Shavendra Silva

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Shavendra Silva
Born(1964-06-22)22 June 1964
Matale, Sri Lanka
AllegianceSri Lanka Sri Lanka
Service/branchSri Lanka Army
Years of service1984 - Present
RankLieutenant General
UnitGajaba Regiment
Commands heldChief of Staff,
Adjutant General,
Director of Operations
General Officer Commanding, 58 Division
Battles/warsEelam War IV, Sri Lankan Civil War
AwardsWeera Wickrama Vibhushanaya
Rana Wickrama Padakkama
Rana Sura Padakkama
Vishista Seva Vibhushanaya
Uttama Seva Padakkama
Spouse(s)Mrs. Sujeewa Nelson
Children2 (Daughters)

Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, WWV, RWP, RSP, VSV, USP, ndc, psc is a Sri Lankan general. He is the Acting Chief of Defence Staff and Commander of the Sri Lankan Army,[1][2] His prior appointments include, Chief of Staff of the army,[3] Adjutant General and Director of Operations of the Army. During the Sri Lankan civil war he gained fame as the General Officer Commanding of the elite 58 Division. He has also served as Sri Lankan Ambassador and the Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Headquarters.[4]

Early life and education[edit]

Born to Creasy de Silva, Chairman, Sri Lanka Transport Board and Sumana Bandu Silva (died 2018).[5] on 22 June 1964 in Matale. He was educated at St Joseph's College, Anuradhapura; Vijaya College, Matale and St Thomas' College, Matale. He became the head prefect, captained the first XI cricket team, was a sergeant of the cadet platoon and became the band leader of the western band.[6]

Military career[edit]

Early career[edit]

He joined the Sri Lanka Army on 5 March 1984 through its 19th Officer Cadet Intake (long course) at Sri Lanka Military Academy in Diyatalawa. On completion of his training, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the Gajaba Regiment on 16 November 1985 as one of the first officers to commission directly into the newly formed infantry regiment under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Vijaya Wimalaratne. Attached to the 1st Battalion Gajaba Regiment, he was made platoon commander in the Special Service Group that later developed into the Rapid Deployment Force a precursor to the Special Forces Regiment. He later transferred to the Commando Regiment following commando training. In 1987, he headed the Presidential Security Army Unit at the President's House, Colombo. He was thereafter an officer instructor at the Sri Lanka Military Academy and served as the course officer of regular intake 37, which included the first batch of foreign officer cadets in 1991.[7]

Field command and staff appointments[edit]

In 1995, he became the youngest officer to command an infantry battalion, during the Operation Riviresa. Between 1995 and 1998, he served as commanding officer of the 1st, the 5th and the 8th battalions of the Gajaba Regiment. During 2002–2004 peace talks he took part in negotiations to open the A-9 Main Supply Route (MSR). In 2005, he was transferred to the Sri Lanka Military Academy as the commanding officer of the officer cadet wing. He had served as a staff officer in the Military Secretary's Branch at Army Headquarters and as a general staff officer in the Directorate of Plans, Directorate of Training and in the Security Force Headquarters, Jaffna.[7]

Eelam War IV[edit]

With the resumption of hostilities he became the Brigade Commander of the Air Mobile Brigade, in August 2006 he was instrumental in the capture of the forward defense lines in Muhamalai. Thereafter, he took command of the 58 Division, playing a key role in the military capturing several former LTTE strongholds including the Mannar Rice Bowl, Vedithalathivu, Nachchikuda, Mulangavil, Devils Point, Pooneryn, Kilinochchi, Paranthan, Elephant Pass, Dharmapuram, Vishvamadu, Suvandipuram, Thevipuram Puthukudirippu, Puthumathalan, Wellamullu vaikkal and the last stretch of LTTE held Karayamulli vaikkal in the mangroves of Nanthikandal lagoon in the Mullaithivu district. After the end of the war he was appointed as Director of Operations of the Sri Lanka Army and promoted to the rank of Major General, the youngest officer to reach that rank. He then served as the General Officer Commanding 53 Division which served as the country's Reserve Strike Force.[7]

United Nations[edit]

