|Officer morale downstream
Army Chiefís new
promotion structure ruins future prospects say Senior Officers
Officers of the Sri Lanka Army are dismayed by a promotion
structure introduced last year by the Commander of the Army Lt
Gen Sarath Fonseka, which has effectively, they say, ruined
their future career prospects in the Army.
According to an ĎArmy Routine Orderí issued by the Commander on
February 13 last year, promotion to the rank of Lt Col and above
will be confined to Field Engineers Officers who have gained
experience in high intensity operations or, have proved extreme
commitment to tasks assigned and performed duties well, along
with a very high command strength.
Officers in a selected Majors list have been relegated to three
categories. Main, Common and Logistic Stream. Officers of Armour,
Artillery, Mechanized Infantry and Infantry will be considered
for the Main Stream appointments, provided they fulfill the
selection criteria. Therefore, any future Commander of the Army
will be chosen from this stream only.
The Mechanized Infantry, in fact, was a brainchild of Lt. Gen.
Fonseka, who initiated the fighting brigade in 2006.
Officers of Armour, Artillery, Mechanized Infantry and Infantry
who are not considered for Main Stream appointments and Officers
of the Corps of Engineers and Signals will be considered for
what has been termed Common Stream appointments, subject to
having fulfilled the selection criteria. In addition, Officers
from the Service regiments may be promoted to selected Common
Stream appointments, as determined by the Commander of the Army.
While Officers of Service regiments will be appointed to the
The document from the Commander, spelling out the promotion
details, states that, in considering Officers for promotion to
the ranks of Lt Col and above, Main Stream Officers will be
given priority, provided, of course, they conform to the stated
However, it adds that the performance of Officers will be
assessed on each occasion, when due promotion, whether to be
promoted in the present stream or transferred to the Common
Stream, based on the assessment, during the period under
consideration. Under these circumstances, Common or Logistics
Stream Officers should not supersede Main Stream Officers in
parallel seniority, it states.
Previously, promotions of this nature, were based on seniority
and determined by the Ministry of Defence. However, since this
order was issued in February last year, the Defence Ministry is
yet to confirm and validate the order. Nevertheless, Officers
have already been put into these three categories and at least
two, promoted to Main Stream, on the directions of the Army
The Commanderís decision is based on his assertion that the
Army, being a command oriented organisation, the command
strength shall be considered as the most important trait for
higher leadership in the Army. His order states that this trait
shall be given priority in all training activities mainly
focused at gradual intellectual development, with a view to
improve their ability to command units/formations, both during
peace and war.
The order adds that when Officers are considered for promotion
to higher rank/appointments, the command strength shall override
excellence attained in other streams of employment such as staff
and instructional appointments. To achieve this, performance of
Officers at various levels of command, will be carefully
recorded and scrutinised.
A selection Board has already begun making the appointments.
Thus far only two Officers from the Common Stream have been
promoted to the Main Stream. Col P.M.R. Bandara and Col T.J.
The promotions have irked senior Officers, who, speaking on
grounds of anonymity, said that countless other Officers who are
more senior and experienced than these two Officers, have been
deprived of promotion, as a result of the new selection
Brig S. Ranasinghe, Brig K.J. Wijeytilleke, Brig L.N.
Wickramasuriya, Col H.A.N. Hapuarachchi, Col K.M.U. Wijerathne,
Col D.S. Weeraman, Col D.S. Weerasekera and Col W.R. Palihakkara
are among dozens of other Officers bypassed for future