Are we jeopardising national security?


I was shocked and surprised to learn that the government had decided to close the office of Strategic Studies of the Ministry of Defence. As a citizen of this country who feels affected by this decision, I believe I now have a legitimate right to demand (after the recent constitutional amendment) that we, the so-called sovereign people, be informed of the reason for what I would describe as a decision which is not in the interest of the country. I do hope it is not because this office was established during the period of the last administration and also that it is not some ludicrous act to "teach the former Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa a lesson", for I believe the office was established during his tour of duty. This appears to be a ridiculous decision.

The paramount consideration of any country is its security. Today, threats to security takes sophisticated forms such as for instance the cyber terror, which have even upset the US. Today’s technology has enhanced the capabilities for so-called intelligence organisations such as the CIA, the RAW, the ISI, the MI6, MOSAD etc to destabilise and even overthrow a regime they dislike. In the circumstances we should be extra vigilant we should have the wherewithal to take preemptive action if we perceive any threat to national security. Although we had a war for over thirty years, and though it had an international dimension with India and many countries of the West involving themselves in various ways, we did not have a separate office to study the different strategic aspects and formulate policy.

We lacked a professional approach to the issue. Devoting special attention to security strategy is absolutely vital to establish stable and lasting peace. Diplomacy, intelligence gathering and international cooperation are vital and this is where an office of Strategic Studies becomes important. Do we today have a political, economic and social strategy to consolidate the peace we have achieved? This, I believe, was the role of the office that has been closed down. Almost all developed countries recognize the importance of having a strategy and have set up state agencies to advise them on strategy. The subject is also taught in universities in developed countries.

I have had a personal interest in the subject and, therefore, have followed the work done by this agency, which had the good fortune of having a wholly committed, apolitical, professional officer as its chief who worked tirelessly on a strategy to professionalize the police in particular. It is, indeed, a pity that we closed this important agency; we have shot ourselves in the foot. I hope that the government would do a rethink in the interest of our country.

K. Godage
Former Ambassador

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