New Chief of Staff of the Army assumes office

New Chief of Staff of the Army assumes office

June 2, 2020   01:05 pm

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Major General Jagath Gunawardena has assumed office as the 55th Chief of Staff of the Army during a simple ceremony at his office in the Army Headquarters, amid religious observances, greetings and best wishes.

Upon his arrival, he made religious offerings before members of the Maha Sangha commenced chanting to invoke blessings on the new office. While chanting was in progress, Major General Gunawardena left his signature for an official document to signify the acceptance of his new office. 

He was serving as the Commandant, Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force (SLAVF) before he took over this appointment. He is also currently serving as the Colonel Commandant of Sri Lanka Engineers.

Just hours after assumption of office, the newly-appointed Chief of Staff of the Army, Major General Jagath Gunawardena, paid his first formal courtesy call on the Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Army, Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva at the Army Headquarters and received his greetings and best wishes.

Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva during the interaction extended his best wishes on his new appointment and wished him good luck with his future assignments. He replaced Major General Sathyapriya Liyanage who retired from the Army a few days ago.

Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva during exchange of views with the new Chief of Staff underlined the need to transform the Army to match with future challenges and further promote professional career prospects in the organization while enhancing welfare roles for All Ranks.

Major General Jagath Gunawardena expressed his gratitude to the Commander of the Army for appointing him to this high office keeping full faith in him. Prior to this new appointment, Major General Jagath Gunawardena was the Commandant at Sri Lanka Army Volunteer Force (SLAVF).

Major General Jagath Gunawardena is a graduate of Sri Lanka Army Command and Staff College (Course Number 2), and Command and Staff College, Quetta, Pakistan. He was the recipient of ‘Commandant’s Golden Pen’ award for best research paper at the Army Command and Staff College in year 1999. 

The instructional appointments that the senior officer held during his career include Officer Instructor at the Sri Lanka Military Academy, Directing Staff at Defence Services Command and Staff College, Head of the Training Team at Army Wing at the Defence Services Command and Staff College.

He holds a Bachelor of Science (Honours) War Studies degree from the University of Baluchistan in Pakistan, Master in Defence Studies from the University of Kelaniya, Sri Lanka, Master of Arts with Merit in Conflict Resolution from the University of Bradford, United Kingdom.

He has taken a keen interest to uplift the sports in the Army throughout his career. He has been the Chairman of the Army swimming and Water-Polo, Vice Chairman of the Sri Lanka Army Football Committee, and Chairman of the Army Squash Committee. Presently he is also the Chairman of the Army Karate Committee.

He held the following Major appointments such as Master General Ordnance of the Army headquarters, Commander Security Forces - Wanni, General Officer Commanding of the 57 Infantry Division, Deputy Military Liaison Officer, Ministry of Defence and Director Plans .

During early stages of his military career, he took part in a number of major military operations as a field engineer officer and got injured during the Operation Balawegaya, the rescue operation for the Elephant-Pass Army camp in 1991.

He has been decorated with the gallantry award “Rana Sura Padakkama” (RSP) for his bravery in the face of the enemy and “Vishishta Seva Vibhishanaya” (VSV) and “Uttama Seva Padakkama” (USP) for his distinguished and unblemished service. In addition to that, he has been awarded over 12 service medals in recognition of services rendered to the Nation.

During his over three-decade long career, he has served many command appointments, including Officer Commanding Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) Unit. He commanded 8 Field Engineer Regiment (Infantry Role) and commanded 6 Field Engineer Regiment (Combat Engineer Role) and during the same period he was the head of the mine action technical committee in Vavuniya. 

Afterwards he held the appointment of Commander 524 Infantry Brigade in Point Pedro, Centre Commandant of Corps of Sri Lanka Engineers for three years, and thereafter as the Commander Engineer Brigade. As the Commander Engineer Brigade, he expedited the de-mining process and standards to very high recognition for Sri Lankan de-miners.

He has vast experience in field engineering, plant engineering projects, de-mining and has contributed to many nation-building projects as Engineer Brigade Commander. He pioneered to train and establish the first Chemical Biological Radiological Nuclear (CBRN) squadron of the Army, which was later formed as 14 CBRN of the Engineer Regiment. As the Engineer Brigade Commander, he took part in Rescue Operations Contingent for Nepal Earthquake and led the rescue operations to assist victims, recovery operations and construction works which they highly recognized and appreciated.

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