Tigers can destabilize India and spread terrorism to the
US and Western Europe, warns a US military journal

By Walter Jayawardana in Los Angeles

Sri Lanka’s Tiger rebels could destabilize India and spread terrorism to the United States and Western Europe, warned a professional US military journal.

The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam could destabilize India not only through the insurgent connection but by transferring operations from Sri Lanka to Tamil Nadu, the home of 55 million Tamils.

The warnings came in the Joint Force Quarterly, a professional military journal published for the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of the Armed Forces of the United States.

Written by Major Paul Marks, a Sri Lankan expert of the US army, the article described the expansion of the activities of the Tamil terrorist group to India as part of the three-fold transnational threat the insurgent group poses to the world today.

The military journal pointed out the Tamil terrorist group could spread terrorism both to the United States and Western Europe and it could also continue to engage in smuggling drugs and weapons abroad as the other two transnational threats it could pose.

Major Marks said, the terrorist group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), which has been fighting the Sri Lanka government for a separate state for the Tamils since the early 1980’s, has engaged in international acts of terrorism including the assassination of Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in the Indian Southern state of Tamil Nadu in May 1991. He said the insurgent group has reportedly "combined training and coordination" between itself and insurgents in northeastern India. "Tamil Tigers" Marks wrote, "Operate ocean going vessels that are capable of reaching Thailand and Cambodia to purchase weapons and ammunition on the black market and mounting interdiction operations against the Sri Lanka Navy. They fund their movement through contributions gathered from Tamils living abroad and by exporting drugs and arms. For instance, Canadian officials told the press in 1966 that LTTE was raising up to 1 million a month through criminal activities in that country, including the sale of heroin and guns."

Marks wrote that weapons and ammunition including SA-7 anti aircraft missiles have found their way from Cambodia to Sri Lanka by the operations of the Liberation Tigers.

Marks pointed out Sri Lanka did not need military advisors on the same level as South Vietnam in the 1960’s. He said a small number of foreign area officers, Special Forces officers, non-commissioned officers, and functional specialists, serving on permanent change of station assignments under the auspices of a security assistance office, would suffice to help this Indian ocean island republic.

Major Paul Marks was very specific about the shortcomings of Sri Lanka’s armed forces which has grown from an army of an overall strength of 6000 in 1983 to 120,000, a navy and a jet-equipped air force: Strategic direction from the political authorities has never been adequate, although tentative steps began in 1994-95 to develop a national plan. This absence of strategy is matched by a lack of success.

He said, Sri Lanka Air Force has often lost the initiative, failed to exploit achievements, spread itself too thin and made operational blunders. " It lacks the ability to formulate and executive joint and combined planning and operations. But it has not as yet developed a theatre approach to integrating assets. The mobility to generate combat formations or sustained operations is absent. Commanders do not sufficiently coordinate tactical and operational fires.

While they have close air support, including Russian MI-24 Hind helicopters and Israeli Kfir aircraft, they do not have forward air controllers".

Marks said because of the rapid growth of the army, few officers have any expertise in planning and coordinating large operations. He pointed out that there is no intelligence school and operational demands necessitated by war have made training and education a second priority.

He proposed that US military advisors in Sri Lanka should focus on preparation of strategy, operational planning, and assistance in functional skills augmented by instruction by special operations. Forces on specific tactical skills such as air assaults naval infiltration and counter naval infiltration.

"There is also a need," he said, "for doctrine development that ties functional skills into a battle-focused training system. The goal would be defeat of LTTE in three years and the withdrawal of advisors within five."