Ex-service personnel called up
[TamilNet, Friday, 28 April 2000, 15:53 GMT]
The Sri Lankan President today called up all retired and pre-maturely retired security forces personnel for active service in the war against the Liberation Tigers. The unprecedented call had to be made to meet the severe manpower shortages faced by the army as a consequence of a series of major reversals in the battle fields in the northern theatre SLA sources said.
The officers and men who have been asked to join up have, however, been told that they will not be sent to the war front but will have to serve in "low intensity areas".
This has been done to attract many ex-servicemen who are reluctant to be deployed in the battle zones, particularly at this juncture when the fighting looks set to escalate further, a defence ministry source in Colombo said.
Ex-servicemen have been called up as the SLA needs to pull out more troops from areas in the north and east where the intensity of the conflict is low to stall the Tigers advancing on Jaffna. The SLA has already transferred a large number of troops from the eastern province to beef up its defences in Jaffna to face the advancing troops of the LTTE.
The SLA is seriously troubled by a series of failed but highly publicised recruitment campaigns, desertions and heavy manpower losses from military debacles and constant fighting with the Liberation Tigers.
A large number of Sri Lankan security forces personnel who retired prematurely are employed in the private sector. The call by the President, if pressed, could be a severe economic burden on their employers as they are expected to grant the ex-servicemen duty leave for the period of active service required of them by the army analysts say.
The following is the full text of the press release issued by Sri Lanka's Defence Ministry this afternoon.
"The President has called out the members of the Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Air Force , Sri Lanka Navy, regular reserve on active service with effect from May 1 (sic). They are requested to report for duty to the nearest service camp or in case of the army, to their respective regimental centres between May 1 and May 10."
"They will serve only in low intensity areas. They will be entitled to pay and allowance as per prevailing salary scales."
Officers in the rank of Lt. Col. commander, wing commander and below are eligible. All employers are obliged under the law to release such persons who are employed under them for active service. The employers are expected to grant them duty leave for the period of active service and re-employ them once they are released."