Refurbishing the Armed Forces
By Tissa Ravindra Perera
Drastic changes were effected to the upper echelons of Sri Lanka’s
Security forces this week. The President, as Commander-in-Chief, made
changes to the posts of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), Army Commander and
Navy Commander. The decision to make these changes was made known to
those senior officers on Saturday (11) and the posts were officially
filled with oaths being taken on Sunday (12).
Changes in Military hot seats
Accordingly, the architect of the victorious ‘Eelam War’, Gen. Sarath
Fonseka, relinquished his position as Commander of the Sri Lanka Army,
to be appointed as the Chief of Defence Staff (CDS). Two years and 10
months into his tenure as Army Chief, he was able to vanquish the LTTE
and end its terror campaign that devastated the country for more than 30
Joining the Army on February 5, 1970, as a Cadet Officer, he was part
of the Intake Three that passed out on June 1, 1971. On passing out, he
was posted to the Singha Regiment. He served his regiment and the Army
for more than 38 years. Always, literally leading his men from the
front, he was injured thrice in battle, and returned to give leadership
to the war against terror. Taking over as Army Commander on December 6,
2005, he promised that he would not leave the task of finishing the war
to another Commander, and wiped out the entire terror outfit built by
Just about to complete the second month of crushing the worst terror
organisation ever created, he relinquished command of the Army on
Tuesday (14). He takes over as CDS with full powers to command the
Security Forces and the Police. This position equals the post of Deputy
Defence Secretary. Air Chief Marshall Donald Perera, who was the CDS
during the ‘Eelam War’, relinquished his post to end 37 years of
military service, during which period he was Air Force Commander for
four years and CDS, during the crucial period of the war for three
years. He is due for a diplomatic posting.
Maj. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, Wanni Security Forces Commander during
the final ‘Eelam War’, was promoted Lt. Gen., and took over as the 19th
Commander of the Army at age 50. He eclipsed seven senior Majors General
for the top job. Having entered the Army with Intake Ten, he could serve
as the Commander until 2014, when he will reach the retirement age of
The two seniors considered contenders for the post are Maj. Gen Sumith
Balasuriya and Maj. Gen. G.A. Chandrasiri. Though Maj. Gen. Chandrasiri
was tipped as the next Commander, due to his being Jaffna Commander for
greater part of the final ‘Eelam War’, Maj. Gen. Balasuriya had
seniority over the former.
Because of his experience in the North, Maj. Gen. Chandrasiri has now
been appointed Governor of the North by the President. As the Security
Forces Commander in the peninsula, he came to associate with the people
of the North while doing administrative work there, which will stand him
in good stead in his new appointment.
Having served the Army for 34.5 years with the Artillery Regiment Maj.
Gen. Sumith Balasuriya has submitted his retirement papers, and is
expected to be posted as a deputy ambassador overseas.
With the appointment of Lt. Gen. Jayasuriya as the Army Chief, other
seniors in the rank of Maj. Gen. too are likely to retire. Among them
are Majors Gen. A.S.A. Ranasinghe, Upul Perera, L.B. Aluvihara, Vasantha
Kumara and W.K. Bandara.
The appointment of the new Navy Commander too played a part in the
Rear Admiral Thisara Samarasinghe was due to retire on July 16 on
reaching 55 years of age. Earlier, he was earmarked to be given a
six-month extension, prior to being made the Commander, but finally, was
appointed the new Commander of the Navy instead.
With the appointment of Vice Admiral Samarasinghe as the 16th Navy
Commander, his predecessor Admiral Wasantha Karrannagoda retired, and
made National Security Advisor. He served the Navy for 38 years, during
which, his four years as Navy Commander, he completely destroyed Tiger
naval operations. The attrition the Tigers suffered at sea was such
that, it finally had to hide much of its remaining attack craft on land,
which consequently fell to the advancing troops.
While these changes were made to top Command positions, other senior
positions too are being reshuffled.
New CDS Gen. Sarath Fonseka will have a staff of around 300 including
seven Majors Gen., one Rear Admiral and an Air Vice Marshall. Maj. Gen.
Laksiri Ameratunga is its Chief of Staff. Maj. Gen Mahesh Senanayaka
will be Director General Joint Planning & Defence Development, Brig.
Amal Karunasekera to be Director Joint Intelligence, Brig. Maithree Dias
to be War Assistant to CDS, Brig. Sumith Padumadasa as War Secretary,
Brig. T.H. Meedin to be Director Research & Development and, in
addition, Brigadiers Prasanna Silva and Dampath Fernando have been named
to fill in other positions.
