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Defence Ministry seeks Australian expertise to prepare ‘viable defence policy’

The Ministry of Defence has sort Australian expertise in preparing its own white paper and ‘viable defence policy’.

“The creation of a viable defence policy would allow us to make an appraisal of the security environment we live in and adapt our military capabilities in proportion to what is required,” said Chairman of the Institute of National Security Studies Sri Lanka (INSSSL) and the Secretary of Defence, Kapila Waidyaratne addressing a workshop held from October 23-25 in collaboration with the Australian High Commission at the INSSSL premises.

The Acting Australian High Commissioner, Tim Huggins, former Navy Commander Vice Admiral Travis J.L. Sinniah, Chief of National Intelligence – DIG (Retd.) Sisra Mendis, senior Sri Lankan military officials and senior staff from the Ministry of Defence participate in the event.

The workshop was conducted by an Australian team comprising both senior military and civilian officials, led by - Commodore Aaron James Ingram, Captain Guy Blackburn, Ryan Buchanan, Ben Carroll and Australian Defence Attaché Captain Jason Sears. The team had previously worked on the Australian Defence White Paper of 2016 and brought it to fruition in the Australian Parliament. Their aim was to impart the Australian knowledge and experience to the Sri Lanka defence establishment.

“An effective defence policy would enable Sri Lanka as a country to use the resources and capabilities it has to a more effective degree when protecting our national interests, and to maintain our preventative capabilities against threats that are both external and internal. This would remain a key defence priority for the country based on the experiences we have faced in the last few decades,” said the Defence Secretary further.

President Maithripala Sirisena in a recent visit to Australia signed a Joint Deceleration under the heading ‘security and defence cooperation’. This workshop thereby expands on the core tenants of this joint declaration - of a shared interests in regional security in the Indian Ocean, a commitment to closer cooperation and to a global rules-based order.

“We sense that eight years on from the conflict, Sri Lanka’s own security interests are evolving and the time is right to consider…a new outlook that might take into account Sri Lanka’s broader regional interests, and policy priorities including freedom of navigation in the Indian Ocean,” noted Waidyaratne commenting on significance of the white paper.

The Director General of INSSSL, Asanga Abeyagoonasekera in the meantime said, “Australia is seen as a neutral power in the Pacific and Sri Lanka could be a stabilizer in the Indian Ocean protecting and creating a peaceful surrounding at a time of the rise of China and emerging India happening in Asia”.

He added, “the defence white paper could assist to resolve the complexity of the nation’s defence strategy’ and thereby help to abate public apathy.”