The army is in the process of building
three infantry divisions as critical changes in deployment of
ground forces are being effected to facilitate the ongoing
ground operations in the northern theatre of operations.
Lt. Gen. Sarath Fonseka’s decision to set up three new
infantry divisions since the outbreak of major ground battles in
August 2006 had signalled a significant expansion of the army
which has now gained the overall upper hand in the northern
theatre of operations.
With the East firmly under security forces control following
the fall of Narakkamulla-Thoppigala LTTE stronghold in the
middle of last year, the army stepped up offensive action in the
Vanni. The availability of additional strength has made the
ground commanders’ job easier.
The 57 and 58 Divisions (Vanni) and 59 Division (Weli Oya)
are currently engaged in operations with the Vanni thrust being
spearheaded by the newly created Task Force 1 comprising Special
Forces and Commandos.
The Mechanised Infantry Brigade- a combination of armour and
infantry has been assigned to the 53 Division deployed in the
Jaffna peninsula. The Brigade would play a critical role in the
battle for supremacy in the north (Muhamalai sector) where the
LTTE has no option but to commit all its available resources to
thwart a multi-pronged ground assault. At the moment, Jaffna
troops are engaged in small scale operations ahead of their
The Mechanised Infantry and the armour have been greatly
strengthened with the acquisition of new armoured fighting
According to the Directorate of Training over 5,000 regulars
and some volunteers (all other rankers) passed out from training
facilities during 2007. Over 7,000 personnel are receiving
training at various centres across the country. The vast
majority of them, both those who have passed out and receiving
training would be with the infantry.
Military spokesman Brigadier Udaya Nanayakkara said that over
30,000 had joined the service in 2007.
Alongside the strengthening of the infantry, the army is in
the process of bolstering the armour, artillery, engineers and
even the military police as the army undergoes a rapid expansion
to meet the LTTE military challenge.
Despite the growing commitments, the army has been able to
sustain its deployment in the Haiti where a regular infantry
battalion with support elements is deployed, the first major UN