WikiLeaks: By Improving SL Navy’s Ability, US Will Help To Bring Terrorist LTTE To Heel: Embassy Colombo

“As extensive embassy reporting has discussed, the political, economic, military and security environment in Sri Lanka has undergone dramatic changes since the 5 december 2001 parliamentary elections which brought a new government to power. The GSL and Tamil Tigers (LTTE) have signed a ceasefire Memorandum of Understanding as a prelude to talks (o/a may 27) aimed at ending nearly two decades of brutal civil war. Feelings of optimism and hope have swept over this troubled island. The fighting has stopped, and the many and onerous security procedures that affected every day life have dissipated: long closed roads have reopened; police and military checkpoints have shut down; and draconian restrictions on fishing and other maritime activities have begun to disappear.” the US Embassy Colombo informed Washington.

Ashley Wills

The Colombo Telegraph found the related leaked cable from the WikiLeaks database. The cable discusses Sri Lankan Navy’s strengths and weaknesses. The “Confidential” cable written on February 05, 2003 and signed by the US Ambassador to Colombo E. Ashley Wills.

The ambassador wrote; As our reporting also has stressed, however, the GLS wants to enter this delicate period with ‘a warm heart, but a cool head.’ the GSL’s foe is one of the world’s most ruthless and sophisticated terrorist organizations. As our public statements and other information have made clear, we continue to see ltte efforts at resupply and other activities that seem to indicate, at a minimum, a lack of total reliance on peace talks as a means to resolve the dispute that has torn apart Sri Lanka.

Under the sub heading “The Sri Lankan Navy Needs Help” the ambassador wrote; “It has repeatedly shown a willingness to close with the ltte’s ocean-going force, the sea tigers. The navy’s will to fight, however, has exceeded their ability to fight effectively. The sea tigers have inflicted serious casualties on the navy, including through the use of devastating suicide craft. Open press in Sri Lanka points to past attacks by LTTE suicide boats as the inspriration for the attack on the uss cole. Tiger maritime supply arguably remains one of, if not the most, serious challenges faced by the gsl in brining to a successful conclusion the recently launched peace process. An assessment by a team form the us pacific command headquarters in september and october of 2002 indicated that maritime interdiction of the ltte’s resupply capability was one of the most important factors needing to be addressed by the governemtn of Sri Lanka. The navy simply cannot do the job with its current fleet — and the tigers know it and simply do not take the navy very seriously. Beefing up the ability to interdict and deter tiger supplies would make a major contribution to the peace talks, showing the LTTE that talking is better than fighting, and, if the talks break down and conflict resumes, the navy could put a serious dent in terrorist supply efforts. To those ends, the country team strongly supports the provision of a 210′ eda cutter to the sl navy.”

“Providing the Sri Lanka navy with vessels of the medium endurance cutter class size supports embassy Colombo’s MPP. Regional security and counter-terrorism are two fundamental areas of the mission’s plan for Sri Lanka. By improving the navy’s ability to interdict LTTE supplies, the USG will help to bring this terrorist organization to heel.” the ambassador said.

Under the subheading “Human Rights” ambassador Wills wrote; “The Sri Lanka military has had an improving Human Rights record while the LTTE has a consistently poor record. Assisting the GSL to bring and keep the LTTE at the negotiation table and in the political process can only help improve the human rights record of both sides. The Sri Lanka navy’s sea-going units have a solid HR record with few verifiable incidents in the last three years.”

Placing a comments he said; “Provision of the cutter fully supports our 2003 MPP and the overall US objectives of combatting terrorism and illict traffic in drugs and humans. It further increases US influence with the SL military and rewards a frankly pro-US government that seeks increasingly close US-SL mil-to-mil relations.”

sri-lanka-president-with-us-president-barack-obamaRead the cable below for further details;

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 COLOMBO 000198

SIPDIS

STATE FOR SA AND PM; SECDEF FOR DSCA AND ISA; CINCPAC FOR
J454 AND POLAD

E.O. 12958: DECL: 02/05/13
TAGS: PREL PARM MASS PGOV PTER PINS CE
SUBJECT: SRI LANKA: NEED FOR EDA CUTTER

¶1. (U) Classified by DCM W. Lewis Amselem, Reasons 1.5 (b,
d)

¶2. (SBU) THE COUNTRY TEAM STRONGLY SUPPORTS PROVISION OF
A 210′ EDA CUTTER TO THE SL NAVY.

