No US Special Forces in Sri Lanka: Military



Colombo: Sri Lanka on Saturday rejected a top US military commander's statement that American Special Forces were deployed in the island nation.

There was no American or any other foreign forces stationed in the country, Sri Lankan military spokesman Brig Nihal Hapuarachchi said.

His remarks follow a top Pentagon commander's statement that the US Special Forces teams were stationed in India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Nepal and Maldives as part of counter-terrorism cooperation.

These teams, he claimed, had been deployed by US Pacific Command (PACOM) as part of its effort to enhance their counter-terrorism capabilities, in particular in the maritime domain.

"We have currently special forces assist teams - Pacific assist teams is the term - laid down in Nepal, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Maldives, as well as India," Admiral Robert Willard, the PACOM Commander, told US lawmakers at a Congressional hearing on Thursday.

India also yesterday rejected his statement, with its Defence Ministry saying that "US Special Forces Teams have never been stationed in India in the past, nor are such teams stationed in the country presently."

Brigadier Hapuarachchi, however, said the Sri Lankan army had invited four countries -- which he did not identify -- to come with teams comprising 68 foreign servicemen attached to elite Special Forces for its annual 'Comoran Strike' SEAL (Sea, Air and Land) training exercise, which is to be held in September.

The exercise, in which 2,500 Sri Lankan servicemen would participate, was aimed at enhancing the striking capabilities, especially in amphibious warfare operations.

The training is focused on improving decision-making, commanding and efficiency in deciding command capabilities at a given situation, Hapuarachchi said.

PTI