Tigers cannot afford full
scale war new Army Chief
by Harischandra Gunaratna
Courtesy The Island 17-12-2005
New Army Commander Lt. Gen Sarath Fonseka yesterday asserted that the
LTTE does not have the capability to launch a full scale conventional
war as they had been weakend considerably.
He said the strength of the LTTE hardcore members was around 4,000
to 5,000 while the rest were child soldiers and inexperienced cadres.
He said However, we have to strive for an honourable peace and that
should be our ultimate goal. There is a need to re- establish contact
with the LTTE hierarchy and I have directed the field commanders in
the North to commence a dialogue with them as there is a communication
breakdown right now he said".
He said the Army was prepared to face any eventuality and one of his
priorities would be to groom the Army to keep pace with other around
the world. Explaining about the needs of the Army the Commander said
"We have to re- structure and strengthen the force while changing
the tactics adopted in warfare. We alsohave to enhance our technical
knowledge. Another important factor is that we have to be equipped with
modern weapon systems as most of what we possess now are obsolete weapons
purchased around 20 years ago." Responding to a question on whether
the LTTE will take his appointment , as the Commander of the Army, as
a formidable challenge, he said "Certainly, they will judge it
on my capabilities in their past experiences with me on the battle field.
I have not lost a single battle against them. The civil war in the North
and the East has been taking a respite during the last three years after
the CFA was signed. Our officers and men are not in a frame mind for
war and training has to be stepped up," he said.
The commander said these shortcomings however cannot be overcome overnight
as the LTTE had increased its firepower, taking advantage of the
Asked about the killing of Army personnel in Jaffna, including four
men and a officer yesterday in Nallur, Lt Gen Fonseka said "These
type of incidents have to be stopped". He pointed a finger at the
LTTE saying that there was no other guerilla outfit operating in the
North and East other than the LTTE.
When asked what he would do to eliminate such killings he said "I
will stick to the same rules and methods I adopted when I was Security
Forces Commander in the North three years ago."
Expressing his views on the CFA he said it has to be revieved as the
President has quite rightly said in his Mahinda Chinthanaya.
He added that though the CFA has been welcomed by the International
community as a good political manoeuvre, militarily it had been a disadvantage
as the LTTE had gained the advantage.
Speaking on the High Security Zone (HSZ) he said there are around 14,000
families who have been evacuated and they will be compensated.