Young Alakai Warriors of the U.S. Army Pacific Briefed by INSSSL Experts

The Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka (INSSSL) hosted a briefing for a delegation from the Young Alakai Warriors of the U.S. Army Pacific on Security Challenges of Sri Lanka in the Next Decade” on 1st March 2017. The briefing was conducted by members of the Advisory Council of INSS, Admiral (Dr.) Jayanath Colombage and Major General (Rtd.) Milinda Peiris.It was held at the Ministry of Defence.

Both Admiral Colombage and Maj. Gen. Peiris provided a very informative and insightful account on this important topic. In his presentation, the speaker drew attention to the security challenges posed by diaspora groups overseas support networks of former militants and their reorganisation in the international arena. He pointed out that there is an estimation of over two thousand cadres that have escaped or avoided capture in Sri Lanka which couples pose a serious security threat. The international networks of the terrorist organisation remain intact while continuing to gather support through raising funds and lobbying foreign political parties. As a priority in a post-war community, he highlighted the importance of achieving sustainable peace through reconciliation. In addition, Maj. Gen. Peiris speaker underlined the threat in the increase of radicalisation of Sri Lankans by extremist elements including the Tamil progressive organization and Islamic extremist groups. Other areas he emphasised were, cyber threats; from the use of radiation; the US megaport initiative; and geopolitical realities, its impact on the transshipment hub.

Admiral Colombage in his commentary, placed emphasis on the security challenges faced by Sri Lanka due to its strategic location in the Indian Ocean which at present is perceived as the key ocean in the 21st century. The speaker identified India, China and the United States as the major players that hold significant influence in the Indian Ocean and presented three factors that can considerably change the security dynamic in the IOR - specifically, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Chabahar port in Iran and the Krar canal in Thailand. Admiral Colombage also recognized the rise of violent non-state actors as threat to maritime security in the region which is evident with the continued activity of piracy, human trafficking and drug smuggling. Furthermore, with the presence of two nuclear powers he stated that this region was acknowledged as the most militarized ocean in the world. As a recommendation, the speaker suggested the implementation of a regional maritime security architecture and a code of conduct for major maritime users (in addition to UNCLOS) to ensure stability in the Indian Ocean.

In conclusion, Major General (Rtd.) George Higgins, Senior Mentor for the group of Alakai Warriors spoke a few worlds thanking the speakers and the INSSSL for the very informative presentations. His remark that the delegates ‘learned and un-learned’ many things was noteworthy