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Sri Lanka to keep ‘eyes’ and ‘minds’ open to counter threats at the doorstep – Defence Secretary

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Sri Lanka’s National Security demands greater attention unlike in the history of the country ever since its independence, Defence Secretary General Kamal Gunaratne said.

He further stressed that Sri Lanka has to keep its ‘eyes’ and ‘minds’ open to counter all these threats that are at her doorstep.

The Defence Secretary made the statement when participating in the inaugural ‘National Defence College’s (NDC) Research Symposium – 2022’ as the Chief Guest.

He stated that it is a great leap forward and hopefully the output of the NDC would certainly contribute towards facing future challenges to ensure ever-lasting peace and security.

NDC Commandant Maj. Gen. Amal Karunasekara warmly received the Chief Guest Gen. Gunaratne and the Keynote Speaker of the day Mr. Lalith Weerathunga on their arrival at the venue.

The maiden NDC-organized symposium, which is exclusively designed to promote defence research and create an environment to explore research ideas related to the discipline of National Security and Strategic Studies was held under the theme of ‘Exploring Multinodal Security Dynamics’ at the Faculty of Graduate Studies Auditorium, General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU).

Defining national security as the ability of a country’s government to protect its citizens, economy, and other institutions, the Defence Secretary went on saying, today the scope of security in the context of non-military nature revolves around the provision of economic security, political security, energy security, homeland security, cyber security, human security, and environmental security in a broader context.

Further pointing at the differing modes of tactics used by governments to ensure national security including political, economic, and military power, along with diplomacy that is commonly known as elements of national power, he said, “it has quietly moved away from its traditionally centred approach of defence and military protection of sovereignty and territorial integrity, in protecting the country from external invasions as well as internal rebellions to a more people-centred approach of security and safety of citizen which is a late 20th-century phenomenon”.

Citing the conceptual developments and distinction between ‘National Security’ and ‘Human Security’, Gen. Gunaratne while concerning the country’s standpoint, stated that the national security dynamics today include managing global pandemics, mitigating and adapting to climate change, maintaining clean water, maintaining reliable food supplies, and protecting property of individuals and communities, dealing with economic and political dilemmas as well as the ability to protect the state sovereignty, influenced by a number of international actors.

Sri Lanka has become vulnerable to arms and drugs trafficking, Illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing on the man-made cycle whereas the global warming and resulting sea-level rises and weather anomalies, increased ocean pollution and impact on marine ecosystems, depleted fisheries, rising ocean temperatures and salinity, as natural issues that are creating problems in the Indian Ocean which in turn has created a severe impact on the security of Sri Lanka in the Indian Ocean, he added.

While delivering the Keynote address Mr. Weerathunga said that the modern defence and security systems are now expected to be equipped not only for military threats but also for non-military and hybrid threats.

The event saw three productive sessions consisting of questions and answering during the day. NDC Commandant Maj. Gen. Karunasekara conducted the welcome address at the outset of the programme.

A research symposium of this nature is a catalyst to foster networking among academia, military top brass, and Police officers and also to exchange academic notions associated with present-day security issues.

Mementoes were also presented to Defence Secretary Gen. Gunaratne and the Key Note Speaker Mr. Weerathunga during the session.

Chief of Defence Staff, Tri-Forces Commanders, KDU Vice Chancellor, Defence Attachés, Advisors of the friendly foreign nations and members of the diplomatic corps, eminent scholars, senior military and Police officers, course participants, KDU students and a large gathering of distinguished invitees were present at the event.

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