Sri Lanka Army Commando Regiment

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Commando Regiment
Active 1980 - Present
Country Sri Lanka
Branch Sri Lanka Army
Type Special Operations
Role Unconventional Warfare
Counter-terrorism
Special Reconnaissance
Hostage Rescue
Executive protection
Size 4 Regiments
Part of Commando Brigade
Regimental Centre Ganemulla
Motto Nothing is Impossible
Colors Maroon
Engagements Insurrection 1987-89
Sri Lankan Civil War
Commanders
Colonel of the Regiment Maj Gen CP Gallage RWP RSP USP
Centre Commandant Col CHMCP Chandrasekara
Insignia
Identification
symbol

"COMMANDO" shoulder tab

Maroon beret with regimental cap badge

The Sri Lanka Army Commando Regiment (CR) (කොමාන්ඩෝ ‍රෙජිමේන්තුව) is one of the two Special Operations units of the Sri Lanka Army along with the Sri Lanka Army Special Forces Regiment. The organizational and operational Structure of the Sri Lanka Army Commando Regiment is much similar to the British Special Air Service (SAS) unit. Within one of the four Army Commando Regiments there is a 140-man counter-terrorist unit that provides the primary Counter-terrorism response for Sri Lanka. This unit was created in 1980 and is based in Ganemulla, a suburb of Colombo.[1]

History[edit]

In 1977 Lt. General J.E.D Perera, founder of Commandos, issued a call to combating terrorism in Sri Lanka, a decision was made by the Army HQ to raise a special counter-terrorist unit. Maj. Sunil Peris from 1GW, Capt. Sarath Handapangoda from 1st SR and three other ranks were selected as a Core Group and training commenced in the Ella Camp, Army Training Centre, Diyatalawa.

On 9 February 1978 the first ever commando training course commenced, Lt U. Edirisinghe and Lt. P. Chandrawansa, and 24 Other Ranks were drawn from the Armoured Corps, Artillery, Engineers, Sri Lanka Light Infantry, Sinha Regiment and the Gemunu Watch on a volunteer basis. Lt Percy Fernando was drawn from Officer Cadet School to assist in training. Lt. Srinath Rajapaksa, Lt. Vijitha Walikala, and four Officers volunteered for the second training course conducted at Diyatalawa. All trainees of both courses, except for aforementioned Officers, returned to their parent units after training.

A Commando squadron was formed in Gemunu Watch ‘B’ Camp at Diyatalawa and Maj S.D. Peiris GW was appointed officer commanding, and Capt. Sarath Handapangoda was appointed as 2nd In Command. Shortly after that, the Squadron received specialized training in anti-terrorist and anti – hijack techniques conducted by the members of the elite Special Air Service Regiment of Britain. The Commandos were later trained in parachuting at Agra, India and they performed their maiden display during Army Day celebrations on 10 October 1980. 4 December 1980, the Squadron moved to its new premises in Ganemulla. In 1981 the Commandos were employed in counter terrorist operations in Jaffna for the first time. It also performs special duties in the Presidential Security Division. To meet the operational requirements the Commando Regiment was expanded and a Commando Brigade was formed on the 18th of March 1997.4 Commando regiment was formed before the 3 Commando Regiment in 15 March 2003 which is responsible for VIP protection,hostage rescue and anti terrorist tasks and War dog operations. Four Groups which were conducting long range patrols since 1995 was converted in to the third regiment was formed August 1, 2007 with Maj Uditha Bandara as the Commanding officer.

Organization[edit]

The units used 20 man teams which are split into four 4-8 man assault units. They have received training from Great Britain, India, Israel and Pakistan. Approximately 40 per cent of the Regiments are airborne qualified. The third Commando Regiment and the third Army Special Forces Regiment are grouped together to form the independent Special Reconnaissance LRRP Brigade. Approximately 95 percent of the two Commando Regiments are airborne qualified, either in Pakistan, India or at the commando parachute training school in Ganemulla. It may operate in conjunction with the Special Boat Squadron of the Sri Lanka Navy, although this has not been confirmed. The Commando Regiment has only 4 Regular Units.

Function[edit]

Enactment of a hostage rescue scenario by Commandos.

Current CR roles are believed to include:

Units[edit]

Lt.Col. S.D. Peiris was a Major first commanding officer of 1st Commando Regiment.

Regular Army[edit]

  • 1st Commando Regiment
  • 2nd Commando Regiment
  • 3rd Commando Regiment
  • 4th Commando Regiment
  • HQ BN Commando(RFT)
  • Commando Regiment Training School Uva Kudaoya
  • Commando Regiment Specialized Warfare Training School at Vidathalathive Mannar

Military operations[edit]

