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Sri Lanka Army - Armoured Corps

Armoured Corps presently [2012] consists of a Regimental Centre which over looks all the administrative aspects of Corps, Armoured Brigade which over sees all the operational matters, the Armoured Corps Training Centre fulfills the training requirements, 4 Classic Regiments, 4 Reinforcement Regiments and 1 Volunteer Regiment completing the elements. The Corps is proud to boast of its contribution to the Army in defeating the LTTE, yet very humble to share the glory with all. All the Armour Regiments were in the fore front to fulfill its duties. Today the Corps is deployed far and wide.

Sri Lanka having gained independence in 1948 commenced building up its own Defence Forces. As a first step the Ceylon Army was raised on 10 Oct 1949. Under the premiership of Sir John Kotelawala, a decision was taken to introduce the Decisive Arm - Armour to the Army. Thus the First Cavalry Regiment of the Army 1st Reconnaissance Regiment, Ceylon Armoured Corps was raised on 10th Oct 1955 under the able leadership of Major D S Attygalle. Armour commenced its journey as a Squadron of Armour.

The Squadron commenced its life at Echelon Square, Colombo Fort (presently where Hilton Hotel is located). The Squadron moved to Ridiyagama for training. The squadron moved to Rock House Army camp on 15th December 1957. Since then Rock House became the Home of Cavalry and December 15 was celebrated as its Birthday.

The Squadron was elevated to a Regiment in 1958. Thereafter in 1988 the second Regiment 3rd Reconnaissance Regiment was raised. The 1st Battalion, Ceylon National guard, generally referred to as I CNG had served alongside 1st Reconnaissance Regiment, Ceylon Armoured Corps and Subsequently Sri Lanka Armoured Corps, since the late sixties and throughout the seventies. Officers and Other Ranks of 1 CNG complemented the 1st reconnaissance Regiment during its deployment in the field. This was so, especially at the then Northern Command Headquarters in Anuradhapura and within Detachments in the entire Northern Province.

1st Reconnaissance Regiment was initially equipped with 4 x Mark 1 Scout cars which were imported from UK. Apart from these vehicles the Regiment received a consignment of Motor Cycle side cars mounted with LMGs. By February 1956 another 8 x Mark II Scout cars were inducted and the number of vehicles at its disposal then were 12 x Scout Cars and 20 x Motorcycles with side Cars. During the period from 1964 to 1970 the Regiment was mainly involved in Internal Security duties and maintenance of essential services. In the early 1980s the Regiment received a consignment of Saracen Armoured Personnel Carriers and Stalwart Amphibious Load Carrying vehicles.

The 50th Independence Celebrations took center stage in all the activities. The Regiment participated in the Independence Parade held at the Parliament grounds. The Corps received another 33 x BTR 80/80A Armoured Personal Carriers of Russian origin. Out of this consignment 22 vehicles went to 6th Regiment SLAC while 11 were given to 1st Reconnaissance Regiment.

In 1979 a decision was taken at Army Headquarters to make the 1st Battalion, Ceylon National Guard, the Volunteer counterpart of 1st Reconnaissance Regiment of the Sri Lanka Armoured Corps. Accordingly they became a sister regiment and was designated 2nd (Volunteer) Regiment, Sri Lanka Armoured Corps. Officers and men of the 2nd (Volunteer) Regiment, Sri Lanka Armoured Corps served alongside their Regular counterparts in far flung Detachments such as Palaly, Elephant Pass, Pooneryn, Mankulam, Mullaitivu, Vavuniya and Anuradhapura. These detachments are some of those manned by 2 (V) SLAC personnel at that time.

