Bid to downsize army alleged

Military Spokesman dismisses claim


By Shamindra Ferdinando

The National Freedom Front (NFF) yesterday alleged that the government was planning to reduce the strength of the 200,000 army by 25 per cent.

Addressing the media at its main office at Pita Kotte, Kalutara District MP Jayantha Samaraweera claimed that specific instructions as regards the proposed reduction had been revealed in a letter dated June 14, 2018 issued by the Office of the Chief of Staff of the Army.

The MP said the move was in line with dictates of Geneva-based United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC).

The MP claimed that the altogether 33 battalions comprising 14 regular and 19 volunteer would be done away with. Over 100 camps and detachments including some of those strategically positioned units, too, would be dismantled.

The NFF spokesperson estimated the number of officers and men to be demobilized/retired at nearly 25,000.

The lawmaker alleged the downsising of the Army would pose a grave threat to post-war national security.

The NFF claimed that the government was in a hurry to downsize the army before the next presidential poll scheduled for Dec 2019.

Responding to NFF allegations Military spokesman Brigadier Sumith Atapattu told The Island that there was absolutely no basis for such a claim. He said that the army was engaged in restructuring as some formations were far below strength. Brig. Atapattu denied moves to downsize the Army or dismantling bases in a manner inimical to national security.

Brig. Atapattu said that similar exercises had been undertaken before and such efforts were meant to ensure proper maintenance of formations.

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