The Sri Lanka Army is the oldest and largest of the three armed services of Sri Lanka and is responsible for overseeing land-based military and humanitarian operations. Established as the Royal Ceylon Army in 1949, it was renamed when Sri Lanka became an independent republic in 1972. As of the year 2000, the Army had approximately 150,000 regular and reserve personnel and 18,000 National Guardsmen, who are organized into 26 regiments.
The Commander-in-Chief of the Sri Lanka Army is the President of the country. He provides operational direction to the Joint Operations Council and oversees other aspects of the Army through the Ministry of Defense, which is responsible for all security forces (armed forces and police). The professional head of the army is the Commander of the Army, at present Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka.
History – Ancient and pre-colonial times
The first military engagements in Sri Lankan history were marked by the advent of King Vijaya, a North Indian prince who landed along with his followers on the beaches of northwestern Sri Lanka around 543 BC. Repeated incursions by South Indians, particularly the Cholas, into Sri Lankan territory occurred throughout the next few centuries and led to the engagement of the rival forces in battle. In one famous encounter, Sinhalese King Dutugemunu (200 BC) raised an army of eleven thousand inhabitants in his battle against the Chola invader King Elara, whom he eventually defeated. King Dutugemunu’s organizational skills, bravery and chivalry are famous and his battles have gone down in history as outstanding offensive operations.
Other Sri Lankan rulers whose military achievements stand out include King Gajabâhu (113 AD), who sailed to India to bring back his captured soldiers, and King Dhatusena (433 AD) who is credited with repulsing numerous Indian invasions and for organizing a naval build-up to deter seaborne attacks. He also had the foresight to cover his defenses with artillery. Vijayabâhu I (1001 AD) was another warrior king who dislodged Indian invaders and united the country. Parakramabahu the Great (1153 AD) was an outstanding monarch of the Polonnaruwa period of Sri Lankan history, and his accomplishments as a military leader and a great administrator are noteworthy. His reign included a military expedition to Burma (Myanmar) in retaliation for indignities inflicted on his envoys and Burmese interference in the elephant trade. This marked the first overseas expedition in Sri Lankan military history. It is also reported that Parakramabahu’s fame was such that his assistance was sought by South Indian rulers who were involved in internecine struggles. Another strong ruler in the pre-colonial era was Parâkramabâhu VI, who defeated Indian invaders, united the island and ruled it from capital Sri Jayawardhanapura, Kotte.
Although the known epigraphical records do not indicate that the Sri Lankan rulers had a full-time standing army at their disposal, there is evidence supported by legend, designation, name, place and tradition that prove there were ‘stand-by’ equestrian, elephant, and infantry divisions to ensure royal authority at all times. Militias were raised as the necessity arose, and the soldiers returned to their pursuits, mainly for farming, after their spell of military duty.
Parts of Sri Lanka came under the control of three colonial European powers, namely the Portuguese in the 16th century, the Dutch in the 17th century and the British in the 18th century. Yet, until the entire island was ceded to the British in 1815, regional kingdoms maintained most of their independent defense forces and were able to successfully repulse repeated thrusts by the European armies. However the British, unlike their counterparts, were not primarily restricted to maritime power, and thus had the capability to bring the entire island under their control and to integrate locals into the British defense forces.
Portuguese and Dutch rule (1505-1796 AD)
In the beginning of the 16th century, modern Europe first came in contact with Sri Lanka, which was then referred to as Ceylon. In 1505 a Portuguese fleet, while operating in the Indian seas against Arab traders, was blown off course and landed at Galle, on the southern coast of the island. In 1517 the Portuguese re-appeared, and with the consent of the Sinhalese King established a trading post in Colombo. Having initiated contact with Sri Lanka as traders, the Portuguese soon made themselves political masters of the western sea-board. Numerous forts were soon established, and features of European civilization were introduced.
The Portuguese are credited with the introduction of European-style fortresses to Sri Lanka during this era. Although some locals already possessed military training and fighting experience, there is no evidence that the Portuguese employed local inhabitants into their own forces. Thus the Portuguese were forced to restrict their presence in the island due to their small numbers and their efforts were more focussed toward projecting maritime power.
