The Commander of the Army (also known as Army commander) is the title of the professional head of the Sri Lanka Army. This post is similar to British Army's Chief of the General Staff. The Army Commander is assisted by the Chief of Staff of the Army. The current Commander of the Army is General Shavendra Silva.
|Commander of the Sri Lanka Army|
|ශ්රී ලංකාවේ යුද්ධ හමුදාපති|
|Sri Lanka Army|
|Member of||National Security Council|
|Reports to||Ministry of Defence|
Chief of Defence Staff
|Term length||Not fixed|
|Constituting instrument||Army Act (Chapter 357)|
|Precursor||Commander of the Ceylon Defence Force|
|Formation||20 October 1949|
as Commander of the Ceylon Army
|First holder||Brigadier Roderick Sinclair (as Commander, Ceylon Army)|
|Deputy||Chief of Staff of the Army|
The post traces it's roots to the post of General Officer Commanding, Ceylon, which was the title of the officer commanding the British Army units stationed in Ceylon prior to independence in 1948. On 10 October 1949, when the Ceylon Army was formed following the enactment of the Army Act, Brigadier Earl of Caithness was appointed as Commandant, Ceylon Army and at times referred to as Commander-in-Chief, Ceylon Army. British Forces in Ceylon was also known as Commander of the Ceylon Defence Force. The title of the head of the Ceylon Army was changed to Commander of the Army. All army commanders till Sepala Attygalle (appointed in '67) held the rank of Brigadier and were being promoted to major general later, Attygalle was the first commander to be promoted to lieutenant general in 1974.
Since the 1990s, serving army commanders have been by convention of the rank of lieutenant general. Army commander is promoted to the rank of full general on the day of his retirement or if he is appointed as the Chief of Defence Staff. Two commanders were promoted to general after their retirements, Denis Perera and Nalin Seneviratne, were promoted in 2007 after 26 and 19 years respectively of their retirements in recognition to their services. An army commander may be promoted to full general while in active service e.g. Sarath Fonseka and Shavendra Silva were made full generals in 2009 and 2020 respectively.
The Commander of the Army is appointed by the President of Sri Lanka under section 8 of the Army Act. The Commander of the Army, is not subjected to the mandatory retirement age of 55 or a maximum permissible service in rank, which officers from the rank of colonel and above are subject to. The appointment has no fixed term and the President may grant service extensions.
The Commander of the Army, exercises overall command of the Sri Lanka Army from the Army Headquarters assisted by the Chief of Staff and Deputy Chief of Staff, with all subordinate commands and branches reporting to the Army Headquarters. Reporting directly to the Commander are the Commander's secretariat, Commander's Security Unit and the Reserve Strike Force.
The officer serving as the commander of the army, would be entitled to certain unique insignia. These include a personal flag and the officer's uniform includes a unique baton, aiguillettes and gorget patches. In addition to an Aide-de-camp, the commander of the army may appoint Military Assistants.
The official residence of the Commander of the Army is General's House in Colombo. The house was one of several built as Class A Quarters by the British Colonial Government of Ceylon along Bullers Road for the use of government officials and was used as the quarters of the Commander of the British Garrison in Ceylon. Brigadier James Sinclair, the Earl of Caithness took up residence in the house in 1949 after being appointed the first Commander of the Ceylon Army, and it has been used as the Commander's official residence since, with a brief interruption in 1955.
Retiring commanders are allowed to stay on an additional three months post-retirement to better facilitate their transition. The General's House, Nuwara Eliya is the former vacationing and country residence of the Army Commander, which had been used by the British General Officer Commanding, Ceylon.