Though not fully afforded the facility of technical training on the AFCs, Officers and Other Ranks joined their Regular counterparts at Officer training and field training, both at Rock House Camp in Colombo and in the field, especially in the North Central and Northern Provinces. 2nd (Volunteer) Regiment, Sri Lanka Armoured Corps was then housed at the Army headquarters Complex in Colombo. The Regiment Headquarters including the Officers Mess was on the banks of the Beira Lake, facing the Old Parliament and Treasury buildings, on the same site that now has the Ministry of Defence complex. With the handing over of this site in Colombo, 2 (V) SLAC, travelled up to Kandy and established its Base Camp at Pallekelle, east of Kandy and close to the Mahaweli River. Throughout, the 2 (V) SLAC served on the dismounted role.

In 1989, a decision was taken at Army Headquarters to re-designate 2nd (Volunteer) Regiment, Sri Lanka Armoured Corps as the 5th (Volunteer) battalion, Sri Lanka Light Infantry. Therefore, this unit left the Sri Lanka Armoured Corps in 1989, after a short but enjoyable stint of 10 years. The Armoured Corps bade farewell and wished all Officers and Other ranks of the unit, the very best and good soldiering on that occasion.

3rd Armoured Regiment which was raised on 16th November 1988 as a Recconnaissance Regiment, is the third to join the Armoured Corps. The Regiment was initially raised as a Reconnaissance Regiment by acquiring armoured vehicles and personnel from 1st Recce Regiment SLAC. The new Regiment comprised of 10 x Officers and 320 x ORs. Its fleet of Armoured Fighting Vehicles comprised of 12 x Saladin, 14 x Saracen, 15 x Scout Cars and 01 x Stalwart. The Regimental Headquarters was based at Rock House Camp, Colombo. 'A' Squadron was located in Batalanda while 'B' Squadron was in Trincomalee. The Regiment moved to Anuradhapurra and established its Headquarters at Tissawewa on 03rd July 1989 prior to shifting to Kalattewa Camp and be co-located with ACTC.

The Regiment received 4 x Saracen Armoured Cars on 05th January 1990. By 1991, 'A'Squadron was deployed in the Jaffna Peninsula. The Regimental Headquarters was moved to Horowupothana and co-located with 5(v) Gajaba Regiment. The Regiment was tasked to provide protection to border villages such as Yan-Oya, Parangiyawadiya, Dematawewa and Diyathiththawewa which were threatened by terrorists. Chinese made T 85 Light Tanks were imported for the first time on 22nd September 1991 and was commissioned into 3rd Recce Regiment. 3 Reconnaissance Regiment received T 86 Wheeled Armoured Cars on 26th December 1991. In 1992, 'A' and 'B' Squadrons for the first time, were involved in an offensive operation by participating in 'Operation Wanni Wickrama 3' with its newly acquired T 85 and T 86 Armoured vehicles. 'C' Squadron was deployed in Welioya area. Due to the untiring efforts taken by then Commanding Officer, Lt Col D V S Y Kulatunga psc the Regiment acquired approximately 50 acres of land at Kalattewa. On 25th December 2009 3rd Armoured Regiment became fully fledged Armoured Regiment.

A significant event took place in 1991 when the countrys first ever tank Regiment the 4 Armoured Regiment raised on 24th September 1991. The separatist conflict in the north and east intensified in the late 1980s. This created a growing need for greater fire power and cross country mobility in the battlefield. The undulating sandy terrain of the Jaffna Peninsula, the western sea-board of Mannar District, and open dry paddy fields with earth bunds of the Eastern Province were impediments for wheels. They became increasingly vulnerable to RPGs as they slowed down on sandy soil or when the bellies were exposed in surmounting earth mounds in paddy fields. The 76mm main armament of the Saladin armored car became less effective against a determined and ruthless enemy fighting from hardened shelters and underground bunkers. Heavier firepower, on a mobile platform with better cross-country capability was desperately needed.

Though the need was recognized and supported by serving officers in operational areas, senior Armoured Corps officers had strong reservations about introducing tracked vehicles to Sri Lanka. The aversion to tanks was difficult to understand. It could have been the emotional attachment to wheels, false apprehensions about tracked vehicles, or lack of understanding about modern tracked vehicles. A reluctance to introduce battle tanks to fight a home-grown insurgency or the inability to break loose from the wheels mentality may have been other reasons.