In 2010, he took up position as Sri Lanka Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Headquarters with the rank of Ambassador in 2010, serving till 2015. At the time he was the only serving army officer to hold such a diplomatic post. He was also the alternative representative of Sri Lanka to the Special Committee on Decolonization from 2010 to 2015 and served as an advisor of the Sri Lankan delegation to the United Nations General Assembly Third Committee. He lead initiatives to increase Sri Lankan contribution to United Nations Peacekeeping operations, including the deployment of air units of the Sri Lanka Air Force and a military hospital for the United Nations Missions in Central African Republic and South Sudan.[8][7]

Silva is a graduate of the National Defence College, attended a course on National and International Security at the Harvard University and had undergone psychological operations training in the US. He had served as a visiting lecturer at the Marine Corps War College in Quantico.[7]

Higher command[edit]

On his return from the UN he was appointed Adjutant General (AG) of Sri Lanka Army in the General Staff at Army Headquarters. In January 2019, he was appointed Chief of Staff of the army.[9][7]

Commander of Sri Lanka Army[edit]

On 21 August 2019, he was appointed as Commander of Sri Lanka Army and promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General by President Maithripala Sirisena, succeeding General Mahesh Senanayake. He became the first officer of the Gajaba Regiment to take command of the army.[7][10] He is the Regimental Colonel of the Gajaba Regiment and the Sri Lanka Army Special Forces Regiment and was the Regimental Colonel of the Commando Regiment.[11]

Acting Chief of Defence Staff[edit]

In January 2020, General Silva was appointed as Acting Chief of Defence Staff, while concurrently serving as Army Commander. He succeeds Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne[12]

US sanctions[edit]

On February 14, 2020, The United States State Department banned Silva from entering the United States along with his family for accusations of human right abuses such as extrajudicial killings in 2009.[13][14] Sri Lanka's Government strongly opposed the measure.[15]


He has received some of the highest awards in the Sri Lankan armed forces, which includes the Weera Wickrama Vibhushanaya, Rana Wickrama Padakkama, Uttama Seva Padakkama and the Rana Sura Padakkama at once, a first in the Sri Lankan military history.[7]


Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva is married to Mrs. Sujeewa Nelson and has two daughters.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva appointed as the Army Commander - Sri Lanka Latest News". Sri Lanka News - Newsfirst. 2019-08-19. Retrieved 2019-08-19.
  2. ^ "ශවේන්ද්‍ර සිල්වා නව යුද හමුදාපතිවරයා ලෙස පත් කෙරේ". Sri Lanka News - Lankaepuwath. 2019-08-21. Retrieved 2019-08-21.
  3. ^ "Major General Shavendra Silva, New Chief of Staff in the Army | Sri Lanka Army". Retrieved 2019-08-19.
  4. ^ Shavendra Silva appointed to UN/
  6. ^ [1]
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h "Lieutenant General Shavendra Silva, New Commander of the Army". Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  8. ^ "Maj. Gen. Shavendra Silva To The UN | The Sunday Leader". 2010-08-25. Retrieved 2014-03-16.
  9. ^ Major General Shavendra Silva, New Chief of Staff in the Army
  10. ^ "Shavendra Silva assumes duties". Dailymirror. Retrieved 22 August 2019.
  11. ^ "Shavendra Silva assumes duties as new Colonel of Commando Regiment". Retrieved 2019-08-19.
  12. ^ "Lt. Gen. Shavendra Silva assume duties as Acting Chief of Defence Staff". Retrieved 15 February 2020.
  13. ^ Borger, Julian (14 February 2020). "US imposes sanctions on Sri Lankan army chief over war crimes". The Guardian. London, U.K. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  14. ^ "US bans visits by Sri Lanka army chief Shavendra Silva over war crimes". Deccan Herald. Bangalore, India. Agence France-Presse. 14 February 2020. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  15. ^ Daphne Psaledakis (February 14, 2020). "U.S. bans Sri Lankan army chief from entry, citing civil war abuses". reuters. Retrieved 14 February 2020.

External links[edit]

Military offices
Preceded by
Ravindra Wijegunaratne
Chief of the Defence Staff
January 2020 - Present
Preceded by
Mahesh Senanayake
Commander of the Army
August 2019 - Present
Preceded by
Dampath Fernando
Chief of Staff of the Army
July 2017 - August 2019
Succeeded by
Sathyapriya Liyanage