List of Commanders (including Commanders of the Ceylon Army)Edit
Ranks and honours are as at the completion of their tenure:
|No.||Portrait||Commander||Took office||Left office||Time in office||Unit of Commission||Notes|
The Earl of Caithness
|20 October 1949||17 May 1952||2 years, 210 days||Gordon Highlanders||The first commander of the army who was in the rank of brigadier; a native British person.|
Sir Francis Reid
|18 May 1952||8 February 1955||2 years, 266 days||Royal Artillery||The second British person to hold the Commander of the army title, served in the rank of brigadier like his predecessor.|
|9 February 1955||31 December 1959||4 years, 326 days||Ceylon Light Infantry||The first native Ceylonese person to become the commander; initially held the rank of brigadier but later was promoted to major general.|
H. W. G. Wijeyekoon
|1 January 1960||31 December 1963||3 years, 364 days||Ceylon Light Infantry||-|
Deshamanya Richard Udugama
|1 January 1964||10 November 1966||2 years, 313 days||Ceylon Light Infantry||-|
Deshabandu Bertram Heyn
|20 December 1971||2 March 1972||323 days||Ceylon Light Infantry||The last British person to hold the post.|
Deshamanya Sepala Attygalle
|1 October 1967||13 October 1977||10 years, 12 days||Sri Lanka Armoured Corps||The first commander to be promoted to lieutenant general and later full general on the day of his retirement. The title 'Commander of the Ceylon Army' was changed to 'Commander of the Sri Lanka Army' during his tenure.|
Deshamanya Denis Perera
|14 October 1977||13 October 1981||3 years, 364 days||Sri Lanka Engineers||Served as commander with the rank of major general, became lieutenant general on the day of his retirement in 1981 and in 2007 was given the honor of full general after 26 years of retirement.|
|14 October 1981||11 February 1985||3 years, 120 days||Gemunu Watch||Served as commander with the rank of major general; was promoted to lieutenant general after taking the responsibility of Joint Operations Command; promoted to full general on the day of his retirement.|
|12 February 1985||15 August 1988||3 years, 185 days||Sri Lanka Engineers||Served as major general, became lieutenant general on the day of his retirement; promoted to full general in 2007 after 19 years of retirement.|
|16 August 1988||15 November 1991||3 years, 91 days||Sri Lanka Artillery||Promoted to full general after becoming the GOC of Joint Operations Command.|
|16 November 1991||31 December 1993||2 years, 45 days||Sri Lanka Armoured Corps||-|
G. H. De Silva
|1 January 1994||30 April 1996||2 years, 120 days||Gemunu Watch||-|
|1 May 1996||15 December 1998||2 years, 228 days||Sri Lanka Armoured Corps||Promoted to full general on the day of becoming CDS.|
C. S. Weerasooriya
|16 December 1998||24 August 2000||1 year, 252 days||Sri Lanka Artillery||Promoted to full general on the day of his retirement.|
|25 August 2000||30 June 2004||3 years, 310 days||Sri Lanka Artillery||The first person who got the duty of CDS simultaneously holding the army commander's appointment; promoted to full general on the day of his retirement.|
|1 July 2004||5 December 2005||1 year, 157 days||Sri Lanka Light Infantry||Promoted to full general on the day of his retirement.|
|6 December 2005||15 July 2009||3 years, 221 days||Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment||Promoted to full general while serving as army commander; became Field Marshal in 2015 after six years of his retirement.|
|15 July 2009||1 August 2013||4 years, 17 days||Sri Lanka Armoured Corps||Promoted to full general on the day of becoming CDS.|
|1 August 2013||21 February 2015||1 year, 204 days||Sri Lanka Light Infantry||Promoted to full general on the day of his retirement.|
Crishantha de Silva
|22 February 2015||4 July 2017||2 years, 132 days||Sri Lanka Engineers||Promoted to full general on the day of his retirement.|
|4 July 2017||19 August 2019||2 years, 46 days||Sri Lanka Engineers||Promoted to full general on the day of his retirement.|
|19 August 2019||Incumbent||2 years, 104 days||Gajaba Regiment||Promoted to full general while serving as commander and also holding the appointment of CDS.|
- "Maj. Gen. Jagath Gunawardena assumes duties as the new Chief of Staff of Army". newsfirst.lk. 2 June 2020.
- "Former service chiefs promoted". sundaytimes.lk. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
- "Early retirement of top army officers". Island. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
- "53 Division Commemorates Its 24th Anniversary". army.lk. Sri Lanka Army. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
- "General Fonseka Made Field Marshal". newindianexpress.com. 22 March 2015.