Commander of the Army (Sri Lanka)

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.[1] The current Commander of the Army is General Shavendra Silva.

Commander of the Sri Lanka Army
ශ්‍රී ලංකාවේ යුද්ධ හමුදාපති
Incumbent
General Shavendra Silva

since 19 August 2019
 Sri Lanka Army
Member ofNational Security Council
Reports toMinistry of Defence
Chief of Defence Staff
SeatArmy Headquarters
AppointerThe President
Term lengthNot fixed
Extendable
Constituting instrumentArmy Act (Chapter 357)
PrecursorCommander of the Ceylon Defence Force
Formation20 October 1949; 72 years ago (1949-10-20)
as Commander of the Ceylon Army
First holderBrigadier Roderick Sinclair (as Commander, Ceylon Army)
DeputyChief of Staff of the Army
WebsiteOfficial website

HistoryEdit

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.[2] 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.

AppointmentEdit

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.[3]

CommandEdit

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.[4]

InsigniaEdit

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.[citation needed]

Official residenceEdit

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
1Sinclair, RoderickBrigadier
The Earl of Caithness CBE, DSO
(1906–1965)
20 October 194917 May 19522 years, 210 daysGordon HighlandersThe first commander of the army who was in the rank of brigadier; a native British person.
2Reid, FrancisBrigadier
Sir Francis Reid CBE
(1900–1970)
18 May 19528 February 19552 years, 266 daysRoyal ArtilleryThe second British person to hold the Commander of the army title, served in the rank of brigadier like his predecessor.
3Muttukumaru, AntonMajor General
Anton Muttukumaru OBE, ED
(1908–2001)
9 February 195531 December 19594 years, 326 daysCeylon Light InfantryThe first native Ceylonese person to become the commander; initially held the rank of brigadier but later was promoted to major general.
4Wijeyekoon, H.Major General
H. W. G. Wijeyekoon OBE, ED
(1911–1969)
1 January 196031 December 19633 years, 364 daysCeylon Light Infantry-
5Udugama, RichardMajor General
Deshamanya Richard Udugama MBE
(1911–1995)
1 January 196410 November 19662 years, 313 daysCeylon Light Infantry-
6Heyn, BertramMajor General
Deshabandu Bertram Heyn
(1912–1998)
20 December 19712 March 1972323 daysCeylon Light InfantryThe last British person to hold the post.
7Attygalle, SepalaLieutenant General
Deshamanya Sepala Attygalle LVO
(1922–2001)
1 October 196713 October 197710 years, 12 daysSri Lanka Armoured CorpsThe 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.
8Perera, DenisLieutenant General
Deshamanya Denis Perera VSV
(1930–2013)
14 October 197713 October 19813 years, 364 daysSri Lanka EngineersServed 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.
9Weeratunga, TissaLieutenant General
Tissa Weeratunga VSV
(1930–2003)
14 October 198111 February 19853 years, 120 daysGemunu WatchServed 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.
10Seneviratne, NalinLieutenant General
Nalin Seneviratne VSV
(1931–2009)
12 February 198515 August 19883 years, 185 daysSri Lanka EngineersServed as major general, became lieutenant general on the day of his retirement; promoted to full general in 2007 after 19 years of retirement.
11Wanasinghe, HamiltonLieutenant General
Hamilton Wanasinghe VSV
16 August 198815 November 19913 years, 91 daysSri Lanka ArtilleryPromoted to full general after becoming the GOC of Joint Operations Command.
12Waidyaratne, CecilLieutenant General
Cecil Waidyaratne VSV
(1938–2001)
16 November 199131 December 19932 years, 45 daysSri Lanka Armoured Corps-
13Silva, G.Lieutenant General
G. H. De Silva RWP, VSV, USP
(born 1940)
1 January 199430 April 19962 years, 120 daysGemunu Watch-
14Daluwatte, RohanGeneral
Rohan Daluwatte RWP, RSP, VSV, USP
(1941–2018)
1 May 199615 December 19982 years, 228 daysSri Lanka Armoured CorpsPromoted to full general on the day of becoming CDS.
15Weerasooriya, C.General
C. S. Weerasooriya RWP, RSP, VSV, USP
16 December 199824 August 20001 year, 252 daysSri Lanka ArtilleryPromoted to full general on the day of his retirement.
16Balagalle, LionelGeneral
Lionel Balagalle RWP, RSP, VSV, USP, VSP
25 August 200030 June 20043 years, 310 daysSri Lanka ArtilleryThe 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.
17Kottegoda, ShanthaGeneral
Shantha Kottegoda WWV, RWP, RSP, VSV, USP, VSP
(born 1949)
1 July 20045 December 20051 year, 157 daysSri Lanka Light InfantryPromoted to full general on the day of his retirement.
18Fonseka, SarathGeneral
Sarath Fonseka RWP, RSP, VSV, USP
(born 1950)
6 December 200515 July 20093 years, 221 daysSri Lanka Sinha RegimentPromoted to full general while serving as army commander; became Field Marshal in 2015 after six years of his retirement.[5]
19Jayasuriya, JagathGeneral
Jagath Jayasuriya VSV, USP
15 July 20091 August 20134 years, 17 daysSri Lanka Armoured CorpsPromoted to full general on the day of becoming CDS.
20Ratnayake, DayaGeneral
Daya Ratnayake WWV, RWP, RSP, USP
1 August 201321 February 20151 year, 204 daysSri Lanka Light InfantryPromoted to full general on the day of his retirement.
21Silva, CrishanthaGeneral
Crishantha de Silva RWP, USP
22 February 20154 July 20172 years, 132 daysSri Lanka EngineersPromoted to full general on the day of his retirement.
22Senanayake, MaheshGeneral
Mahesh Senanayake RWP, RSP, VSV, USP
4 July 201719 August 20192 years, 46 daysSri Lanka EngineersPromoted to full general on the day of his retirement.
23Silva, ShavendraGeneral
Shavendra Silva WWV, RWP, RSP, USP
(born 1964)
19 August 2019Incumbent2 years, 104 daysGajaba RegimentPromoted to full general while serving as commander and also holding the appointment of CDS.

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "Maj. Gen. Jagath Gunawardena assumes duties as the new Chief of Staff of Army". newsfirst.lk. 2 June 2020.
  2. ^ "Former service chiefs promoted". sundaytimes.lk. Retrieved 27 October 2017.
  3. ^ "Early retirement of top army officers". Island. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
  4. ^ "53 Division Commemorates Its 24th Anniversary". army.lk. Sri Lanka Army. Retrieved 8 October 2021.
  5. ^ "General Fonseka Made Field Marshal". newindianexpress.com. 22 March 2015.

External linksEdit