The end of the Cold War in early nineties saw down sizing of Warsaw Pact armies with thousands of T Series battle tanks available for sale in the cash strapped former communist bloc countries. One such country was Czechoslovakia. The Sri Lanka Army examined the available options and decided to procure a less sophisticated but versatile battle tank. After much deliberation, debate and discussion, a decision was made to acquire the Czech built T-55 MBT. The Sri Lanka Armoured Corps was on the threshold of evolving from wheels to tracks, a much awaited desire of the Armys cavalrymen.

In August 1991 the Sri Lanka military delegation went to Czechoslovakia with a mandate to select twenty-five MBTs. It was later known that the Czechs were expecting an Iranian military delegation in the following week to procure five hundred tanks. The Armoured Corps in particular had the formidable task of reorganizing itself to receive tanks and integrate them. It was a challenge never experienced before. Tanks were to form a new unit designated 4th Armoured Regiment with handpicked officers and men, which was formally established on 24 September 1991, eventually equipped with twenty-five main battle tanks (MBTs) and two armored recovery vehicles (ARV).

The sensitive nature of a tank regiment, both internally and externally was obvious. They are machines with enormous destructive power. Battle tanks are tools of political and military power. Their presence and employment have domestic and external implications. Suspicions, concerns and apprehensions within the country and across the Palk Strait (India) were not unexpected.

The year 2001 marked a new ere in the history of 4th Armoured Regiment. The Regiment now with a mere fleet of 25 Tanks and operating without the most important now with a mere fleet of 25 Tanks and operating without the most important spare parts, received a consignment of spare parts and a fleet of 36 new T 55 AM 2 MBTs. These MBTs were equipped with modernized Fire Control Systems. The first fleet of 11 x Tanks arrived at the Colombo Harbour on 06th January 2001. With arrival of the new MBTs the 'D' Squadron of 4 Armoured Regiment was raised on 01 February 2001, at Kankesanthurai.

A few changes took placed in the deployment of squadrons after the end of the war in 2009. During the war all fighting squadrons were deployed in operational areas in Northern Province. At the aftermath of the war 'A' squadron was shifted to Clappenburg and sited in a hilly area close to the regimental Headquarters. 'B' squadron came to Mullaittivu and deployed under SF HQ (Mullaittivu) . 'C' squadron moved to Vasavilan and deployed under SF HQ (Jaffna).

With the decision to expand the army and to enhance the fighting strength to meet the operational requirement, the Commander of the Army sanctioned the raising of 5th Regiment of Sri Lanka Armoured Corps on November 1993 as a reinforcement unit. The 5th Regiment of the Sri Lanka Armoured Corps was officially raised at the auspicious time of 0640 hrs on Thursday the 6th January 1994 at Rock House Camp by Lieutenant Colonel N A Ranasinghe RSP psc. This was the first time in the history of the Sri Lanka Armoured Corps that it raised a regiment in reinforcement role. While this being the youngest member of the corps, the generous contributions made by then existing units of the corps immensely helped to keep its standards in par with other units. The total strength of 5th Regiment of its raising day was 29 x Officers and 742 x Other Ranks. Later 515 newly trained recruits were posted to 5 SLAC from the Infantry Training Centre (ITC) Minneriya. Eleven Young Officers joined the unit in mid January 1994 and the strength of the new unit was increased meeting the required strength as per the establishment approved for Reinforcement Unit. In mid-April 1994, the Unit was deployed in Batticaloa and placed under command to 4 Brigade.

The 5th Regiment converted to classic role from reinforcement role when it received following 16 BMP Vehicles from Ukraine in August 1994. On 17 October 1995 with all other Armour and Infantry counterparts, the A, B and D Squadrons of 5 SLAC took part in Operational Riviresa which was launched to liberate the Jaffna Peninsula from the LTTE (Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam). 5th Regiment SLAC contributed for almost all the operations conducted in North and East of Sri Lanka. Especially it played a vital role in Wanni Humanitarian Operation from which country was liberated from the grief of LTTE. During this period assets of 5 SLAC with its Regimental Headquarter had to move to all the way from Mannar, Wellankilam, Milankavil, Poonarin, Paranthan up to Wellamulliwaikkal where last battle was fought ending the thirty years long conflict.

