition for Eelam. If anything, their terrorist activities have done quite the opposite. Let’s face it, three decades is a long time to spend getting nowhere.

    The second step is to try participating in national politics. Our democracy is not perfect, but the Muslim and Indian Tamil politicians have managed to achieve quite a lot for themselves (and even a little bit for their communities!) by joining successive governments and demanding their pound of flesh. Once the threat of violence and partition has receded, many things that seem unlikely today will become possible – even federalism.

    Yes, it will take a lot of patience and effort. But Quebec wasn’t built in a day. And it will surely be better than war.

    Comment by rajivmw | February 1, 2008 | Reply

  18. Jey is that you?

    Hey rajivm, wasn’t Chandrika pretty close to providing a Federal state back in the mid nineties as well?

    Comment by N | February 1, 2008 | Reply

  19. None of the Sri Lankan government want to accept federal system. This is a very proven history. If there any doubt, please refer from Banda-Selva pact in non-violent era.

    For the record for the last peace talk, you can refer the events and records.

    http://www.ltteps.org/list.ltte?folder=5

    In the last 60 years of Tamil struggle under Sri Lankan state terrorism, either in ATAK, TULF or LTTE period, Tamil stand is always same that is a true federal system or a separate state. Tamils decision had been democratically endorsed by majority (more than 90%)Tamils vote. The point is that when Tamils decide to secede, it is the Tamils who can decide not the Sinhalese.

    The real main problem is that Sri Lankan state terror governments want to militarily defeat the Tamils and destroy the concept of Tamil Nation by colonizing Tamil homeland and weakening Tamil population. The State terrorist successfully did this in the last 60 years. Tamil historical territory that existed before British colonial period already colonized by Sinhala governments. In reality, Sri Lankan state terrorist slowly but decisively in a mission to eliminate the presence of Eelam Tamils. This mission is already 40% completed.

    Comment by Vel Velauthapillai | February 2, 2008 | Reply

  20. Vel Velauthapillai,

    The mission of eliminating LTTE will be 100% complete within this year. That is dead sure. Have no doubts about it. If you reffer the history closely you will see that there wasn’t true Tamil homeland even in South India. Forget about in Sri Lanaka. As dear departed Ponnambalam once said Tamils will get only a graet grave yard in Kilinochci. Have no doubts about that too.

    Comment by Pina Kaludava | February 3, 2008 | Reply

  21. Dear Vel

    you seem to avoid answering any questions put to you, but keep hammering out your own blinkered version of history. You also use LTTE or other front organisation propoganda (as evidenced by your links) to justify your view. if you want to be taken seriously (at least on this blog) come up with something better than that.

    You say that the Tamil stand has always been one of federation or separation, but fail to explain why the LTTE (the self-proclaimed representatives of the SL Tamils) helped topple Ranil Wickramasinghe, who was offering the Tamils a federal state.

    You say that by using the ‘terrorist’ label we fail to understand the issue, but you use the words ‘terror’ or ‘terrorism’ to describe the GoSL five times in your last comment. Why don’t you practice what you preach?

    You use Canada/Quebec as an example of a plebiscite on separation, but conveniently forget that Canada already was a federal nation before the plebiscite, and its provincial government therefore has the authority to ask for a plebiscite. In SL there is no such authority. ALL Sri Lankans must vote on ALL national issues. Just as NE residents have the right to vote in national parliamentary elections, ALL SL citizens have the right to vote on the NE separation. That’s how democracy works.

    You say that the GoSL wants to defeat the Tamils, but conveniently overlook the fact that the LTTE is the ONLY Tamil separatist group fighting the SL Army. ALL other Tamil groups are allied with the GoSL against the LTTE. How can you say the war is against the Tamils when there are Tamils on both sides?

    You say that the GoSL is trying to colonize the NE by settling non-Tamils in those areas, but conveniently forget that ALL Sri Lankans have the right to live and settle wherever they wish in the country. Large numbers of Tamils live, work, and own property in Colombo and the south. Should we accuse the LTTE of trying to colonize the Western Province?

