Kamal Gunaratne

General G. D. H. Kamal Gunaratne, WWV, RWP, RSP, USP is a Sri Lankan senior military officer. He is the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence and the State Ministry of National Security and Disaster Management. A retired career officer of the Sri Lanka Army, Gunaratne had served as the former Commander Security Forces Headquarters - Wanni, General Officer Commanding (GOC), 53 Division and was a former Deputy Ambassador to Brazil.[1][2][3] He was the GOC of the 53 Division which killed the LTTE leader Velupillai Prabhakaran at Nandikadal, Mullaitivu.

Kamal Gunaratne
Service/branchSri Lanka Army
Years of service1981–2016
RankSri Lanka-army-OF-9.svg General
UnitGajaba Regiment
Commands heldSecurity Forces Headquarters – Wanni,
53 Division,
Battles/warsSri Lankan Civil War,
1987–89 JVP Insurrection
AwardsWeera wickrama vibhushanaya.svg Weera Wickrama Vibhushanaya
Rana wickrama medal.svg Rana Wickrama Padakkama
Rana sura medal.svg Rana Sura Padakkama
Uttama Seva ribbon bar.svg Uttama Seva Padakkama
Other workSecretary to the Ministry of Defence

Early life and educationEdit

Born to a family of teachers, his father was a school principal. Educated at Dharmapala Vidyalaya and Ananda College, he joined the army in 1981 as a cadet officer, undergoing basic officer training at the Sri Lanka Military Academy.[4]

Military careerEdit

Early careerEdit

After completing his basic training and a commando course, he was commissioned into the Rajarata Rifles as a second lieutenant. Following the disbandment of the Rajarata Rifles, he was one of the initial officers of the newly formed Gajaba Regiment, attached to the 1st Battalion, Gajaba Regiment (1GR) under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Vijaya Wimalaratne and Major Gotabaya Rajapaksa. 1GR was deployed to the Jaffna peninsula between 1983 and 1984 and again 1985 with the escalation of the Sri Lankan Civil War. Serving as a platoon commander, company commander in the Gajaba Regiment, he was promoted to the ranks of Lieutenant and Captain. In 1987 he took part in the Vadamarachchi Operation and thereafter was deployed to Colombo for internal security duties. He attended the Infantry Young Officers’ Course at the School of Infantry and tactics, Pakistan in 1988 and the Junior Command Course at the College of Combat (now the Army War College, Mhow) in 1990. In 1990, he was the officer commanding the Mankulam Army Camp when it came under intense LTTE attack and under orders from the Wanni Headquarters made a successful withdrawal from the besieged camp. In 1991, he was promoted to the rank of Major and was appointed Second in Command of the 6th Battalion, GR. He was the officer commanding the Silawathura Army Camp when it came under siege by the LTTE, holding off the LTTE attack for several days until 6GR was relieved by reinforcements. During the siege he was wounded. Following deployment to Weli Oya he was once again seriously wounded. After returning to operational duties, he was transferred to Army Headquarters as a Grade II Staff Officer in the Directorate of Logistics.[4]

Field commandEdit

In 1994, having been promoted to Lieutenant Colonel he took command of the 6GR, taking part in the Operation Riviresa until 1997. Thereafter, he served as Commandant at Infantry Training Centre, Grade I Staff Officer at Joint Services Operational Headquarters coordinating the Operation Jayasikurui. In 1999, he attended the Senior Command Course at the College of Combat (now the Army War College, Mhow), where he gained a MPhil at the University of Madras and thereafter attended the Command and Staff Course at the Command and Staff College, Quetta, gaining his psc qualification and Masters in Art and Science of Warfare from the University of Balochistan. As a colonel he was Bridged Commander of the Air Mobile Brigade at the on set of the Eelam War IV and was promoted to the rank of Brigadier, he went on to take command of the 55 Division and 53 Division and was promoted to the rank of Major General. 53 Division took part in many major battles leading to the final battle at Nandikadal, leading to the death of LTTE Leader Velupillai Prabhakaran.[4]