In 1602 Dutch explorers first landed in Sri Lanka, which was then under Portuguese control. By 1658 they had completely ousted the Portuguese from the coastal regions of the island. Much like the Portuguese, they did not employ locals in their military, and preferred to live in isolation, pursuing their interests in trade and commerce. Like the Portuguese, they defended their forts with their own forces, but unlike the Portuguese, Dutch forces employed Swiss and Malay mercenaries. The Dutch Forts in Jaffna, Galle, Matara, Batticaloa and Trincomalee were sturdily built and are considered a tribute to their military engineering skills. Also, like the Portuguese, the Dutch focussed on maritime power and although they had the capability to develop and use local forces, they chose to isolate themselves from the local population.
British rule (1798-1948 AD)
The British Empire then ousted the Dutch from the coastal areas of the country, and sought to conquer the independent Kandyan Kingdom. In the face of repeated British assaults, the Kandyans were forced into a degree of guerrilla warfare and faired well against their superior British adversaries.
Initially the British stationed their forces, which included naval vessels, artillery troops and infantry, to defend of the island nation from other foreign powers, using the natural harbor of Trincomalee as their headquarters in Sri Lanka. In 1796, the Swiss and Malay mercenaries who were previously in the service of the Dutch were transferred to the British East India Company. While the Swiss De Meuron’s Regiment was eventually disbanded in Canada in 1822, the Malays, who initially formed a Malay Corps, were converted into the 1st Ceylon Regiment in 1802 and placed under a British commanding officer. In the same year, the British became the first foreign power to raise a Sinhalese unit, which was named the 2nd Ceylon Regiment, also known as the Sepoy Corps.
In 1803 the 3rd Ceylon Regiment was created with Moluccans and recruits from Penang. All these regiments fought alongside British troops in the Kandyan wars which began in 1803. Throughout the following years, more Sinhalese and Malays were recruited to these regiments, and in 1814 the 4th Regiment was raised, which was comprised entirely of African troops. It was later renamed as the Ceylon Rifle Regiment. Eventually, the Kandyan Kingdom was ceded to the British in 1815, and with that they gained control over the whole island. Resistance to British occupation cropped up almost instantly. During the first half-century of occupation, the British faced a number of uprisings, and were forced to maintain a sizable army in order to guarantee their control over the island. After the Matale Rebellion lead by Puran Appu in 1848, in which a number of Sinhalese recruits defected to the side of the rebels, the recruitment of Sinhalese to the British forces was temporarily halted.
Ceylon Light Infantry Volunteers
The second phase in the employment of non-British personnel commenced in 1861 after the enactment of an ordinance designed to authorize the creation of a Volunteer Corps in the island. It was designated the Ceylon Light Infantry Volunteers (CLIV). This move compensated for the disbandment of the Ceylon Rifle Regiment in 1874. The Ceylon Light Infantry Volunteers was originally administered as a single unit. However, over the years various sections of the volunteers grew large enough to become independent from their parent unit. The different units that emerged from the Volunteer Force were the
Ceylon Artillery Volunteers
Ceylon Mounted Infantry (CMI)
Ceylon Volunteer Medical Corps
Cadet Battalion Ceylon Light Infantry
Ceylon Supply & Transport Corps
Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps (CPRC)
Ceylon Defence Force
Main article: Ceylon Defence Force
First Prime Minister of Independent Sri Lanka Hon. D.S.Senanayaka visiting the 1st battalion of the CLI at the Echelon Square and watching volunteers being trained to handle light machine guns.In 1910 the name of the military was formally changed to the Ceylon Defence Force (CDF). It continued to grow throughout the early period of the 20th century. The CDF saw active service when a contingent of the Ceylon Mounted Infantry (CMI) in 1900, and a contingent of the Ceylon Planters Rifle Corps (CPRC) in 1902, took part in the Second Boer War in South Africa. Their services were recognized by the presentation in 1902 of a color to the CMI, and a presentation in 1904 of a banner to the CPRC. In 1922, the CDF was honored by the presentation of the King’s and Regimental colors to the Ceylon Light Infantry (CLI).
During the First World War, many volunteers from the Defence Force traveled to England and joined the British Army, and many of them were killed in action. One of them mentioned by Arthur Conan Doyle was Private Jacotine of the CLI, who was the last man left alive in his unit at the Battle of Lys, and who continued to fight for 20 minutes before he was killed.