¶3. (SBU) AS EXTENSIVE EMBASSY REPORTING HAS DISCUSSED,
THE POLITICAL, ECONOMIC, MILITARY AND SECURITY
ENVIRONMENT IN SRI LANKA HAS UNDERGONE DRAMATIC CHANGES
SINCE THE 5 DECEMBER 2001 PARLIAMENTARY ELECTIONS WHICH
BROUGHT A NEW GOVERNMENT TO POWER. THE GSL AND TAMIL
TIGERS (LTTE) HAVE SIGNED A CEASEFIRE MEMORANDUM OF
UNDERSTANDING AS A PRELUDE TO TALKS (O/A MAY 27) AIMED
AT ENDING NEARLY TWO DECADES OF BRUTAL CIVIL WAR.
FEELINGS OF OPTIMISM AND HOPE HAVE SWEPT OVER THIS
TROUBLED ISLAND. THE FIGHTING HAS STOPPED, AND THE MANY
AND ONEROUS SECURITY PROCEDURES THAT AFFECTED EVERY DAY
LIFE HAVE DISSIPATED: LONG CLOSED ROADS HAVE REOPENED;
POLICE AND MILITARY CHECKPOINTS HAVE SHUT DOWN; AND
DRACONIAN RESTRICTIONS ON FISHING AND OTHER MARITIME
ACTIVITIES HAVE BEGUN TO DISAPPEAR.

¶4. (SBU) AS OUR REPORTING ALSO HAS STRESSED, HOWEVER,
THE GSL WANTS TO ENTER THIS DELICATE PERIOD WITH ‘A WARM
HEART, BUT A COOL HEAD.’ THE GSL’S FOE IS ONE OF THE
WORLD’S MOST RUTHLESS AND SOPHISTICATED TERRORIST
ORGANIZATIONS. AS OUR PUBLIC STATEMENTS AND OTHER
INFORMATION HAVE MADE CLEAR, WE CONTINUE TO SEE LTTE
EFFORTS AT RESUPPLY AND OTHER ACTIVITIES THAT SEEM TO
INDICATE, AT A MINIMUM, A LACK OF TOTAL RELIANCE ON
PEACE TALKS AS A MEANS TO RESOLVE THE DISPUTE THAT HAS
TORN APART SRI LANKA.

¶5. (C) THE SRI LANKAN NAVY NEEDS HELP. IT HAS
REPEATEDLY SHOWN A WILLINGNESS TO CLOSE WITH THE LTTE’S
OCEAN-GOING FORCE, THE SEA TIGERS. THE NAVY’S WILL TO
FIGHT, HOWEVER, HAS EXCEEDED THEIR ABILITY TO FIGHT
EFFECTIVELY. THE SEA TIGERS HAVE INFLICTED SERIOUS
CASUALTIES ON THE NAVY, INCLUDING THROUGH THE USE OF
DEVASTATING SUICIDE CRAFT. OPEN PRESS IN SRI
LANKA POINTS TO PAST ATTACKS BY LTTE SUICIDE
BOATS AS THE INSPRIRATION FOR THE ATTACK ON THE
USS COLE. TIGER MARITIME SUPPLY ARGUABLY
REMAINS ONE OF, IF NOT THE MOST, SERIOUS
CHALLENGES FACED BY THE GSL IN BRINING TO A
SUCCESSFUL CONCLUSION THE RECENTLY LAUNCHED
PEACE PROCESS. AN ASSESSMENT BY A TEAM FORM
THE US PACIFIC COMMAND HEADQUARTERS IN
SEPTEMBER AND OCTOBER OF 2002 INDICATED THAT
MARITIME INTERDICTION OF THE LTTE’S RESUPPLY
CAPABILITY WAS ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT
FACTORS NEEDING TO BE ADDRESSED BY THE
GOVERNEMTN OF SRI LANKA. THE
NAVY SIMPLY CANNOT DO THE JOB WITH ITS CURRENT FLEET —
AND THE TIGERS KNOW IT AND SIMPLY DO NOT TAKE THE NAVY
VERY SERIOUSLY. BEEFING UP THE ABILITY TO INTERDICT AND
DETER TIGER SUPPLIES WOULD MAKE A MAJOR CONTRIBUTION TO
THE PEACE TALKS, SHOWING THE LTTE THAT TALKING IS BETTER
THAN FIGHTING, AND, IF THE TALKS BREAK DOWN AND CONFLICT
RESUMES, THE NAVY COULD PUT A SERIOUS DENT IN TERRORIST
SUPPLY EFFORTS. TO THOSE ENDS, THE COUNTRY TEAM
STRONGLY SUPPORTS THE PROVISION OF A 210′ EDA CUTTER TO
THE SL NAVY.