“LTTE”, the most ruthless terrorist organization ever, was defeated and eliminated by the Security Forces of Sri Lanka to end the nation’s 30 years of prolonged agony. Entire campaign to defeat the terrorist outfit can be divided into two parts. That is Humanitarian Operation in East and Humanitarian operation WANNI. Liberation of Eastern theatre remained as one of the important decisive points of the campaign at strategic level while capturing of THOPIGALA bastion remained as a decisive point at operational level. With the breakout of 4th Elam war the Commandos and Special Forces were tasked to conduct deep operations in order to disrupt and deny the freedom of action of LTTE. Commandos were able to strike the terror into the hearts of the LTTE Leadership by conducting Ambushes and Raids by inflicting attrition on LTTE, thus forcing them to deploy more troops for their rear area security. Their operations shaped up the battle field creating favourable situation to launch a historical major offensive to liberate Eastern Province from LTTE. Most of the operations conducted by the Commando Regiment are Covert operations. A successful small group raid was done in 1990 In Mallakam in Jaffna peninsula. By Delta Patrol of 1st Commando Regiment. Another successful raid was done in Welioya Thannimuruppu Kulam area in 1993 by a small team of Bravo Group of 2nd Commando Regiment. Commanding officer of 2nd Commndo Regiment was Lt Colonel P Chandrawansa. Subsequently Colonel Amudan alias Thambi (tag no 0003) was also killed in 1994 making a big issue worldwide. Creamated LTTE leader Amudans ashes were handed over to LTTE through ICRC, then Commnder of Welioya Brigade was Brig Sarath Munasinghe.

Operation Thoppigala[edit]

The 3rd Commando Regiment participated in the military offensive which was launched to capture the Thoppigala (Baron's cap) from LTTE during the period of June/July 2007. They managed to seize the rocky plateau which had been named by the LTTE as Tora Bora. Around 200 LTTE cadres were killed during the entire offensive.[2]

Capturing Of Unnichchai Tank[edit]

After successful operation to capture VAKARAI and SAMPUR by Special Forces Brigade, Commandos were tasked to capture THOPPIGALA and NARAKAMULLA LTTE strong holds. Gaining control of A - 5 road which runs from Maha Oya to Batticaloa via Chenkaladi was essential in order to gain access to jungles of THOPIGALA. From Pullumale to Black Bridge at Chenkalladi road was totally controlled by the LTTE. Further, the LTTE was operating freely in the jungles between A -27 road and A -5 roads. Hence it was essential to gain control of this portion of the road and in the jungles, to launch any operation to destroy the bastion of Thoppigala. However A- 27 road which runs from Maha Oya to Potuvil and Road from Trikonamadu to Kalmunai were controlled by the Army, but was vulnerable to the LTTE attacks. After finalizing of the plan for the major operation mobilizing of troops were commenced to give a decisive blow to the LTTE strong holds in the theatre. However Intelligence revealed that LTTE had planned to destroy the bund of the UNNICCHAI Tank if Security Forces lunched any operation to gain control over the area. Their intent was to inundate the area by destroying the tank bund in order to destabilize the government and the ultimately spoil the security forces plan. In this back drop commandos were tasked to capture UNNICHHAI Tank bunt intact in order to facilitate the major offensive. Capturing of Unnichchai tank bund was one of the most significant raids conducted by commandos to facilitate break out of the major offensive to capture the LTTE strong hold Thoppigala.

Reconnaissance missions[edit]