In 1939, the CDF was mobilized and an enormous expansion took place which required the raising of new units such as the Post and Telegraph Signals, the Ceylon Railway Engineer Corps, the Ceylon Electrical and Mechanical Engineer Corps, the Auxiliary Territorial Service, the Ceylon Corps of Military Police, the Ceylon Signals Corps and the Colombo Town Guard unit, which had been previously disbanded, but was later re-formed to meet military requirements. During the Second World War, Britain assumed direct control over the Armed Forces of Ceylon.
Major General Anton Muttukumaru O.B.E, E.D 09th Feb 1955 – 31st Dec. 1959 – First Ceylonese CommanderAt the end of World War II, the task of returning the enormously swollen wartime CDF to its normal proportions got under way. In 1948 Sri Lanka gained independence from Britain, and in 1949 the Army Act was passed by Parliament raising the Ceylon Army, composed of Regular and Volunteer Forces. The initial requirement was to raise an artillery regiment, an engineer squadron, an infantry battalion, a medical unit, and a service corps company. The Army Act was enacted in parliament on the October 10 1949 which is recognized as the day, the Ceylon Army was raised under the command of Brigadier James Sinclair, Earl of Caithness.
There were no formations and all units were structured to directly function under the Army Headquarters. Temporary field headquarters were to be formed at the time requirement arose, as during the 1958 communal riots. The first field formation was raised in 1963, to prevent illicit immigration from South India. This headquarters was known as Task Force Anti Illicit Immigration (TAFII), which was later disbanded in 1981. In May 1972, when Ceylon became the Republic of Sri Lanka, all Army units were renamed accordingly.
After successfully defeating the insurgency led by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP) in 1971, the army was confronted with a new conflict, this time with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) and other Tamil militant groups. The war escalated to the point where India was asked to intervene as a peacekeeping force. This was later seen as a tactical error, as the Indian Peace Keeping Force united nationalist elements such as the JVP to politically support the LTTE in their call to evict the IPKF. The war with the LTTE was halted follwoing the signing of a ceasefire agreement in 2002 with the help of international mediation. However, renewed violence broke out in December 2005 and following the collapse of peace talks, the Arny has been involved in the heavy fighting that has resumed in the north and east of the country.
Since 1980 the army has undertaken many operations against the LTTE rebels. The major operations conducted by the army eventually lead to the capture of Jaffna and other rebel strongholds.
Major combat operations
1971 JVP Insurrection (1971-1972)
Eelam War I (1976-1987)
JVP Uprising (1987-1990)
Eelam War II (1990-1995)
Operation Sea Breeze
Operation Thrividha Balaya
Operation Balavegaya I, II
Eelam War III (1995-2002)
Operation Kinihira I, II, III/IV, V/VI, VII, VIII ,IX
Eelam War IV (Since 2006)
Operations in Thoppigala
The Sri Lanka Army has taken part in two peacekeeping missions with United Nations over the course of its history. First assignment was in the Congo (ONUC) (1960 – 1963). Most recently, following the signing of a ceasefire agreement was signed between the government and the LTTE in 2002, Sri Lankan forces were invited by the United Nations to be part of the UN peacekeeping force in Haiti. The Sri Lanka Light Infantry was selected to be part of the peacekeeping operations, and training programs on counter revolutionary warfare were conducted for the troops in Kukuleganga. Follwoinf the successful completion of the training, a battalion under the command of Col. K.A.D.A. Karunasekara left for Haiti on October 22, 2004. In the process of the peacekeeping operations, 2 soldiers were killed in a raid in Petit-Goave. After over 6 months of service, the first contingent of the peacekeeping force returned to Sri Lanka on May 17, 2005.
108 members of the 950 member Sri Lankan Army peacekeeping mission in Haiti, were accused of sexual misconduct and abuse. 108 members, including 3 officers of the 950-member-strong Sri Lanka peacekeeping contingent is being sent back after being implicated in alleged misconduct and sexual abuse. UN spokeswoman Michele Montas said: "The United Nations and the Sri Lankan government deeply regret any sexual exploitation and abuse that has occurred." The Sri Lankan Officials claim that there is little tangible evidence on this case.