Constant expansion of the Army invariably resulted in raising new Regiments. Army Headquarters approved the establishment of the 6th Regiment SLAC as a reinforcement entity on 29th January 1997. The Regimental Centre directed accordingly and Maj G J S Piyatunga was appointed as the first Commanding Officer. The Regiment was initially deployed in the Jaffna Peninsula.

The induction of troops was gradual and 02 x Officers and 409 men reached Jaffna by sea on 03rd January 1997 and another 173 men reached Jaffna on 10th January 1997. The Security Force Head Quarters (Jaffna) approved the location selected for their initial deployment. The Muslim Vidyalaya at Taffers Road, Jaffna became the site to raise the 6th Regiment SLAC. Maj Gen P A Karunatilleke RWP was present to grace the occasion. The Regiment comprised of Headquarter, A,B,C and D Squadrons.

Since its raising the Regimental Headquarter with Headquarter Squadron was located at Muslim Vidyalaya in Jaffna. A Squadron was deployed at Manturai, B Squadron was located at Hospital Road, Jaffna and C Squadron at Gurunagar. They commenced performing operational duties immediately. Progressing towards better goals, the Regiment prepared itself to receive BTR Armoured Personnel Carriers as a new consignment was anticipated. The pilot program to train the troops on trades related to BTR commenced. On 07th June 1998, the much anticipated BTRs reached Sri Lanka. The Regiment moved to Kallattewa and formally took over the vehicles on 25th July 1998.

Subsequently the Regiment was operationally deployed as a fully fledged Regiment on the classic role. From the beginning of the year 1999, the Regimental Headquarter and the Headquarter Squadron were located at Kallattewa. Since the requirement of more troops arose, on 24th September 1999, all the elements were redeployed in Omanthai and Vellakvetikulam. Tactical Headquarters was redeployed from Mannar to Palaly in the Jaffna Peninsula on 07th July 2001 and was thereafter located at Kankesanthurai. The Regiment received a fleet of BMP Infantry Fighting Vehicles to become a fully equipped Mechanized Regiment. Sabre Squadrons commenced training on 30th March 2002. Later on November 2003 Regiment was redeployed at Sarasalai.

Having effectively and efficiently performed the operational tasks assigned especially in Jaffna Peninsula the 6th Regiment was disbanded and BTR AFVs were handed over to Mechanized Brigade to forming of its regiments. On the 02nd day of August 2007 6th Regiment of Armoured Corps in Reinforcement Role was reformed under the command of Lt Col D B S N Bothota psc. Having had quite a tough time during the Muhamalai trauma troops acclimatized themselves with the infantry role and the performances of the regiment were highly praised by the commanders of every level in particular.

The Sri Lanka Armoured Corps does not appear to have included a 7th Regiment.

The 8th Regiment (RFT) Sri Lanka Armoured Corps was raised as Reinforcement Regiment on 30 July 1998 at Vasavilan camp Palali. The cadre strength was fulfilled by absorbing Officers and men from classic regiments. The first Commanding Officer of the unit was Major LDRS Kumar and initial strength was 13 x Officers and 256 x Other Ranks. After initial Battalion training which started on 03 Aug 1998 at Vasavilan camp, the Regiment was deployed under 512 Bde. Later on 1st Jan 2002 Regiment was redeployed at Oddupeli. A requirement of a permanent camp was fulfilled with acquirement of a land which owned by Mahaweli Authority at Dombawelagama, Nochchiyagama and it was declared opened by Maj Gen D V S Y Kulatunga RSP USP ndc psc on 05 Feb 2004. In year 2006 the Regiment was deployed at Eluthumadduwal under the command of 516 Brigade and troops were assigned to provide protection for artillery guns and rear areas in the height of the battle. Later on year 2007 Regiment was redeployed at Killaly lagoon area. On termination of the operation, Regiment was deployed under 55 Division in Vettalaikerni Sector along the coastal line. Having served more than 10 years in sand bound areas in Jaffna Theatre, Regiment was redeployed in High Security Zone in Thelippalai Area under 515 Brigade from August 2010.