  • Periyamadu rescue (November 22, 2001): An eight man Special Mission Patrol(Long Range Reconnaissance Patrol (Sri Lanka)) led by Lieutenant Udesh Rathnayake was surrounded by the LTTE at Periyamadu,near Tunukkai in Vanni region at least 25 km inside the enemy lines after an anti-personnel mine blast which injured two of them. This special patrol was planned and guided by Maj.Shanaka Rathnayake (Officer Commanding of LRRP-2 CR)from North of Murunkan, Mannar and task given to the LRP team to take high value enemy target at Poonarin area. Unfortunately this incident happened at 1945hrs on 21st and team managed to survive till 1250 hrs on 22 nd Nov with one serious casualty. The trapped team was rescued by the Helicopter Squadron(01-Bell 212,2-MI24,1-MI17 Helicopters) of SLAF(Mission Pilot-Fl.Lt. Sudam Kaluaarachchi. It had taken exactly one hour airborne time which included 28 minuets in LTTE held area and 50 seconds landing, rescue and take off time. Four helicopters had flown in at an altitude of 195 feet(tree top level). Whole operation was led by Major. Upali Rajapaksha RWP RSP (2IC-2 CR)of Commando Regiment who launched the operation and inducted to the location by the leading helicopter from Hingurakgoda Air Force base. This mission was conducted under extremely bad weather conditions and this was the first ever rescue mission of this nature conducted by elite forces of SL Army.[3]
  • The role played by the Special Operations Forces was commendable with the ever increasing intensity of the conflict from the early 1980s. The LTTE organization used their fighters in unconventional mode and Sri Lanka Army used conventional mode of fighting strategy to counter them. But the LTTE guerrilla forms developed with the multiple fronts to attack Sri Lanka Army decisive points. Reconnaissance and Surveillance methods need to upgrade with fixed personal technology facilities such as portable high-pixel cameras, fast and secure individual communication systems and individual monitoring systems to boost present sysyems.
  • Sri Lanka Army objectives highly focused to measure asymmetric or unconventional warfare but it narrowed with the LTTE strategies. These non-state actors are expected to proliferate. As they do, nation states are expected to form regional alliances and to grow more agile in responding to these threats, as well as to build a level of political and psychological resilience. Modern non state actors find most applicable methods as their firearms. In this manner army needs to promote high psychological and intelligence factors among their memberships with the knowledge and experiences about electronic warfare methods.
  • Sri Lanka Armed forces are used the specially trained small groups of infantry as the leading fighting components of the offensive formations under their Special Fighting Groups. This strategy is more capable for future trends covert actions and smaller units more capable counter terrorism or other non state military actors. The LRP and LRRP missions are useful to the battlefield and it need to develop with modern psychological and personal monitoring systems. Super power armies used high standard video camera systems and personal tracking systems with high speed wireless communication media to upgrade the capabilities of Sri Lankan Forces. Sri Lanka Army Special Forces gathered intelligence from deep battle space of LTTE areas and LTTE control areas with their LRRP missions. Some missions had conducted around few dozens kilometers distances from the starting points. Further Special Forces join with these tasks with foot patrols.
  • The intelligence factor is the key and information systems are the main targets of the future warfare. Present Army Training processes highly use fully combat trainings than intelligence development factors. Knowledge, education, technology and strategies are key components of the intelligence and the Army needs to identify enemies’ strategies quickly to ensure their plans and deployments in future warfare.
  • Sri Lanka is growing with rapid development process and high urbanization and we have to protect our national securities from various international actors because this country will develop as an international hub of five fields. Therefore Sri Lanka Army future deployments need to verify their task and responsibility accurately. Eliminate enemy, disable the terrorist in urban atmosphere and maintain high standard executive protection process are the main tasks of local levels and international peacekeeping or joint military involvement will be appeared in Sri Lanka. Regional security is a key component therefore India, China and other multinational forces interest to involve in South Asia at present and our forces need to join with them as professional forces in the future. In this manner Sri Lanka should need to develop electronic warfare capabilities with Sri Lanka Army.
  • The shapes of the future ground warfare are vital and unrealistic because present international actors and enforcements have ensured the human rights. On the other hand modern technology and innovations become to the stage as modern weaponizes. Further non state actors are emergence as the major enemies in global security and national forms. Therefore Sri Lanka Army needs to identify their future objectives, strategies, manpower, technology and economy to face future threats with sustainable manner.

Notable members[edit]

  • Major General Janaka Perera RWP, RSP, VSP, USP, rcds, psc, CR - former Chief of Staff of the Sri Lanka Army, a Leader of Operation "Riviresa", former Sri Lankan High Commissioner to Australia & Ambassador to Indonesia
  • Major General Percy Fernando RWP, RSP, psc, CR   - former Deputy General officer commanding of 54th Division who fought bravely till last moment during Elephant Pass Debacle in April 2001.
  • Major Shanaka Ratnayake RWP RSP,2 CR who led a special fighting patrol to north of Kokkuthuduwai in 1994 and killed the LTTE Intelligent leader AMUDAN and this mission was one of the remarkable successes in the history.
  • Major M.D. Manjula Sarathchandra, CR   - attached to Commando 2 Regiment killed during the "Operation Jayasikurui" July 1997.[4]
  • Major G. S. Jayanath,[5] CR   - attached to Commando Regiment, was awarded the Parama Weera Vibhushanaya posthumously for his bravery and heroism.[6]
  • Captain C.M Daniels, CR   - attached to Commando 1 Regiment killed during a LRRP mission deep in the Eastern jungles in October 1995.
  • Captain Charles Indika Jayasuriya was killed in action in a limited operation behind the enemy lines in 2001 before the peace process in 2002. He was the last officer of the Sri Lanka Army who died before the peace process in 2002.
  • Major. Upali Rajapaksha RWP RSP, 2IC of 2nd Commando Regt led and rescued 8 members of LRRP from 25 km deep in enemy territory in 22 Nov 2001 while SLAF reluctant to carryout such mission during extremely bad weather condition and typical danger. The compromised team was safely evacuated within 24 hrs.

Order of precedence[edit]

Preceded by
President's Guard
Order of Precedence Succeeded by
Special Forces Regiment

See also[edit]

Further reading[edit]

  • The Perfect Soldier: Special Operations, Commandos, and the Future of U.S. Warfare by James F. Dunnigan[7]
  • Sri Lanka Army, 50 YEARS ON - 1949-1999, (1st Edition)[8]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The Deadly Mahasohon Brigade". StrategyWorld.com. September 19, 2007. 
  2. ^ "Sri Lanka cites success against rebels". boston.com/AP News. July 9, 2007. [dead link]
  3. ^ "Rescue Mission In Air". Sunday Observer. April 13, 2008. 
  4. ^ Donating houses in memory of Major Manjula Sarathchandra
  5. ^ Major Jayanath Ginimelage
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ Publisher : Citadel, Year:(June 1, 2003), Language: English, ISBN 0-8065-2415-4 / ISBN 978-0-8065-2415-3
  8. ^ Publisher : Sri Lanka Army, Year : October 1999, ISBN 955-8089-02-8

External links[edit]