The professional head of the army is the Commander of the Army, at present Lieutenant General Sarath Fonseka. He is assisted by the Chief of Staff of the Army, currently Major General Nissanka Wijesinghe
The staff in the Army is assigned to support the field troops. The Army Headquarters is divided into a number of branches, namely the General Staff (GS) branch responsible for coordination of operations and training and the Adjutant General’s (AGs) branch responsible for personal administration, welfare, medical services and rehabilitation. The Quarter Master General’s (QMGs) branch is responsible for feeding, transport, movement and construction and maintenance. The Master General of Ordnance’s (MGOs) branch is responsible for procurement and maintenance of vehicles and special equipment. The Commandant of the Volunteer Force is head of the Army Volunteer Force and is responsible for the administration and recruitment of reserve personal. The Military Secretary’s Branch is responsible for handling all matters pertaining to officers such as promotions, postings and discipline. Each branch is headed by an officer in the rank of Major General who is directly responsible to the Commander of the Army for the smooth functioning of the Branch. Under each Branch, there are several Directorates, each headed by a Brigadier.
The Headquarters of field formations each have its own staff. For instance a divisional headquarters is divided into a GS branch as an AQ branch, each headed by a Colonel and is responsible for operations & training and administration & logistics respectively. Similarly, a Brigade Major and Major AQ is responsible for operations and administration in a brigade.
Various formations are also raised from time to time to suit various security requirements in the country. The Army is currently organized into 13 divisions and several independent brigades. Each division is responsible for a particular area and it is commanded by a General Officer Commanding in the rank of Major General. Except for the division based at the Panagoda Cantonment, all other divisions are responsible for the security in the Northern and Eastern provinces of Sri Lanka, coming under three opeartional commands, which are Security Forces Headquarters Jaffna, Wanni & East. The area assigned to a particular division is further divided into areas where the responsibility of those areas are assigned to brigades. Each brigade is commanded by an officer in the rank of Brigadier and has a number of Infantry battalions, support arms (Artillery, Engineers and Signals) and services arms (Service Corps, Engineering Services, Ordnance Corps, Electrical and Mechanical Engineers) under its command. In peaceful areas, instead of brigades, there are Area and Sub-Area Headquarters. Armour, Artillery, Engineers and Signals Units are grouped under Brigade Headquarters of their own arm; Armored Brigade, Artillery Brigade and so on.
Like the Indian Army, the Sri Lanka Army has largely retained the British-style regimental system that it inherited upon independence. The individual regiments (such as the Sri Lanka Light Infantry and the Sinha Regiment) operate independently and recruit their own members. Officers tend to remain in a single battalion throughout their careers. The infantry battalion, the basic unit of organization in field operations, includes five companies of four platoons each. Typical platoon have three squads (sections) of ten personnel each. In addition to the basic infantry forces, a commando regiment was also established in 1986. Support for the infantry is provided by an armoured regiment, five reconnaissance regiments, three mechanized infantry regiments, five field artillery regiments, three commando regiments , three special forces regiments, six field engineering regiments, five signals battaliosn, a medical corps, and a variety of logistics units.
In late 1987, the army had a total estimated strength of up to 40,000 troops, about evenly divided between regular army personnel and reservists on active duty. The approximately 20,000 regular army troops represented a significant increase over the 1983 strength of only 12,000. Aggressive recruitment campaigns following the 1983 riots raised this number to 16,000 by early 1985. By 2007, the Army had expanded to over 120,000 personal.
Sri Lanka Armoured Corps (SLAC) – formed in 1955
The first ever-armored unit of the Ceylon Army. Currently comprises 6 divisions, and armed with T 55 Main Battle tanks, T 85 Light Tanks, T 86 Armoured Cars, BMP Is. Iis, T 63- II APC and BTR 80/80A. APCs. Headquartered at Rock House Army Camp, Colombo.
Sri Lanka Artillery (SLA) – formed in 1888
The first Sri Lankan artillery regiment. Currently consists of 7 regular and 2 volunteer units equiped with 85 mm and 25 pounder field guns, 122 mm howitzers, 76 mm mountain guns, 130 mm and 152 mm medium guns and 120 mm mortars. Also participated in the defense of colonial Ceylon during the two World Wars. Headquartered at Panagoda Cantonment, Panagoda.
Sri Lanka Engineers (SLE) – formed in 1911
Formed as part of the Ceylon Defence Force with the purpose of manning coastal search lights and signal works. Currently consists of 5 regular units and 1 volunteer unit and performs classical combat engineering duties, constructs roads and bridges and maintains lines of communications. Headquartered at Sri Lanka Army Headquarters, Colombo.
