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Sri Lankan Army re-deploys after defeating rebels

[Hindu, Sunday, 21 June 2009 07:51 No Comment]

With the end of three decades long civil war against Tamil Tiger rebels, the Sri Lankan Army has now re-deployed in the Northern and Eastern provinces under five Security Forces (SF) Headquarters with a sizable force in reserve to meet any eventuality, a local newspaper said Sunday.

According to the Sunday Island, two headquarters have been set up at Kilinochchi and Mullaittivu which were under the control of the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) for many years. Major General Channa Gunatilleke has been appointed the first SF Commander, Kilinochchi. The 57 Division, is deployed along with Task Force (TF) 2, TF 3 and TF 5 in the area.

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

In keeping with Army Chief General Sarath Fonseka’s strategy, 51 and 52 Divisions along with TF 7 are deployed in the northern Jaffna 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.

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.

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.

The Army said that of the five divisions involved in the military offensive against the LTTE in the north, 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.

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 said around 27,000 soldiers were wounded.

Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse announced last month that the LTTE had been totally defeated with all the 15,000-sq-km territory formerly held by the rebels being recaptured by the government troops.

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