This study focuses on building the image of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces with special attention to the post-conflict context. The Sri Lankan Forces featured significantly in a variety of discussions since the culmination of the war. And a majority of these discussions presented a negative image of the Forces. Therefore, an analysis will be made on the negative images propagated and how going forward, the Forces can build their image through the use of public diplomacy. A qualitative research, it utilises secondary data such as newspaper articles, reputed web articles and journal articles and primary data such as discussions with officials from the Armed Forces, the civil and diplomatic services in addition to speeches and strategy documents. It analyses concepts such as soft power, public diplomacy and military diplomacy against the management of image and reputation especially that of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces, in the post-conflict context. The objective of this study is to examine how the image of Sri Lanka could be improved through the use of public diplomacy by the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. In addition this study identifies how the use of soft power could be constructive in bridging the gap between civilians and military in the context of security. The writer analyses how the development of the image of the Tri-Forces will serve the betterment of the country in the future and the positive impact it will have on their image in ensuring their skills and professionalism are known by the world at large. It also highlights the benefits of presenting the “soft side” of the armed forces to the world. The study concludes by commenting on the importance of public diplomacy for the Sri Lankan Forces. And by examining this importance, how it will benefit both the country and the military establishments in the future.
This paper was presented at the 9th International Research Conference organised by General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University. The full paper can be accessed here.