Accused of war crimesEdit

Some NGO accused 53 Division under Kamal Gunaratne for executions of LTTE cadres, during the heat of the war near Nandikadal in May 2009.[5]

Higher commandEdit

Following the war Gunaratne Defence and Strategic Studies Course at the National Defence College, India (2011) National Defence College, New Delhi, gaining his ndc qualification. He served as Adjutant General, Security Forces Headquarters – Wanni, Deputy Ambassador to Brazil and Master General Ordnance at the Army Headquarters from 16 February 2015 to 4 September 2016 before his retirement in 2016.[6] He was also the Colonel of the Regiment of the Mechanized Infantry Regiment and the Gajaba Regiment.[7]

Political careerEdit

He authored an autobiography named Road to Nandikadal[8] on the war against LTTE.[9][10][dead link], which was the best selling book of the 2016 Colombo International Book Fair.[11] Post retirement, Gunaratne became an active supporter of former Defense Secretary Lieutenant Colonel Gotabhaya Rajapaksa in his presidential campaign during the 2019 Presidential election.[12] Following the election President Rajapaksa appointed Major General Gunaratne as Defense Secretary succeeding General Shantha Kottegoda on 19 November 2019.[13] In December 2020, he was elevated to the rank of General by President Rajapaksa.[14]

Awards and decorationsEdit

General Gunaratne has received some of the highest awards in the Sri Lankan armed forces, which includes the Weera Wickrama Vibhushanaya, Rana Wickrama Padakkama and the Rana Sura Padakkama.[4] he was awarded the Command and Staff College, Quetta Centenary Medal by the Government of Pakistan in 2020.[15]





Weera Wickrama Vibhushanaya Rana Wickrama Padakkama (with clasp) Rana Sura Padakkama
Uttama Seva Padakkama Desha Putra Sammanaya Eastern Humanitarian Operations Medal (with clasp) Northern Humanitarian Operations Medal (with clasp)
Purna Bhumi Padakkama North and East Operations Medal (with clasp) Vadamarachchi Operation Medal Riviresa Campaign Services Medal
50th Independence Anniversary Commemoration Medal Sri Lanka Army 50th Anniversary Medal Sri Lanka Armed Services Long Service Medal (with clasp) Command and Staff College Quetta Centenary Medal


  • Road to Nandikadal - Sinhala and English translation.
  • Kadol Aththu
  • Uthara Devi
  • Gotabhaya - Sinhala and English translation.
  • Pathalayoo

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Three Major Generals to serve as Deputy Ambassadors". Asian Mirror. 6 November 2012. Archived from the original on 8 November 2012. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  2. ^ "Sri Lanka war refugees leaving military camps". BBC. 1 December 2009. Retrieved 10 April 2013.
  3. ^ "Who are Sri Lanka Army's 53 Division?". Channel4. 8 December 2010. Retrieved 10 March 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d "General G.D.H. Kamal Gunaratne (Retd)". defence.lk. Ministry of Defence. Retrieved 18 August 2021.
  5. ^ "Sri Lanka: Army Unit Linked to Executions". New York, U.S.A.: Human Rights Watch. 8 December 2010. Retrieved 2 September 2018.
  6. ^ "SL Army announces several key appointments". Financial Times.
  7. ^ Major General Kamal Gunaratne Honoured in MIR Military Parade
  8. ^ "Road to Nandikadal". Vijitha yapa.
  9. ^ "Council on Foreign Relations". Archived from the original on 26 May 2010.
  10. ^ "MIPT Terrorism Knowledge Base". Archived from the original on 19 August 2014.
  11. ^ "Road To Nandikadal 'Could Be Sri Lanka's Record Best Seller'". Retrieved 4 August 2017.
  12. ^ Gotabhaya is the leader needed by the country – Kamal Gunaratne
  13. ^ "Kamal Gunaratne appointed new Defence Secretary". Adaderana. Retrieved 19 November 2019.
  14. ^ "Defense Secretary Kamal Gunaratne elevated to rank of General". Adaderana. Retrieved 28 December 2020.
  15. ^ "Sri Lanka, Pakistan defense relations are getting stronger". colombopage.com. Retrieved 18 August 2021.

External linksEdit