With the service extension granted to Army Commander Mahesh Senanayake by the President, it has affected the fate of many Generals, reported the ‘Mawbima’ newspaper.
He was appointed as the 20th Army Commander on June 27, 2017 after a cold war within the army, as he is considered an exceptionally capable military officer.
The tussle for the post of Commander at the time was between Major General Mahesh Senanayake, Boniface Perera and Sudantha Ranasinghe. However, Mahesh Senanayake who is a silent and unassuming, composed officer was selected to the post, based on his long term experience as an accomplished officer.
The other two were officers who had joined the army having followed short term courses.
A document not used by any other army in the world!
President Maithripala Sirisena took the decision to appoint Mahesh Senanayake as the Army Commander based on his talents, discipline and proves as a soldier, casting aside all traditions followed by the army. He was thus appointed to the post in 2017.
Mahesh Senanayake assumes duties as the Army Commander just 1 ½ months prior to reaching his retirement age of 55. He reached 55 years on August 19 last year and was granted a service extension f one year.
Second cold war:
As the current Army Commander’s term was scheduled to end on August 18, this year, a silent cold war was launched between the other generals vying for the post.
The eligible senior officers as usual, began running behind religious leaders and politicians, with the hope of securing their position as the next commander in line.
Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka made a concerted attempt to have Major General Piyal Wickramaratne appointed as the next Commander as he is a member of his regiment, the Sinha Regiment.
Maj. Gen. Piyal Wickramaratne had even applied for a service extension having completed his retirement age of 55.
The general practice was that the Chief of Staff of the Army who is the second in command be appointed to the post of Commander. Major General Piyal Wickramaratne, is currently the Commandant, Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force (SLAVF) and reaches his retirement age of 55 on September 02, 2018. .
Those who are scheduled to retire with the Commander post in sight:
Previously, Major General G.A. Chandrasiri was granted an extension during the tenure of Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka based on the grounds that he was required in Jaffna to maintain security.
However, Major General Sumedha Perera and Maj. Gen. Jagath Dias who were also clever soldiers had to retire after reaching 55 as the present government did not extend their terms.
Although they both served as the second in command of the army, as the Chief of staff, they had to retire with the post of Commander within their grasp, as they were not accorded extensions.
With the current Commander’s term scheduled to end in August, a cold war was launched by the other candidates, knowing well that if the current commander is granted an extension, their hopes would be dashed.
Performing his duties giving direct leadership:
The President had taken the decision to grant service extensions to both the Army Commander and the Air Force Commander, due to their direct leadership in carrying out the affairs of the army and air force, The President had evaluated the exceptional and exemplary service rendered by them and had decided during the past New Year season to extend their terms.
The extension was not made known until the Air Force Commander’s term completion and no one knew about the Army Commander’s extension too until just this week.
Previously, the former Army Commander Sarath Fonseka was granted a three year extension by the former President Mahinda Rajapaksa after he had completed 55 years.
Even the previous Army Commander Chrishantha Silva was granted three consecutive service extensions for three years after he reached 55 years, by the current regime.
The next in line for this privilege is Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake.
54 Major Generals scheduled to retire:
Meanwhile, 54 Major Generals are scheduled to reach retirement age by next year.
This is a fate they will have to endure, even if the current Commander had retired and another was appointed. This is because all Major Generals who reach the retirement age of 55 years are not granted service extensions.
After their retirement, around 4-5 Major Generals would still remain and the Brigadiers awaiting promotions would get the opportunity to be promoted to the rank of Major General.
Proposal to remain until 57:
As around 40 Major General are scheduled for retirement, they have launched a campaign through politicians to bring in a proposal to extend their service until the age of 57.
Their hope was to enforce the gazette brought in by the previous regime, allowing a Major General to remain in service until 57 years of age.
President Sirisena had discussed this proposal at the Security Council meeting. However, while the Air Force and Navy Commanders had agreed to this proposal, it is said that the Army Commander had opposed this proposal.
