Katunayake airstrike: human capital, gathered against the odds
[TamilNet, Sunday, 01 April 2007, 03:23 GMT]
Asserting that Monday’s airstrike on Katunayake “indicates a quantum leap in the LTTE’s technological base,” Professor Kumar David, an engineering specialist, argues Sunday that “the LTTE’s aviation technology is far behind that of the Sri Lanka Air force..that it has taken the first step is quite telling.” In a op-ed in The Island, he cautions Colombo that the human capital gathered against massive odds by the LTTE renders a military solution unviable. Meanwhile, a columnist in the Tamil Guardian points out the LTTE acquired the know-how and materials for an air force in the harshest international climate for armed movements.
Professor Kumar David
"In a modern knowledge-based world the true measure of progress is the sophistication of human resources capital; technology is not things, not machines, gadgets and electronics, rather technology is the knowledge and ability inside people’s heads," Prof. David wrote.
He points to the vast array of different human skills, beyond simply flying a light aircraft that need to be acquired and brought together to accomplish recent airstrike on Katunayake.
"It is not just a matter of smuggling in a light aircraft kit or two and assembling them in the jungle. They have to be test flown; they have to take-off and land; be maintained and serviced, the bomb bays loaded and the frame structurally balanced,” he says.
“To fly from some god-forsaken part of the Vanni over Katunayake, drop a payload and get back safely in the dead of night needs some minimal avionics and navigational tools and the ability to use them.”
“But most important of all it needs the flight crews, the engineering personnel and the ground crews to carry out the operation.”
“ Make no mistake about it, if every LTTE aircraft, runway and hanger is destroyed but the skilled personnel remain, then the battle has only just begun," he warns.
Prof. David pointed out that his analysis is based on decades of engineering experience.
More than forty years ago I started off as an engineering student and recently finished off as Dean of Hong Kong’s largest and best known engineering school, so I guess I should know a thing or two about technology.”
Prof David questions the shortsightedness of political leaders on pursuing military solutions and urges Sri Lanka's President Rajapakse to take charge of the peace process, prising power away from war-mongering hardliners.
Also this week, an op-ed in the Tamil Guardian newspaper says the crucial message that the LTTE has sent Colombo with its heavily publicised airstrike Monday is “not only is the LTTE now able to conduct such raids; it has been able to acquire this ability despite the pointed efforts of the Sri Lanka government and its allies to prevent it.”
“There is nothing inevitable about the emergence of the ‘Air Tigers.’ In fact there is every reason for such an endeavour to be nigh impossible now,” the article said.
“Although the LTTE claimed an air force as long ago as 1998 and the foundations for it being laid by Colonel Shankar, assassinated by Sri Lankan commandos in 2001, it is only in recent years that the TAF has been properly constituted.”
“But this period coincides with the most concentrated and extensive effort by the Sri Lankan government and its international allies to squeeze the LTTE’s ocean going supply lines and shut down its financial and other operations around the world.”
“Indeed, the post 9/11 era, with its attendant global anti-terrorism drives, has arguable been the most difficult period in which the LTTE has had to develop any of its military capabilities.”
“That the LTTE was able to acquire the sophisticated equipment, the supplies and, especially, the extensive know-how to run an air force, not matter how small, is no mean feat.”
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