¶6. (U) BELOW, WE SEEK TO ADDRESS THE QUESTIONS THAT NEED
ANSWERING PRIOR TO THE PROCESSING OF A LETTER OF OFFER
AND ACCEPTANCE (LOA).

¶A. (C) COUNTRY REQUIREMENTS. THE SRI LANKA NAVY IS
SHIFTING FROM A STRATEGY OF CLOSE-IN (4 TO 12 NAUTICAL
MILES) TO LITTORAL WATERS (25 – 27NM) DEFENSE AGAINST
LTTE SMUGGLING EFFORTS BECAUSE OF THE RELAXATION OF
MARITIME RESTRICTIONS MENTIONED ABOVE. THIS CHANGE IN
NATIONAL STRATEGY AND NAVAL DOCTRINE IS NOT WELL
SUPPORTED BY THE CURRENT FLEET. THE ADDITION OF SEVERAL
VESSELS OF MEDIUM ENDURANCE FOR LONGER AND DEEPER
PATROLLING, SUCH AS THE 210′ FORMER-USCG CUTTERS, WOULD
CONTRIBUTE IMMENSELY TO THE SRI LANKA NAVY’S ABILITY TO
PERFORM THIS VITAL NATIONAL FUNCTION. THIS NATION’S
NAVY ONLY HAS FOUR, OLDER VESSELS OF MIXED NATIONAL
ORIGIN TO ACCOMPLISH THIS MISSION. FAILURE TO ASSIST
SRI LANKA’S NAVY IN THE PROCUREMENT OF SUITABLE VESSELS
IN SUFFICIENT QUALITIES COULD RESULT IN THE LTTE’S SEA
TIGER WING GAINING THE UPPER HAND IN THE ‘LOGISTICS
WAR.’ CONTINUED SUCCESS BY THE LTTE AT SEA
WOULD ALSO SET AN EXAMPLE FOR OTHER GROUPS TO
COPY-CAT IN THEIR ATTACKS AGAINST THE US.
AFTER AN END TO LOCAL HOSTILITIES, THE SRI
LANKA NAVY COULD USE THE VESSEL FOR MARITIME
PATROLLING IN THE COUNTER-DRUGS ROLE, COMBAT
HUMAN TRAFFICKING, COUNTER PIRACY AND CONDUCT
SEARCH AND RESCUE OPERATIONS IN THE NOW
LARGELY
UNPATROLLED SOUTHERN INDIAN OCEAN.