The Army Commander had shown cause for his objection stating that the junior officers who had rendered a great service during the war would be deprived of their promotions in the event this proposal to increase the retirement to 57 years is implemented.
Completing their maximum service tenure in the same post:
During the war, based on the requirement at the time, many who had joined the army having followed the short term course, were granted promotions up to the rank of Major General, which resulted in many infantry officers having to retire from the army having served the maximum service tenure in the same posts. They were thus, deprived of their promotions.
According to the seniority list, a large number of officers are scheduled to retire as they were those who had joined the army in 1984 and 1985. In those years the highest number of cadets were recruited.
Under those recruitments officers born in 1963, 1964 should be prepared to retire having completed 55 years.
The current Chief of Staff Major General Dampath Fernando is the only infantry officer who joined under intake 18. He will reach the retirement age of 55 on October 02 and is scheduled to retire.
Maj. Gen. Piyal Wickramaratne who joined under intake 18 is scheduled to retire on September 02.
Wijayabahu Regiment officer Maj. Gen. Ajith Kariyakarawana is scheduled to retire on April 21, 2019.
Another 19 Major Generals who joined under intake 19 will complete 55 years by next year and would have to retire. Maj. Gen. R.M. Dias is also scheduled to retire on April 25, 2019.
The other Major Generals in line for retirement are; T.D. Liyanage November 14, 2019, Ruwan Kulatunge July 05th 2019, Jaffna Commander Maj. Gen. Dharshana Hettiarachchi July 22, 2019, Shavendra Silva June 21, 2019, Kumudu Perera October 28, 2019, Vajira Palihakkara June 14, 2019, Chagi Gallage August 30, 2018, Bimal Withanage December 16, 2018.
Army Engineer officers under intake 18 Major Generals Dudly Weeraman is scheduled to retire on August 17, 2018 and Maj. Gen. Dhananjith Karunaratne on October 30, 2018. Maj. Gen. P.J. Ratnayake on October 10, 2018 and D.B. Pananwala on November 24, 2018.
Maj. Gen. Shavendra Silva’s fate!
Among the Major Generals who joined under intake 20, Dushan Rajaguru is scheduled to retire on September 21, 2019, Nirmal Dharmaratne on April 18, 2020, Jagath Gunawardena on December 14, 2020, Ajith Wijesinghe on April 26, 2019, Duminda Keppetiwalana on August 14, 2019 and Nishshanka Ranawana on June 21, 2019.
Maj. Gen. Sanath Perera who joined under intake 21 is scheduled to retire on Octobe 25, 2018, having completed 55 years.
Major Generals who joined through short term course 04, Maj. Gen. Aruna Jayasekara is scheduled to retire on October 18, 2019 and Haren Perera is scheduled to retire on January 05, 2019.
The Major Generals who joined under intake 21, Ruwan de Silva is scheduled to retire on January 05, 2019, Ralph Nugera on April 04, 2019, Nishantha Wanniarachchi on April 28, 2019, Mahinda Mudalige on March 09, 2020, Haren Fernando on September 30, 2020 and S.K. Perera on April 06, 2019.
Major Generals who joined under short term course no. 05, M.S. Perera scheduled to retire on August 30, 2018, Laksiri Waduge on April 15, 2020, Athula Kodippili on November 01, 2019, and Major General who joined under short term course no. 06, Major Generals G.V. Ravipriya on January 14, 2020, Athula Galagamage on June 15, 2019, Raj Ranawaka on November 03, 2019.
Under the current situation, Maj. Gen. Sathyapriya Liyanage and Maj. Gen. Dharshana Hettiarachchi who joined under course 19 will come to the fore after next August.
Under course 20, only Maj. Gen. Nirmal Dharmaratne and Jagath Gunawardena would remain. Maj. Gen. Shavendra Silva is the youngest among the Major Generals.
With the retirement of the Army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Dampath Fernando shortly, it would be decided who would be appointed as the second in command, which could be an indication as to who would succeed Army Commander Lt. Gen. Mahesh Senanayake.