An Army during Peace Time
Posted on August 31st, 2013

By Garvin Karunaratne

The fact that the Sri Lankan Army has been deployed for development tasks after the war with the LTTE was over is worrying some Non Government Organizations and this is a matter taken up with Navi Pillai. by Nimalka Fernando and others.
Any one who studies current happenings in Tamil Nadu will understand that it is a de facto LTTE State though it is yet within the Government of India. Even Buddhist monks have been assaulted in Tamil Nadu and there is massive agitation that India should not participate in the Commonwealth Meeting in Sri Lanka.   What we fail to realize is that the frenzy to which the Tamil youth have been hyped indicates that even an invasion of the North of Sri Lanka can be expected.
Thus we will be committing suicide if we disband the Armed Forces. Thus ways and means have to be found to keep the Armed forces intact
The Army of Sri Lanka was used in times of floods when bridges get washed away and the Army comes in and fixes a bailey bridge within a few days. In the Anuradhapura of the Sixties, my friend Dr Randy Guneratne a doctor of the Volunteer Force was enlisted when the Volunteer Force was sent to cut the sugar cane crop at Kantalai. Today, there is a great deal of criticism about the work of the Armed Forces in building up their own cantonments in the North and the East, The Army should build up their dwellings and the other infrastructure and there should be no qualms about it..
We have to guard the seas and should have a highly developed coast guard system. They need not watch for gunboats from foreign forces, but there are many peace time tasks in development. At Matara, where I was the Government Agent there were reports that foreign trawlers come  and catch the fish in our waters. When I reported  I was asked to report details like the markings on the trawlers etc. I had to send staff officers on fishing boats- by the time we reported the trawlers had gone away. That never worked.  Our coast guard ships can have a multi purpose function to catch fish in addition to their coast guard duties. Today we import fish from many countries. Then the cost of guarding the coast from foreign terrorists will be covered.  

We can also look to America because there the US Army has an Army Corps of Engineers that attend to many developmental tasks.

 In the case of the USA, what is important is that the Army Corps attends to matters of national development on a permanent basis. It is not just casual work after a major flood Take the Snake River- there are many dams across this Snake river built up the US Army Corps. Take Yellowstone, the US Army Corps was called in when the task could not be contained through petty contractors and the US Army Corps do it till today. Many are the hydro electricity plants that have been built by the US Army. Take the Levees built to save New Orleans from the sea. These were built by the US Army Corps of Engineers.  

 The Mission of the Army Corps of Engineers is “…” Provide vital public engineering services in peace and war to strengthen our Nations”‘ security, energise the economy and reduce risks from disasters.”‚  

The Vision was a “…”great engineering force of highly disciplined people working with our  partners through disciplined thought and action to deliver innovative and sustainable solutions to the nations”‘ engineering challenges.”‚

   The US Army Corps is at work in most States of the USA..

 Some details are quoted to indicate the magnitude of the work that has been accomplished.

 The 17 mile long Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, was done in 1975

 On the Columbia River in Oregon, the construction of the McNary Dam meant producing 980 megawatts of power from 14 hydro power turbines.

On the Snake River, the Ice Harbour Lock and Dam, Lower Monumental Lock and Dam, the Little Goose Lock and Dam and the Lower Granite Lock and Dam have 24 hydro turbines that produce 3,33 megawatts of power.

 Incidentally on my travels in 2004 I saw for myself the stupendous structures done by the Army Corps. It was a marvel; of engineering for the salmon fish to swim upstream in a separate graded channel while simultaneously the water got dammed to provide power.

 In Louisiana the levees that keep the land away from the sea were also built by the Army Corps. The land is below sea level. In my 2010 travels in the Missisipi I have myself seen these levees- we call them tank bunds in Sri Lanka. The US Army Corps not only built these levees but also maintain them.

 In short it seems that there is not a single river where the US Army Corps has not had a hand in development. In the Snake River the Army Corps maintains navigation by dredging.

 The Army Corps owns and maintains 609 dams, 257 navigation locks and 12,000 miles of navigation channels.

  Recently we saw with our own eyes the yeoman work done by the Army to sell vegetables in the city. They sold at half the price at which retailers sell and thereby enabled inflation to be kept at bay.