    It is the LTTE itself which has alienated the other communities in the NE by attempting to ethnically cleanse the area of all non-Tamils. This has lost them the East.

    Vel, please respond to these questions if you want to continue this discussion. However, I have already told you that it’s fruitless to attempt to argue the causes and reasons for the war in a forum such as this, and urged you to stick to the subject which is the Raytheon radar system.

    Comment by David Blacker | February 5, 2008 | Reply

  22. Dear Kakudeva

    Don’t try to be smart with your half-baked arguments.
    It is not Vel but you who is resorting to “own blinkered version of history.” Ranil Wickremesinghe never ever uttered the word federalism. He always spoke of full implementation of 13th amendment, just like Mahinda Rajapakse. The UNP may have said it will explore the federal model, but it was obvious the UNP was not serious. This has been proved by the UNP jettisoning the federal model as a solution to solve the ethnic problem.

    Quebec plebiscite was to separate from Canada. Period. Only the Quebec people voted in the plebiscite. You speak nonsense that only a federal province can ask for separation. The constitution of Sri Lanka does not bind the Tamils, because it was rejected by the Tamil people. Democracy is not the tyranny of the majority. The sovereignty over Northeast lies with the Tamil people inhabiting it. The LTTE may be the only group fighting for separation but it is the largest and sole group to do so on behalf of Tamil people. The 22 MPs belonging to TNA support the LTTE. Only Tamil Quislings support the Sinhalese government.
    All Sri Lankans can settle anywhere, but what is happening is large scale state sponsored colonization of NE so as to alter the demography. This we are opposed. For your information in the state of Kashmir no one born outside the province can buy land. That is a democratic provision in the constitution to safeguard minority rights.

    EDIT: The remainder of the post has been deleted due to it’s racist content. Nakkeran, if you post any further racist comments, you will be banned from this site. There will be no additional warnings.

    Comment by Nakkeran | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  23. Nakkeran, you seem to have mixed up Kaludava’s comments with mine. Don’t worry about it, happens to everyone.

    “Ranil Wickremesinghe never ever uttered the word federalism.”

    ‘Fraid you’re wrong there. This is from the BBC:

    But the opposition leader Mr. Wickramasinghe, who negotiated the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA) with the Tamil Tigers in 2002, promised to find a federal solution which is also accepted by the rebels.

    Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) led by Chandrika Kumaratunga and Mr. Wickramasinghe’s United National Party (UNP) have mutually agreed the federal structure as the basis to find a long lasting solution to national question.

    Your comment, which you’ve taken off the LTTE front site Ilankai Tamil Sangam gives a quote from Ravi Karunanyake, not Ranil. The former is someone who’s switched sides whenever he was paid more and isn’t a man of integrity.

    “The UNP may have said it will explore the federal model, but it was obvious the UNP was not serious. “

    You’ll never know, Nakkeran, since the LTTE never gave him a chance, choosing to install Rajapakse instead.

    “This has been proved by the UNP jettisoning the federal model as a solution to solve the ethnic problem.”

    The UNP has no choice but to discard the word “federalism” from its proposals because both the LTTE (through its support for MR’s candidacy) and the MR administration (through its manifesto) have rejected federalism. However, the UNP still stands for devolution and a federal system. It just won’t be called that. What MR plans to implement will also be a federal system in everything but name.

    “Quebec plebiscite was to separate from Canada. Period. Only the Quebec people voted in the plebiscite. You speak nonsense that only a federal province can ask for separation.”

    Yes, I’m aware of what the Quebec plebiscite was, thank you. Only the people of Quebec were allowed to vote because Quebec is a federal province. The North & East are not federal provinces and have no constitutional right to vote on their own governance. If the LTTE had allowed Ranil to carry out his plan for a federal system, perhaps one day the Northern Province could have held such a plebiscite. Sadly for the Tamils, the LTTE rejected this proposal.

    “The constitution of Sri Lanka does not bind the Tamils, because it was rejected by the Tamil people.”

