07th July 2017 13:54:52 Hours
The newly-appointed 22nd Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General N. U. M. M. W Senanayake RWP RSP USP psc, more popularly known as ‘Mahesh Senanayake’ who took office on Wednesday (5) at the Army Headquarters, was greeted with military honours and other ceremonials before a large representative gathering of senior Officers, Other Ranks and distinguished guests.
On his arrival at the Ministry of Defence (MoD) parade grounds, a Guard Turnout, welcomed the new Commander after the Commanding Officer of the Headquarters Battalion, together with the Special Forces Centre Commandant received him at the entrance to the MoD ground.
Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Renaka Udawatte afterwards warmly greeted the Commander as he arrived at the parade ground and requested him to take the salute of the Guard of Honour from the special dais. Major General Shavendra Silva, Adjutant General of the Army, afterwards conducted the day’s Chief Guest to the special dais.
The next segment of the day’s ceremony saw the Parade Commander, Captain R.A.D.A Ranasinghe of the Special Forces, holding the symbolic sword, reported the parade, comprised of 2 Officers and 48 Other Ranks to the day’s Chief Guest and invited him to review the Guard of Honour in accordance with age-old military traditions.
The event scenario, set in the background of fluttering all colourful Regimental flags, added grandeur and significance to the day’s brief, but dignified event to the rhythmic beats and melodies of patriotic sentiments, played by parade troops as the new Commander, went past reviewing the military honours, along with the Parade Commander.
After a while, the Commander arrived at the entrance to the Commander’s Secretariat at the Army Headquarters, to be received by Principal Staff Officers and senior Officers, awaiting his arrival. Upon arrival at the Commander’s office, the new Commander made floral offerings to the Buddha and lit the traditional oil lamp to inaugurate his office.
A few minutes later, offer of the traditional ‘Deheth Wattiya’ (tray of betel) to the members of the Maha Sangha paved the way for Ven Akuretiye Wimalawansa Thero of the Kaduruduwa Dharmashramaya to deliver a brief oration (Anusasana) highlighting the importance of the office of the Commander and the occasion.
As chanting of Seth Pirith was on, the new Commander afterwards, flanked by his wife, Mrs Chandrika Senanayake and family members signed a formal document to signify the acceptance of the prestigious office of the Commander of the Army.
Lieutenant General Mahesh Senanayake afterwards received blessings of the clergy of all denominations and culminated the brief ceremony with the offer of ‘Pirikara’ and gifts to members of the Maha Sangha and other clergies of Catholic, Hindu and Islamic denominations.
Ven Atapattukande Ananda Thero, former assistant Principal at Colombo Ananda College, Ven Palatuwe Ginarathana Thero of Hunupitiya Gangaramaya and several more monks and the clergy of Catholic, Hindu and Islamic faiths were associated with the religious segment of the inaugural ceremony. Here follows a brief profile of the new Commander of the Army;
Lieutenant General N U M M W Senanayake RWP RSP USP psc was appointed as the 22nd Commander of the Sri Lanka Army, effective from 27 June 2017 by His Excellency the President Maithripala Sirisena as the Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces after he was elevated to the rank of Lieutenant General with effect from the same date.
Lieutenant General N U M M W Senanayake RWP RSP USP psc, more popularly known as Mahesh Senanayake is a proud product of the prestigious Ananda College, Colombo and was enlisted to the Sri Lanka Army on 16 October 1981 under the Officer Cadet Intake 16. Upon successful completion of military training, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant and passed out as the first in order of merits and awarded with the Sword of Honour. He opted to join the Corps of Engineers and was subsequently posted to the 1 Plant Engineer Regiment on 23 June 1983.
During his illustrious military career, he held many Command, Staff and Instructional appointments. The Senior Officer has held the appointment of Troop Commander/ Squadron Commander in the Sri Lanka Army Plant Engineer Regiment and many other appointments, including extra regimental employment as an Officer Instructor at the Sri Lanka Military Academy, Diyatalawa. Subsequently, the Senior Officer volunteered for an inter unit transfer to the Regiment of Special Forces in 1989.
Lieutenant General N U M M W Senanayake has actively contributed to all major military operations, conducted in the North and East of Sri Lanka. In the Special Forces Regiment, he has served the appointment of Squadron Commander of the 1st Regiment Special Forces and commanded the 3rd Regiment Special Forces.
The Senior Officer has held the appointments of Regimental Center Commandant of the Special Forces Regiment, Commander of the 211 Infantry Brigade - Vavuniya, Commander of the Special Forces Brigade and the General Officer Commanding of the 52 Division in Varani, Jaffna. In addition, he has also performed staff appointment duties, including the office of the Colonel General Staff at 52 Division and the Brigadier General Staff in the Security Force Headquarters - Jaffna during the most critical period of the war. Lieutenant General N U M M W Senanayake has also served the appointment of Directing Staff at the Army Command and Staff College at Sapugaskanda.
Further, the Senior Officer held the appointment of Director Plans during the Humanitarian Operations after the year 2006. Subsequently in 2015, he took office as the Military Secretary at the Army Headquarters.
In 2016, he was appointed the Commander Security Forces - Jaffna during which he made an outstanding contribution towards resettlement of Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) in the peninsula. His unparalleled service towards reconciliation process was well-recognized by the community and government authorities. In March 2017, he was appointed as the Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army.
Lieutenant General N U M M W Senanayake is a graduate of the prestigious United States Army Command and General Staff College. Further, he holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Civil Engineering from Jawaharlal Nehru University, India.
In recognition of his gallantry and bravery in the face of the enemy during the operations, Lieutenant General N U M M W Senanayake was awarded the Rana Wickrama Padakkama (RWP), Rana Soora Padakkama (RSP) several times and the Uththama Seva Padakkma (USP) for his unblemished services in the Army.
Lieutenant General N U M M W Senanayake RWP RSP USP psc is also serving as the Colonel of the Regiment of Special Forces at present. He is married and blessed with two daughters and a son.