¶B. (C) ABILITY TO USE EFFECTIVELY. THE COUNTRY TEAM
BELIEVES THE SRI LANKA NAVY HAS THE ABILITY TO USE A
MEDIUM ENDURANCE CUTTER IN THE WAR AGAINST THE LTTE, A
DEPARTMENT OF STATE-DESIGNATED FOREIGN TERRORIST
ORGANIZATION, AND THAT THIS IS IN THE USG INTEREST. THE
NATION’S MARITIME SERVICE HAS OVER 50 YEARS EXPERIENCE
IN LITTORAL OPERATIONS COUNTERING SMUGGLERS AND
TERRORISTS. THE NAVY ALREADY OPERATES A SIMILARLY
SIZED, OFFSHORE PATROL VESSEL (OPV) OF INDIAN-ORIGIN.
SRI LANKAN NAVAL OFFICERS ATTEND PROFESSIONAL MILITARY
EDUCATION COURSES IN THE UNITED STATES RANGING FROM THE
VERY PRACTICAL CIC OFFICERS COURSE TO THE MORE
THEORETICAL SENIOR COMMAND COURSE. FINALLY, THE
GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA PLANS TO BECOME MORE INVOLVED IN
GLOBAL PEACEKEEPING OPERATIONS WHERE MARITIME RESOURCES,
SUCH AS US-PROVIDED MEDIUM ENDURANCE CUTTERS, COULD
PROVIDE VALUABLE SYNERGIES WITH THE UNITED STATES NAVY
AND COAST GUARD AS WELL AS OTHER ALLIED FLEETS.

¶C. (C) ITEM LOCATION AND TRANSPORTATION. THE SRI LANKA
NAVY INITIALLY PLANS TO BASE ANY MAJOR US ACQUISITION AT
THE PORT OF COLOMBO WITH DUTY IN THE INDIAN OCEAN BASIN
AND THE PALK STRAITS. THIS IS FOR TWO MAJOR REASONS.
FIRST, THE PORT OF COLOMBO HAS THE NATION’S MAJOR HARBOR
WITH ASSOCIATED SUPPORT FACILITIES, SECOND, TO
PROTECT THE VESSEL FROM POSSIBLE SEA TIGER
ATTACK. THE VESSEL WOULD THEN PATROL THE
WATERS OF THE INDIAN OCEAN BASIN FROM AMBANTOTA
IN THE SOUTH TO THE JAFFNA PENINSULA IN THE
NORTH. A VESSEL AS LARGE AS A 210′ MEDIUM
ENDURANCE CUTTER COULD BE SAILED FROM ITS
REFURBISHMENT SITE IN THE US TO SRI LANKA AFTER
A PERIOD OF CREW TRAINING. THE SRI LANKA NAVY
HAS EXPERIENCE IN MOVING SHIPS FROM THE UNITED
KINGDOM TO THE ISLAND NATION.

¶D. (C) ABILITY TO PAY. IN THE PAST WE HAVE
REPORTED THAT SRI LANKA, AND ITS NAVY, HAS
BEEN CASH STRAPPED BECAUSE OF BUDGETARY
CONSTRAINTS IMPOSED BY THE GSL AS IT STRUGGLES
TO MEET INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND TARGETS.
THE SRI LANKA DEFENSE BUDGET, NEVERTHELESS, IS
OVER UNITED STATES DOLLARS (USD) 500 MILLION
WITH ALMOST USD 100 MILLION OF THAT FOR
DEFENSE PROCUREMENT, AND THE PRIME MINISTER
HAS RECENTLY DIRECTED THE SERVICE CHIEFS TO
LOOK SPECIFICALLY AT US EQUIPMENT. WHILE THE
SRI LANKA NAVY’S INITIAL PROCUREMENT BUDGET
FOR FY2002 WAS APPROXIMATELY USD 30 MILLION, A
SUPPLEMENTAL COULD BE GIVEN AT THE DIRECTION
OF THE GOVERNMENT. THE PURCHASE OF A MEDIUM
ENDURANCE CUTTER COULD BE SPREAD OVER TWO
FISCAL YEARS.

