17th October 2021 18:52:58 Hours
The landmark unification of Reserve Strike Divisions, Special Operations Forces and elements of other arms in the Sri Lanka Army as 1 Corps of the Sri Lanka Army occurred this morning (17) during a formal ceremony at Saliyapura Gajaba Regiment Regimental HQ premises as promulgated in the Army Commander's 'Way Forward Strategy 2020-2025' for the organization.
The inaugural raising ceremony, graced by the Secretary Defence, Secretary State Ministry of National Security and Disaster Management, General Kamal Gunarathna (Rtd) as the Chief Guest at the invitation of the brainchild behind the unification, General Shavendra Silva, Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army saw a colourful parade of those troops saluting the day's Chief Guest upon his review after he was ushered to the special dais.
The raising of the 1 Corps of the Sri Lanka Army with its motto, "Swift, Vigour, Bravery" was next symbolized as the Secretary Defence was invited to pin insignia on the troops of the 1 Corps in the company of the Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army and the Adjutant General, Major General Sanjaya Wanasinghe.
The apex of the day's proceedings reached then with the award of the formal raising order to Major General Harendra Ranasinghe, the 1st Commander of the elite 1 Corps of the Sri Lanka Army and pinning of the 1 Corps insignia on him simultaneously before the exclusively-designed flag of the Corps was presented to the new 1 Corps Commander by the day's Chief Guest, General Kamal Gunarathne (Rtd). An eye-catching spectacle that presented a fusion of cultural dancers that followed afterwards entertained the gathering at the occasion.
The formal ceremony also added more connectivity as the day's Chief Guest was invited to symbolically launch the official website of the 1 Corps which will be operational from its HQ at Kilinochchi. General Kamal Gunarathne (Rtd) extending greetings on this milestone establishment as directed to the Army Chief by HE the President to be in parallel with his national policy, 'Saubhagye Dekma' left a couple of compliments and thoughts in the Visitors' Book. Through zoom technology, all the 1 Corps HQ troops at Kilinochchi watched the sequence of proceedings at Saliyapura.
Major General Harendra Ranasinghe as the new 1 Corps Commander added memories by presenting appreciative mementoes to both General Kamal Gunarathne (Rtd) and General Shavendra Silva respectively before the day's inauguration culminated.
This newly-raised 1 Corps, composed of the troops of the 53 Division, 58 Division, Commando Brigade, Special Forces Brigade, Air Mobile Brigade, Infantry Brigades and a few other arms is headquartered in Kilinochchi and would accordingly serve as an active military reserve formation, available to address unforeseen situations or exploit sudden opportunities and maintain their military skills and readiness while operating on an on-call basis from the main military force.
Although the Sri Lanka Army has been maintaining reserve strike force and special operation forces independently in the past, this is the first time in the military history that this combined type of highest tactical fighting formation, 1 Corps with Reserve Strike Forces (RSF) and Special Operations Forces (SOF) as a force multiplier came into being under one command in the face of contemporary security dynamics, natural disasters, man-made catastrophes, epidemics, terrorist threats or any other national emergencies.
The Army Commander's visionary 'Way Forward Strategy 2020-2025' for the Army spells out that " Sri Lanka Army shall maintain a highly adaptable reserve force ready to undertake diversified contingency tasks as a force of deterrence for the defence of the nation and the force is to be aptly grouped with combat, combat support and combat service support elements to spearhead combined and joint operations as necessary".
A representative gathering of Senior Officers, including Major General Priyantha Perera, Chief of Staff, Major General Sampath Kotuwegoda, Deputy Chief of Staff, Major General Vikum Liyanage, Commandant, Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force, Officers and Other Ranks joined this memorable event at Saliyapura.