New joint commanding head as Chief of Defence Staff

Gazette Cover

Major reorganization of the military on the cards

With the conclusion of the war defeating the LTTE, the government is to further strengthen and re-organize the armed forces to meet future threats.

Despite the global melt down, the government serviced the security forces all through the war. The Army’s strength has been increased by 100,000 personnel within a short period. The Army was equipped with highly sophisticated military hardware that prominent armies in the world use for their military purposes.

Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka recently said that he expects to increase the army from 200,000 to 300,000 as he had to deploy more and more soldiers to the new bases established in the Wanni areas.

According to Defense columns written with approval in SL media, plans are underway to purchase ships and other military requirement for the Sri Lanka Navy, which would have to play a major role in the future. With Sri Lanka poised to gain an extended exclusive economic zone in the sea around the country more and more ships are to be deployed in deep sea operations.

New and modern aircrafts are due to come for the Sri Lanka Air Force too.

Enhancing the powers of Chief of Defence Staff

As a part of the reorganization of the defence sector, a bill was presented to parliament by the Prime Minister on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, Public Security, Law and Order to provide powers to the newly designed post of “Chief of Defence Staff” with the establishment of a Committee of the Chief of Defence Staff.

The current Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) is only a nominal head of the Joint Operations Headquarters (JOH) of the Sri Lankan Armed Forces and is a member of the National Security Council. The respective service commanders have autonomy. The post of CDS was created in 1999 replacing the civilian post of chief of the Joint Operations Bureau which existed before.

The new Chief of Defence Bill states:

“The Bill to provide for the appointment of a person to be the Chief of Defence Staff who shall be responsible for the Co-ordination of activities as between the armed forces and the Ministry of Defence; for the establishment of the Committee of the Chief of Defence Staff; to provide for the functions of the Chief of Defence Staff; and to provide for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.”

Accordingly to the Bill, the President of Sri Lanka has powers to appoint from among the persons presently serving as Commander of the Army, Navy or the Air Force to be the Chief of Defence Staff that will function under the direction, supervision and control of the Secretary to the Ministry of Defence.

When the Commander of the three forces is appointed to the post of Chief of Defence Staff he has to relinquish his current position. The term of office will be two years and the President has powers to re-appoint the officer serving as the Chief of Defence Staff for any number of terms of two years each.

Some of the main duties of the Chief of Defence Staff according to the new Bill are to assist in providing for the strategic direction of the armed forces; to develop a doctrine for the joint employment of the armed forces; to facilitate the preparation of strategic plans for the armed forces; to co-ordinate matters in respect of the functions relating to intelligence as between the armed forces; to undertake assessments to determine the capabilities of the armed forces in comparison with those of their potential adversaries; to facilitate the preparation of operational plans for the armed forces and to co-ordinate the implementation of the same as between the armed forces;

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