Army gives armoured vehicles to STF
[TamilNet, Wednesday, 05 July 2000, 20:48 GMT]
The Special Task force (STF), the elite arm of the Sri Lankan security forces, was given ten armoured vehicles by the Ministry of Defence Wednesday to beef up its operational capabilities against the Liberation Tigers in the eastern province and the southwestern sector of the Vanni. The STF is a specially trained and equipped unit of commandos drawn from the Sri Lankan Police. The operational responsibilities of the STF have been increased due to the withdrawal of Sri Lankan army troops from the east and Mannar in recent months to stall the advance of the Tigers in the Jaffna peninsula.
The STF was initially developed and deployed for counter insurgency operations in the eastern province.
However, the growth of the LTTE's conventional military capabilities has impelled the STF in recent years to look beyond standard western counter insurgency doctrine and practice. The armoured vehicles given to the elite commando force is an indication of this concern analysts say.
The STF has been tasked to control about 130 kilometers of the eastern coast and its hinterland from Aaraippattai to Paanama, between Batticaloa and the Yala wild life sanctuary. Aaraippattai is eight kilometers south of Batticaloa town. It was also deployed on the Main Supply Route to Mannar after the SLA was pulled out from this road for operations in the north last year.
The STF is facing manpower shortages despite drawing its personnel from the Police force.
The vehicles that were handed over today had been made in a "special army factory" at the cost of 18 million rupees according to MoD sources in Colombo.
The armoured vehicles were given at a special function Wednesday at the Sri Lanka army headquarters in Colombo by the SLA's commander Lt.Gen. Srilal Weerasooriya.