South Asia and Beyond

Sri Lanka Needs To Cut Troops, But Doing So Could Have Repercussions

New Delhi: Sri Lanka was never supposed to have the number of Armed Forces that it does. The island nation faces no external threat and it was the ongoing civil war between the Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE that caused the number of military personnel to rise to the level it did. By the end of the war which lasted nearly three decades the LTTE was defeated but the number of Sri Lankan soldiers swelled to 400,000 in 2009, an amount which many claim is unsustainable. Today, as the cash-strapped island nation looks to cut costs, eyes have fallen on the military who currently account for two percent of total GDP of total spending by the government. The majority of the proposed cuts will be borne by the Army where it is planned that the current number of 200,783 soldiers will be reduced to 135,000 by 2024 and 100,000 by 2030. It must be borne in mind such a move could have fallouts as the discontentment of disgruntled soldiers could create a potential law-and-order situation. The situation is so sensitive that a final decision could be taken only after the 2024 elections scheduled for November this year. It is not just Sri Lanka the move may also have indirect repercussions for India. Currently, an estimated 800 Sri Lankan officers train annually in India and while the close ties between the two country’s militaries are not likely to change post the decision, New Delhi will be watching the situation quite closely.


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