Sri Lanka Signals Corps (SLSC) – formed in 1943
Formed after the signals element of the Engineers was separated from the main regiment, it was tasked with providing communications between Army HQ and its branches. Currently comprises 5 regular units and 1 volunteer unit and provides much needed communications to combat troops. Headquartered at Panagoda Cantonment, Panagoda.
Sri Lanka Light Infantry (SLLI) – formed in 1861
Following the signing of a ceasefire agreement in 2002, the Sri Lankan military was invited by the United Nations to be part of a peacekeeping force in Haiti. The Sri Lanka Light Infantry Regiment was selected for the mission, and it left for Haiti after initial training in 2004 and returned in 2005. Headquartered at Panagoda Cantonment, Panagoda.
Sri Lanka Sinha Regiment (SLSR) – formed in 1956
The only rifle regiment of the Sri Lanka Army, it was founded on the same lines at the Rifle Regiments in Great Britain. Currently consisting of 10 regular units and 5 volunteer units, it does not carry regimental colors in action in order to be inconspicuous, and the buttons, badges of rank and lanyard of the regiment dress are all in black. Headquartered at Ambepussa Army Camp.
Gemunu Watch (GW) – formed in 1962
Formed following the withdrawal of all British troops from Sri Lanka, it draws its inspiration as well as its insignia from the era of celebrated King Dutugemunu. Currently it consists of 9 regular units and 4 volunteer units, and all these battalions are actively participating in the on going conflict. Headquartered at Kuruwita Army Camp.
Gajaba Regiment (GR) – formed in 1983
Formed by Lt.Col. Vijaya Wimalaratne when the 1st Battalion of the Rajarata Rifles and 1st Battalion of the Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment were amalgamated. Currently consists of 10 Regular units and 5 Volunteer units. Headquartered at Saliyapura Military Base, Anuradapura.
Vijayabahu Infantry Regiment (VIR) – formed in 1988
Formed on 15 November, 1988 at Malay Street with Lt.Col. J.Nammuni (SLSR) as first Commanding Officer. Currently the youngest infantry regiment in the Sri Lanka Army, consisting of 8 Regular units and 4 Volunteer units. The Regimental Centre initially at Sinhawilluwatta in Puttalam, presently headquartered at Boyagane Camp, Kurunegala.
Commando Regiment (CR) – formed in 1977
Formed as a special unit to combat terrorism, upgraded to a full regiment in 1986 under Lt. Col S.D Peiris. Receives specialized training in anti-terrorist and anti–hijack techniques, and airborne operations. Consisting of 3 Regular units, takes part in most major military operations, and also performs special duties in the Presidential Security Division. Headquartered at Ganemulla.
Special Forces Regiment – formed in 1986
Evolved from the “Combat Tracker Team”, which was tasked to carry out small group operations deep inside enemy territory. Conducts unconventional warfare and special ops in remote, urban or rural environments, either as a “deep penetration unit” force or for extended missions. Consists of 3 Regiments and has the distinction of taking part in almost all major offensives conducted by the Army since 1986. Headquartered at Seeduwa.
Mechanized Infantry Regiment – formed in 2007
Military Intelligence Corps – formed in 1990
Collects, collates and provides intelligence for the successful conduct of military operations. Combat intelligence units provide intelligence on the enemy’s organizational capabilities, tactics and intentions. Currently consists of 2 Regular units. Headquartered at Colombo.
Engineer Services Regiment – formed in 1991
Initially formed as part of the Corps of Engineers to maintain Army buildings and the Panagoda Cantonment, it was later redesigned as a separate regiment. Consisting of 3 Regular units and 1 Volunteer unit, it currently designs, constructs and maintains all buildings, roads and associated facilities used by the Sri Lanka Army. Headquartered at Panagoda Cantonment, Panagoda.
Sri Lanka Army Service Corps Headquartered at Panagoda Cantonment, Panagoda.
Sri Lanka Army Medical Corps Headquartered at Colombo.
Sri Lanka Army Ordnance Corps Headquartered at Panagoda Cantonment, Panagoda.
Sri Lanka Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Headquartered at Colombo.
Sri Lanka Corps of Military Police Headquartered at Colombo.