The 9th (Rft) Regiment Sri Lanka Armoured Corps was raised on 21st January 2008 at Combat Training School at Walamandiya. The first Commanding Officer of the Regiment was Major M A Izadeen RSP. Initially Regiment was deployed at Trincomalee area under 22 Division. Later on 19th December 2008 Regiment was redeployed at Morawewa Pankulama Camp. With the commencement of Humanitarian operation in Wanni, Regiment had to move to Kanakarayankulam area on 20.01.2009 and placed under command to 563 Brigade. The first Commanding Officer Lt Col M A Izadeen RSP handed over his command to Major P R Pathirawithana psc on 23.02.2009. On 20th April 2009 Regiment placed under command to 57 Division and deployed at Puthukuduirruppu area. Throughout the Humanitarian operation in Wanni Region, the Regiment performed well in all entrusted tasks. On successful completion of the operation, Regiment redeployed again in their original location at Morawewa camp on 3rd June 2009. Regimental Headquarters, Headquarter Squadron, Support Company and a saber squadron are located at Pankulama while other squadrons are located at Ethabandiweva, Nagollewa, and Indikatuweva respectively.

10th (Rft) Regiment, Sri Lanka Armoured Corps was raised on 28th July 2008 in the Armoured Corps Training Centre at Kalattewa. Maj N D K B Niyangoda RSP psc was the first Commanding Officer of the Regiment. As a new Regiment, soldiers underwent 21 days Battalion Training at Combat Training School in Vauniya. Subsequently on 22nd July 2008, the Regiment was air lifted to the Pappamotai at Mannar District for humanitarian operation in Wanni Region. This was the first operational deployment of the Regiment. The Regiment was deployed under commanded to the Infantry Brigades of 57 & 58 Divisions during the Humanitarian Operation. As a Reinforcement Regiment 10th Regiment performed well in both offensive and defensive role in s Humanitarian Operation. Subsequently on completion of the operation on 18th May 2009 Regiment continued to conduct search and clearing operations in search of terrorist hidden and buried arms/Ammo and explosives. Mainly these ops were conducted in Waddakachchi, Ramanathapuram and Dharmapuram in the Kilinochchi District. During this period the unit was able to find bulk of arms and ammo belong to LTTE. On the 13th day July 2009 Regiment was handpicked to provide the security to newly appointed Commander of the Army Lt Gen J Jayasuriya USP ndu psc. Since then the Regiment has been deployed at Army Headquarters to date.

7th (Volunteer) Regiment Sri Lanka Armoured Corps is the second Volunteer Regiment that is on the record in the history of Armour in Sri Lanka. Since 2nd Volunteer Regiment Sri Lanka Armoured Corps was re-designated, 7th (Volunteer) Regiment is the only Volunteer Regiment in the Corps. As per the directions of the Army Headquarters, 7th Volunteer Battalion, Sri Lanka National Guard was absorbed into the Armoured Corps and was renamed as 7th (Volunteer) Regiment Sri Lanka Armoured Corps. The Regiment was formed on 22 May 1998 at Keeramalei. Lt Col M W E W De Silva was the first Commanding Officer of the Regiment and the regiment was deployed at Keeramalei under 515 brigade Headquarters. On 16th June 1998 unit was redeployed at Elephant Pass under 544 Brigade Headquarters and deployed there up to 09th April 1999. On 09th June 1999 the Regiment was deployed in Achchuweli under 511 Brigade Headquarters. On 05 January 2000 Maj L D R S Kumar RSP assumed duties as Commanding Officer.

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Page last modified: 05-05-2012 19:19:14 ZULU