Sri Lanka Army

Defenders of the Nation

15th August 2017 19:36:34 Hours

Commander Spells Out Vision Behind Army-Initiated ‘Colombo Defence Seminar’

“The Colombo Defence Seminar is an attempt to export our experiences and learn theirs since we have a ‘story’ to tell the world year by year after we completed the humanitarian operations. This annual discourse for intellectual brainstorming, designed to discuss a diverse range of security issues, has now carved a niche for itself in the global calendar and has gained ground as a regular forum,” said the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, attending the inaugural press briefing on the forthcoming 7th ‘Colombo Defence Seminar - 2017’ (August 28 - 29), held Tuesday (15) evening at the Sri Lanka Electrical Mechanical Engineers (SLEME) Headquarters in Colombo 2.

“There is a big demand for conduct of the Seminar, judged by the number of inquiries and confirmations being forwarded to the Army Directorate of Training year after year. A total of 800 participants, including some 200 foreigners would attend this year’s sessions which would be addressed by 15 foreign and 12 local experts on specific themes. A special feature added to this year’s sessions was the invitation, extended to all Chiefs of Army Staff (Army Commanders) in the SAARC Region. Similarly, the Army Chief in Zambia has already confirmed his participation while the keynote address is to be delivered by a security expert from the West,” the Commander explained.

Responding to a query of a journalist on the non-inclusion of ‘religious extremism’ or ‘terrorism’ in the main sessions, the Commander added that any speaker on the relevant sub themes would be free to express views on the definition of ‘extremism’ in an open manner without any restrictions as such. In fact, during our past Seminars, we have dwelt adequately on the subject of terrorism and the speakers could comment and define it accordingly.

Asked whether a sub theme on the ISIS in the sessions means that the security is concerned about its threat, the Commander emphatically noted that the country is not faced with any threat as such, but elsewhere in the world. “Internally, we do not have any such threat but externally there do exist non-traditional threats as you can see around,” the Commander pointed out.

Major General Amal Karunasekara, Chief of Staff, Major General Piyal Wickremaratne, Director General General Staff, Major General Priyantha Jayasundara, Military Secretary, Major General G.V Ravipriya, Director General Army Training and Brigadier Roshan Seneviratne, Director Media were at the head table during the Press briefing.

A Media Release circulated during the occasion states the following;

“The Sri Lanka Army-initiated interactive and intellectual forum,‘Colombo Defence Seminar,’ slated to discuss a wide range of geo-strategic security concerns with special focus on regional issues, came into being a few years ago bridging in fact a long-felt gap that prevailed particularly in the aftermath of Sri Lanka’s sustained fight against world’s one of the most ruthless terror outfits and also in the whole of the southern hemisphere.

This year’s meet in Colombo, scheduled during 28-29 August at the BMICH is the 7th in sequence, expected to draw a packed audience of 800 foreign and local representatives, analysts, advisers and subject experts in the defence sector, including 15 foreign and 12 local speakers. All Army chiefs in SAARC countries, adding a new dimension to the seminar, have also been invited.

This year’s two-day sessions would deliberate on the theme, ‘Countering Violent Extremism: Global Trends’, a topic that underlines contemporaneous security issues unfolding in many corners of the world in the wake of fast spreading violent extremist trends which appear to be increasingly interconnected and unpredictable, posing threats to respective statecraft and national security concerns.

It is in this backdrop, efforts were launched by the Army to reach a comprehensive understanding of the multiplicity of challenging security issues, many of which remain influenced and are apparently borne out as the end-result of radical ideologies of religious, political or social relevance. Such dialogue with an avowed objective of formulating a collective and assertive approach to resist such violent threats in close consultation with global defence partners, is therefore considered a need of the hour.

‘Colombo Defence Seminar - 2017’ as an umbrella that collects world-wide defence partners, strategists, policy-makers and analysts together, capable of collectively assessing rapidly changing global trends, ways and means of countering such violent threats, is set to harness diverse opinions, intellect, skills and technical know-how, essential for formulation of dynamic policy decisions to kick start required mechanisms during the segmented panel discussions on the final day.

Aimed at accommodating a wider discourse with scholars and promoting intellectual connectivity among regional and global partners, the ‘Colombo Defence Seminar - 2017’ provides an ideal platform for exchange of experiences and expertise with focus on formulation of collective mechanisms to counter such extremism. Such discussions would also inevitably stimulate stakeholders, dedicated to promote positive alertness to the process of learning strategies. The Seminar is also poised to muster serious attention on root causes that have so far wreaked havoc in nations, and highlight the significance of addressing those sprouts for sustenance of durable global peace and the healthy conduct of statecraft.

This year’s meticulously-segmented Seminar sessions are expected to shed light on sub themes, ‘Violent Extremism’, ‘Countering Violent Extremism’, ‘The Role of Armed Forces in Countering Violent Extremism’, and ‘Mechanism to Counter Violent Extremism’ supplemented with topical subjects such as ‘Challenges and Dilemmas, National Perspectives - East Asia and West Asia’, ‘Role of Regional Organizations’, ‘Impact of Global Governance’, ‘Legal Implications’, ‘Intelligence Cyber Challenges and Strategies’, ‘Specific Tasks of Armed Forces and Civil-Military Relations’, ‘UN Strategies’, ‘Education Strategies in Internal Security’, ‘Public Diplomacy in Countering Violent Extremism’, ‘Balancing Hard Power and Soft Power’, ‘Role of Military in Global Governance’, ‘Empowering Communities to Counter Violent Extremism’, ‘Use of Fourth Generation Warfare to Counter Violent Extremism’, etc.

The whole of the arrangement, organized by the Directorate of Training of the Army with the full cooperation of all other Directorates under the close supervision of the Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake, will thus open the floor for intellectual brainstorming, amid a gathering of intellectual calibre where a wide spectrum of equal interests meet together.

Several prominent and reputed foreign scholars and experts, committed to the security of nations have been billed to address the attendees during this year’s discourses of intellectual, regional and global significance.

Stimulating critical thinking on those vital matters of security concerns after selection of a relevant topical theme, like the ‘Countering Violent Extremism: Global Trends’, this flagship project of the Sri Lanka Army calendar of events, which has by now carved a niche for itself in the international arena, is unarguably a fountain of academic parley, supplemented with an ocean of intellect, genuinely committed to build global partnerships through discussions.

Among the host of distinguished invitees and contributors to the Seminar are High Commissioners, foreign and local politicians, security advisors, defence strategists and think-tanks from countries across the globe.” (Ends)