Sri Lanka Army General Service Corps Headquartered at Panagoda Cantonment, Panagoda.
Sri Lanka Army Women’s Corps Headquartered at Colombo.
Sri Lanka Rifle Corps
Sri Lanka Army Pioneer Corps
Sri Lanka National Guard Headquartered at Kurunegala.
The main building of the General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University.General Sir John Kotelawala Defence University (KDU) formed in 1981 and situated in Ratmalana, fourteen kilometers south of Colombo, is Sri Lanka’s only university specializing in defense studies. Each year, approximately fifty cadets from all three services are admitted to the university (aged 18-22) to participate in a three-year program of academic work and basic training.
Junior field officers of the army and their counterparts of the Navy and Air Force are given advanced training and education at the Defence Services Command and Staff College (DSCSC) at Batalanda, Makola which was established in 1997 as the Army Command and Staff College.
Basic officer training is carried out at the Sri Lanka Military Academy (SLMA) (formally the Army Training Center) situated in Diyatalawa, in the Badulla District. The officer cadets graduating from the academy are commissioned as officers in the regular and volunteer forces. The course for officer cadets runs for ninety weeks and includes training in tactics and administration which helps prepare the cadets to take up the positions of platoon commanders. The course consisted of military and academic subjects and also trained the cadets physically. The course helps to promote leadership qualities and the understanding of each one’s role as an officer and a servant of the state. Due to the lack of officers within the lower levels, the training process was sped up in the 1980s by developing a short commission course. The cadets were given a training of fifty-six weeks and devoted themselves to continue their careers in the military with the ten years of service for regular army officers and five years of service for volunteer officers.
Training for the new recruits are mostly carried out at several locations followed by additional training (both officers and other ranks) at the Infantry Training School in Minneriya, the Combat Training School in Ampara, the Army Training School in Maduru Oya while non commissioned officers receive training at the Non Commissioned Officers Training School at Kala Oya. All these establishments come under the control of the Army Headquarters. Specialist and additional training is given by specialist training schools, regimental training centers and individual field units.
As the armed forces of Sri Lanka have a limited indigenous training facilities, especially in advanced roles, they have depended greatly on military training provided by foreign countries. The United Kingdom played a major role in the early years following independence and have continued to be an important source of military expertise to the Sri Lankan military. Other sources include Pakistan, Australia, Malaysia, and the United States. Additionally, in an agreement reached in 1984, Israeli security personnel (reportedly from Shin Bet, the Israeli counterespionage and internal security organization) trained army officers in counterinsurgency techniques.
Sri Lanka Military Academy (SLMA)
Army Training School (ATS)
Infantry Training Centre (ITC)
Combat Training School (CTS)
Army Physical Education Centre (APEC)
Volunteer Force Training School (VFTS)
Marksman Sniper Training School (MSTS)
Non Commission Officer Training School (NCOTS)
Language Training School (LTS)
Institute of Peacekeeping Support Operations Training Sri Lanka (IPSOT-SL)
Regimental Training Centers
Armoured Cops Training Centre
School Of Artillery
Sri Lanka School of Military Engineering
School Of Mechanical Engineers
School Of Signals
Commando Regiment Training School
Engineer Service School
Sri lanka Army Service Corps. School
Sri lanka Army Military School Of Nursing
Sri lanka Army Ordnance School
Sri lanka Electrical And Mechnaical Engineers School
Sri lanka Corps of Military Police School
SriLanka Army General Service Corps. School
Women in the Sri Lanka Army – (Sri Lanka Army Women’s Corps)
The Sri Lanka Army Women’s Corps (SLAWC) was formed on September 01, 1979 as an unarmed, noncombatant support unit. Set up with the assistance of the Women’s Royal Army Corps, it was identical in structure to its parent organization, and its first generation of officer cadets was trained in Britain. Candidates were required to be between eighteen and twenty years old and to have passed the General Common Entrance (Ordinary level) examinations, while the Officer candidates must have passed the Advanced Level. Enlistment entailed a five-year service commitment (the same as for men), and recruits were not allowed to marry during this period. In the sixteen-week training course at the Army Training Center at the Diyatalawa Sri Lanka Military Academy, cadets were put through a program of drill and physical training similar to the men’s program, with the exception of weapons and battle craft training. Female recruits were paid according to the same scale as the men, but were limited to service in nursing, communications, and clerical work. In late 1987, the first class of women graduates from the Viyanini Army Training Center were certified to serve as army instructors. But, from late 1987 – after hostilities began, the first batch of women graduates from the British Army’s Women’s Corp Center certified to serve as Army Instructors.
