« The report initially examines Thatcher’s policy on Sri Lanka during her decade in power. Her opening salvo was to dispatch former MI5 director (Jack Morton), a veteran of Malaya and Ireland. He reported back on ‘the depressing picture of apparatus and morale in the security forces tackling the Tamil problem’, at a time when the Tamil armed struggle for independence was just beginning.
Then, from 1983-1987, KMS Ltd, a British mercenary company comprised of ex-SAS soldiers (many of them Dhofar veterans), trained Sri Lankan police commandos, army officers and helicopter gunship pilots in counter-insurgency techniques. KMS became infamous in the late 1980s when its boss, David Walker, was implicated in the Iran-Contra scandal. It is now one of Britain’s oldest private military contractors, trading under the name of Saladin Security.
The 1990s were no different; UK military training continued unabated. The Defence Attaché at the British High Commission even described himself as a protégé of General Frank Kitson, godfather of Britain’s colonial counter-insurgency campaigns. Then in 1997, almost 50 years after Sri Lanka became independent from the Empire, the British Army helped establish a military academy on the island for senior officers.
The Ministry of Defence attached a British Colonel to the college, where he held one of the highest positions. His first batch of students included a young Kamal Gunaratne, who would go on to command the Sri Lankan Army’s 53rd Division in the killing fields during 2009. His unit is alleged to have executed the Tamil female journalist Isaipriya. The twisted irony is that the college’s motto was, ‘To war with wisdom and knowledge’. »