    Tough shit. I reject many of Sri Lanka’s laws, but I’m still bound by them.

    “The sovereignty over Northeast lies with the Tamil people inhabiting it.”

    Don’t be foolish. I inhabit my house, but that doesn’t make it my sovereign territory. Ownership and sovereignty are two different things. Sovereignty is with the state, and ownership with the individual or group of individuals, therefore you may own land in Sri Lanka, but it will remain Sri Lanka.

    “The LTTE may be the only group fighting for separation but it is the largest and sole group to do so on behalf of Tamil people.”

    Again, you’re wrong. There are several other groups that are fighting for the Tamils, so while the LTTE may be the largest (getting smaller by the day, though), it’s not the only one. The failure to understand this helped the LTTE lose the East.

    “All Sri Lankans can settle anywhere, but what is happening is large scale state sponsored colonization of NE so as to alter the demography.”

    There has been no such state-sponsored colonization since the Mahaweli project, and that was hardly large-scale. So that’s just a myth. On the other hand, the LTTE has carried out ethnic cleansing throughout the NE.

    “For your information in the state of Kashmir no one born outside the province can buy land. That is a democratic provision in the constitution to safeguard minority rights.”

    There are many things in foreign constitutions which are different to ours, but since you say the Tamils have rejected the SL constitution, what difference does it make what’s in it? You can’t only support what backs your argument and reject what doesn’t. Make up your mind.

    Comment by David Blacker | February 7, 2008 | Reply

  24. David,

    This is totally off topic. But i would like to know your views regarding this. In your book Cause Untrue, you emphasize the use of air cavalry to take on the LTTE. Although setting up such a unit is costly, time consuming and risky, do you think that it would have been better to spend the money we have already spent on the newly formed Mechanized Infantry Division on air mobile assets? I believe it would have been costly to get choppers and training for airmobile troops than forming the MID.

    Your thoughts on this?

    Comment by B2Spirit | February 8, 2008 | Reply

  25. Dear Blacker,

    Thanks for your well reasoned and insightful replies. Well said mate,

    Kaludava

    Comment by Pina Kaludava | February 8, 2008 | Reply

  26. B2Spirit, if I was forced to choose between a large mechanized force or a large airmobile one, I would take the latter, even though it is more costly and problematic, taking into account SL’s terrain. However, armour does have its place (as was seen in the recent raids on the Muhamalai-Naagarkovil line). If I could afford it, I’d take an airmobile division and a mechanized brigade. And btw, the MID is really only just a brigade in size at the moment.

    Comment by David Blacker | February 8, 2008 | Reply

  27. So that means the current air mobile brigade and the MID are more or less equal in troop numbers? What is the current use of the air mobile brigade? It is not a fully fledged air cavalry equipped with artillery as i understand. Are they used in conventional warfare with the 53rd Division?

    Comment by B2Spirit | February 8, 2008 | Reply

  28. The Airmobile Brigade consists of regular infantry battalions with attached support units, and are trained in airmobile tactics. However, the SLAF does not have the necessary assets to make the Airmobile Brigade totally airmobile, and it’s debatable if even a full battalion can be airlifted into combat at one time. For the SL Army to have true airmobile capability it must have its own air corps, as does the US Army. Basically, a mechanized unit is converted to airmobile by replacing the tanks with attack helicopters and the IFVs and APCs with mediium airlift choppers.

    Comment by David Blacker | February 8, 2008 | Reply

  29. That means the current airmobile brigade is just trained in airmobile tactics but used more in the conventional form. I guess they are dropped from choppers in Silavathura?

    Can you shed some light about the 53rd Division’s US training? Does the whole division trained in US? Even new recruits who join it at present?

    Comment by B2Spirit | February 8, 2008 | Reply

  30. Well, I’m sure certain elements will be used in the airmobile role, but they’re mostly used as conventional infantry.

    I very much doubt that the entire division was trained in the US. Probably some officer and NCO cadres, and certain specialist troops.

    Comment by David Blacker | February 8, 2008 | Reply


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