Up to now, women officers have proved their ability and serve in varied specialized fields in the Service as control tower operators, electronic warfare technicians, radio material teletypists, automotive mechanics, aviation supply personnel, cryptographers, doctors, combat medic, lawyers, engineers and even aerial photographers.
To meet the operational requirements in the field areas, the 2nd Volunteer Battalion of the Women’s Corps was also raised. A few officers from the regular counter part were attached to this unit to organize the command structure. They are currently employed in active combat duties in the northern and eastern parts of the island.
Many officers commencing with Lieutenant Colonel A.W. Thambiraja were appointed to command this unit from time to time. The first women’s corps officer to command the unit was Lieutenant Colonel Kumudini Weerasekara in 1992 and as of 2007 there where three lady officers of the rank of Major General. At present there is one regular regiment and four volunteer regiments in the Women’s Corps.
The Sri Lanka Army presently stands at 120,000 strong including 2,960 women plus an additional 10,000 personal in reserve.
Parama Weera Vibhushanaya recipients
Colonel A.F. Lafir †
Captain Saliya Upul Aladeniya †
Second Lieutenant K.W.T. Nissanka †
Warrant Officer 2nd Class Pasan Gunasekera †
Corporal Gamini Kularatne †
Lance Corporal W.I.M. Seneviratne †
 Notable fallen members
Lt. General Denzil Kobbekaduwa † – One of the greatest generals in modern Sri Lanka.
Lt. General Parami Kulatunga † – Former Deputy Chief of Staff of the Army.
Lt. General Nalin Angammana † – Former GOC of the 3 Division.
Maj. General Vijaya Wimalaratne † – Commander Security Forces Headquarters Jaffna (SF HQ (J)) & One of the greatest generals in modern Sri Lanka.
Maj. General Lakshman Wijeratne † – Former commanding officer 22 Division.
Maj. General Percy Fernando † Former deputy commanding officer of 54 Division.
Maj. General Larry Wijeratne † – Former commanding officer 51-4 Brigade.
Maj. General Susantha Mendis † – Former commanding officer 51-2 Brigade.
Maj. General Ananda Hamangoda † – Former commanding officer 51-2 Brigade.
Colonel Tuan Nizam Muthaliff – Former commanding officer 1st Battalion Military Intelligence Corps.
[Complaints over survivors’ benefits
The Organisation for Disabled Soldiers has complained that compensation paid for war victims is inadequate. In August 2007, a spokesman for the organisation pointed out that the compensation paid to the families of soldiers killed during the war has remained flat for 23 years at Rs. 150,000, which has dwindled in value to the equivalent of US$1500. This amount is the same for all ranks, including generals. In contrast, however, the families of politicians are much more highly compensated; the family of the late Minister Mr. M. H. M. Ashroff was awarded Rs. 5 million (US$50,000) following his death in a helicopter crash. Furthermore, the families of soldiers killed before completing 12 years of service are unable to claim any pension. There have also been several hundred cases in which the military was not recovering soldiers’ bodies killed during the Eelam War III.
WZ551 armoured personnel carrier of the SLAC
T-55AM2 Main battle tank of the SLAC
A 152 mm towed gun-howitzer of the Sri Lanka ArtilleryAfter the 1971 uprising, the army expanded its range of weapons from the original stock of World War II-era British Lee Enfield rifles, Sten Submachine guns, Vickers machine guns, Bren machine guns, 6-inch coastal guns, Bren Gun Carrier, 40 mm anti-aircraft guns, 3.7 inch heavy anti-aircraft guns and 4.2-inch heavy mortars. New sources of weaponry in the mid-to-late 1970s included the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and China – countries with which the leftist Bandaranaike government had close ties to. China continued to be an important source of arms well into the 1990s.