 Sri Lanka”‘s development requires a multi pronged effort. This task cannot be achieved by the Private Sector alone whose aim is to create profits and not service to the people. The Public Sector has also to be activated to establish Farms and Industries like under the Divisional Development Councils Programme of 1970-1977 to provide employment and enable production as documented in my book: “Papers on the Economic Development of Sri Lanka”(Godages).. In  addition the Armed Forces can play a major role.  It could be the building of tanks- the reservoirs that breathe life to our farmers of the Dry Zone. It could be the building of a few hundred wind turbines that will sort out our energy requirements for good. I have written again and again that wind power is the one method of solving our power requirements- Spain has been building wind turbines on a massive scale and today even sell power to France- all achieved within the past five years.

Thus the role of the Armed Forces in development is an area that is of crucial importance. The agitation against the development work that the Army attends to today indicates to me that the aim of the NGO and the persons who agitate is to destroy our motherland.

Garvin Karunaratne

Former SLAS, 22.8/2013

One Response to “An Army during Peace Time”

  1. jayasiri Says:

    Thank you Mr. Gavin Karunaratne for this wonderful article. Sri Lanka has gone through a lot since 13, 13 A, or there of was the BURNING TOPIC of the day.

    YES it is an important issue BUT we must this through our own eyes, withouut getting too excited. Our President whether he is this or that, HE STILL manages to give direction to his ministers and somehow try to keep the flock in tact for major decisions Lanka has to make in & around December 2013.

    He earnd his right to hold CHOGM, and it may or may not produce expected results, YET 54 heads of state or representaives will enter Sri Lanka & discuss AMONG other things HOW TO guide Sri Lanka in certain issues Commonweallth so determeined to help Sri Lanka SMOOTHING these rough edges, if you like.

    Now true that Ms Pillai is a Tamil according some reports SHE IS VALLALA caste which most of Jaffna Tamils take pride in. They treat the LOW CASTE tamils so badly our central govt. had to step in & help the people WHO ARE DISCRIMINATED by their own race. NOT SINHALESE BUDDHISTS, BUT Tamils who are either Catholics or NON -BUDDHISTS.

    Is it any wonder we have so many Christian denominations who wear the CLOAK and resort to many UN-PATRIOTIC activities. Sometinmes they feel they are IMMUNE to legal appartus in Sri Lanka. Contact inflluentiail people in Tamil community or Indian community in other countries & make a case to look Sri lanka as a COUNTRY which discrminates against TAMILS, CHRISTIANS, HINDUS or MUSLIMS. This is in fact NOT so, we Sinhalese Buddhists have gone out of our way to HELP them . BUT they get our help & then CONSPIRE to help regime change.

    As most writers to Lankaweb, pointed out whenever Sri Lanka is about embark on a program to better our people, and extend diplomatic relations to oher countties in Africa, and Middle East, HERE COMES again alot, like writers of Sri Lanka GUARDIAN newspaper, who had made their ULTIMATE JOB to discredit Sri Lanka.

    I see the left parties have said if N. Pillai submits a bad report it is 90% because of Rajapaksa administration & they already blame the govt. THESE ARE the people who CONSPIRED WITH LTTE & made JRJ a puppet of INDIA. JRJ found from South & North all people aer agitated & it was Colombo & suburbs who helped him.

    These LEFT parties are again planning A CLAS WAR against GOIGAMA people, saying those people get all good high patying jobs.. blah blah…& it never stops.

    SRI LANKANS of all stripes SHOULD HELP LANKA NOT contine to talk down or under estimate the development that has taken place in MOST difficult financial times…. MY point is to rally round with the PRESDENT and make his job that much easier, than making it so difficult to govern.

    I know I have gone out of my way to exprss my opinion BUT I feel in situations like this PRESIDENT SHOULD BE PROTECTED……Our intelligence & Defence Mnister can help immensely.

    Thank you all…KEEP WRITING< EXPRESSING YOUR SENTIMENTS & if ou can suggest improvements to better GOVERN SRI LANKA……May the NOBLE TRIPLE GEMS GUARD our Motherland & MAY GOD BLESS ALL ~J

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