Chief of the Defence Staff (Sri Lanka)

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Chief of the Defence Staff
Air Chief Marshal Kolitha Gunathilake

since 16 June 2015
Nominator National Security Council of Sri Lanka
Appointer President of Sri Lanka
Term length Not fixed
Inaugural holder

The Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) is the most senior appointment in the Sri Lankan Armed Forces. CDS is the highest-ranking military officer in the armed forces and outranks all respective heads of each service branch, however CDS does not have operational command authority over them or their service branches, however overseas inter service corporations and the implementation of joint operations of the Sri Lankan armed forces. Coordination of inter-service joint operations are handled by the Office of the Chief of Defence Staff formally known as the Joint Operations Headquarters.

Air Chief Marshal Kolitha Gunathilake currently functions as the Chief of Defence Staff. The CDS is the Chairman of a Committee made up of service commanders and is a member of the National Security Council.


The post could be traced back to post of General Officer Commanding (GOC) of the Joint Operations Command when General T. I. Weerathunga was first appointed to it on November 2, 1985. The Joint Operations Command was created in 1985 due to the need of co-ordinating of operations among the tri-services and the police with the escalation of the Sri Lankan Civil War. The post itself was created in 1999 replacing the civilian post of chief of the Joint Operations Bureau which had existed briefly in 1999. Its powers expanded under the Chief of Defence Staff Act No. 35 of 2009.

In recent years, the Chief of the Defence Staff was appointed to the highest rank in the branch of the Sri Lankan armed forces to which he belonged (equivalent to a US "four-star" rank) being a General, an Admiral or an Air Chief Marshal. According to the new Bill, the President of Sri Lanka appoints to the post of Chief of Defence Staff any person presently serving as Commander of the Army, Navy or the Air Force, to function under the direction, supervision and control of the Permanent Secretary to the Ministry of Defence.

Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka was appointed to the post in 2009 soon after the war victory.


  • Assist in providing for the strategic direction of the armed forces
  • Development of doctrine for the joint employment of the armed forces
  • Facilitation of preparation of strategic plans for the armed forces
  • Co-ordination of matters 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
  • Preparation of operational plans for the armed forces

General Officer Commanding, Joint Operations Command[edit]

List of Chiefs of the Defence Staff 1999–present[edit]

Rank Name Branch Term
General Rohan Daluwatte, WWV, RWP, RSP, VSV, USP  Sri Lanka Army 1999 - 2002
General L. P. Balagalle, RWP, RSP, VSV, USP, VSP  Sri Lanka Army 2004 - 2005
Admiral Daya Sandagiri, VSV, USP  Sri Lanka Navy 2005 - 2006
Air Chief Marshal Donald Perera, VSV, USP  Sri Lanka Air Force 2006 - 2009
Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka, RWP, RSP, VSV, USP  Sri Lanka Army 2009 - 2009
Air Chief Marshal Roshan Goonetileke, RWP & bar, VSV, USP  Sri Lanka Air Force 2009 - 2011
General Jagath Jayasuriya, VSV, USP  Sri Lanka Army 2011 - 2015
Air Chief Marshal Kolitha Gunathilake, RWP, RSP, VSV, USP  Sri Lanka Air Force 2015–Present

See also[edit]


External links[edit]