There is an attempt to make a person obedient to the President and the Defence Secretary as the next Army Commander after present Army Commander Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya retires.
Therefore, the Defence Secretary is looking at ignoring all the well known senior army officers who were in the forefront of the war in order to appoint a person obedient to him to be appointed as the next Army Commander, a senior Defence Ministry official said.
Army Commander Lieutenant General Jagath Jayasuriya born on January 3, 1959 and joined the army on July 17, 1978 under the 10th batch as soldier number 0/50798 is due to retire on January 3, 2014.
Jayasuriya managed the supply of food and other requirements to the war front as the Commanding Officer of the Wanni Command during the Eelam 4 and never commanded the 56th, 57th, 58th and 59th Brigades, 2nd 3rd and 4th Special Forces Units, the Special Task Force or the Commando Regiment. It was former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka who commanded all these units, who was soldier number 0/50536.
Fonseka was removed from the post of Army Commander and Jayasuriya was appointed to the post due to his close friendship with the Defence Secretary. It was well known that he was a weal major general in the army at the time.
However, there is currently a cold war among several senior majors general to be appointed as the next army commander. The war has become intensified due to the time limits in holding a senior post in the army and retirement according to the Army Act. The law has stipulated a maximum number of years for an army officer to hold the office of a major general or brigadier. Therefore, a person cannot hold such an office for more than four years and if the officer would have to retire if he does not receive a promotion before that.
Accordingly, Major General W.C.M.P. Samarasinghe (Mendaka Samarasinghe number 0/50799 batch 10) had to retire before completing 55 years since he had fulfilled the full number of years to hold the post of major general. Samarasinghe who was born on April 1, 1958 was to retire from the army on March 31, 2013. However, he had to retire in 2009 since he had held the office of major general for a period of four years and did not receive a promotion.
An officer from the engineering corp, Samarasinghe was the commanding officer of the 22nd brigade during the Mavilaru battle in 2006. He led the battles that liberated Mavilaru, Muttur, Thopur, Pahalathopur, and Sampur from the LTTE.
However, he had to resign before completing the age of 55 years since the Defence Secretary did not grant him a promotion to keep him in active service.
The next senior officer is Chief of Army Staff Major General R.M.D. Ratnayake (Daya Ratnayake soldier number 0/50915 batch 13).
He was born on February 22, 1958 and if he is not granted a promotion, he would have to retire on February 21, 2013.
He was the commanding officer of the 23rd brigade during the war and led the battles that liberated Vakarai and Thoppigala.
The commanding officer of the 58th Brigade during the final phase of the war, Major General L.H.S.C. Silva (Shavendra Silva soldier number 0/60264 batch 19) is also hopeful of becoming the next Army Commander.
Born on June 22, 1964, Silva would be 55 years on June 22, 2019. However, since he was appointed as a major general in 2009 and the maximum number of years he could hold the post would be before 2019 and he would have to retire in 2016 if he is not granted a promotion.
Another senior officer looking at the Army Commander’s post is Major General C.P. Gallage (Chagi Gallage soldier number 0/60272 batch 19). Gallage is from the Gajaba Regiment and commanded the Commando Regiment during the final stages of the war.
Born on August 31, 1963 Gallage will turn 55 years on August 31, 2018. If he is not appointed as the Army Commander by then or granted a promotion before that, he too would have to retire.
Another officer of the Gajaba Regiment, Major General N.A.J.C. Dias (Jagath Dias soldier number 0/50991 batch 14) is also on the list to become the next Army Commander. Born on December 26, 1960, he would become 55 years on December 26, 2015. He would also complete the maximum period to hold the post of major general before 2015.
Like the others, he too would have to retire if he is not granted a promotion or appointed as the Army Commander before 2015.
The majors general mentioned above have all had close links with the media and the President and Defence Secretary have noted that their inability to fall in line with the two of them were deterrents to appointing them to the top post in the army.
The Defence Secretary’s attention is focused on Major General Mahinda Hathurusinghe (soldier number 0/50940 batch 22) as the next Army Commander.
Born on January 3, 1961, he would turn 55 years on January 3, 2016.
However, he has many accusations leveled against him and his brother Colonel Nandana Munasinghe has been accused of large scale corruption.
Major General T.K.S. Perera (Sumedha Perera soldier number 0/50944) is also a officer who has won the trust of the Defence Secretary.
Born on October 1, 1961, he would become 55 years on October 1, 2016.
However he too is accused of corruption.
Therefore, the two majors general who have won the Defence Secretary’s trust and are likely to be appointed to the top post in the army are accused of large scale corruption. The official who gave us the information said the Defence Secretary was likely to use these allegations to control them if appointed to a key post.