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Lankan army re-deploys after the end of war – ANN

[MISC, Sunday, 21 June 2009 07:40 No Comment]

With the end of three decades long Eelam war against the LTTE, the army has now re-deployed in the Northern and Eastern Provinces under five Security Forces Headquarters with a sizeable force in reserve to meet any eventuality.

Of the five SF commands, two at Kilinochchi and Mullaitivu have been set up recently as part of post-LTTE re-deployment plan.

In keeping with Army Chief General Sarath Fonseka’s strategy, 51 and 52 Divisions along with Task Force 7 (TF 7) are deployed in the northern peninsula under SF Headquarters, Jaffna. Major General Mendaka Samarasinghe, who is in charge of the peninsula would also have the 55 Division commanded by Brigadier Prasanna Silva stationed at Chalai, on the Mullaitivu coast, on reserve status.

The TF 7 has been assigned to the strategic Elephant Pass area, one of the major battlegrounds of the Eelam war.

The army said that the forces now assigned to the Jaffna peninsula were small when compared with the strength available to any previous SF Commander, Jaffna, before the collapse of the LTTE.

The army had two fighting divisions, namely 55 and 53 deployed along the 12km long Jaffna frontline to thwart LTTE assault across it. In fact, some of the best fighting formations had always been assigned to Jaffna before General Fonseka raised three Divisions and five Task Forces to liberate the Vanni region.

The army said that more youth would be recruited to strengthen the service. During the war about 100,000 joined the army thereby raising its strength to 200,000.

The victory against the LTTE was achieved at a tremendous cost with the army losing 190 officers and 5,200 men, the army chief told a headquarters function.

He estimated the number of wounded at 27,000.

The deployment in the Vanni has covered both western and eastern sectors with equal focus. The army said that LTTE wouldn’t be allowed to raise its head again.

Major General Jagath Jayasuriya, in charge of SF headquarters, Vanni, will have 21 Division headquartered at Vavuniya and Area Headquarters at Mannar and Weli Oya. During Eelam War IV, all fighting formations engaged in the Vanni offensive came under SF headquarters, Vanni.

57 Division, now commanded by Brigadier Rohana Bandara, is deployed along with Task Force 2, TF 3 and TF 5 in the area coming under the purview of SF headquarters, Kilinochchi. Major General Channa Gunatilleke has been appointed the first SF Commander, Kilinochchi.

Brigadier Shavindra Silva’s 58 Division, also based at Kilinochchi is in reserve along with Major General Kamal Gunarathne’s 53 Division stationed at Mankulam.

The army said that of the five Divisions involved in the Vanni offensive, only 57 and 59 had been deployed while others, namely, 58, 55 and 53 placed on reserve. All Divisions placed on reserve are answerable to the army chief.

59 Division is deployed at Mullaitivu under the command of Brigadier Chagi Gallage. The 59 along with TF 8 and TF 4 had been placed under the commander of Major General Nandana Udawatte, SF Commander, Mullaitivu.

Under eastern headquarters situated at Welikanda, troops are deployed in Trincomalee (22 Brigade), Batticaloa (23 Brigade) and Area Headquarters, Ampara. Major General Srinath Rajapaksa is the senior officer in charge of the East.

Army Chief General Sarath Fonseka, in his first visit on Friday (June 19) to the last LTTE stronghold captured by his troops was felicitated by First Battalion of the Sinha Regiment.

Fonseka who is also the Colonel of the SR and the first from the regiment to command the army and lead Sri Lanka’s successful battle against LTTE terrorism was accorded a guard of honour by 1 SR.

Addressing officers and men of 53 and 55 Divisions and Task Force 8 on the Vellamullivaikkal beach, he commended them for leading the battle against terrorism.

[Full Coverage]

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