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Sri Lanka - Ministry of Defence

The armed forces consist of the Sri Lankan Army, Navy, and Air Force. As stipulated in the 1978 Constitution, the president of Sri Lanka is the commander in chief of the armed forces and has the sole authority to declare war and peace. Under the president, the formal chain of command includes the prime minister, the minister of defense, and the individual service commanders. In order to consolidate control over the armed forces, Jayewardene also assumed the portfolio of minister of defense when he took office in 1977. In March 1984, the additional position of minister of internal security was created in response to the ethnic turmoil of the previous summer. Its incumbent was primarily responsible for the coordination of government efforts in the eradication of Tamil extremist violence and reported directly to the president.

On the operational level, the government created a Joint Operations Command in 1985 to coordinate the anti-insurgent and antiterrorist activities of the army, navy, air force, and police. This council was chaired by the president and included, among others, the prime minister, the minister of internal security, the three service commanders, the inspector general of police, the director of the National Intelligence Bureau, and the general officer commanding joint operations.

In recent years the President held the portfolio of Defense Minister, making all defense and security decisions.

After President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga 04 November 2004 ministerial takeovers, Cyril Herath replaced Austin Fernando as Secretary in the Defense Ministry. In 2003 Cyril Herath was named the new Secretary (second-in-command) of the Ministry of Defense. He served as Inspector General of Police (IGP) from 1985-88 and the Director of the Police National Intelligence Bureau from its creation by the then-PA government in 1998 until 2001. Herath was also the chairman of the National Savings Bank from 1994- 2002. He is considered to be very close to the President. While he has held police and intelligence positions and is generally well-regarded, he does not have direct military experience. He is Sinhalese Buddhist and is from Anuradhapura in north-central Sri Lanka.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa's February 2007 cabinet reshuffle served to consolidate his and his brothers' control, particularly over the defense establishment. The post of Deputy Defense Minister (formerly held by Prime Minister Wickremenayake) was now vacant, leaving only the President, as Defense Minister, and his brother Gothabaya, the Defense Secretary, responsible for military policy.

President Rajapaksa relied on his brothers, Defense Secretary Gothabaya Rajapaksa and Senior Advisor to the President Basil Rajapaksa, for advice on security matters and political affairs respectively. The President "would not change even a roadside checkpoint" without first consulting his brother Gothabaya. Gothabaya Rajapaksa had nearly full autonomy on military decisions. He and Army Commander Fonseka had a close relationship and work well together; Fonseka was one of Gothabaya's commanding officers when he was in the Army. The other military commanders followed Gothabaya's instructions faithfully for fear of being replaced. Key presidential decisions that reflect Gothabaya's influence include appointing Sarath Fonseka as Army Commander, closing the A-9 highway to Jaffna, and appointing Victor Perera as the Inspector General of Police.

Gothabaya Rajapaksa was educated in Matara and Galle. He joined the Sri Lanka Army as a cadet officer and was a Lieutenant Colonel when he left the armed forces in 1985. Gothabaya's mother-in-law sponsored him and his family to migrate to the U.S., where he found employment as a software programmer. Gothabaya became a naturalized US citizen in 2003. He returned to Sri Lanka in 2005 to help with Mahinda Rajapaksa's election campaign.

The charismatic commander of the army, General Sarath Fonseka, also received much credit for the May 2009 victory. General Fonseka was expected to serve till the end of December 2009 -- but the President made sweeping changes at the very top of the security establishment. Fonseka was moved up to the newly-created position of chief of defence staff months before December 2009. The general learnt, much to his chagrin, that the position entailed little or no influence over military matters. Chief of Defense (CHOD) General Sarath Fonseka submitted his resignation to President Rajapaksa on 12 November 2009.

The current Commander of the Sri Lankan Air Force (SLAF) Air Chief Marshall Roshan Goonetileke, viewed as a man with little personal or professional ambition, became the next CHOD. This would follow military precedent, as he was the senior serving flag officer. The Air Force Commander's replacement would likely be Air Vice Marshall P.B. Premachandra, an ethnic Tamil. If selected, Premachandra's elevation would likely be welcomed as an important symbolic gesture of Sinhalese-Tamil reconciliation and empowerment.

ADMINISTRATION Division of the Ministry of Defence attends to overall administration of each and every division functioning within the Ministry of Defence, Directorate of Foreign Intelligence, Directorate of Internal Intelligence, Joint Service Language Training Institute at Kotmale and the National Cadet Corps. The Training Unit functioning under this Division is mainly engaged in recommending service personnel of the three forces for Foreign training programmes as well as for local training programs. In addition to above, this unit organizes foreign and local training programmes to cadres of staff grades and non - staff grades attached to Ministry office as well as the departments and institutions functioning under the Ministry of Defence.

Defence I Division of the Ministry of Defence is attending to matters in relation to the Sri Lanka Army, Sri Lanka Navy, Sri Lanka Air Force and Sir John Kotalawala Defence Academy are attended to, by the Defence Division of the Ministry of Defence. This includes all enlistments, appointments, promotions, relinquishments, withdrawal of commissions, registrations, secondments, transfers and disciplinary matters of the three forces. Further, the establishment matters of the civil staff of the Kotalawala Defence Academy are being attended to, by this Division.

Formulation of Acts and Regulations, administration of raising of Regiments and Units, matters in relation to the salaries, pensions and allowances, granting vehicles to officers under Tax Relief Scheme, Providing welfare and telephone facilities, payment of compensation to war - heroes and to their families in relation to above institutions are being carried - out by this Division. Another important task attended to, by this Division is to provide opportunities to service personnel to participate in international and local seminars and exhibitions. Activities in relation to awarding medals such as Parama Weera Vibushana, Weerodhara Vibhushana, Rana Wickrama, Ranasoora etc. are being performed by this Division.

Finance Division - Further to the two projects under Programme 1 of the Vote of the Ministry of Defence, Finance Division is engaged in carrying-out following five projects under Programme 3. 1. Special Security Operations 2. Directorate of Internal Intelligence 3. Directorate of Foreign Intelligence 4. National Cadet Corps 5. Prevention of Terrorism.

National Cadet Corps - AS a result of re-structuring the National Cadet Corps, Cadres have been divided to three categories namely National Cadet Corps Headquarters, Provincial Headquarters and Battalian Headquarters. Further, actions have been taken to raise Provincial Headquarters in the North Central, Eastern, North Western, Central, Sabaragamuwa and Uva Provinces in order to facilitate more camps and other facilities for benefit of the community. In addition to above, arrangements have been made to represent cadets for the camps conducted in foreign countries under Cadet Exchanging Program.

Joint Service Language Training Institute, Kotmale - The purpose of the establishment of this Training Institute is to educate service personnel of the Army, Navy and the Air Force and also the Police personnel to understand, speak, write and read Tamil language who send to serve in the North & East. There-by they are able to provide a more effective service to the General Public who Live in these are as and speak Tamil Language.

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Page last modified: 05-05-2012 19:19:17 ZULU