To meet the threat posed by predominantly the LTTE, Army purchased modern military hardware including 5 Inch caliber Heavy machine guns, Rocket Propelled Grenade Launchers, Night Vision Devices, 106 mm Recoilless rifles, 60 mm and 81 mm Mortars, 40 mm Grenade Launchers and some Sniper Rifles. Refurbished armored personnel carriers were added to the ‘A’ vehicle fleet of the 1st Reece Regiment, Sri Lanka Armoured Corps. These APCs enabled the Armoured Corps to have their own assault troops to provide close contact protection to their Alvis Saladin and Ferret Scout Cars which were vulnerable to anti-tank weapons. The capability of the Sri Lanka Artillery was enhanced with the introduction of Ordnance QF 25 pounders.
Though the weapons were obsolete at the time of purchase, the Government security forces found them to be successful in combat. Land mines proved to be the most lethal threat to the security forces, as many mines have been deployed against government forces by the LTTE in the Northern and Eastern Provinces. These mines are deployed with normalcy against government trucks and buses, with a high rate of casualty. These land mines weighed approximately 50 – 100kgs, against which no armoured vehicle that the SLA possessed was able to withstand the blast effect. Therefore the South African made Buffel was introduced to service in 1985 to reduce damage due to land mines. By 1987 the Army’s own Unicorn was also developed to a level so that they too matched the capabilities of the Buffels from South Africa, this was followed up by the newer Unibuffel class. Both the Unicorn and the Unibuffel are assembled by the Sri Lanka Electrical & Mechanical Engineers.
In recent years, Sri Lanka has become increasingly reliant on China for weapons. This is due to most European nations and the United States Governments passing regulations about the selling of weaponry to nations which are suffering from internal conflict. However in light of recent attacks by the LTTE, the United States has expressed its intent to maintain military training assistance and possibly increase it should the violence continue.
China has no such regulations upon their arms producers, and some see the sales as an attempt to gain political influence with strategically-important Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka also continues to receive a variety of weapons from Britain, Pakistan, Israel and other former suppliers.
Beretta M9 Pistol
Type 56 Assault rifles
Type 81 Assault rifles
Heckler & Koch G3 Assault rifles
M16 Assault Rifles
FN FAL Assault rifles
SAR-80 Assault rifles
H&K MP5 Submachine Guns
Uzi Submachine Guns
Sterling submachine guns
Dragunov Sniper Rifles
Heckler & Koch PSG1 Sniper Rifles
PK machine guns (Chinese version of Russian PKM)
Type 56 LMG (Chinese version of Russian RPD)
HK21 Belt-fed light machine gun
FN Minimi General purpose machine gun
FN MAG General purpose machine gun
HK 69 Breech-loading grenade launcher
M203 Grenade launcher
RPO-A Shmel man-portable rocket launcher
Type 69 RPG Rocket launchers (Chinese version of RPG-7)
Baktar-Shikan Anti-tank guided missiles
T-55 and T-55AM2 Main battle tanks
Type 69 Main battle tanks
Type 59 Main battle tanks
BMP-3 Infantry fighting vehicle
BMP-2 Infantry fighting vehicle
BMP-1 Infantry fighting vehicle
TYPE 89 (YW534) Armoured personnel carriers (Tracked)
TYPE 85 (YW531H) Amphibious armored personnel carriers (Tracked)
TYPE 63 (YW531) Armoured personnel carriers (Tracked)
BTR-80 Armoured personnel carrier (wheeled)
WZ551 Armoured personnel carrier (wheeled) 
BTR-152 Armored personnel carrier (wheeled)
HUSSAR Armoured personnel carrier (wheeled)
Buffel Mine-protected APC
Unibuffel Mine-protected APC, Improved version of the Unicorn, built by the Sri Lanka Army Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Regiment using Indian TATA engine.
Unicorn Mine-protected APC, built by the Sri Lanka Army Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Regimen.
Shorland S55 Armoured personnel carriers
Alvis Saladin Armoured cars 
MT-55A – Armoured vehicle-launched bridge
Multiple rocket launchers
RM-70 Multiple rocket launcher
BM-21 Multiple rocket launcher
152 mm Type 66 gun-howitzers
130 mm Type 59 field guns
122 mm Type 60 howitzers
Ordnance QF 25 pounder field guns – (Ceremonial Gun Troop)
Ordnance QF 75 mm mountain guns – (Ceremonial)
Light and Towed mortars
Type 86 (W86) 120 mm mortars
Type 84 (W84) 82 mm mortars
Type 89 60 mm mortars
Tagged: , Sri , Lanka , Army