¶E. (C) ABILITY TO ABSORB INTO THE FORCE STRUCTURE. THE
SRI LANKA NAVY IS PLANNING TO CHANGE ITS FORCE STRUCTURE
OVER THE NEXT DECADE FROM A PURELY CLOSE-IN FORCE
RELIANT UPON FAST ATTACK CRAFT AND PATROL CRAFT TO A
LITTORAL FORCE BASED ON OPVS AND POSSIBLY CORVETTES/CUTTERS.
THE FLEET’S FOCUS WILL SHIFT AS WELL FROM CONCENTRATING
EXCLUSIVELY ON SMALLER SMUGGLERS’ CRAFT TO ‘MOTHER SHIPS.’
WHILE THERE WILL CERTAINLY BE SOME ‘TEETHING PAINS’ WITH THE
ACQUISITION OF MEDIUM ENDURANCE CUTTERS BY THE SRI LANKA
NAVY, THE SYSTEM(S) SHOULD EVENTUALLY ENTER SERVICE. THE
PURCHASE OF AN INDIAN OPV WENT EXTREMELY SMOOTHLY FROM AN
OPERATIONAL POINT OF VIEW. FINALLY, THE MAINTENANCE COST
ESTIMATES PROVIDED BY THE USCG ARE BASED MAINLY ON THREE
ITEMS, LABOR (MUCH CHEAPER IS SRI LANKA THAN IN THE US),
FUEL (CURRENTLY AT A SIMILAR PRICE AS PAID BY THE USCG) AND
SPARES (THE ONLY FIXED PRICE THAT CANNOT BE ADJUSTED BY THE
GSL). WITH THESE COSTS IN MIND, COUNTRY TEAM BELIEVES THAT
SRI LANKA CAN AFFORD TO MAINTAIN THE VESSEL.

¶F. (C) MPP SUPPORT. PROVIDING THE SRI LANKA NAVY WITH
VESSELS OF THE MEDIUM ENDURANCE CUTTER CLASS SIZE
SUPPORTS AMEMBASSY COLOMBO’S MPP. REGIONAL SECURITY AND
COUNTER-TERRORISM ARE TWO FUNDAMENTAL AREAS OF THE
MISSION’S PLAN FOR SRI LANKA. BY IMPROVING THE NAVY’S
ABILITY TO INTERDICT LTTE SUPPLIES, THE USG WILL HELP TO
BRING THIS TERRORIST ORGANIZATION TO HEEL.

¶G. (SBU) HUMAN RIGHTS. THE SRI LANKA MILITARY HAS HAD
AN IMPROVING HUMAN RIGHTS RECORD WHILE THE LTTE HAS A
CONSISTENTLY POOR RECORD. ASSISTING THE GSL TO BRING
AND KEEP THE LTTE AT THE NEGOTIATION TABLE AND IN THE
POLITICAL PROCESS CAN ONLY HELP IMPROVE THE HUMAN RIGHTS
RECORD OF BOTH SIDES. THE SRI LANKA NAVY’S SEA-GOING
UNITS HAVE A SOLID HR RECORD WITH FEW VERIFIABLE
INCIDENTS IN THE LAST THREE YEARS.
¶7. (C) FINAL COMMENTS: PROVISION OF THE CUTTER FULLY
SUPPORTS OUR 2003 MPP AND THE OVERALL US OBJECTIVES OF
COMBATTING TERRORISM AND ILLICT TRAFFIC IN DRUGS AND
HUMANS. IT FURTHER INCREASES US INFLUENCE WITH THE SL
MILITARY AND REWARDS A FRANKLY PRO-US GOVERNMENT THAT
SEEKS INCREASINGLY CLOSE US-SL MIL-TO-MIL RELATIONS.

¶8. (U) POINT OF CONTACT IS LT COL RICH GIRVEN, DEFENSE
AND ARMY ATTACHE, CHIEF OF THE OFFICE OF DEFENSE
COOPERATION. TELEPHONE AT: 94 (COUNTRY CODE) – 1 (CITY
CODE) – 448007, EXT.: 2442/2; OR, EMAIL AT:
DIGIRRS@NOTES.DAWN.DIA.SMIL.MIL (CLASSIFIED) OR
DATT@ITMIN.COM (UNCLASSIFIED).

WILLS