Meanwhile, the new Army Commander also has made changes to many
positions. To begin with he has appointed Maj. Gen. Milinda Peiris as
Military Secretary with Lt. Col. Robin Jayasuriya as Military Assistant.
On July 16, the new Military Secretary, by order MSB/A/6/1 (APPT) (125),
signed the appointment of Maj. Gen. Aruna Jayatileke as the new
Commander of the Sinha Regiment taking over from its former Commander
Gen. Sarath Fonseka.
Army Commander Lt. Gen. Jagath Jayasuriya, under whom the Mechanical
Infantry Regiment operated, has as its new Commander the Military
Secretary Maj. Gen. Milinda Peiris. The Artillery Corps that was under
Maj. Gen. Sumith Balasuriya has been taken over by Maj. Gen. Jammika
Liyanage. Maj. Gen Liyanage’s departure from the Armoured Intelligence
Corps has been filled by Maj. Gen. Abdul Zaheer. The Armoured Corps
commanded by Maj. Gen. G.A. Chandrasiri, has been handed over to Maj.
Gen. N.A. Ranasinghe. The Infantry Regiments’ has been taken over by
Maj. Gen. Daya Ratnayaka. Maj. Gen. Lalith Daulugala has taken over as
Commander of the Gajaba Regiment, while Maj. Gen. L.B. Mark is the new
Commander of the Gemunu Watch. Maj. Gen. Kamal Guneratne is the new
Commander of the Special Forces. Brigadier Z. Abeysekera has taken over
as Colonel Commandant of the Signals Corps.
By order of communication MSB/A/6/1 (APPT) (132) Jaffna Commander
Maj. Gen. Mendaka Samarasinghe has taken over as the Chief of Staff
ArmyHQ. Maj. Jammika Liyanage takes over as Commandant SLAVF, in
addition to his present duties. Maj. Gen. Aruna Jayatillake takes over
as AG AHQ. Maj. Gen. Rajitha Silva takes over as Commander Jaffna.
Maj. Gen. Mano Perera takes over as Director General Staff, Maj Gen.
Kamal Guneratna is the new Commander of Wanni. Brig. Z Abeysekera is
appointed Commander FMA East. Brig. Prasad Samarasinghe takes over as
Chief Signals Officer AHQ, Brig. Aruna Perera is Commander 58 Division.
Brig. B. Jayasundara is Director Plans AHQ, Brig. Ruwan Kulatunga is
Commander SLMA. Brig. Shavendra Silva takes over as Director Operations,
AHQ. Brig. Kumudu Perera is Commander 51 Division.
Brig. Chagee Gallege takes over Command of 53 Division, Brig. Duminda
Keppetiwalana takes over as Commander 59 Division. Col. B.D. Dias
appointed to Security Forces HQ MLT, Col. R. Palihakkara appointed Dy.
Pay Master P&R AHQ, Col. Aruna Jayasekera appointed Operations Commander
Colombo, Col. Rohitha Dharmasiri is Centre Commandant SLSR. Col H.
Kulatunga appointed Jaffna Town Commander, Col. Mahinda Weerasuriya
takes over as Commander 112 Brigade, Col. Wasantha Kumarapperuma
appointed Commander 552 Brigade. In addition, it is learnt that Col.
Jayantha Guneratna is to be appointed Director Intelligence.
Spoils of war
While these changes in the higher ranks in the forces took place,
troops of 19 Sinha Regiment (SR) under 681 Brigade, in a search
operation in the Vellamullaivaikal area, unearthed 60 unused radios.
Among those found were “Vertex” of Japanese origin and “Sesu” made in
In addition Sub Inspector Nishantha Hettiarachchi working under the
direction of SSP Vas Gunawardene of the Colombo Crime Division, in the
area under 681 Brigade, found vital internal documents of the Tiger
Among those found were related papers on missile boats, helicopter
armaments, documents made out for the purchase of night vision
binoculars, equipment for night diving, maps, missiles and rockets,
papers connected with the purchase of ships, books in the Tamil language
on Tiger war tactics and a heap of other documents were found. Through
these it is hoped to discover further information on the arms dealings
and their activity network.
Also found was an anti tank rocket made in China, not even found in
the Sri Lankan military, in the East of Pudukudyirruppu.
Troops under Lt. Col. Athula Ariyaratna, Commanding 622 Brigade,
unearthed a 130 mm artillery gun in a bullet-proof steel box from the